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1 Fulfillment, 1910/11,
by Gustav Klimt (1862–1918). The work is on show in an exhibition at the Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt (until 15 July), one of several exhibitions celebrating the 150th anniversary of the artist’s birth © MAK/Georg Mayer
Art on the move Sculpture tends toward not just the monumental but the momentous, its stillness and substantiality being apt to bring on ‘big questions’ and lofty sentiments. When the Scottish artist, dealer and archaeologist Gavin Hamilton unearthed an unfinished head of Hermes (c. 120–140 A.D.) at Hadrian’s Villa in the mid-18th century, he commissioned its refashioning into a ‘Conqueror of the Olympic Games’, such then was the enthusiasm for ancient Greek ideals as exemplified by the original Olympic athletes, who competed not for riches but for lasting glory – winners got their own statue at Olympia as well as in their hometown (see pp. 40–45). It is heart-warming to learn that the British Museum is exchanging, until 30 September, its Strangford Apollo for the beautifully detailed, 5th-century B.C. Auriga (charioteer) of Mozia, thereby providing a welcome reminder, throughout London 2012, of the games’ foundation in glorious amateurism.
All around the world, remarkable exhibitions are currently celebrating contemporary works of sculpture that convey a similar sense, by turns playful and earnest, of profundity: Damien Hirst’s shark, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991), perhaps his only masterpiece, at Tate Modern; Ron Mueck’s hyper-real, deeply existential human figures at the Fondation Cartier in Paris; Anthony Caro’s outdoor sculpture exhibition in the grounds of Chatsworth; even a new series of nudes by Ugo Rondinone, created specifically for the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens, where they will accompany a permanent collection of figurines dating back to 3000 B.C.
This year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Gustav Klimt’s birth; to this end Vienna’s Belvedere, which owns the largest collection of Klimts in the world, will open a major show in July. The course that Klimt and his contemporaries charted predates Modernism, and is in some ways even anti-modernist. But their work, with its unabashed boldness and unflinching honesty, made it possible for artists to ignore convention and find their own voice. Abstract art, deriving from Cubism, was born in Paris before Klimt’s death in 1918; it did not do away with his legacy, however, and this can still be seen in the work of living artists such as Peter Doig.
Another artist influenced by Klimt was Edvard Munch, a version of whose famous painting The Scream (one of three, this from 1885) comes to auction on 2 May at Sotheby’s New York (see Susan Moore’s Art Market, pp. 66–70). It is expected to fetch a price upwards of £50m, and may even end up rivalling Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust (1932), the current record-holder at £66.4m. In a world where relatively slight contemporary works can command huge prices, for a true turn-of-the-century masterpiece to realise such a price will be an affirmation not only of substance in art, but also of appreciation for substance in the art market. o Oscar Humphries, Editor may 2012 apolo 15