Category Archives: Art

Bristol’s once troubled Arnolfini gallery starts

A dynamic director – and Grayson Perry – are helping to turn the fortunes of Bristol’s Arnolfini around

Grayson Perry’s wall-hanging tapestry, entitled Battle of Britain, at the Arnolfini.
Grayson Perry’s wall-hanging tapestry, entitled Battle of Britain, at the Arnolfini. Photograph: Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty Images
Mark Brown Arts correspondent

Mon 1 Jan ‘18 20.17 GMT Last modified on Mon 1 Jan ‘18 22.00 GMT
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On a midweek lunchtime approaching Christmas, more than 300 visitors are in the busy, buzzy Arnolfini gallery in Bristol. Around a dozen people are rooted to the spot reading Grayson Perry’s social media tapestry Red Carpet; downstairs, the cafe and giftshop are packed.

It’s a far cry from a busted arts organisation, one that was judged so troubled that in June it was removed from the national portfolio of Arts Council England.

The main reason the Arnolfini is busy is that it is staging Perry’s self-fulfillingly titled The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! It was first shown at the Serpentine in London, where there were queues to get in.

Claire Doherty, the Arnolfini’s new director, approached Perry about staging it before she formally started in August. She recognised she needed a big-bang moment, a catalyst for the future. It was even before the bombshell day on 27 June when the gallery was removed from the national portfolio.

In an interview with the Guardian, Doherty chose her words carefully about the day. “The decision was made. I think it is really challenging … but it was made on the basis that the financial model was not perceived to be viable by the Arts Council.

The Arnolfini ‘should be an engine, with the heat going out, rather than coming in’
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The Arnolfini ‘should be an engine, with the heat going out, rather than coming in’ Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA
“My priority has been to come and look at the organisation and devise a financial model that is viable, and it is absolutely critical going forward. That involves also rethinking the Arnolfini in terms of its future vision.

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“One of the reasons I took the job was that I was ready for rethinking what an arts organisation with this history, and this reputation, could be for the future,” Doherty said.

In the art world, Doherty is seen as the right person for the job. Innovative and dynamic, for 15 years she ran the internationally respected arts producers Situations, a company she founded.

Cardboard, chewing gum, celebrity spectres

Exhibition at London auction house features ‘hugely inspiring’ work by artists creating outside the mainstream

Ophelia by Rakibul Chowdhury.
Ophelia by Rakibul Chowdhury. Photograph: Sotheby’s
Maev Kennedy

Wed 3 Jan ‘18 16.44 GMT Last modified on Wed 3 Jan ‘18 22.00 GMT
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The first exhibition of outsider art to be held at Sotheby’s will open at the London auction house next week, showing a lifesize cardboard sculpture of a runner, minutely detailed drawings by a former punk rocker, and works in embroidery, found materials and chewing gum.

The exhibition will feature pieces by artists working outside the traditional art world, including some who are self-taught and some who have social, physical or mental health problems. All are supported by the arts charity Outside In.

Frances Christie, the head of modern and postwar British art at Sotheby’s, said she found the works “hugely inspiring”.

Exhaust Dog by Jacob Rock.
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Exhaust Dog by Jacob Rock. Photograph: Mark Heathcote/Sotheby’s
“I think the work of this charity is very important – and perhaps showing this art in a venue in central London, which many of the artists would not otherwise come into, is also important,” she said. “The art world can be quite intimidating, and that too is a barrier to acceptance.

“I hope people will come and just look at this art as art, and be delighted.”

The exhibiting artists include James Lake, who makes large-scale sculptures entirely from cardboard – a medium he believes blurs the boundary between high and low art. He developed an interest in art while undergoing treatment in his teens for bone cancer, which included the amputation of his right leg.

Gold Run by James Lake.
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Gold Run by James Lake. Photograph: Sotheby’s
Some of the artists have won international recognition, such as the musician and writer Nick Blinko for his pen and ink drawings. Like several of the other artists, the lead singer of the 1980s punk band Rudimentary Peni has spent periods being treated for mental illness, and has spoken of the difficulty of balancing creativity with his prescribed medication.
Marc Steene, the director of Outside In, said the organisation had grown from a desire to challenge the status quo of the art world, to question its values and judgments, and to create opportunities for artists working outside the mainstream.
As outsider art has gained recognition, many artists have found a market for their work – for example, Rakibul Chowdhury, who has exhibited in Paris. His work Ophelia is inspired by the famous Millais painting, but Chowdhury shows her surrounded by figures from gossip magazines. He writes: “I want to keep painting my pictures. I want to sell my work. I want to go shopping.”

Primary School Utah Dismissed Master of Arts

Utah art teacher and artist Mateo Rudea is out of a job at the Lincoln Elementary School after parents objected to his showing sixth-grade students post cards of historical paintings, some of which included nudity.

The four nude works, by artists Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Amedeo Modigliani, Francois Boucher, and Agnolo Bronzino, were part of a set of postcards that depicted 100 art-historical works, reproduced by Phaidon and called the Art Box. It had been purchased as a teaching tool by the school some years ago, before Rueda was hired, and he was unaware that there was any nudity in the collection, which also features Leonardo da Vinci‘s Mona Lisa and other famous works by Paul Klee, Claude Manet, Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp, Paul Gauguin, J.M.W. Turner, and Vincent van Gogh.

“This is not material at all that I would use. I had no idea,” he told the Herald Journal of the December 4 incident. After students spotted the nudes, Rueda took back the cards in question and explained to the class that “‘when you grow up, you’re going to find yourselves going to museums or to places where unavoidably there’s going to be nudity.’”

François Boucher, Brown Odalisque (1745). Courtesy of the Louvre.
François Boucher, Brown Odalisque (1745). Courtesy of the Louvre.

Nevertheless, some parents complained of “classroom pornography” and, within days, Rueda was suspended and then asked to resign. He refused, and was promptly fired.

An anonymous complaint from a parent also brought the Cache County Sheriff’s Office to the scene. At the school, principal Jeni Buist was found destroying the pictures of nude works from the Art Box and other publications in the school library.

“She said she was putting the postcards and paintings in the shredder at the request of the school district so they wouldn’t be distributed again,” sheriff Chad Jensen told the Journal. “We got some of the pictures and showed them to the County Attorney’s Office, and they said these wouldn’t meet the definition of pornography. They declined to file charges.”

Agnolo Bronzino, Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time (c. 1545). Courtesy of the National Gallery, London.

Rueda’s firing made the news when a parent, Kamee Jensen, wrote a letter to the Journal arguing that he had been wrongfully terminated.

More parents have since spoken out in support of Rueda, as did Utah state Senator Jim Dabakis, a Democrat. “This is what happens when Porn Czars go amuck.… Remember, this is a real teacher with a real career and real mortgage payments,” he wrote on Facebook. “Have any of you moralists, who fired this art teacher, ever been in an art museum?”

Paris paid more than $ 103 million for the François Pinault House Building

The Pinault Collection reveals the cost of the French billionaire’s planned private museum as the Mayor of Paris comes under fire.

Hili Perlson, January 3, 2018

Francois Pinault attends the presentation of the project to install his art collection at the Paris Commercial Exchange on April 27, 2016. Photo Chesnot/Getty Images.
Did Paris overpay millions of euros for the building that will be the home of François Pinault’s planned museum in the French capital? Recent articles in the French media claim that the city shelled out an inflated amount for the historic Bourse de Commerce near the Centre Pompidou, when it was bought in 2016. Last week, the French satirical weekly Le Canard enchaîné published a story claiming that the city of Paris had bought the site slated to become a museum housing François Pinault’s contemporary art collection for more than $103 million when it could have been acquired for one Franc (around 15 cents).

Pinault, the mega-collector and billionaire owner of Christie’s, subsequently signed a 50-year lease on the site, and is footing the bill for the renovation of the former stock exchange building. The Pinault Collection will also be responsible for all future running costs of the private museum.

As well as overpaying for the site, Canard accused the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo of “mismanagement,” claiming that the city should have enforced a clause which would have allowed it to buy the building for a few cents. How did the weekly come up with that? In 1949, the article explains, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICC) bought the building from the city for the symbolic amount of one Franc. Back then, “a special condition was added to the contract,” the weekly points out, which stipulates that the transaction can be annulled if the building is no longer used for its original purpose of “public services dependent on the Chamber of Commerce,” thus allowing the city to buy it back for the sale price from nearly 70 years ago.

The Pinault Collection tells artnet News that it was not involved with the building’s purchase. In a statement, it says:

The Pinault Collection was not party to the negotiations between Paris’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the City of Paris. That being said, the City of Paris has subsequently given in this regard clear and detailed public explanations in particular during its deliberations of 4, 5 and 6 July, 2016. The Pinault Collection became acquainted with those at their public release.

In light of the media frenzy that the Canard article has sparked, Paris’s City Hall rejected the publication’s claim, saying that Canard’s interpretation of the 1949 contract is wrong, reports AFP. The lease prohibited the Chamber of Commerce from selling the building to third parties, it stated, but in the case of a resale to the City of Paris, “the ICC was entitled to the value of the property.”

Photographer Nan Goldin Launches Addiction Advocacy Group OxyContin Billionaires and Prominent Arts Donors

Photographer Nan Goldin has founded a new group that seeks to hold members of the Sackler family—noted philanthropists who have made billions from the sale of OxyContin—accountable for their role in America’s opioid crisis.

In an editorial for Artforum, Goldin describes her own battle with OxyContin addiction, for which she entered rehab last January. Her new group P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) aims to pressure the family into using its deep pockets to fund addiction treatment and education.

In October, the New Yorker and Esquire both published in-depth articles about the Sacklers’ use of philanthropy to burnish their image and distance themselves from the highly addictive drug that made them rich.

Indeed, the Sackler name graces wings, courtyards, and galleries at more than a dozen museums around the world, including the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. To date, no institution in the US or UK has been willing to criticize the funders or the source of their wealth, according to a recent investigation by the Art Newspaper. (One branch of the family, the descendants of Arthur Sackler, did not benefit directly from the sale of Oxycontin.)

“To get their ear we will target their philanthropy,” Goldin writes. “They have washed their blood money through the halls of museums and universities around the world.”

American photographer Nan Goldin speaks to journalists at the “Poste Restante” exhibition of her work at the C/O Gallery in 2009 in Berlin. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A representative from Goldin’s studio did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the group’s membership or advocacy plans. No posts have been made to P.A.I.N.’s Instagram account (@sacklerpain). Its identically named Twitter account has one single posting: the hashtag #ShameOnSackler.

Goldin’s piece in Artforum is accompanied by a new original photograph juxtaposing one of her own pill bottles with a cleverly cropped image of a sign from the Royal College of Art in London that reads “Pain Sackler.”

Addiction has long been a force in Goldin’s life. Her deeply personal breakout work, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, is an unvarnished look at her drug- and sex-fueled social scene in New York’s East Village.

“After The Ballad was published in 1986, I spent two years in my room. Drugs became my full-time occupation,” she told the Guardian in 2014. “I wanted to get high from a really early age. I wanted to be a junkie.”

Heroin and cocaine were her drugs of choice before she went to rehab in 1988. She battled periodic relapses afterward, but her addition to OxyContin was different. It began several years ago after she was prescribed the drug for surgery. “Though I took it as directed, I got addicted overnight,” writes Goldin. “It was the cleanest drug I’d ever met.”

What Does Master Art Magazine Have a Rock Band 80s?

You never know what you’re going to find when record shopping in Poughkeepsie, New York. Flipping through the vinyl at Darkside Records recently, I stumbled across a 1983 LP by Detroit band Art in America. Yes, the very same name as the century-old art magazine.

The band’s music engages in some of the aesthetic of contemporaneous prog rock bands like Yes, but focuses on radio-ready, three-minute pop tunes. The cover of the self-titled LP, released on CBS/Epic-Pavillion Records, features a dreamy, lush green landscape superimposed with a number of floating blue orbs, with the band’s name inscribed in red in the sky. The image is the first record cover by the Greek-born, single-named artist Ioannis, who later designed covers for bands like Deep Purple, the Allman Brothers, and King Crimson.

Active in the Detroit music scene in the late 1970s and early ’80s, Art in America consisted of three siblings from Michigan—lead singer and guitarist Chris Ruetenik, drummer Dan Ruetenik, and harpist Shishonee Ruetenik—along with bassist Jim Kuha. To burnish their image, the Rueteniks eventually became the Flynns, a punchier stage name for the first American rock band to employ a concert-size Lyon & Healey pedal harp.

Courtesy Art in America.
Photo courtesy of Art in America.

But how did an art magazine come to be the namesake of a Detroit rock band?

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It all started with Warren Westfall, a “bohemian” friend who had stacks of the magazine lying around, says Chris Ruetenik. “What is Art in America?” Westfall asked in a conversation with the band, he recalls. “It is its popular culture. It’s the synthesis of all the cultures that have contributed to it. The band is a result of that synthesis. Thus you are… Art in America!”

Rick Smith, the band’s manager in the ’80s and now principal of Michigan’s Wild Justice Music, says he cleared the use of the name with the magazine’s then editor-in-chief, Elizabeth C. Baker. “Let’s rock and roll,” Smith says she told him. Baker, reached by phone, didn’t recall the conversation and pointed out that such requests would normally go through the publishers. Neither Whitney Communications Corporation, which owned the magazine at the time, or Sony, which now owns Columbia, responded to emails.

“It’s news to me,” Baker said in a phone conversation. “I’m very glad to know about it. I was fascinated to see a harp in a rock band, and it’s a charmingly inventive video.”

Anarchy Breathing Robot at the Chelsea Art Gallery

The artist Mark Pauline has a reputation for creating chaos. Over four decades, working under the name Survival Research Laboratories, he has earned a devoted following for pioneering violent, large-scale performances by custom-built machines and robots.

One of those shows might include a flamethrower mounted on a walking frame the size of an elephant, a pile of 20 pianos set ablaze, a menacing claw just the right size to grab a human head in its pincers and a bin full of rotting vegetables.

Now, after years as an art-world outlaw, Mr. Pauline is bringing his machines to the marketplace. This latest project, opening at Marlborough Contemporary on Saturday, will be less pungent but promises to be nearly as spectacular in a white-cube Chelsea gallery.

On the opening day, Mr. Pauline’s “Pitching Machine” will hurl wooden planks at up to 200 miles an hour into a bulletproof containment vessel, where they will disintegrate in calamitous fashion.

Running the Pitching Machine at ACE Auto in SF 2001 Survival Research Labs Video by Genuine Survival Research Labs
The exhibition, “Inconsiderate Fantasies of Negative Acceleration Characterized by Sacrifices of a Non-Consensual Nature,” will also be his first selling show.

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“People have told me that they would be a big art-world phenomenon,” Mr. Pauline said, referring to his creations. “But people have been telling me that since 1979.”

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A detail of “Rotary Jaw With Squirrel Eyes.” Credit Vincent Tullo for The New York Times
That was the year he began his idiosyncratic career as a maker of heavy equipment for manufacturing mayhem and a choreographer of bizarre, occasionally unauthorized performances. Animal remains were sometimes incorporated. Explosions, intentional and otherwise, were not uncommon.

The authorities were frequently involved. On YouTube, you can watch video of Mr. Pauline being confronted by a fire marshal after a 1992 performance before a groundbreaking at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Despite the conflict, his safety record is largely intact, with one notable exception: A 1982 explosion in his shop badly wounded Mr. Pauline, taking most of the fingers from his right hand.

An enterprise that began in solitude has grown, and Mr. Pauline has come to work with a number of assistants, largely volunteers.

The creations, mostly built with castoff and recycled materials scavenged from Bay Area factories and corporate labs, have traveled with Mr. Pauline around the world. In 1999, he set up an internet connection to allow users in California to control a machine in Tokyo. And despite the occasionally medieval appearance of his works, he has continually updated them to remain at the leading edge of technology. One machine at the Marlborough gallery, “The Big Walker,” was created in 1986. Another, “Track Robot,” was first built in 1998 and has recently been updated to be controlled via a 3-D Oculus Rift headset.

Art Collector and Dealer (Eugene V. Thaw) Is Dead at 90

Eugene V. Thaw, a major American collector of European old master art and one of the world’s most respected dealers in the field, died on Wednesday at his home in Cherry Valley, N.Y. He was 90.

His death was confirmed by Katie Flanagan, president of a charitable trust established by Mr. Thaw and his wife, Clare E. Thaw, who shared his art-collecting enthusiasms.

Mr. Thaw also earned distinction as the co-author of a monumental catalogue raisonné of Jackson Pollock’s work.

His personal collection featured more than 400 drawings, including rare works by Goya, Van Gogh and Andrea Mantegna and price-setting items by Rembrandt and Samuel Palmer.

But he insisted that “great art collecting need not be based on a great fortune; education, experience and eye are more important.” He spoke from his own history.

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He was born on Oct. 27, 1927, in Washington Heights in Manhattan. His father was a heating contractor, his mother a schoolteacher. They named him for the socialist leader Eugene Victor Debs, who had died the previous year.

As a young teenager, Mr. Thaw took drawing classes at the Art Students League on West 57th Street in Manhattan. But he did not pursue the hands-on practice of art.

“I can’t create the objects I crave to look at,” he later said, “so I collect them.”

After graduating from DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx at 15, he entered St. John’s College in Annapolis, Md., and began making day trips to art museums in nearby Washington.

Returning to New York in 1947, he took graduate classes in art history at Columbia University with Millard Meiss and Meyer Schapiro. He also followed the city’s contemporary-art scene, getting an early immersion in Pollock’s work at the Betty Parsons Gallery.

Having neither the money nor the social connections generally required to be a museum curator in those days, Mr. Thaw decided on selling art as a career option.

In 1950, with a loan from his father, he opened a gallery above the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel on West 44th Street. He gathered stock in part by rummaging through antique stores and hanging out at small auction houses.

His wares were eclectic. To keep the doors open, he sold Nabis prints and Toulouse-Lautrec posters. But he also researched Rembrandt drawings, handled some Native American material and mounted the first solo show of a newcomer named Joan Mitchell.

Looted Antiques Seized From Billionaire’s Home

Investigators raided the office and the Manhattan home of the billionaire Michael H. Steinhardt on Friday afternoon, carrying off several ancient works that prosecutors say were looted from Greece and Italy.

Mr. Steinhardt, a hedge-fund manager and philanthropist, has been collecting art from ancient Greece for three decades and has close ties to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where one of the galleries is named for him.

In a telephone interview, Mr. Steinhardt, 77, declined to comment, “for now,” on the seizure of at least nine pieces from his private collection at his Fifth Avenue apartment at 79th Street, a three-floor home that overlooks Central Park. The authorities also searched Mr. Steinhardt’s office at 712 Fifth Avenue.

The seizures marked the latest action in an effort by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., to repatriate looted antiquities discovered in New York City to their countries of origin.

Over the last year, Mr. Vance has roiled the city’s rarefied art world, seizing work from major museums, auction houses and private collections. In recent months, he has returned three ancient statues to Lebanon, a mosaic from one of Caligula’s ships to Italy, and a second-century Buddhist sculpture to Pakistan.

Mr. Steinhardt Credit Evan Agostini/Invision, via Associated Press
Last month, Mr. Vance formed an antiquities-trafficking bureau to continue the work, putting it under the leadership of Matthew Bogdanos, an assistant district attorney who is a classics scholar and has headed most of the investigations.

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But the district attorney’s aggressive efforts have drawn criticism from collectors, who have argued such disputes over the provenance of ancient pieces would be better handled in a civil courts. Mr. Vance has been using a state law that allows prosecutors to return stolen property to its owner, though so far he has not brought charges against anyone for possessing the works.

Among the pieces seized on Friday from Mr. Steinhardt was a Greek white-ground attic lekythos — or oil vessel — from the fifth century B.C., depicting a funeral scene with the figures of a woman and a youth, according to the search warrant. It is worth at least $380,000.

Also seized were Proto-Corinthian figures from the seventh century B.C., depicting an owl and a duck, together worth about $250,000. The other pieces included an Apulian terra-cotta flask in the shape of an African head from the fourth century B.C.; an Ionian sculpture of a ram’s head from the sixth century; and an attic aryballos, a vessel for oil or perfume, from the early fifth century. The objects were all bought in the last 12 years for a total cost of $1.1 million, according to the warrants.

The death of betty wodmen the multimedia art

Betty Woodman, a sculptor who took an audacious turn when she began to transform traditional pottery, her usual medium, into innovative multimedia art, moving her work from kitchen cupboard shelves to museum walls, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. She was 87.

Her son, Charles, said the cause was pneumonia.

Ms. Woodman’s evolution from artisan to fine artist culminated in a retrospective in 2006 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, its first for a living female artist.

“I am coming out of left field,” she told The New York Times when the exhibition opened. “They don’t know what they’ve got hold of.”

One of the 70 works in the show, “The Ming Sisters,” is a nearly three-foot-high triptych of cylindrical vases arranged side by side — each with irregular, winged cutouts — that depict Asian women in gowns on one side and brightly colored paintings of vases on the other.

Reviewing the show for The Times, the critic Grace Glueck wrote that the “sharply outlined spaces between the figures, ghostly gray intrusions, play an important part in the presentation of the figures.”

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Another work in the retrospective was “Aeolian Pyramid,” which reflects Ms. Woodman’s late-in-life shift to very large installations of ceramics, some of them fused with paintings. “Aeolian,” which comprises 44 pedestal-mounted vase shapes, gradually tiers upward in a dramatic, pyramidal design.

“The composite keeps squeezing out real space, which keeps muscling back in,” the critic Peter Schjeldahl wrote in his review in The New Yorker. “The result is a visual ‘Hallelujah Chorus.’ ”

He added: “At the age of 76, she is beyond original, all the way to sui generis.”

Ms. Woodman’s “Aeolian Pyramid,” which Peter Schjeldahl called “a visual ‘Hallelujah Chorus’” in his review in The New Yorker.
Credit Salon 94
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“The Ming Sisters” is a triptych of cylindrical vases that features paintings of Asian women in gowns on one side and paintings of vases on the other. Credit Salon 94
Using clay as her primary medium, Ms. Woodman’s vividly colored ceramics drew on innumerable influences, including Greek and Etruscan sculpture, Italian Baroque architecture, Tang dynasty glaze techniques, Egyptian art and Islamic tiles.
They also evoked paintings by Picasso, Bonnard and Matisse. “You should be able to think of Matisse,” she told the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail in 2011, “but hopefully you don’t stop there; you realize that it makes a reference, but it goes beyond.”

Ms. Woodman — usually attired in a kerchief, a boldly striped dress and wildly patterned stockings — worked at her potter’s wheels and kilns at her studios in Boulder, Colo., the Chelsea section of Manhattan, and Antella, Italy.

Her husband, George, a painter and photographer, died last March; her son is an electronic artist, and her daughter, Francesca, was a photographer whose erotic and melancholy pictures won her acclaim before she committed suicide in 1981, when she was 22.