Antony Gormley, Anselm Kiefer, Mandy El-Sayegh Amongst Artists Featured in Thaddaeus Ropac Ukraine Support Sale
Above image: Anselm Kiefer, Ohne Titel, 1980, Acrylic paint on photograph, 16 x 23.5 cm (6.3 x 9.25 in)
When the not normally political Pablo Picasso painted the epochal Guernica in 1937, it powerfully emphasized art’s role in shaping the greater public consciousness during times of crisis. It was his visceral (and angry, obviously) response to the Spanish Civil War bombing of the city of the same name by Nazi Germany’s Luftwaffe and the Fascist Italian Aviazione Legionaria – all at the behest of Francisco Franco – and it remains one of the most vivid depictions of the horrors of armed conflict.
Eighty-five years later, the ongoing Russian assault on Ukraine has brought such a level of devastation, destruction and displacement as to chillingly invite comparisons to not only that terrible day, but even the worst moments of WWII – and there seems to be little hope of a swift conclusion. The culture business has responded by cancelling concerts in Russia, and rescinding Russian participation in major events like the Eurovision song contest and the Venice Biennale. And now the influential European art dealers Thaddaeus Ropac have ambitiously gathered more than a hundred works for sale by notably high-profile talents, all in support of relief efforts on behalf of Ukraine.
British artist Antony Gormley – once part of the notorious YBA group – has donated his 2011 steel block sculpture STRAIN I, explaining, “I chose this work because the stress that Ukraine is going through is the stress that all of Europe is undergoing, if not the world. Here is a body both recumbent and in high tension, aware of itself and the wider world in which it is embedded.”
Also noteworthy is Robert Longo‘s haunted 2019 Study of a Foggy Tree ink and charcoal on vellum, which unintentionally captures something deeply poignant about the desolation that has become the new visual language of cities like Kharkiv, Kyiv and Mariupol. And the participation of Anselm Kiefer rings particularly affectively, as he was born in a hospital bomb shelter in Donaueschingen, Germany in 1945, just before the conclusion of the Second World War.
But also contributing are rising young talents like Alvaro Barrington and Mandy El-Sayegh, both children of the ’80s, born just as the Cold War began to wane. Vladimir Putin seems intent on reviving both it and the Soviet State, at all costs.
In all, more than seventy artists have donated, with potential sales in the millions of dollars. Proceeds will go to the Ukraine efforts currently being carried out by the Disasters Emergency Committee, the Austrian Red Cross, and Médecins Sans Frontières. Incidentally, many of the works are currently hanging at Thaddaeus Ropac galleries in London, Paris, Salzburg and Seoul – but all are available to purchase online.
Gormley perfectly sums up the urgency of this effort: “Can those of us that have the freedom to make, live and love not use our freedom to support those who are having theirs taken away?”
Thaddaeus Ropac’s Artists in support of aid to Ukraine will be an ongoing concern.
Above images from top:
Antony Gormley, STRAIN I, 2011
Mild steel blocks, 44 x 55 x 187 cm
Alvaro Barrington, rose that grew from concrete, Ropac Salzburg (5/5), 2022
Charcoal and acrylic on paper on cardboard in steel and concrete frame, 105 x 61 x 11 cm
Mandy El-Sayegh, mutations (Scanner 2blue), 2020
Giclée print on Hahnemühle Bamboo pape, 29.7 x 21 cm