Paris art collector holds charity auction for the Institut du Monde Arabe

Dia Al-Azzawi, 'Search for a Symbol' (2006). Supplied
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Updated 20 June 2020

Paris art collector holds charity auction for the Institut du Monde Arabe

  • Parisian collectors Claude and France Lemand donated 44 works from their private collection to benefit artists through their fund at IMA

DUBAI: Christie’s Paris is hosting an online charity auction of Middle Eastern art to benefit artists through the Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA). Entitled ‘I.M.A.GINATION, the sale will feature 44 works by Middle Eastern, Japanese and French artists, donated from the personal collection of Parisian collectors Claude and France Lemand. Bidding will open on June 24 and close on July 16. The proceeds from the sale will go to assist young artists struggling due to the effects of COVID-19, as well as to benefit the Claude and France Lemand-IMA fund, set up in 2018 to enrich the museum’s collections.

Lemand, who left his native Lebanon in the mid-1970s at the outset of the civil war, founded his gallery in Paris in 1988 and dedicated it to showcasing works by Arab artists, many of whom like himself had settled abroad due to turmoil back home.

Nasser Alaswadi, 'Salâm' (2019). Supplied

“In October 2018 we donated to the museum of the Institut du Monde Arabe 1,300 works by over 100 artists, which increased to 1,500 works a year later,” said Lemand. “We also created the Claude and France Lemand-IMA fund, the purpose of which is to continue to enrich and to promote the museum’s collections, which is today the most important museum in the West in terms of modern and contemporary Arab art. The fund supports contemporary creativity and contributes to the dynamism and outreach of this institution in France and in the world.”

The fund also secures future acquisitions, undertakes research-based work, organizes exhibitions and publishes exhibition catalogues.

The 44 works in the sale span 60 years of artistic development in the Middle East, with estimated values ranging from €1,000 ($1,100) to €40,000. The artists featured are already represented in the collection of the IMA.

The top lot of the sale is Shafic Abboud’s 1959 work entitled Saison, which is estimated at €40,000-60,000. One of the most revered Arab artists of the 20th century, the late Lebanese artist is known for his dreamy canvases that reveal abstract and vibrant compositions signaling freedom, light and joy. He was particularly drawn to Lebanon’s landscapes. He, too, left Lebanon for Paris, arriving in the city in 1947. Another of his works in the sale is Composition, executed in 1960, which has an estimate of €5,000-7,000.

Chafic Abboud, 'Saison' (1959). Supplied

Other highlights are three works by Iraqi London-based artist Dia Al-Azzawi, including Search for a Symbol (2006) with an estimate of €20,000-30,000 and Arabic Letter (1984-2005) with an estimate of €15,000-20,000. Al-Azzawi is one of nine artists in the sale who created tributes to the fire of Notre-Dame cathedral. Lemand initiated the project, given that the IMA overlooks Notre-Dame, so the museum was a first-hand witness of the destruction of the historical monument. Al-Azzawi’s My tribute to Notre Dame (2019) has an estimate of €20,000-30,000.

Another artist who paid tribute to the fire of Notre-Dame is French Moroccan female artist Najia Mehadji. She created a 180 x 110 cm painting of La Vierge à l’Enfant (2019), priced between €15,000-20.000.

“We have kept in touch with the artists of our collection. Without putting aside the eldest and the most established artists whose origins are in the Arab world, today we are monitoring the creativity and supporting the projects of the youngest and most vulnerable artists, especially during these difficult times which will last for a few months more,” Lemand told Arab News. “They are just over twenty artists and they live in France and in Europe (Syrians, Iraqis, Lebanese, Palestinians, Yemenites), in Morocco, in Algeria, in Tunisia, in Syria, in Jordan and in Lebanon.”

Dia Al-Azzawi, 'Search for a Symbol' (2006)

Valerie Didier Hess, Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Specialist who formerly worked at Christie’s Dubai, said the sale also looks to provide a “boost to the Middle Eastern art market.”

“Especially given the current situation,” she told Arab News. “The sale also gives a boost to cultural institutions and museums like the IMA that have been struggling for years.”

All the proceeds of the sale will go to the Claude and France Lemand-IMA Fund, though the buyer’s premium will go to Christie’s Paris.

“The idea here is to benefit the fund and support the artists and IMA,” Hess said. “Unfortunately, with or without Covid not many events and exhibitions have been taking place recently at IMA due to a lack in funds. The money raised from this sale will go to good use. These esteemed collectors are using their legacy to give back.”

Najia Mehadji, 'La Vierge à l'Enfant' (2019)

The Lemands, Hess continued, have been supporters of Middle Eastern art abroad for decades. “He treats his artists like his family; they are like his children. These collectors have dedicated their entire life to these artists from the Arab World.”

Jack Lang, former French Minister of Culture and President of the Institut du Monde Arabe, who has maintained a close friendship with the Lemands, echoed Hess’s sentiments in a statement:

“Claude and France Lemand were among the first to believe in the creativity of contemporary artists in the Arab world. They are also known for their generosity. A donation is always a human adventure. It continues and grows, since the benefactors of the IMA Museum are now also becoming benefactors of artists from the Arab world. I am pleased to bring my patronage to this charity sale.”

Johnny Depp denies ‘wife-beater’ claim in London libel trial

Updated 07 July 2020

Johnny Depp denies ‘wife-beater’ claim in London libel trial

  • The high-profile case has laid bare Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s turbulent relationship, which ended in divorce in 2017
  • The couple first met on the set of the 2011 film ‘The Rum Diary’ and married in 2015

LONDON: Hollywood actor Johnny Depp strenuously denied being violent to his ex-wife Amber Heard, as he launched a libel claim in a London court on Tuesday against a British tabloid newspaper that called him a “wife-beater.”
The “Pirates of the Caribbean” star, 57, is suing the publishers of The Sun and the author of the article for the claims, which were made in April 2018.
Depp, wearing a dark suit, white shirt and facemask, was met by a throng of cameras as he arrived at court while Heard, a 34-year-old actress, used a separate entrance.
The high-profile case has laid bare the couple’s turbulent relationship, which ended in divorce in 2017, just two years after they married.
But Depp said in a witness statement submitted to the court: “For the avoidance of any doubt, I have never abused Ms Heard, or, indeed any other woman, in my life.”
He said it was a “strong and central part” of his moral code that he would never hit a woman, having witnessed domestic violence growing up and vowed never to do so.
“I find it simply inconceivable and it would never happen,” he added.
“She (Heard) is a calculating, diagnosed borderline personality; she is sociopathic; she is a narcissist; and she is completely emotionally dishonest,” he went on.
“I am now convinced that she came into my life to take from me anything worth taking, and then destroy what remained of it.
The couple first met on the set of the 2011 film “The Rum Diary” and married in 2015.
News Group Newspapers (NGN) is contesting the case, and is relying for its defense on 14 separate claims of domestic violence said to have occurred between early 2013 and May 2016.
It argues Depp was “controlling and verbally and physically abusive toward Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs” — and has evidence to prove it.
But Depp said it was the other way round, accusing Heard of violence against him during their “unhappy” time together.
In one alleged incident, he said she repeatedly punched him in the face, and in another severed his finger with a flying vodka bottle and stubbed out a cigarette on his cheek.
Heard has claimed she was physically assaulted over three days in Australia in early 2015 but Depp called the allegations “sick... and completely untrue.”
He rejected claims of being overbearing and instead said Heard had an “obsessive need” to control him, encouraging him to drink and take drugs, despite his well-known addiction issues.
Depp’s lawyers, in a written outline of his case to the court, also argued that although the couple’s relationship was at times “physical,” it was at Heard’s instigation.
Lawyer David Sherborne said his client on occasions had to defend himself from Heard’s violence, calling her allegations “complete lies.”
“He is not a wife-beater and never has been,” he said.
Heard was a “complex individual,” whose behavior was “extremely unpredictable,” with violent rages and prone to extreme mood swings, he added.
She sought attention, was provocative, had affairs, and was on a “wide range” of prescribed medication and other drugs.
Depp loved her but found her behavior “often bewildering” and “very difficult” to understand or deal with, he added.
Depp was the first witness called in the case and under cross-examination admitted using drugs and alcohol from a young age to “numb the pain” of a difficult childhood.
But he rejected suggestions from NGN lawyer Sasha Wass he had a “nasty side,” that saw him turn into a “monster” who would lose control, smash up hotel rooms and assault photographers.
“It wasn’t Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde,” he insisted.
The Sun story — “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beast film?” — came after he had already publicly denied domestic violence.
Depp said he had suffered “significant reputational damage” as a result, both in terms of his career and personally.
The High Court trial is due to last three weeks.