Art News & Insights
Art World News
September 30, 2023
Coco at V&A
The Victoria & Albert Museum in London is currently hosting an iconic exhibition that delves into the legacy of Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel. Organized into 10 themed sections, Fashion Manifesto examines nearly 200 distinct looks, along with a selection of accessories and jewelry.
The exhibition at the V&A draws its inspiration from the Palais Galliera in Paris, which, with Chanel’s support, became France’s first fashion museum in 2019. However, the London presentation is a reimagined version, featuring over 100 new items, including 60 fresh looks, tailored to captivate its London audience.
Among these new items, Chanel’s signature tweed suits, characterized by their matching jackets and skirts, stand out as remarkable creations made possible by her collaboration with a Huddersfield textile factory.
Another highlight is the original costumes she designed for the Ballets Russes’ production of Le Train Bleu in 1924. Drawn to Sergei Diaghilev’s avant-garde ballet vision, Chanel defied convention by crafting sporty ballet attire. The exhibition further features her earliest known piece of clothing, a marinière blouse dating back to 1916, various ensembles from her triumphant 1954 collection after a 15-year hiatus, and outfits crafted for luminaries like Marlene Dietrich, with whom she formed a close friendship in the 1930s.
Chanel has meticulously recreated the renowned spiral staircase once gracing her Paris atelier. This staircase linked her residence upstairs to the showroom downstairs, serving as the backdrop for her seasonal fashion spectacles.
With a keen eye, Chanel would observe proceedings from her vantage point on the fifth step from the top, granting her an unobstructed view of the bustling scene below, enabling her to gauge immediate audience reactions.
Visitors to the V&A can easily envision Chanel herself peering down from this gleaming spiral staircase, analyzing and critiquing the assemblage of garments and accessories adorning mannequins below.
The V&A has consistently challenged conventional perspectives on fashion through previous exhibitions like “Africa Fashion” (2022–2023), “The Art of Menswear” (2022), “Mary Quant” (2019–2020), and the groundbreaking “Savage Beauty” by Alexander McQueen in 2015, following its initial success at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The exhibition is on display through February 25, 2024.
The Oligarch's Collection
The art collection of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, which was estimated to be worth nearly $1 billion in 2018, has recently come to light following a leak of confidential records from a financial services company based in Cyprus. The collection contains about 300 works of art, including works by legends like Francis Bacon, Edgar Degas, Lucian Freud, and Pablo Picasso.
The origin of this revelation lies in the “Oligarch Files,” a leak from MeritServus. These files, scrutinized by international media outlets, elucidate the ownership structure of the art collection. Seline-Invest, an entity initially registered in the British Virgin Islands and later redomiciled to Jersey, held the collection.
Among the notable works in the collection is Lucian Freud’s Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, acquired for a record-breaking £17 million in 2008. The collection’s opulence is further accentuated by the acquisition of Francis Bacon’s Triptych for $86 million and the presence of at least ten pieces valued at over $25 million.
In a significant development, Abramovich’s ex-wife’s ownership stake in the trust was increased to 51 percent via a “deed of amendment” in February 2022, just prior to the sanctions imposed on Abramovich. This maneuver aimed to safeguard the collection from asset freezes, and it notably preceded the imposition of sanctions on Abramovich by both the UK and the EU.
The collection is not covered by an asset freezing order, but Abramovich’s sanctions prevented the National Gallery in London from carrying out a loan deal with the Ermis Trust that was related to Lucian Freud’s works last year for the exhibition Lucian Freud: New Perspectives. However, several pieces from the collection have already been loaned out, including two pieces by Paula Rego that were displayed in 2021 at her Tate Britain retrospective.
Roman Abramovich still stands out among the affluent Russian oligarchs of the 1990s who have maintained their influence throughout Putin’s rule, with an estimated net worth of around $10 billion.
Hendricks at Frick
Frick Madison in NYC features 14 finest large-scale color portraits by the African-American painter Barkley L. Hendricks. The exhibition, celebrating the diverse beauty of African-American subjects, is a testament to Hendricks’ ability to merge traditional techniques with contemporary subjects.
Barkley L. Hendricks (1945–2017), who studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Yale, left an indelible mark through his portraits, which capture the essence of city life and its denizens. The Frick Collection, renowned for its portraits by artists like Rembrandt, Bronzino, Van Dyck, among others, held a special place for him as one of his preferred museums.
Curated by Aimee Ng, Frick’s Curator, and Consulting Curator Antwaun Sargent, the exhibition delves into the intricate relationship between European painting and Hendricks’s artistic vision, as well as the evolving significance of the Frick in modern American culture.
“Lawdy Mama” and “Miss T” from 1969 exemplify the use of traditional techniqueS, featuring subjects clad in black against monochromatic backgrounds, creating a striking juxtaposition.
“Woody” (1973) showcases his command of color and form, with vibrant yellow contrasting with brown skin and a radiant background. Hendricks transcends limited palettes, especially in his white-on-white portraits, which reveal the infinite nuances of dark skin tones and pure whiteness.
“Omarr” (1981) and other works in a side room further exemplify Hendricks’s celebration of the rich diversity within the African-American community. His commitment to portraying African-Americans without the weight of oppression and poverty is evident.
“Lagos Ladies (Gbemi, Bisi, Niki, Christy)” (1978) unveils the subtleties of complexion and individuality within a collective setting, emphasizing the beauty of black skin.
The exhibition runs through January 7, 2024.
Turkey's vibrant culture and ancient art heritage are shaped by various civilizations, including the Hittite, Urartian, Lydian, Roman, Byzantine as well as the Seljuk Sultanate, Turkish principalities, and the Ottoman Empire. During the 19th century, the...
The phrase ‘NFT market collapse’ has been thrown about in the media like a can of Andy Warhol’s soup. In doing so, its meaning has been lost for those seeking to comprehend the latest developments. Are NFTs dead? This article seeks to create clarity and lay out the relevant discourse...
Through striking paintings, sculptures, installations, performances, and videos, climate change artists incite awe and inspiration with the ultimate goal of saving our planet. It is not too late to listen to them now.
Video art uses audio-visual technology to create artistic expression. Artists have been exploring the different possibilities of the art form by blending it with performance, music, animation, sculpture, and architecture. The article examines the historical evolution of video art as well as its future...
Howardena Pindell's debut video artwork, Free, White and 21 (1980), is a straightforward narration of memories as well as a sharp critique of racism and sexism. The article dives deeper into this iconic video art piece and explores Pindell’s...
Feminist Art focuses on themes that relate to the lives of females. Feminist artists share stories, highlight female experiences and point at what makes females unique. The article breaks down what Feminist Art is, scrutinizes its origins and...
Contemporary African art has been drawing the attention of the art world for quite some time. A wave of exhibitions worldwide in the 1990s and early 2000s provided visibility to contemporary African artists. The continent’s successful cultural...
Jean-Michel Basquiat rose to fame in the 1980s, and his works have been highly sought after ever since. Basquiat used a myriad of symbols to express political, racial, and social themes. This article explores the meaning behind the famous...
Contemporary sculpture has expanded and multiplied the possibilities of sculpture as an art form. How did contemporary sculpture artists reinvent the characteristics, techniques, and materials of sculpture?
Indian art goes back to 3000 BC. Over time, religion, colonization, and political issues have shaped Indian contemporary art as we know it today. This ultimate guide reviews the historical art journey of India, and examines some of the world...
With his famous Pink Panther, Jeff Koons captures kitsch, sexuality, and humor all at once. Arguably the highlight of his Banality series, the porcelain sculpture immediately became a sensation in the art world. What is the story and true meaning of Pink Panther?
What does figurative and abstract mean in art? How have these two styles evolved into the art we see being created today? Are they the opposite ends of the creative spectrum or have the linesalways been blurred between the two?
The widespread popularity of Japanese contemporary artists cannot be stopped. Japan’s centuries-long art tradition blended with relatively more recent Western influence has paved the way for Japan’s success in contemporary art globally...
Everybody knows MoMA, Tate Modern, and Centre Pompidou, but how about other contemporary art museums? We have selected ten of the lesser-known museums around the world that should be on your radar in the next year with striking...
Prints and multiples have become the staple of the contemporary art market. Centuries-old printmaking techniques are being used and further developed by contemporary artists to entice artlovers. The article looks into this attractive...
A deep dive into contemporary art trends through a review of auctions post-lockdowns. The fall of blue chip and the rise of red chip art, new digital...
Photography has become a widely accepted medium of the visual arts, but what does it mean when people talk about contemporary photography? Through an examination of photography’s evolution, major players, and...
What is the distinction between primary and secondary art market? What is the role of galleries? Why do collectors buy and sell contemporary art? How is fine art priced? Beyond the dazzling auction prices being covered in contemporary art...
NFTs have actually been around for several years, yet the art world has recently started to embrace them thanks to the growing coverage of contemporary art articles. A deep dive in NFTs and recent issues.
COVID-19 changed everything, and the art world was no different. The article looks at how the pandemic has been impacting the field as well as shaping contemporary art trends.
September 23, 2023
Lichtenstein Beyond Canvas
Lichtenstein Remembered is a tribute to Roy Lichtenstein’s artistic legacy on the occasion of his centenary. Curated by Irving Blum at the Gagosian New York, the exhibition aims to shed light on the artist’s sculptures, which have been somewhat overshadowed by his iconic paintings known for their vivid colors and comic book aesthetics.
These sculptures, often referred to as “drawings in space,” defy traditional expectations of three-dimensional art. They possess a captivating hyperreal quality, distorting perspectives and challenging viewers’ spatial perceptions.
Lichtenstein’s exceptional talent lies in his capacity to breathe textural depth into two-dimensional forms, a signature that has left an indelible impression on contemporaries like David Hockney. The artist used familiar techniques from painting and printmaking to create amazing sculptures in space. He made sculptures of things like glasses, lamps, mirrors, and mobiles, as well as faces and explosions, all with a clever use of Pop art.
His sculptures possess a striking hyperreal quality. Comprising bold shapes and vibrant colors, they exude a playful and childlike essence while simultaneously capturing intricate subjects, such as the ephemeral nature of steam, in the enduring medium of bronze. The exhibition also features drawings and paintings that show how these sculptures were planned and made. For example, “Desk Explosion” from 1965 is a small sculpture made of porcelain enamel on steel. It simplifies its subject to a burst of yellow and red, with holes in a flat sheet of white metal representing a puff of smoke, similar to the Benday dot technique Lichtenstein often used.
The artist turned these outlines into larger drawings. His assistant, sculptor Carlos Ramos, used them to create small wooden models. The Tallix Foundry, now UAP, used these models to create molds for casting final sculptures, usually in bronze, which were then painted and treated for their ultimate appearance. Gagosian’s longstanding collaboration with Lichtenstein and his widow, Dorothy Lichtenstein, has led to about 15 exhibitions dedicated to various aspects of his work. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog featuring essays by Daniel Belasco, Adam Gopnik, and Steve Martin, offering insights into the profound impact of Lichtenstein’s sculptures.
The New Armory?
During the VIP opening of The Armory Show, conversations buzzed with excitement over the fair’s recent acquisition by Frieze this summer.
With The Armory now in full swing, it is becoming apparent that Frieze’s involvement is attracting a greater number of international collectors, thus bolstering its global appeal while still retaining its quintessential “New Yorkness”.
Marking its 29th year, The Armory Show has evolved from its humble beginnings with four dealers in a hotel to its current iteration at the Javits Center. It now features over 225 dealers from 35 countries, including emerging galleries. The fair’s programming promises diversity, including psychedelic figuration, racial justice exploration, textile art, and immersive installations. It also showcases renowned artists and emerging talents, as well as global gallery brands and indie dealers, making it a significant event in the international art calendar.
Critics debate the potential merger of The Armory Show with Frieze’s New York fairs. This could affect their timing and competition like in the case of Kiaf Seoul and Frieze Seoul. Some see it as a way for Frieze to leverage the Javits Center’s capacity, while others worry about the impact on smaller galleries and diverse art platforms. Unlike the pandemic-tinged atmosphere of the past editions, this year exudes a more relaxed ambiance, reflected in the lighter tone of the artworks on display. There is a welcome shift towards presenting more daring and underappreciated artists, as well as challenging conceptual pieces.
The standout feature is Curator Candice Hopkins’s “Focus” section, highlighting Indigenous and First Nation artists, with some also featured in her exhibition “Indian Theater” at Bard College. The “Presents” section, featuring younger galleries, also offers a compelling showcase of emerging talent.
Breathing Life Through VR
Marshmallow Laser Feast, a collective from London, created EVOLVER, an innovative VR project merging art, science, and tech. It plunges viewers into the inner workings of the human body, tracking oxygen’s path from lungs to a solitary “breathing” cell. Cate Blanchett and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood contributed to the project, alongside scientists from esteemed research centers.
EVOLVER’s captivating journey within the human body’s microcosm mirrors the macrocosm of nature. As air moves from the mouth, into the lungs, through the complex pathways of the cardiovascular system, and back out into the natural environment, it helps viewers visualize the rhythmic breathing process.
Showcased at the Opera Gallery of the Polish National Opera, EVOLVER commences with a ten-minute audio meditation, guided by Blanchett’s soothing voice, in a specially designed relaxation space.
Participants then transition to a VR experience, donning goggles to embark on a twenty-minute virtual odyssey through the human body, tracing the journey of oxygen to an individual cell. The exhibition concludes with an epilogue in the form of a gallery featuring digital pieces by Marshmallow Laser Feast members and a film expanding on the narrative of the experience.
EVOLVER demonstrates that audiovisual technologies, such as VR, can be harnessed not only for escapism but also for profound understanding. These new digital tools enable us to perceive and comprehend the world in previously unimaginable ways.
It strikes a harmonious balance among aesthetics, science, visuals, and auditory elements, creating a virtual universe that is both truthful and beautiful, engaging the senses and emotions while fostering intellectual reflection.
BMW, as the patron of the project, opens all screenings to the general audience. The exhibition runs from October 12th to December 10th, 2023.
Frieze Seoul Spotlight
In its second year, Frieze Seoul 2023 is set to take place at COEX in Seoul’s Gangnam district from September 6 through 9, 2023. Seoul Art Week will complement the event, solidifying the city’s emergence as a dynamic art capital in Asia.
Frieze Seoul features over 120 galleries, primarily showcasing exhibitors from Asia. The event highlights ‘Focus Asia,’ which spotlights young Asian galleries, and also presents ‘Frieze Masters,’ dedicated to antiquities and art from the 20th century.
Highlights of the fair include a range of compelling exhibitions, such as Mary Weatherford’s captivating new paintings that delve into both natural elements and the inner workings of the mind and body. Kukje Gallery will showcase Korean art pioneers like Park Seo-Bo and Ha Chong-Hyun, while Jessica Silverman gallery presents Californian-based artist Woody De Othello’s ceramic sculptures and oil paintings, reflecting on the domestic and surreal.
Focus Asia, guided by Hyejung Jang and Joselina Cruz, returns with ten solo artist presentations from regional galleries founded in or after 2011, emphasizing artistic discovery. Notable artworks include Sinae Yoo’s series exploring honesty’s complexities, Woo Hannah’s fabric installations depicting female energy, and Priyageetha Dia’s 3D animation works delving into Southeast Asian plantation histories.
Frieze Masters, curated by Nathan Clements-Gillespie, brings together art across eras, from antiquities and rare manuscripts to 20th-century masterpieces. The fair will showcase works by Rhee Seundja, Modernists like On Kawara and Sol Lewitt, and celebrate the 60th anniversary of Gray Gallery with a selection of acclaimed artists. The ongoing collaboration between CHANEL and Frieze presents ‘NOW & NEXT,’ a video series bridging established and emerging artists, fostering intergenerational dialogue.
Brooks at Parrish
The Parrish Art Museum is currently hosting James Brooks: A Painting Is a Real Thing, which serves as a portal into the artistic realm of James Brooks (1906-1992).
The exhibition highlights artist Brooks’ career-defining moment in 1947 when he pioneered a new painting technique using Bemis cloth. This allowed paint to seep through the fabric, creating a distinctive style marked by dynamic shapes, deliberate lines, vibrant colors, and occasional centrifugal drips.
Brooks’ artistic odyssey was far from conventional. Raised across Oklahoma, Colorado, and Texas, he embarked on his artistic education under the mentorship of various instructors. A fateful move to New York in 1926 exposed him to the city’s vibrant art scene, leading him to delve into advertising and lithography.
During this period, he embraced the prevailing regionalist aesthetic, even securing mural commissions through the Works Progress Administration. Notably, his creation “Flight” adorned the Marine Air Terminal at La Guardia Airport, a mural that endured both whitewashing and recovery, and is now represented in the exhibition by preparatory sketches and a colossal photographic reproduction.
World War II momentarily disrupted Brooks’ artistic trajectory, as he served as a combat artist, capturing the multifaceted essence of warfare. Upon the war’s conclusion, Brooks found himself sharing living quarters with Jackson Pollock before establishing his residence in Montauk, New York. A tragic turn of events occurred in 1954 when Hurricane Carol obliterated his studio, compelling him to relocate to Springs, where he conceived an expansive studio conducive to larger-scale artworks.
While Brooks’ name may not be as instantly recognizable as some of his contemporaries, his oeuvre exudes timeless brilliance. His canvases echo the expansiveness reminiscent of Rothko’s color-shapes, the refined brushwork akin to De Kooning, and the astute compositions reminiscent of Kline.
With over 100 artworks on display, the exhibition asserts that his artistic significance transcends the confines of chronology, firmly establishing him as a revered figure within the realm of Abstract Expressionism.
Holzer Meets AI
Since the 1970s, Jenny Holzer has harnessed language as her artistic medium, utilizing poetic, political, and personal texts to engage with our encounters of power, violence, delight, despair, and idealism.
The American conceptual artist unveiled recent paintings and robotic LEDs at the Hauser & Wirth gallery in West Hollywood. This event marks her notable return to Los Angeles and her inaugural incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies within her text-centered practice.
Among the works displayed in the exhibition, Holzer presents two robotic vertical LEDs installed adjacently, both exhibiting texts generated by AI. Her ventures into AI pose novel questions regarding authorship due to the regenerative nature of new technology.
“GOOD” (2023), AI was instructed to depict euphoric experiences spanning human, nonhuman, physical, and immaterial realms. The ensuing responses comprise poetic depictions of emotional sensations, natural phenomena, machine sounds, and even extraterrestrial encounters. These texts, rendered in pastel hues, ascend along the four sides of the artwork.
“BAD” (2023) features extremist political content fed into the generator, which subsequently composes concise statements and cryptic poems reminiscent of the far right and alt-right ideologies. These passages, pulsating in shades of gray and bursts of red, animate the LED in choreographed robotic movements, forming a comprehensive sensory portrayal of intricate parallel experiences, both human and artificial, ranging from joyful to chaotic.
“WTF” (2022) is a swinging LED beam showcasing tweets from Donald Trump’s presidency and posts by Q, the enigmatic QAnon figurehead. It moves unpredictably along a track, reflecting the erratic rhythm of these messages’ initial online appearances. The flashing and scrolling texts illuminate nearly 300 ‘curse tablets’ on the floor, which are inspired by ancient curse tablets and bear Trump’s tweets. These tablets are created by imprinting tweets onto cast metal and aging them through folding, crumpling, piercing, and chemical treatments.
The gallery walls feature Holzer’s latest Redaction Paintings, inspired by declassified government documents. Holzer painstakingly transcribes these documents onto linen and enhances them with layers of oil paint and metal leaf, referencing FBI records, Trump-era briefs, and a 2021 AI report. These artworks delve into contemporary political turmoil, exploring real and perceived threats to democracy through textured surfaces.
Old Masters Reimagined
The Princeton University Art Museum’s recent exhibition at the Art on Hulfish Gallery brings together photographers who draw inspiration from art history, particularly referencing old masters like Da Vinci and Van Eyck.
The show skillfully weaves historical threads with contemporary sensibilities, offering visitors an engaging and enlightening experience that caters to both intellectual and emotional engagement.
The curator’s intention is for visitors to not only appreciate the intricate layers of meaning within the artworks but also to find joy and humor in them. One standout piece is Vik Muniz’s imaginative 1999 photograph, a whimsical tribute to da Vinci’s Mona Lisa reimagined with peanut butter and jelly. This playfulness extends to other works as well, making it accessible and enjoyable for a broad audience.
The exhibition encapsulates the essence of art’s evolution while anchoring it firmly in the present. Amidst the historical references, a common theme emerges—the exploration of identity, a pursuit that remains as relevant today as it was in the periods being referenced.
Artists like Ori Gersht engage with this theme thoughtfully. Gersht’s video work, which substitutes a pomegranate for a grenade in a recreation of Juan Sánchez Cotán’s still life, carries powerful symbolism, reflecting the artist’s Tel Aviv childhood, where the Hebrew word for “pomegranate” also means “grenade.”
Among the multifaceted artworks, Jeanette May’s “NY Tech Vanitas: Dot Matrix” stands out. This contemporary take on the traditional still-life genre replaces opulent items with discarded technology—flip-phones, CD-ROMs, and antiquated printers—commenting on the ephemeral nature of technological progress. This transformation of familiar elements into poignant reflections on time underscores the exhibition’s ability to bridge the gap between historical legacy and current societal concerns.
Art Market Enigma
Despite the robust sales observed in fine art auctions, understanding the authentic dynamics of the market has become puzzling due to the rising opaqueness. Despite the robust sales observed in fine-art auctions, understanding the authentic dynamics of the market has become puzzling due to the rising opaqueness.
Varying buyer’s premiums among auction houses introduces complexity. The auction houses reporting prices inclusive of premiums adds an extra layer. Further financial complexities, encompassing presale agreements and ownership intricacies, create obstacles to grasping the exact prices paid for lots and the involved entities.
The rise in financialization is exemplified by the growing significance of “trophy lots,” artworks fetching over $10 million each, which significantly influence the market’s overall performance. These high-value pieces are subject to intricate financial arrangements involving guarantees and irrevocable bids.
The increasing demand for trophy lots has prompted major auction houses to compete for consignments and buyers, leading to complex financial negotiations and arrangements that ensure these lots are sold for substantial sums.
Although the concentration of trophy-lot sales is observed in Impressionist and Modern works, the sector’s dynamics have also extended to Postwar and Contemporary pieces.
Other recent developments also contribute to the opacity of the fine-art auction sector. Auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s have reduced the production of physical auction catalogues, limiting access to information. Private ownership of major auction houses has eliminated the need for extensive financial reporting, and regulatory changes have allowed houses to disclose less information to stakeholders.
Collishaw’s AI Art
Artist Mat Collishaw, a prominent member of the 1990s Young British Artists group, is poised to reveal an innovative art series at London’s Kew Gardens this fall, delving into the mesmerizing fusion of artistic expression, the natural world’s marvels, and technological ingenuity.
The forthcoming exhibition, named Petrichor and slated to run from October 20, 2023, through April 7, 2024, will showcase an array of new commissions alongside existing creations, all shaped by the infusion of artificial intelligence (AI).
A spotlight of the showcase is the debut of Collishaw’s “Alluvion” series, inspired by Dutch Golden Age paintings of flora and fauna. This collection comprises six fresh works ingeniously crafted through AI. Initially presenting as striking flowers and plants, a closer examination unveils intricately layered insects that form the essence of the buds. The artworks ingeniously capture the concept of Pouyannian mimicry, wherein flowers mimic insects to enhance their own reproduction.
Also featured in the exhibition is Collishaw’s “Heterosis” series, a dynamic fusion of genetic algorithms and blockchain technology presented as NFTs. Drawing inspiration from the 17th-century tulip mania, where a single Semper Augustus flower bulb commanded staggering prices, Collishaw employs this historical reference to explore the interplay between beauty, rarity, and digital value.
Among the captivating works gracing the Kew Gardens exhibition is “The Centrifugal Soul” (2017), an entrancing pre-film zoetrope conjuring fleeting scenes of birds of paradise through its flickering mechanism.
Equally captivating is “Albion” (2017), a hologram-like creation conceived as a response to the Brexit referendum and England’s identity. This artwork features a spectral oak tree symbolizing the nation, delicately supported by chains and crutches, raising questions about the preservation of idealized historical narratives.
Nauman at SITE Santa Fe
Featuring a collection of new and recent video installations, Bruce Nauman: His Mark at SITE Santa Fe captures the nuances of Bruce Nauman‘s daring career.
Nauman infuses intense personal elements by incorporating his body into his art, expressing rawness. The exhibition unveiles a striking video work, “Self-Portrait at 80” (2022), depicting Nauman’s body’s contortions in homage to ancient Greek sculptures.
Nauman’s artistic evolution is a story of transformation. From being initially dismissed as an exponent of “psychic primitivism,” he has emerged as a luminary of his artistic generation. Over the span of five decades, Nauman has displayed an astonishing mastery across a multitude of mediums, ranging from video and performance to sculpture.
In this creative odyssey, Nauman has ventured into the innovative use of materials as diverse as wax, neon, and the humble pencil. His innovation has reverberated in contemporary art circles, setting a trailblazing precedent by melding different mediums into a harmonious whole.
Nauman’s emergence during a time of critical introspection on the nature of art was propitious. He steered art into a new direction, elevating the concept above the final artifact, and essentially redefining art as an immersive and dynamic process. This seismic shift from the traditional paradigm paved the way for art to be an experience. His approach found kinship with conceptualists of his era, such as Sol LeWitt and Lawrence Weiner, who championed the idea that the essence of art lay in the concept itself.
What sets Nauman apart is his persistent defiance of conventional norms. He treads the uncharted territory of discomfort, deliberately unsettling viewers. Works like “Carousel,” with its uncanny taxidermy forms dragged by mechanical arms, and corridor installations suffused with surveillance undertones, evoke a palpable sense of unease. Nauman’s artistic vocabulary is often an exploration of the visceral emotions that reside beneath the surface.
Art & Science Collide
The Getty and Frieze have united to collaborate on an innovative series of commissions and events as part of a new initiative, PST ART: Art & Science Collide, underscoring the increasing significance of interdisciplinary approaches in the art world.
The initiative will showcase over 818 artists across more than 50 carefully coordinated exhibitions. Themes will encompass a wide range, from climate change to artificial intelligence.
A noteworthy facet of this partnership is the participation of Frieze Seoul and Frieze London in hosting two captivating commissions. Korean visual research collective ikkibawiKrrr will bring a new video and interactive performance to Frieze Seoul, focusing on the marine ecosystem and environmental sustainability. This project will center on the intriguing community of haenyeo, female divers from Jeju Island who rely on the sea for their livelihood. Their interactive creation serves as a homage to unity with the sea and its inhabitants.
Frieze London will see Los Angeles-based interdisciplinary artist Candice Lin unveil a new work featuring large-scale indigo-dyed kites. Drawing inspiration from Asian kite-making traditions, the piece will be activated by performers in Regent’s Park, delving into themes encompassing castration in human culture, animal husbandry, and companionship.
The initiative gathers a myriad of institutions to delve into an array of themes such as ancient cosmologies, indigenous science fiction, environmental equity, and more. The collaboration reflects the joint commitment to amplifying the rich cultural landscape of Southern California, while concurrently fostering international engagement and appreciation.
Unmasking Tech’s Biases
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Atmospheric Memory at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney delves into the complex convergence of generative technology, memory, and societal introspection.
The exhibition emphasizes a crucial reality: algorithms are never truly neutral, as they inherently carry biases embedded during coding. Through this exploration, it prompts viewers to reconsider the beneficiaries of technological advancements and the ethical dimensions that surround them.
The inspiration that underpins the exhibition originates from Charles Babbage’s imaginative proposal: air as an archival medium, capable of capturing every moment. However, Lozano-Hemmer’s portrayal of this concept introduces a nuanced perspective, painting Babbage’s romantic idea with a distinct dystopian hue. This interplay between the romantic and the dystopian threads serves as a recurring motif throughout the exhibit.
Integral to Lozano-Hemmer’s narrative are the distinct human attributes that remain beyond technology’s grasp: improvisation, forgetfulness, and mortality. These themes find expression through interactive components, which rely on human participation to fully manifest their potential.
At the heart of the exhibit lies “Field Atmosphonia,” a captivating and immersive experience within a darkened space adorned with thousands of speakers. These speakers emit an array of diverse sounds, ranging from bird songs to crackling bushfires, inviting visitors to engage with the auditory symphony. Amidst this sensory tapestry, visitors actively weave narratives, constructing their own interpretations from the amalgamation of sounds.
As the exhibition culminates, visitors are invited into a contemplative space enveloped by protest posters and literature addressing pertinent issues. Lozano-Hemmer’s ultimate aspiration lies in channeling the emotional resonance evoked by the art into tangible change, fostering critical engagement and autonomous contemplation.
Art Meets Luxury
Art lovers now have even more options to explore beyond galleries and museums! The realm of hotels has embraced the marriage of luxury and art, where a curated collection of works awaits guests alongside plush accommodations.
From Rome to Cape Town, London to Massachusetts, these art hotels blur boundaries and make artistic encounters a part of their essence.
Rome Cavalieri, perched high on Monte Mario, is an iconic establishment that showcases masterpieces dating back to the 16th century, making each step within its walls a journey through time. The hotel’s entrance showcases Giambattista Tiepolo’s mythological frescoes, setting the stage for a visual feast that includes Nureyev’s ballet costumes, Warhol’s iconic pieces, and more.
Venture to the Rosewood Hong Kong, a harbor-view haven celebrated not only for its luxury but its remarkable art collection. From a monumental Henry Moore sculpture at its entrance to Damien Hirst’s “Butterfly Brasserie” and Joe Bradley’s abstract paintings adorning its interiors, artistic brilliance thrives in every corner.
Meanwhile, in the Scottish Highlands, The Fife Arms stands as a living art gallery. Founded by visionary gallerists, it melds hospitality with over 16,000 antiques and 12,000 artworks. With Picasso, Richter, and even Prince Charles gracing its walls, guests enjoy a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in creativity.
In the United States, 21c Museum Hotels redefine hospitality by intertwining contemporary art with accommodation. Spearheaded by art collectors Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, each property boasts its own collection, free for public viewing.
A similar initiative extends to The Silo in Cape Town, standing above the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art. With geometric steel-and-glass exteriors contrasting vibrant interiors, it showcases African art within its private gallery.
From the exuberant expanse of flappers dancing through the Jazz Age to the enigmatic allure of circus performers suspended between reality and fantasy, Diane Arbus possessed an uncanny ability to crystallize the unvarnished beauty inherent in life’s most intricate moments.
Hosted by the Luma Foundation in Arles, France, Diane Arbus: Constellation boasts the largest collection of Arbus prints ever displayed, showcasing the outcome of her tireless search. The curator’s decision to arrange the photographs without a designated path mimics Arbus’ meandering exploration of New York streets, allowing visitors to experience her work in an immersive manner.
Her lens, a perceptive bridge between surface and soul, captured the profound chasm that often exists between our outward facades and the unfiltered truths that dwell within. Arbus’ oeuvre became a testament to her keen observations of humanity, a reflection of her own journey through its diverse landscapes.
The selection of her favorite subjects, ranging from female impersonators to lobby murals and dioramas of murderers, offers insight into her fascination with the multifaceted nature of human identity. The exhibition reveals rare and unpublished images, expanding our understanding of her oeuvre. Some lesser-known images, while not rivaling her iconic works, shed light on the breadth of her exploration.
Her portrayal of individuals with empathy intertwined with irony remains the subject of debate. Critics’ attempts to categorize her approach as solely compassionate or derisive miss the point entirely. Arbus’ photographs encapsulate the paradoxes of human existence, showcasing both courage and absurdity in the human condition, much like the writings of Franz Kafka.
Art Market Musings
Auction results play a dual role, serving not only as indicators for transactional purposes but also as barometers of the overall market. This is particularly true given the industry’s often inscrutable nature.
The recent dynamics within the art market have been profoundly affected by a global climate marked by economic uncertainty, rising interest rates, and notable inflation. The prevailing sentiment is that the current situation marks a distinct form of correction rather than a classic downturn.
ArtTactic reported an 18% drop in sales across leading auction houses like Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips during the first half of 2023, in comparison to the same period the previous year. Yet, these figures still manage to hover slightly above the volumes recorded in the pre-pandemic period of 2019.
Despite this, there are nuances in this downward trend. Bonhams, for instance, has achieved its most successful results in its nearly 250-year history, amassing $552 million in sales for the first half of the year.
This apparent contradiction persists as Van Gogh and Gauguin, alongside some contemporary artists, continue to command strong bids at auctions. Instances of sky-high prices, exemplified by Louise Bourgeois’s sculpture “Spider,” which sold for a record-breaking $32.8 million, underscore the unpredictable nature of the market.
The rapid evolution of the art world’s collective wisdom presents an intriguing aspect; factors like an artist’s museum presence, collector endorsements, and gallery affiliations now contribute to the dynamic narrative of an artist’s significance.
Robert Fontaine identifies a multifaceted disruption where all the pieces of the art world puzzle no longer align as cohesively as before. The diverse global economic landscape might explain why international dealers are drawn to North America’s comparatively stable market.
William Summerfield, an expert in modern British and 20th-century art, reinforces this notion, highlighting that a well-priced, high-quality artwork still commands a resilient market. Amid these discussions, anticipation for the future prevails.
Daniel Sallick, chair of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, envisions an art market that will inevitably rebound, morphing its focus onto new artists and historical trends. This, he asserts, aligns with the ever-evolving narrative of art, a journey that, for collectors, remains perennially unfinished.
Weems at the Barbican
On view through September 3 at the Barbican Art Gallery in London, Carrie Mae Weems: Reflections for Now Is a compelling tribute to an artist who has boldly confronted historical monuments while creating a monument of her own through a powerful and thought-provoking body of work.
Curated by Raúl Muñoz de la Vega and Florence Ostende, the exhibition layout with spacious displays and minimal interpretation, honors the elegance and poise of Weems’s art while underlining the significance of reflecting on the politics of display—a topic the artist herself consistently urges her audience to engage with.
The retrospective spans five decades of Weems’s work, beginning with the recent series “Painting the Town” (2021). These large-scale photographs depict boarded-up buildings in Portland, Oregon, where the messages of Black Lives Matter protesters were covered up after George Floyd’s murder. Weems ingeniously transforms these images into abstract paintings, infusing her clear-sighted political commentary and personal touches into the portrayal of contemporary events.
The iconic works from the 1990s, such as the “Kitchen Table Series,” showcase Weems’s formal perfection. The series captures the complexities of a turbulent relationship between a couple, using images and text to narrate various intimate moments shared at the kitchen table. Weems’s control over her camera allows her to draw connections with the history of photography, from colonial ethnographic imagery to modern-day protest snapshots.
Throughout the exhibition, Weems’s works continually overlap, resonating with one another, revealing the consistency of her artistic vision. In her series “Museums” (2006–ongoing), Weems photographs herself in front of renowned museums worldwide, raising awareness of the imperial origins of Western museums and their cultural, historical, and political implications.
The exhibition also features Weems’ “Roaming” series (2006). The artist is portrayed in standing boldly before historical architectural sites in Rome, symbolizing Italy’s imperial history. In 2014, Weems’ “Roaming” was featured at the Guggenheim, marking her first significant show at a New York Museum and making her the first African-American woman to receive a retrospective there.
An Eclectic Mix
The Seattle Art Fair concluded its seventh edition and featured over 70 international dealers from Japan, Argentina, the UK, and the West Coast, among others.
The fair offered art for every budget. British artist Dinos Chapman had offered free tattoos of new works he created on the spot. What is the catch? Recipients had to wait until completion to see the design, leading to an element of surprise, and sometimes, regret.
“The Many Worlds,” the large-scale installation by Jeffrey Gibson, who had been announced as the U.S. representative for the 2024 Venice Biennale, stood out at this year’s fair.
The bustling opening night featured live performances and releases, such as New York’s Harman Projects launching Chuck Sperry’s print editions and older designs, illustrating its success. Sperry, known for his concert posters, had transitioned to creating independent designs influenced by artists like Mucha, elevating concert posters to fine art. Fans had eagerly awaited his unique handcrafted prints with oil-based inks and metallic colors.
The fair had mainly exhibited contemporary art, but Chicago’s Galerie Fledermaus stood out with a rare print of Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss priced at $125,000, showcasing a mix of historic and contemporary pieces.
One unexpected gem was Atelier of Isfahan, Iran, which showcased intricate jewel-like miniatures using natural pigments on camel bone.
Another highlight was Marita Dingus’ series of sculptures called “Where the Castoffs Grow Materials.” Dingus is a feminist African American artist known for crafting these figurative sculptures using found materials. She has been a significant artist in Seattle for over three decades, and her work revolves around reusing discarded items, making her a proponent of sustainability and conscious consumption.
Art on the Moon
A diverse collection of works of art, poetry, movies, and other creative works will be sent to the moon as part of the Lunar Codex, a remarkable effort started by semiretired physicist Samuel Peralta. This ambitious endeavor is in collaboration with NASA’s Artemis missions.
The project aims to showcase the creations of 30,000 talented individuals from 157 countries, preserved in four “time capsules”. Lunar Codex will be a remarkable achievement as it represents the first significant collection of contemporary arts on the moon in over half a century.
The Lunar Codex comprises capsules that store digital versions of the works on memory cards, utilizing NanoFiche, a nickel-based film technology that can retain vast amounts of analog information in a minuscule format.
The works cover a plethora of space-themed works, including pieces like Alex Colville’s New Moon, Sean William Randall’s The Dreaming Moon, and Doreen Foster’s Moon Dance. The collection highlights the contributions of female artists, featuring works such as Ukrainian printmaker Olesya Dzhurayeva’s linocuts and Ayana Ross’s award-winning painting New American Gothic.
The Lunar Codex is part of a broader effort to send permanent archives of human expression into space. Before the project, only a few pieces of art had made their way to the moon. The Moon Museum, featuring works by renowned artists like Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg, was sent in 1969, while in 1971, an aluminum sculpture by Belgian artist Paul van Hoeydonck was included as part of the Apollo 15 mission.
What is next? Arch Mission Foundation have future plans to send archives to Mars’ orbit and surface in the coming years.
Jan Tichy’s artistic journey took a unique path, transitioning from studying political science to pursuing art-making and teaching. His transition was influenced by significant political events, such as the Velvet Revolution and the Oslo Accords, which reinforced his belief in the transformative power of art in responding to societal shifts.
Tichy’s art often involves site-specific projects, and he places great emphasis on understanding and listening to the specific context and participants involved in each endeavor. His practice is socially engaged and collaborative, with a focus on exploring themes related to architecture, urban environments, and the human experience.
Tichy sees art as a tool capable of influencing thoughts and feelings, and even the world itself. This philosophy drives his artistic practice, which encompasses creating art, presenting it, collaborating with others, and educating others about art. Even before he started focusing on art education, teaching was an important part of his life.
The artist has collaborated on a number of initiatives over the course of his career with students, communities, and art organizations. One of the projects he led was Project Cabrini Green, where he illuminated a high-rise building in the Cabrini Green Housing Projects during its demolition, involving over 200 participants.
Tichy’s art continues to be showcased worldwide, with recent projects including an exhibition in Berlin that reimagined H.G. Wells’s Glass City, and participation in the Architecture Biennale in Venice at the Israeli Pavilion. His work consistently challenges contemporary issues and invites audiences to question and explore their relationship with the world.
The Barbie Effect
Greta Gerwig’s film embraces a kitschy mix of domesticity and glamour, akin to the influence Barbie has had on contemporary art.
From Martine Gutierrez’s thought-provoking exploration of women’s bodies to Jeff Koons‘ s monumental Seated Ballerina, Barbie’s image appears in various works that explore femininity, consumerism, and American culture in the 21st century. Notably, Andy Warhol’s famous painting stands out among these works. As Barbie fever continues to grip the world, numerous other works have resurfaced in popular consciousness. Read more
Gerwig’s cinematic aesthetic draws inspiration from the artistic and cultural mood of our times, evoking the Pop Surrealist worlds of artist Mark Ryden. The film’s kitschy atmosphere is influenced by Ryden’s Barbie collaborations with Mattel, like the insect-inspired Barbie Bee.
Beau Dunn, Catrine Val, and Laurie Simmons use the doll to critique beauty trends and societal expectations. By showcasing Barbie’s evolving styles over time, they ignite broader conversations about visualizing “the perfect woman.”
Sylvie Fleury employs everyday objects, such as makeup compacts, to critique capitalist ideas of femininity. Fleury’s oversized pastel pink compact, Bye Bye Dark Circles (Nude), challenges the pursuit of perfection and material goods.
Without a doubt, color plays the most significant role, with Barbie’s characteristic pink shade symbolizing hyperfemininity. James Turrell and Sadie Barnette are among the artists who skillfully immerse viewers in this hue, creating installations and sculptures. Artist Stuart Semple creates his own “Barbiest” pink color as a critique of the legal sway Mattel has over Pantone 219.
Art and the A-Bomb
Shifting gears from the nostalgia-laced film about the world’s most ubiquitous plastic doll to a history-drenched drama about the man who created a weapon of mass destruction: Oppenheimer.
Did you know about the profound impact of the atomic bomb on modern art? Abstract Expressionists, influenced by the trauma of atomic bombings, developed “action painting,” using chaotic brushstrokes to capture the era’s energy, while also reevaluating color and composition to reflect heightened emotions.
In his 1952 essay “The American Action Painters,” art historian Harold Rosenberg argued that Abstract Expressionists responded to the trauma and horror of the atomic bombings by developing a new style of painting, emphasizing greater expressiveness and moving away from traditional forms of representation.
Abstract Expressionists like Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline developed the technique of “action painting”. This involved using sweeping, rapid, and often chaotic brushstrokes or drips of paint on large canvases laid on the floor.
This style was seen as a direct response to the violent and chaotic nature of the atomic bomb’s explosions, and the resulting paintings were thought to capture the energy and force of the era.
The use of nuclear weapons also sparked a reevaluation of color and composition in art. Some artists, like Mark Rothko, explored the use of intense and emotionally charged colors in their paintings, reflecting the heightened emotions of the post-atomic world.
Others experimented with unorthodox materials and techniques, pushing the boundaries of traditional art forms.
Summer Art Escapades
In London, a diverse selection of exhibitions awaits, featuring dark and poignant paintings by Shailee Mehta, evoking figures and lone street dogs found on the streets of India, and transformative artworks by renowned artists like Anselm Kiefer and Joseph Beuys, who push the boundaries of artistic creation through innovative material experimentation.
New York City offers a plethora of captivating group shows, where artists explore concepts such as gender identity, the definition of beauty, spirituality, and the evolving human body in the era of technology.
In Upstate NY, over 130 art venues open their doors for the fourth annual Upstate Art Weekend, featuring exhibitions, performances, and hands-on activities for both adults and children.
In London, viewers have the chance to explore the rich variety of artistic expression in Shailee Mehta’s dark and emotive paintings, capturing figures and lone street dogs reminiscent of the streets of India, alongside Jane Hayes Greenwood’s evocative paintings of feminine vessels and plants, hosted by Castor and Indigo+Madder.
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac presents Alchemy, an exhibition by art’s heavyweights, including Anselm Kiefer and Joseph Beuys, where materials are transformed within the artworks, pushing the boundaries of artistic creation.
Unit 1 Gallery offers Take my hand, an exploration of hands as a starting point for a captivating collection of works by emerging artists, reflecting on themes of intimacy and historical context.
In New York City, the art world is abuzz with a series of captivating group shows. Title IX at The Hole takes on intersectionality within gender identity and sports, featuring cutting-edge contemporary artists exploring athleticism with a political bent.
Ugly Painting at Nahmad Contemporary challenges society’s notion of beauty through captivating works by various artists.
Shrines at Silverlens takes visitors on a spiritual journey through earth-toned works by Filipino artists seeking materialization of the spiritual and identity.
At Theta, NYC, Either harmony or life in oblong offers abstract sculptural reflections on living with nature and passion.
Heading to Upstate, the fourth annual Upstate Art Weekend features over 130 art venues offering a diverse array of exhibitions, performances, and experiences.
At Magazzino Italian Art, visitors can immerse themselves in contemporary Italian art, while Dia Beacon presents a family tour engaging children in hands-on activities. The weekend includes outdoor yoga and meditation, as well as the innovative circus troupe Cirk La Putyka at PS21.
Foreland in Catskill partners with NADA for a sprawling art exhibition showcasing works by over 60 artists, while the Thomas Cole National Historic Site sheds light on 19th-century women artists and contemporary reimaginations of landscape painting.
Liverpool Biennial 2023
Liverpool, renowned for its rich cultural heritage, once again takes center stage in the art world with the UK’s largest free contemporary visual arts festival. Curated by Khanyisile Mbongwa, uMoya: The Sacred Return of Lost Things, the highly anticipated 12th edition of the Liverpool Biennial, showcases the works of 35 leading and emerging artists and collectives from 6 continents, presenting 15 new commissions.
At the heart of “uMoya” is the isiZulu word for spirit, breath, air, climate, and wind. Drawing from this diverse linguistic backdrop, the Biennial explores the potential for objects and people to manifest power as they traverse the globe, while acknowledging the profound losses caused by colonialism and slavery.
With exhibitions spanning historic locations and leading art venues, including the Tobacco Warehouse, Cotton Exchange, Tate Liverpool, Bluecoat, FACT Liverpool, Open Eye Gallery, Victoria Gallery and Museum, and World Museum, the Biennial becomes an intimate excavation of Liverpool’s history and temperament.
A key highlight of the Biennial is the striking outdoor artworks scattered throughout the city’s public spaces. These large-scale installations, including Brook Andrew’s neon work at Stanley Dock and Eleng Luluan’s monumental metal vessel at Princes Dock, reflect upon the fusion of cultural heritage and the exploration of indigenous knowledge, traditions, and identities.
The festival’s public program unfolds over 14 weeks, divided into three stages: “The Opening Door,” “The Middle Passage,” and “The Reflective Return.”
“The Opening Door” launches the festival with captivating live performances by artists such as Lorin Sookool and Raisa Kabir, while “The Middle Passage” explores moving image and short films in collaboration with Unmute Dance Theatre and Shannon Alonzo.
Liverpool Biennial 2023 is also committed to nurturing local talent. Partnering with SEVENSTORE, the Biennial offers three bursaries to local artists, enabling them to showcase their work during the final weeks of the festival. Additionally, in collaboration with The Double Negative, the festival provides an open call for under-represented early-career writers from Merseyside to produce critical writing in response to the event.
Drama in the Hamptons
The art world experienced an eventful day at the Hamptons Fine Art Fair. Heavy rainfall, measuring between three and five inches, caused extensive flooding at the Southampton Fairgrounds, where the fair was being held. The downpour proved relentless, leading to a torrential deluge that impinged on the fair’s electrical components within the tents. With an estimated $400 million worth of art, jewelry, and watches displayed, the stakes were incredibly high.
Showcasing masterpieces from Matisse, Picasso, and Van Gogh, the art fair welcomed more than 12,000 visitors before the unforeseen weather intervened. Amidst the darkness caused by the power outage, sales continued relentlessly.
Concerned about safety, the administrators made the difficult decision to evacuate the fairgrounds early, leading to the fair’s closure three hours ahead of schedule. Despite the emergency evacuation, the fair’s exhibitors and organizers acted swiftly to protect the priceless art, leaving the artworks hanging on the walls as they deemed the tents a safer shelter than exposing them to the outside weather.
The flooding also led to dealers having to leave their wares overnight in the facility, prompting quick action to secure the premises with armed guards and police. Fortunately, no major damage was reported, with the fair’s walls and ceilings remaining intact, and the next day saw exhibitors returning to retrieve their artworks unharmed.
Jolie’s Brush with Basquiat
Actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie has secured the lease for the Manhattan building at 57 Great Jones Street, which was once the studio and living quarters of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. The two-story structure, previously owned by Andy Warhol for 20 years, will be transformed into Atelier Jolie, a creative platform for underrepresented fashion workers.
The historic building had been on the market for $60,000 a month since November. Jolie signed an eight-year lease on the property, which holds significance as the space where Basquiat, a renowned artist of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent, lived and created art until his untimely death in 1988. Basquiat challenged the boundaries between high art and low art through his street art style, addressing themes of race, class, religion, and mortality.
Basquiat and Warhol had a close friendship during the 1980s, but their relationship became strained after their joint exhibition received a poor reception. Basquiat’s tragic death from a heroin overdose occurred in the Noho apartment. The building has since been recognized as a significant part of New York City’s cultural heritage and landscape, with a plaque installed by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.
While the news of Jolie taking over the building has received mixed responses on social media, Atelier Jolie plans to preserve the graffiti in honor of Basquiat’s early work. Jolie’s concept for the space, which emphasizes sustainability and the production of quality garments, was seen as the best fit for the building’s history.
The Young V&A
Introducing the Young V&A, a groundbreaking museum designed entirely for children up to 14 years old. After consulting with over 22,000 children, parents, educators, and specialists, the team behind the museum aimed to create an institution that would be informal, surprising, challenging, and friendly—a place where children can actively shape their experiences.
The Young V&A is a result of a broader shift in the museum sector, focusing on designing with, rather than for, children. Instead of developing educational programs as an afterthought, curatorial and learning teams worked together to select objects and create engaging experiences.
Divided into three age-appropriate spaces, the Young V&A features sensory-led exhibits, hands-on activities, and notable inventions by young people. By embedding sensory learning in its strategies, the museum recognizes that children learn through experience. The Young V&A sets a new precedent by displaying objects from the parent museum’s collection, making it the first children’s museum to showcase a national collection of artworks.
Despite the significant child population in the UK, there is a lack of museums tailored to children’s needs and interests. The Young V&A, formerly known as the Museum of Childhood, is taking steps to address this issue by striking a balance between conservation and facilitating instinctive learning and exploration through tactile experiences.
The art market is witnessing a period of deceleration as collectors opt to hold onto their treasures rather than sell them at auctions. Sales at top auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s have significantly decreased this spring as seasoned collectors navigate an uncertain economy.
The mid-market segment, which encompasses artworks priced under $1 million remains attractive to millennial buyers. In response to changing market dynamics, auction houses are increasingly shifting their focus to online sales and engaging younger audiences through social media.
Christie’s reported a 23% drop in overall sales during the first half of the year, while Sotheby’s saw a 7.8% decrease in auctioned art. Phillips, on the other hand, experienced a significant blow with a 39% drop in sales compared to the previous year. However, Bonhams, a London auctioneer specializing in lower-priced luxury objects and collectible cars, managed to achieve a 32% sales increase.
Auction houses are adapting to the changing art market by rebranding to appeal to a more contemporary audience. Christie’s, for instance, has shifted its online sales to Saturdays, targeting younger collectors who have more leisure time. They are also employing music-filled videos on social media to generate excitement for upcoming auctions.
Christie’s is also exploring the potential of the secondary market for digital art, focusing on areas where nonfungible tokens (NFTs) remain in demand. The aim is to encourage NFT collectors to broaden their interests to encompass physical artwork as well.
Despite the challenges, art industry professionals expect auction houses to continue adapting and embracing online to maximize their reach and engage a broader audience.
Sky Blooms in Tokyo
Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang orchestrated a stunning daytime firework display in Tokyo as a prelude to his exhibition at the National Art Center Tokyo. His work, “When the Sky Blooms with Sakura,” transformed the noon sky into a breathtaking canvas, paying homage to the area devastated by the 2011 tsunami.
Cai, renowned for his ability to turn destruction into beauty, has spent his career exploring the transformative power of explosives. Ramble in the Cosmos – From Primeval Fireball Onward showcases Cai’s work from 1985 to the present, reflecting his deep connection to art and social reality.
The decision to create daytime fireworks was a deliberate choice for Cai. Unlike nighttime fireworks that rely on light, daytime fireworks take shape through the use of smoke, intertwining poetry with social realities.
Cai aimed to create a closer connection to painting and emphasized the influence of nature on the display. The fireworks served as a requiem for lives lost and a solemn acknowledgment of the harm inflicted upon nature, particularly in the aftermath of the 2011 disasters.
Growing up in China and Japan, where fireworks hold cultural significance, Cai developed a fascination with the abstractness and uncontrollable chaos of explosions. Gunpowder became a tool for him to explore the relationship between mankind and nature, seeking a holistic integration of humanity and art.
Cai navigates the delicate balance between totalitarian control and utter freedom. The exhibition provided an opportunity for him to reflect on his past work, contemplating global issues, the evolution of his artistic perspective, and his shift from metaphysical exploration to sociopolitical realities.
Plants as Statements
Contemporary art is witnessing a growing trend in incorporating plants as a medium and a source of inspiration. The rise of plants as artworks has created opportunities for discussing social issues, and gardens, along with landscapes, offer public spaces to explore sustainability and social justice. Ultimately, this trend serves as a reminder that plants, similar to humans, possess deeper layers and inherent political significance.
Ebony G. Patterson’s recent show at the New York Botanical Garden features life-size sculptures of vultures surrounded by blood-red plants, exploring the tension between control and unpredictability in nature. This marks the artist’s first venture into working directly with living materials in her art practice.
For Patterson, plants also represent a connection to the political and historical aspects of enslaved Black bodies. Her work, “…fester…,” presents an installation of floral wallpapers alongside embedded black cast-glass thistles, prompting reflections on exploitation, origins, and labor.
Brooklyn-based artist David Kennedy Cutler’s work involves layered canvases bursting with lifelike depictions of popular houseplants, symbolizing our attempts to contain nature and present an idealized version of ourselves.
Rashid Johnson’s mixed-media installation, Antoine’s Organ, uses houseplants to explore the concept of domesticity.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston hosted a group show called “Presence of Plants in Contemporary Art,” showcasing a wide range of artists using living materials to address issues like climate change and interdependence.
The Spirit of Africa
The history of photography in Africa is intertwined with colonialism, but African photographers have seized the camera as a tool of liberation, reimagining the continent’s possibilities.
A World in Common at Tate Modern demonstrates how African photography delves into the realm of inner expression. The featured works incorporate the past, mixing contemporary fashion with tribal masks, and blending African spiritualism with Christianity and Islam.
The artists aim to create a holistic African state of mind, challenging the overused label of “Afrofuturism” and emphasizing the multiplicity of African perspectives.
Early entrepreneurial white photographers in Africa catered to the well-to-do locals, resulting in formal portraits reflecting “internal colonization.” However, as the medium shifted into the hands of African photographers, it captured the spirit of post-independence Pan-Africanism.
Contemporary photographers like Atong Atem, Ruth Ginika Ossai, and Hassan Hajjaj have embraced vibrant colors, patterns, and bold aesthetics in their studio portraits, challenging Western notions of portraiture and Arab women.
Aïda Muluneh, a prominent African photographer, constructs captivating tableaux that combine dreamlike imagery, striking colors, and strong female perspectives. Her work addresses important issues such as access to water and women’s labor.
The curator, Osei Bonsu, emphasizes the importance of thinking the world from Africa and gaining a more expansive understanding of humanity. The exhibition ultimately illustrates how Africa is shaping global culture, challenging previous notions of cultural dominance and highlighting the mutual influence between Africa and the West.
National Portrait Gallery 2.0
London’s National Portrait Gallery has reopened after a comprehensive three-year refurbishment costing $53 million. The project aimed to restore and update the building while increasing public space by about 20 percent.
The renovation involved the creation of a new entrance, the restoration of hidden terrazzo, and the addition of openings for more natural light. The exhibition galleries were also redesigned to showcase the largest collection of portraits in the world, spanning from the Middle Ages to the present day.
The galleries highlight iconic as well as more diverse artworks like tapestries, portraits of current figures like musician Ed Sheeran and the new Prince and Princess of Wales. There is a whole new section on silhouettes that showcases the evolution of this art form over time. Works on paper, which were not previously on view, are now integral to providing a fuller picture of the collection.
The museum has made efforts to increase representation, with a higher percentage of portraits by women in the 20th- and 21st-century galleries and recent acquisitions of works by Black female artists and artists with disabilities.
The curation offers visitors a seamless blend of chronological and thematic groupings of artworks. It also incorporates updated explanatory information and audiovisual content to enhance the visitor experience.
Contemporary Art’s Generational Shift
The great wealth transfer from the baby boomer generation is making waves in the art market. The next generation of collectors has different interests and perspectives, which impact the types of art they choose to acquire. As aging collectors pass away, the demand for sought-after post-war artworks may dwindle.
Research suggests that Americans will inherit $73 trillion over the next 25 years, with a significant portion originating from the wealthiest 1.5% of households. The concentration of noteworthy sales often features well-known 20th-century artists such as Willem de Kooning, Picasso, Gerhard Richter, and René Magritte. However, concerns are emerging that the demand for these artists may decline as the baby boomer generation’s taste diminishes.
Younger collectors, inheriting wealth from their boomer predecessors, represent a growing demographic in the high-value art market. The evolving landscape of art collecting suggests a potential shift in their tastes. For example, the market for video art has experienced substantial growth, and the definition of art itself continues to expand.
There is also a growing sentiment that art by deceased white male artists feels increasingly irrelevant and unwanted. Auction houses are striving to emphasize diversity in their collections, but with the limited availability of works by 20th-century women and artists of color, bridging this gap becomes challenging.
Party at the Frick
The Frick Collection in New York is currently hosting a site-specific installation by Swiss-born artist Nicolas Party, paying tribute to Rosalba Carriera, the renowned queen of pastels in the Rococo era.
Drawing inspiration from Carriera’s Portrait of a Man in Pilgrim’s Costume, Party has created three pastel portraits and mounted them on murals. The installation not only celebrates Rosalba’s artistry but also explores the material properties of pastels and the theatricality of the Rococo era.
On view through March 3, 2024, Nicolas Party and Rosalba Carriera is housed in the Italian Galleries of the museum’s temporary home, Frick Madison. The juxtaposition of the works set against ephemeral pastel murals explores the themes of concealment and disclosure. The installation serves as the centerpiece of the latest Diptych series, co-authored by Party and Xavier Salomon, the Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the Frick Collection.
This is not the first project Party has organized around Rosalba Carriera and the pastel medium. In a previous show called “Pastel” at the Flag Art Foundation, he showcased Rosalba’s Portrait of a Lady at Three-Quarter Length, among other pieces.
It was during this previous exhibition that Party met Salomon, and the two discovered a hidden secret in Rosalba’s artwork. They uncovered a tiny woodblock print of the magi, or the three kings, suggesting that Rosalba included these prints as lucky charms to protect her delicate pastel paintings during long-distance transportation. This discovery further deepened Party’s connection to Rosalba and her artistic legacy.
Banksy’s New Exhibition
Banksy is holding his first solo exhibition in 14 years at Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA). On view through August 28, Cut & Run: 25 Years Card Labour aims to unveil the behind-the-scenes process of his art by displaying original sketches alongside the stencils, which have been repainted for a fresh presentation. It also features a detailed model explaining the infamous shredding of Girl with Balloon at Sotheby’s auction in 2018.
This is not Banksy’s first exhibition in Glasgow; he previously held a joint exhibition called “Peace Is Tough” in 2001. Despite being relatively unknown at the time, the event showcased early works, including Monkey Queen, and Banksy created several stencil-based pieces around the city, although none remain today.
Banksy’s new exhibition offers a unique opportunity to experience his artistry up close. By displaying original stencils, sketches, and recreations of iconic works such as Kissing Coppers and Mobile Lovers, the artist sheds light on his creative process.
The current exhibition’s choice of location at GoMA is significant because Banksy considers the statue of the first Duke of Wellington, located outside the gallery, his favorite work of art in the UK. The statue has been adorned with a road cone on its head for over 40 years, despite the council’s attempts to remove it.
What Sold at Last Week’s Art Basel?
A Sustainable Biennial
The Helsinki Biennial’s second edition aims to pioneer a sustainable model for ecologically-conscious arts programming. Running through September 17, 2023, the exhibition features 29 participating artists and is spread across the archipelago island of Vallisaari and the mainland of Helsinki. It encourages visitors to appreciate the wild and beautiful landscape that surrounds the artworks rather than conform to ideal conditions.
New Directions May Emerge reflects the influence of American anthropologist Anna Tsing and her ideas on contamination and the potential for new possibilities to arise. The setting, a biodiverse haven that was once occupied by military operations, is open to the public. The island’s gunpowder cellars have been repurposed as gallery spaces, providing an eerie and intimate setting for video installations.
The integration of emerging technologies has allowed the artworks to create expansive experiences without overwhelming the local ecosystem. For example, a work by the artist collective Keiken offers an interactive experience through QR codes, while artist Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley presents an alternative mythology for Vallisaari that continues online.
While sustainability remains a complex challenge for large-scale events like biennials, the Helsinki Biennial demonstrates a commitment to balancing positive and negative impacts. The biennial implements initiatives such as using second-hand equipment, reusing materials, and practicing prudent waste management.
A “Good” Abstract Painting
The question of what makes an abstract painting good is highly subjective. While critics like Peter Schjeldahl seek to be “seized” by a painting and emphasize the overall project of an artist, others, like critic Jerry Saltz, believe that personal preference and liking a painting define its quality. Curator Gary Garrels concludes that abstract painting resists final resolutions, remaining open and continuously exciting.
A recent exhibition at Gagosian London showcases the diversity of abstract painting through the works of more than 40 artists. The curator, Gary Garrels, highlights that abstraction allows artists to explore a wide range of visual expression, subjectivity, emotional expression, and philosophical inquiry.
The exhibition features contradictory artworks, blurring the line between abstraction and representation. While some paintings may depict recognizable forms, they go beyond mere representation. Garrels argues that a truly good painting cannot be immediately resolved and demands the viewer’s attention and contemplation over time.
Artists themselves, on the other hand, approach the question of what makes a good abstract painting differently. They focus on the painting’s voice, identity, relationship with the outside world, and its ability to connect with the viewer.
ART BASEL SPECIAL EDITION
Art Basel, one of the most highly anticipated art events of the year, is currently taking place in Basel at the famous Messe Basel until June 18. With a total of 284 leading galleries, including 21 first-time participants, the fair has made an extraordinary effort to ensure its success by attracting curators, fostering a more artistic experience rather than a purely transactional one. The fair showcases compelling works across various mediums, leaving the art world wondering whether Art Basel’s reputation, along with the quality of the works, creates an exceptional environment that remains unaffected by market fluctuations.
Art Basel also features special sectors: Unlimited, Parcours, Feature, Kabinett, and Statements. Unlimited showcases large-scale installations; Parcours presents site-specific works; Feature focuses on art-historical projects; Kabinett showcases concise curated installations; and Statements highlights emerging artists.
Curated by Samuel Leuenberger, the public art section aims to surprise and challenge viewers by placing sculptures, installations, performances, and films in unexpected locations. Previous installations have included Ai Weiwei’s “Iron Tree” and Pierre Huyghe’s “Exomind (Deep Water).” This year’s lineup features a flagpole by Martin Creed and a site-specific installation by Latifa Echakhch. Latifa Echakhch’s installation at Messeplatz will also include live concerts and performances, fostering public engagement.
Art Basel dispelled concerns about a potential downturn in the art market following lackluster auctions in New York. Despite prevailing anxiety caused by geopolitical uncertainty and economic challenges such as high interest rates and inflation, serious collectors remained active, and some owners opted to sell their artworks at the fair rather than through auction houses.
On the first day, Art Basel showcased and sold high-value artworks, offering valuable insights into the performance of the art market. VIP attendees expressed great enthusiasm. Galleries located on the upper floor, which featured younger and relatively more affordable artists, experienced strong sales. Established dealers on the ground floor also reported positive responses from collectors.
Acquavella Gallery presented several million-dollar works, including Mark Rothko’s “Untitled (Yellow, Orange, Yellow, Light Orange).” Hauser & Wirth achieved successful sales, notably selling Louise Bourgeois’ “Spider IV” for $22.5 million. David Zwirner Gallery decided to disclose prices only for works sold on the primary market, prioritizing the protection of consignors’ privacy. Zwirner expressed satisfaction with this year’s sales, highlighting a significant improvement compared to the previous year.
Gallery Hyundai features Lee Ufan, whose minimalist style is highlighted in a collaboration with ceramicist Park Young-sook. The presentation showcases a series of terracotta works, emphasizing Ufan’s artistic approach and Park’s craftsmanship.
Sprüth Magers, known for its unconventional approach, exhibits a diverse selection of artists spanning different generations. The works by Anne Imhof, John Baldessari, and Pamela Rosenkranz challenge viewers and encourage deeper engagement.
The Jack Shainman Gallery showcases a range of contemporary artists, including Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Carrie Mae Weems, and Hank Willis Thomas. Their artworks explore various themes, including identity and cultural heritage.
Pilar Corrias Gallery presents a diverse range of works by various artists, including installations, paintings, and sculptures. Notable highlights include Phillippe Parreno’s Mylar speech bubble balloons and a large-scale painting by Tala Madani.
Lia Rumma, a Milanese gallery focused on sculpture, presents works by artists such as Vanessa Beecroft and William Kentridge. The exhibition incorporates classic and Renaissance-inspired ceramic heads and metal cut-outs, adding a unique touch to the display.
The Stephen Friedman Gallery displays artworks by a wide range of artists, exploring themes of nature and portraiture. Notable pieces include Caroline Walker’s large-scale construction site painting and Yinka Shonibare’s fiberglass mannequin.
Sin Wai Kin presents the project “Portraits” in the Statements sector. The project features five nearly life-size filmed portraits of characters created by Sin. It delves into storytelling and interrogates binaries and fantasy narratives.
The Unlimited section showcases large-scale works, offering a diverse and captivating range of artworks. It provides a platform for artists to push boundaries and present their ambitious creations on a grand scale.
Franz West’s “100 Stühle” (100 Chairs) features a collection of white chairs arranged in the middle of the hall. The installation invites visitors to take a break and engage with the space, blurring the line between art and everyday life.
He Xiangyu’s “Inherited Wounds” displays miniature chairs collected from various sources, symbolizing the wounds and legacies passed down through generations. The installation explores the complexities of history and heritage, offering a thought-provoking commentary on societal issues.
Diamond Stingily showcases an ambitious installation titled “How Did He Die”. The installation incorporates black-and-white film footage from 1967, exploring themes of childhood, racial identity, and racial violence. It creates a sense of surveillance and memorialization, urging viewers to reflect on these pressing social issues.
MoMA Faces Funding Scrutiny
Protesters disrupted the annual “Party in the Garden” fundraiser at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, demanding the removal of board chair Marie-Josée Kravis. The activists highlighted her husband’s private equity firm, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), which has invested billions in oil and gas companies.
The activists held banners and chanted slogans outside MoMA, questioning the museum’s acceptance of funds while disregarding the consequences of the fossil fuel industry. As guests arrived, they were handed flyers with a QR code leading to an open letter and petition calling for MoMA to sever ties with Kravis.
The private equity industry has faced increased scrutiny from climate activists, as many companies have divested from oil and gas while private equity firms have remained invested. A recent report revealed that the ten largest private equity firms, including KKR, had 80% of their energy investments in fossil fuels.
This incident is part of a broader trend of increased scrutiny of MoMA’s board members and funding sources in recent years. In 2020, a campaign called Strike MoMA protested against trustees’ unethical financial ties, and in previous years, protests have targeted specific honorees or addressed worker rights and healthcare cuts.
Techno in the Museum
Party/After-Party, Carl Craig’s installation, is on display at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in LA through July 23, 2023. Craig’s 30-minute immersive experience that explores the highs, ecstasy, and eventual come-down of a night spent on the dance floor is a testament to the collective human need for celebration, mourning, and togetherness through dance.
Craig, who is well-known for his contributions to the techno scene in Detroit, derives inspiration for this piece from a long career as a DJ. Party/After-Party, which made its debut at Dia Beacon in March 2020, reappears when the pandemic’s hold on the world begins to weaken, signifying a return to the thriving nightlife scene.
With flashing lights and a heavy techno beat, the piece creates an immersive environment that draws visitors. The show, which may have been inspired by minimalist light works, recalls the excitement of a warehouse rave as the lights fade and neon strips brighten the space.
A central lamp illuminates a “X” on the ground as the pulsating beat ultimately changes into dreamy waves of sound. Revealing their personalities in this ceremonial act, viewers are invited to stand beneath the spotlight. It feels like one is leaving a nightclub at dawn as the spotlight goes out and the skylights open again.
Art Inspires Brookfield
Despite the housing crisis and initial resistance to remote work, Brookfield, the world’s largest real estate company, has thrived in New York. By providing attractive amenities like landscaped terraces, wellness centers, and artworks, the company has successfully leased two buildings. Building upon this success, Brookfield has unveiled Manhattan West, a new project that showcases public art by renowned contemporary artists Charles Ray and Christopher Wool.
Both artists, neither of whom currently have any public works on display in New York City, enthusiastically accepted the offer. Ray’s sculpture, titled Adam and Eve, depicts an older couple and aims to convey a sense of dignity and vitality. Wool, on the other hand, is commissioned for a mosaic piece.
Brookfield’s decision to prioritize art was influenced by collector Lonti Ebers, the wife of Brookfield Asset Management’s head, Bruce Flatt. While art can enhance the appeal of commercial spaces, it may not be enough to counter market forces if the commercial real estate crash continues.
A study showed a significant decline in office occupancy since the pandemic began, and economists predicted a potential $453 billion loss in real estate value without a rebound. However, Brookfield remains optimistic about the prospects of Manhattan West and the power of art to attract employees back to the office.
Dinkins Awarded for Art and AI Contribution
The inaugural LG Guggenheim Award, which honors artists working at the intersection of art and technology, was given to Brooklyn-based artist Stephanie Dinkins. The artist, known for her 20 years of groundbreaking research on the social implications of artificial intelligence (AI), was commended by the jury for her inclusive and collaborative approach that emphasizes transparency, participation, and access to AI, particularly for marginalized communities.
Dinkins has gained recognition for her immersive works that embrace the potential of AI models and integrated tools like natural language processing, machine learning, and deep learning. Her community-driven focus aims to address the shortcomings of code design and technological inaccessibility, often experienced by marginalized demographics.
Dinkins, an art professor at Stony Brook University in New York, has exhibited all over the world, including the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Germany, the Espoo Museum of Modern Art in Finland, and the Smithsonian Museum of Arts and Industry in Washington, DC.
Naomi Beckwith, the deputy director and chief curator at the Guggenheim Museum, expressed the museum’s pride in supporting Dinkins and highlighted the artist’s reflection of the evolving future of technology-based art. The $100,000 prize comes with a sculpture that represents the potential for technology to inspire novel and unexpected artistic forms.
The LG Guggenheim Award is an arm of the five-year LG Guggenheim Art and Technology Initiative. Recently, the museum hired Noam Segal, an associate curator, as part of its efforts to expand in the area of art and technology.
Matisse’s Seaside Haven for Sale
Henri Matisse’s stunning seaside home in Nice, France, which served as the backdrop for his prolific late-career paintings, is now on the market for $2.69 million. Matisse lived and worked in this palatial apartment for a decade starting in 1938. The space features high ceilings, a beautifully carved fireplace, and bow windows offering breathtaking views of the French Riviera.
Matisse was drawn to Nice for its light and picturesque beauty, having originally come from the North. He settled in Cimiez around 1917, renting various rooms before purchasing his flat in the former Hôtel Régina. In this tranquil setting, he embraced a more relaxed style, focusing on sumptuous still-lifes, nudes, and interiors. After a trip to Morocco in 1922, Matisse became captivated by the odalisque tradition, an Orientalist genre featuring eroticized depictions of harems and sex workers.
During the last 15 years of his life, Matisse was mostly bedridden due to an abdominal surgery, but he continued to create art from his room. He created his unique cutout technique during this time. Using gouache-painted paper, he cut organic and geometric shapes, arranging them into dynamic compositions that expanded throughout his apartment. He passed away in 1954.
MoMA Captures Lagos
MoMA’s New Photography series returns with a focus on Lagos, Nigeria, a city rarely given the spotlight by the museum. The curator, Oluremi C. Onabanjo, challenges the traditional notion of documenting a city and its people through photography. The exhibition features seven artists who capture ordinary moments, reimagining them through innovative techniques, or investigate architecture, geography, and history.
Logo Oluwamuyiwa captures the streets of Lagos using unconventional angles and distortions, reorienting the viewer’s perspective.
Akinbode Akinbiyi’s black-and-white photographs of Bar Beach serve as records of the past, offering serene and dreamy glimpses into a bygone era.
Amanda Iheme’s photographs depict seemingly mundane objects but are actually archival documentation, preserving history that is often lost or forgotten.
Abraham Oghobase’s installation features silk printed with British texts from the colonial period placed over re-photographed images, creating ghostly half-presences.
Karl Ohiri collects damaged studio portraits from Lagos Studios Archives, showcasing their haunted beauty and pairing them with works by Kelani Abass, who incorporates family snapshots into her own art.
Yagazie Emezi, a photojournalist, provides documentary photography capturing protests against police brutality in Lagos as part of the #EndSARS movement.
The exhibition not only explores Lagos but also offers a broader understanding of. It encourages viewers to appreciate the influence of Lagos by taking home a poster by Oluwamuyiwa that depicts the city’s dusty bus with a sign: “LAGOS HOSTS THE WORLD.”
Erasing Hate, Restoring Identity
A 10-foot-tall sculpture of a seated Black woman by Tschabalala Self was vandalized in England, where it was spray-painted white. Following the incident on May 15, the local community joined forces to clean and restore the sculpture to its original state. The De la Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea, the venue where the sculpture is currently being exhibited, affirmed its commitment to keep the work on view until the end of its planned run in October. The incident serves as a reminder of the pervasive issues of misogyny and racism worldwide.
Tschabalala Self experiments with the construction and projection of blackness and otherness in popular culture and high art. The vandalism of “Seated” is seen as a symbolic act of attempting to erase the strength and beauty associated with Blackness and femininity. Despite the unfortunate incident, the community’s response demonstrates resilience and a collective commitment to combating racism.
In her statement, Self expressed disappointment but not surprise, emphasizing that Black female bodies are often targets for abuse. She described her sculpture as a representation of the beauty of blackness and femininity and condemned the act of covering the sculpture with white spray paint as an attempt to erase its color and strength.
The sculpture will go back on view to the public starting on June 3 following restoration, and the De la Warr Pavilion plans to hold a conversation between Tschabalala Self and Joseph Constable, its head of exhibitions, to celebrate the restored artwork.
Barometer of the Contemporary Art Market
The spring sales held by Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s have provided a mesmerizing window into the ever-evolving landscape of the contemporary art market. The auctions unveiled a diverse range of artists and artworks, reaffirming the enduring allure and multifaceted nature of the art world. Serving as a barometer of trends and interests, they shaped the narratives of the market, driving anticipation and excitement among collectors.
Christie’s 21st Century Evening Sale captivated a young and global audience, achieving new records and celebrating remarkable sales by female artists. At the heart of the event was Jean Michel-Basquiat’s “El Gran Espectaculo” (The Nile), which commanded an impressive price, securing its position as the fourth-most expensive Basquiat artwork ever sold at auction.
In contrast, Phillips’ 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale experienced a notable decrease in total sales compared to previous years. Nevertheless, the auction showcased a commitment to introducing fresh masterpieces to the market. Highlighting a record-breaking work by Noah Davis alongside captivating pieces from Henry Taylor, Banksy, and Yayoi Kusama, the event maintained its focus on presenting sought-after artworks.
Sotheby’s Now and Contemporary Evening Sales marked a transitional period within the art market. While encountering withdrawals and sales that fell short of expectations, the auctions were not devoid of fervent bidding and record-breaking achievements. Artists such as Justin Caguiat, Henry Taylor, and Simone Leigh experienced remarkable sales, while notable highlights included a captivating piece by David Hockney and Louise Bourgeois’ iconic “Spider” sculpture.
Yoshitomo Nara in Vienna
The Albertina Modern Museum is hosting a major solo exhibition, All My Little Worlds, by renowned Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara. Nara, known for his iconic depictions of cute yet contemplative “angry girls,” has gained immense popularity and success in recent years. On view through November 1, the exhibition showcases 390 drawings, 15 paintings, and three sculptures, providing a comprehensive overview of Nara’s diverse oeuvre.
Nara’s influences from music, literature, pop culture, and sociopolitical issues are evident in his artworks. The exhibition highlights his anti-war stance and features works that reflect on a range of themes. One of the notable highlights is the installation “My Drawing Room,” created in 2008, which presents a cabin-like retreat where Nara immerses himself in solitude and creativity. The room is adorned with works on paper, cultural objects, and toys, providing visitors with an immersive experience of the artist’s world.
Nara’s mastery of drawing is showcased throughout the exhibition, as his emotionally rich artworks encompass vulnerability, existential depth, rebellion, and unruliness. These drawings, often created spontaneously on various materials, delve beyond their kawaii (cute) appearance, expressing a rebellious attitude and inquisitiveness reminiscent of childhood.
While Nara’s work reflects the aesthetics of popular culture, it primarily serves as a means of interaction and communication, aiming to establish connections without hierarchical barriers. The seemingly innocent and cute characters embody a punk attitude, questioning societal norms and representing the honesty and authenticity unique to children.
Frieze Week in NYC
New York City’s spring art frenzy is winding down as the May auctions by Phillips, Christie’s, and Sotheby’s come to a close, along with the completion of TEFAF and Independent. This week, Frieze NY took center stage at The Shed, while NADA and the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair all made their presence known with a multitude of remarkable works on display.
At Frieze NY, New York’s Coalition for the Homeless showcased plates featuring artworks by 42 renowned contemporary artists including KAWS, Yoshitomo Nara, Louise Bourgeois, Rashid Johnson, and Takashi Murakami. Priced at $250 each and available in editions of 250, with only 75 of each available at the booth and the remaining set to be sold online, the plates sold out by the end of the second day. The Artist Plate benefit project, now in its third year, was initiated during the height of the pandemic to raise funds for New York’s homeless community.
Kapp Kapp Gallery presented a booth at Independent New York that featured works by Stanley Stellar and Beverly Semmes. Both artists explored the theme of freedom and self-expression through the body. Stellar’s black-and-white portraits provided an intimate portrayal of the experiences of gay men during the HIV/AIDS crisis. In contrast, Semmes rearranged images from pornographic magazines to offer a commentary on consumer culture.
Petzel Gallery showcased Jorge Pardo’s striking crimson-lacquered “Mountain Bar” at TEFAF. Originally located in L.A.’s Chinatown, this art installation served as a cocktail bar that brought together the vibrant LA art scene. It also housed the Mountain School of Arts in its upstairs space, where notable critics and curators such as Dan Graham, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and others held lectures until its closure in 2012. The installation, which evoked nostalgic memories, blurred the boundaries between design and sculpture.
Simone Leigh Exhibition
Simone Leigh’s exhibition at ICA Boston showcases a comprehensive survey of 35 works that include ceramic and bronze sculptures, as well as video installations by the renowned American artist. Delving into Black feminist theory, Leigh is known for her use of raffia skirts, rosebud hairstyles, abstracted eyeless faces, and the portrayal of the Black female body. The exhibition features select works from Leigh’s participation in the 2022 Venice Biennale.
Leigh skillfully brings attention to undervalued acts of labor and care, particularly among Black women, by seamlessly combining the female form with domestic items and architectural elements in her art. The exhibition at ICA Boston aims to challenge traditional perceptions of ceramics as merely associated with women’s work and household crafts, shedding light on Leigh’s masterful use of clay as a vital medium.
Over the past 20 years, Leigh has received acclaim from both critics and the general public, having exhibited her works at esteemed venues such as New York’s New Museum, the High Line, the Hammer Museum, and the Perez Art Museum.
In the coming months, Leigh’s art will be presented at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., and in a joint exhibition involving LACMA and the California African American Museum in Los Angeles. These presentations seek to introduce Leigh’s artistic vision to a broader American audience.
The 14th Gwangju Biennale, titled “soft and weak like water,” explores the legacy of the democratic uprising and massacre that took place in Gwangju, South Korea, in May 1980. Running through July 9, the exhibition features 79 artists and collectives, primarily from non-Western countries, offering a view of artistic practices often overlooked by Western perspectives.
Anne Duk Hee Jordan presents an installation titled “Artificial Stupidity,” featuring a whole ecosystem of robots that hint at the impending end of the world.
Oum Jeongsoon, a Korean artist, presents tactile installations of elephant figures inspired by the Buddhist parable of the blind men and the elephant. Her work explores different ways of perceiving visual cues beyond vision.
Pangrok Sulap, a Malaysian collective that focuses on indigenous narratives, presents large banners depicting archival images of the democratic uprising in Gwangju, connecting past struggles with contemporary conditions.
Yuki Kihara, a New Zealand artist, combines traditional Sāmoan cloth and Japanese kimono to address pressing issues related to extractive means employed by foreign powers.
Yuko Mohri’s installation, inspired by Han Kang’s novel The White Book, creates a responsive ecosystem of objects that “reads” the exhibition space as a musical score, exploring themes of life, death, and the past.
Christie’s Spring Sale
Christie’s kicked off the spring auction series with a successful $178 million sale in New York. The auction featured 16 pieces from the estate of Samuel Irving Newhouse Jr., the late chairman of Condé Nast, with seven works selling for over $10 million each. The strong performance indicates that collectors are still willing to invest in high-value art.
Among the notable highlights were a Willem de Kooning painting titled “Orestes” from 1947, which was bought by Newhouse for $13.2 million in 2002 and resold for $31 million. A Francis Bacon self-portrait from 1969, titled “Self Portrait,” exceeded its estimate of $20 million to $22 million, selling for $35 million. Pablo Picasso’s portrait “L’Arlésienne (Lee Miller)” from 1937 fetched $25 million, surpassing its estimated minimum of $20 million.
Art advisor Caroline Sayan suggests that more estates will enter the market in the coming years as collectors from the baby-boomer generations pass away, making way for millennials to shape the art market. While the influx of estate collections is generally beneficial for auctions, there is a shift in taste among younger buyers who seek a broader range of artists.
New York’s Art Beat
Ellsworth Kelly | MoMA
A Centennial Celebration, on display through June 11, honors the 100th birthday of abstract artist Ellsworth Kelly through a variety of paintings and works on paper.
Kelly’s paintings were inspired by his daily observations, which ranged from the shadow cast on a stairwell to the shape of a flower. He reduced the commonplace and complicated into imaginative, yet seemingly simple forms, lines, and colors. Sculpture for a Large Wall (1956-57), created for the lobby of Philadelphia’s Transportation Building, is one of the major highlights.
Juan de Pareja | Metropolitan Museum of Art
Afro-Hispanic Painter, on display through July 16, aims to challenge colonial myths by highlighting the life and artistic output of the Afro-Hispanic artist who was active during Spain’s Golden Age.
For two decades, Pareja was an enslaved worker for Velázquez. The exhibition contains paintings of Black and Morisco (Muslims obliged to convert to Catholicism) figures painted by Velázquez, Francisco de Zurbarán, and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo in addition to Pareja’s rarely seen paintings.
Josh Kline | Whitney Museum of American Art
Project for a New American Century, on display through August 13, is Kline’s first museum survey, featuring installations and moving image pieces, including works that tackle the climate crisis.
Kline’s practice involves critically examining various technologies such as digitization, data collection, image manipulation, and 3D printing. He often directs these tools back at themselves, questioning the concept of truth in the era of post-truth propaganda through videos created with early deep fake software. His work is deeply concerned with labor, class, and the pressing social and political issues of our time.
Aliza Nisenbaum | Queens Museum
Queens, Lindo, y Querido, on display through September 10, features vibrantly colored, large-scale paintings portraying individuals overlooked by the society.
One of the highlights is her mosaic sculpture created for LaGuardia Airport that depicts the everyday labor of pilots, flight attendants, security officers, and other individuals. The exhibition also includes the works created by volunteer leaders who participated in a Spanish-English bilingual painting workshop taught by Nisenbaum, alongside her portraits of these participants.
Gego | Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Measuring Infinity, on display through September 10, showcases more than 120 examples of the artist’s line studies in design, architecture, sculpture, drawing, printing, and textiles from the 1950s to the 1990s.
Gertrud Goldschmidt, sometimes known as Gego, fled Nazi repression in 1939 and emigrated to Venezuela, where she rose to prominence as a key postwar artist and pioneer in geometrical abstraction and kinetic art. The artist explored new and bold ideas by closely studying how structures work and focusing on concepts like see-through materials, tightness, delicate nature, how things relate to each other in space, and how movement affects our perception.
Istanbul Modern’s New Era
Turkey’s first museum of modern and contemporary art, Istanbul Modern has recently debuted its new building with inaugural exhibitions. The stunning five-story structure, designed by architect Renzo Piano, boasts a waterfront facade overlooking the Bosphorus and Golden Horn. The museum’s transparent and accessible design reflects its commitment to providing a multifaceted art experience.
Floating Islands showcases 280 works from Istanbul Modern’s collection, featuring Turkish artists from 1945 to the 2000s as well as renowned international artists. The opening program also includes an exhibition by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, focusing on the renowned film director’s photography portraits.
The outdoor areas exhibit impressive sculptures by Adrian Villar Rojas, Richard Deacon, and Tony Cragg. Visitors can also immerse themselves in installations by Refik Anadol, Olafur Eliasson, and Richard Wentwort.
Istanbul Modern’s new building marks a significant moment for Turkish and international art, inviting visitors to engage with diverse artistic expressions.
Met Gala Controversy
Controversy erupted at the star-studded Met Gala over a plastic water bottle chandelier that bears a striking resemblance to the works of artist Willie Cole. Supporters of Cole have accused the Met Gala of plagiarism, claiming that the chandelier is a blatant copy of his iconic water bottle sculptures.
Cole’s art is presently showcased at the Met, with the museum store featuring a variety of his prints and home décor products. However, Cole was neither consulted for the installation nor granted permission for his artwork’s likeness to be used.
Cole himself addressed the issue on Instagram, questioning whether the use of his art was “flattery or thievery.” Despite the controversies, the event organizers asserted that every water bottle used was recycled and that they aimed to underscore the importance of reusing everyday objects beyond their initial purpose.
The Rise of Black Women Artists
Have you seen our latest article? Contemporary Black women artists are making waves in the art world, creating work that challenges predominant narratives and providing fresh perspectives on race, gender, sexuality, and class.
Highlighting the importance of their contributions, our article explores how these artists are increasingly exhibited in renowned institutions and receiving countless awards and grants. We delve into the role of Black women artists in shaping a more diverse and inclusive art scene while challenging prevailing narratives.
Among the artists we cover are Kara Walker, Tschabalala Self, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Amy Sherald, Faith Ringgold, Chakaia Booker, and Simone Leigh. Their artistic practices span from conceptual sculptures to colorful figurative paintings, and they continuously push boundaries and ignite conversations through their diverse approaches.
Thirty Are Better Than One
A comprehensive survey of Andy Warhol, Thirty Are Better Than One will feature over 100 artworks, including the artist’s earliest works. The exhibition will be on view from May 10 through July 31 at the Brant Foundation in East Village, New York.
Curated by Peter M. Brant, the founder of The Brant Foundation, an early patron, collaborator, and close friend of the artist, the exhibition highlights Warhol’s experimentation with various media and his contribution to the Pop Art movement.
The exhibition takes its title from the eponymous piece that features 30 scaled-down silk-screened replicas of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Warhol’s interest with mechanical repetition and his propensity to disrupt existing hierarchies within the art world are all clearly represented.
A Timeless Retrospective: Avedon 100
On what would have been his 100th birthday, Richard Avedon, an iconic American photographer best known for his fashion and celebrity photography, is being honored with an exhibition of his work titled Avedon 100 at Gagosian in New York City.
Avedon’s method of portraiture is distinctive in that he aimed to capture his subjects’ personalities and feelings in addition to their physical appearance. His photographs are renowned for their startling clarity, intricate detail, and sense of drama. He frequently utilized stark, minimalist backdrops to bring attention to his subjects.
A variety of aspects of Avedon’s career are highlighted in the retrospective, including his American West series, social justice movements, advertising, and fashion work. To create the curation, 150 global icons, including Elton John, Naomi Campbell, and Kate Moss, were asked to choose their favorite artwork by the artist.
Woodcut vs. Aluminum Etching in Printmaking
Woodcut and aluminum etching are two forms of printmaking. Both techniques have their unique qualities and advantages, providing alternatives to artists who want to create prints.
Woodcut involves carving a design into a wooden block using special tools. The raised surface of the block is then inked, and the design is transferred onto paper by pressing the block onto the paper. This process can be repeated multiple times, allowing the artist to create multiple copies of the same design.
One of the most significant advantages of woodcut printing is its ability to create bold, graphic images. The texture of the wood can also add a unique quality to the print. Additionally, woodcut printing is relatively inexpensive, making it accessible to many artists.
Aluminum etching involves creating a design on an aluminum plate by coating it with an acid-resistant material, then removing the coating to expose the metal. The plate is then submerged in an acid bath, which etches the exposed areas and creates the design. Once the plate is inked, it is pressed onto paper to transfer the finely detailed image, with lines that are thinner and more precise than those created by woodcut printing.
Another advantage of aluminum etching is its ability to create multiple colors and tones in a single print, making it a popular choice for artists who want to create colorful and intricate designs, including photographic images.
Turner Prize Names Nominees
Turner Prize, the prestigious award annually given to a British artist, has named this year’s nominees: Jesse Darling, Ghislaine Leung, Rory Pilgrim, and Barbara Walker. Works by all four artists will be shown at Towner Eastbourne in September at the Turner Prize annual exhibition.
Jesse Darling’s works focus on gender and disability issues. Ghislaine Leung’s recent solo show in New York displayed conceptual sculptures made of child safety gates and baby monitors, reflecting on life after becoming a parent.
Rory Pilgrim was commissioned by the Serpentine Galleries and Barking Hall for RAFTS, a body of performance, sound and video work exploring meditation, togetherness, and mental health during pandemic.
Barbara Walker is currently exhibiting oversized portraits of members of the UK’s Windrush generation at the Sharjah Biennial. She is known for portraying grand images of Black British people.
Past winners of the Turner Award include Wolfgang Tillmans, Chris Ofili, and Anish Kapoor.
AI Image Wins Photography Award
Boris Eldagsen recently won the World Photography Organization’s Sony World Photography Award for a piece titled “The Electrician”, which was created using AI-generated techniques known as inpainting, outpainting, and prompt whispering, but in a shocking turn of events, the artist declined the award.
Eldagsen stated that AI-generated images and photography should not be pitted against each other in awards such as this one. He went on to appeal to the jury to donate his prize money to a photography festival in Odesa, Ukraine.
The World Photography Organization criticized Eldagsen’s work and response to winning, expressing their inability to have a meaningful and constructive dialogue with him. This controversy raises questions about the definition of photography and the role of AI in artistic contexts of image-making.
Tiffany’s Brings Art into Retail
The LVMH-owned Tiffany’s is redefining its retail locations into hotspots for art. After four years of renovation, their new flagship store, “The Landmark,” will debut next week. It will include a sizable art collection that has been carefully curated by Tiffany’s Executive Vice President, Alexandre Arnault, and renowned architect Peter Marino.
Damien Hirst, Daniel Arsham, Anish Kapoor, James Turrell, Sarah Sze, Julian Schnabel, Jenny Holzer, Richard Prince, Vik Muniz, and Rashid Johnson are just a few of the prominent artists whose work will be featured in the art collection. There will also be a Daniel Boulud restaurant, the Blue Box Cafe, an Audrey Hepburn experience area, and a “Diamond on the Roof” extension for brand historical activations in the store.
Starting in 2024, Tiffany’s will hold special exhibitions on its eighth and ninth floors, showcasing the largest private collection of any luxury retailer in the world. Through these exhibits, LVMH aims to transform Tiffany’s into a cultural magnet and attract visitors from around the globe.
Harvard Students Join PAIN
PAIN, an anti-Sackler organization founded by Nan Goldin, organized a die-in protest outside Harvard University’s Arthur M. Sackler Museum. Harvard students participated in the event, which aimed to raise public awareness about the Sackler family’s role in the opioid epidemic. The museum bears the Sackler name and features gifts from the family’s collection of artworks.
Nan Goldin established PAIN, which is dedicated to putting pressure on museums, galleries, and educational institutions to refuse additional gifts from the Sacklers. According to the organization, funds should instead be used to support treatment, educate the public, and dispel myths about opioids.
The Sackler family amassed immense wealth from the production and sale of OxyContin, a highly addictive painkiller, and is largely regarded as being the cause of the opioid crisis. “SHAME ON SACKLER” was written on banners carried by the demonstrators to denounce the acts of the family.
The Sackler family made significant donations to museums all over the world, including the Met and the Louvre, but most organizations have distanced themselves from the family name. Harvard is one of the few institutions that has not done this, and it is also Nan Goldin’s alma mater.
Kusama Dominates Hong Kong Auction
In a recent Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong, five artworks by Yayoi Kusama were sold for a total of $23 million, setting new records for the artist’s highest auction prices. At 94 years old, Kusama remains a highly sought-after artist in the current market, and the success of the auction is viewed as a positive sign for the Hong Kong art market, which has been struggling due to the pandemic.
My Heart is Flying to the Universe, a mirrored box with LED lighting, which is essentially an infinity room in a box, was sold for $3.29 million. This sale marked the first time that such an unconventional work, originally purchased from David Zwirner, was publicly auctioned in Asia.
Pumpkin (L), Kusama’s oversized sculpture, was sold for $7.98 million, setting a new record for a sculpture by the artist. The previous auction record for Kusama was held by an “Infinity Nets” painting, which sold for $10.9 million in 2022 at Phillips.
Sarah Sze’s Guggenheim Exhibition
Timelapse, Sarah Sze’s latest exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum, will run through September 10, 2023. The show features a collection of large installations, mixed-media paintings, and images that are reflected on literally everything.
Sze’s sculptural work can be characterized as a towering scaffold of sticks and images, which is captivating. With an “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” approach to art, the artist constructs elaborate sculptures using unremarkable materials. The resulting installations are complex, with many hidden layers of symbolic value embedded within them.
Timelapse is located on the museum’s top floor, while the rest of the museum is dedicated to the retrospective of the Venezuelan artist Gego. Sze’s works appear to grow out of the Guggenheim’s walls, establishing a parasitic relationship with the building.
Although the artist’s works take up a significant amount of space, all being intricately created on-site, the show is considered more modest in scale compared to past exhibitions by artists such as Matthew Barney, Maurizio Cattelan, and James Turrell, who made extensive use of the museum’s architectural features. In contrast, Sze’s exhibition focuses primarily on her own artistic creations.
Sze is a graduate of Yale University and also attended New York’s School of Visual Arts. She entered the art world as a young star, with her work being featured in the 1999 Carnegie International and the 2000 Whitney Biennial. She was later awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and represented the United States at the Venice Biennale in 2013.
Basquiat Forgery Scandal: Auctioneer Pleads Guilty
Michael Barzman, a Los Angeles auctioneer, has pled guilty to forging fake paintings attributed to Jean-Michel Basquiat. The FBI uncovered the forgeries in a scandalous raid at the Orlando Museum of Art in 2022.
Barzman and an accomplice, identified only as J.F., allegedly produced 20 to 30 fakes in 2012, falsifying the provenance of the works and claiming that Basquiat sold the cardboard paintings to screenwriter Thad Mumford for $5,000 in 1982.
The Orlando Museum of Art exhibited these never-before-seen paintings in February 2022, but suspicions arose quickly due to inconsistencies such as a FedEx logo that did not exist during Basquiat’s lifetime. Despite these red flags, the museum published an exhibition catalog with new essays on the 25 works, leading to a 500% increase in museum attendance. The FBI raid occurred in June, a week before the exhibition’s end.
Ai Weiwei’s New London Exhibition
The Design Museum in London has just opened its Ai Weiwei: Making Sense exhibition, featuring dozens of works by the renowned contemporary artist.
The curation delves into design history, showcasing everything from Neolithic tools to lego bricks, while exploring themes of “past and present, hand and machine, precious and worthless, construction and destruction,” according to the museum.
Spanning the length of a gallery wall, Water Lilies #1, a 50-foot-long Lego painting made up of 650,000 tiny parts, is one of the exhibition’s centerpieces. The work is a tribute to Monet’s famous triptych depicting a lily pond in Giverny.
The dark area on Weiwei’s painting represents the underground dugout in Xinjiang province where he and his father lived under forced exile in the 1960s. This is not the artist’s first Lego work; in 2014, he created Trace, a series featuring 176 Lego portraits of political prisoners.
Weiwei’s previous works have always made strong statements. Following his laborious and collective work at the 2007 Documenta, Weiwei was commissioned to create an installation for London’s Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2010. For this project, Weiwei enlisted 1,600 ceramicists from Jingdezhen, a pottery town, to handcraft 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds. The infinite landscape he created with the seeds had a label: “Made in China”.
SAM Gets 48 Calder Works
The Seattle Art Museum has recently acquired a substantial gift of 48 works by Alexander Calder that span the artist’s career, featuring Calder mobiles in various sizes from large-scale to intimately small, as well as other objects by the artist.
The gift came from Jon Shirley, former president and chief operating officer of Microsoft. Its approximate value is $200 million, according to Christie’s West Coast chairman Ellanor Notides, who did the appraisal.
The acquired works are a significant addition to the museum’s collection, which already includes a large-scale Calder mobile. Shirley, an avid art collector, has previously donated works by Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons to the museum. The Shirley gift is part of a plan to continuously attract visitors to SAM, as it comes with a $10 million endowment.
Met Returns 15 Looted Artifacts
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York returned 15 looted artifacts to Greece and Turkey, including a statue of the Greek goddess Tyche, a Roman sarcophagus, and Byzantine frescoes.
The museum has actively repatriated looted cultural heritage, returning over 200 objects to their countries of origin since 2018. The repatriation process involves extensive research, and Greece and Turkey have been leading the call for the return. The return of these artifacts is viewed as a positive step towards preserving cultural heritage.
The 42nd edition of AIPAD (Association of International Photography Art Dealers), the photography show which hosts top fine art photography galleries from around the world, will be held in New York from March 31 to April 2, 2023.
The fair will include 44 galleries displaying new and historic museum-quality photography, as well as new media such as photo-based art and NFTs. Lydia Melamed Johnson has been named the new executive director of AIPAD, and a new initiative has been launched to provide support for emerging galleries.
A special exhibition, Highlights from the Archive: Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the MUUS Collection, will also be part of the fair. The exhibition will highlight the work of five photographers, André de Dienes, Fred W. McDarrah, Deborah Turbeville, Rosalind Fox Solomon, and Alfred Wertheimer, tracing the similarities and distinctions between each photographer’s approach to portraiture.
Mutu’s Exhibition at New Museum
On display at the New Museum in New York, Wangechi Mutu: Intertwined features 115 works by Kenyan-born multi-disciplinary artist Wangechi Mutu (b. 1972).
Mutu’s work often features hybridized figures that combine human, animal, and machine elements. Her collages, paintings, sculptures, and installations depict the female body, which she often presents in a critical and transformative light. The artist draws inspiration from African cosmology, science fiction, and popular culture.
The exhibition recalls a mix of emotions: pride, skepticism, joy, and fear, which work together to create a strong overall impression. The use of salvaged materials in the exhibition speaks to the themes of sustainability and environment.
One of the highlights on display is The Glider, a recent work that is a 9 feet tall sculpture made from steel, rubber, and carved wood. The work depicts a fantastical creature with the body of a woman and the wings of a bird or insect, in a state of motion, as if it is about to take flight.
Mutu’s works pack a powerful enough punch on its own, and the exhibition provides a satisfying overview of her prodigious talent and seemingly tireless artistry.
Climate Activists Petrify Boston Museum on Theft Anniversary
On the anniversary of the famous theft event, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the prestigious Boston art institution, shut its doors during open hours to prevent a planned guerilla act by the Extinction Rebellion.
The theft which left the museum without 13 works including those by Vermeer, Degas, and Rembrandt had happened on the same day in 1990 when burglars dressed as Boston police officers broke into the museum.
The institution was warned regarding the demonstration by a CBS News affiliate who broke an embargoed press release. In response to the planned act, the museum stated: “We do not support this type of tactic that targets art institutions and could possibly put the Museum’s collection, staff and visitors at risk.”
The Extinction Rebellion activist group, however, explained that their act would have been nonviolent, and that they had planned to hang original artwork highlighting biodiversity loss in the empty frames where paintings had been stolen 33 years ago. As a result of the museum’s closure, the Extinction Rebellion carried flags and banners, and staged a “die-in” outside the museum instead.
Art Basel Hong Kong
Art Basel Hong Kong has returned to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, in-person and in full force, after three years of digital and abridged iterations. Taking over two floors of the center with 177 total exhibitors, the fair has attracted international collectors, including those from mainland China, and features a growing trend of embracing young, international contemporary art.
Among the highlights of the event was the $2.2 million sale of Elizabeth Peyton’s 2005 painting Truffaut during the VIP preview, purchased by an undisclosed Asian museum that David Zwirner Gallery described as “major”. While the Peyton painting ranked among the priciest sales at the fair, it was far from the only big-ticket item, with paintings by Mark Bradford, Alice Neel, and Kazuo Shiraga also selling for seven-figure prices.
According to reporter Angelica Villa, the sales pace was closer to “healthy” than the frenzied buying seen in 2018 and 2019, with fair fatigue not being an issue, according to Hong Kong-based art adviser Patti Wong. Attendees at the fair included mainland Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Taiwanese collectors, as well as representatives from the Tate, Guggenheim, Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and Picasso Museum in Paris.
Alice Neel: Hot Off the Griddle
Alice Neel: Hot Off the Griddle is a captivating exhibition that highlights the remarkable work of Neel who persevered in her distinctive style despite facing financial struggles and a lack of recognition. It is truly exhilarating to witness an artist who chose to depict individuals that are not traditionally portrayed in paintings, thereby giving voice and visibility to those who were often marginalized.
The exhibition’s focus on Neel’s archival materials, such as photographs, letters, and video, provides valuable insight into the cultural and political contexts that shaped her work. It is fascinating to learn how her travels and experiences, particularly her time in Havana and Spanish Harlem, influenced her artistic vision. Furthermore, it is heartening to know that Neel’s work has since been lauded for its open-mindedness and inclusivity, and this exhibition offers a wider audience the chance to appreciate it.
This exhibition is an excellent opportunity to explore the work of an artist who fearlessly challenged the status quo and celebrated the humanity of those who were often overlooked by society.
Venus William to Host an Auction
Tennis champion Venus Williams and artist Adam Pendleton will co-host a charity auction at Pace Gallery in New York on May 20 to support the preservation of Nina Simone’s childhood home. Pendleton, along with several fellow artists, jointly purchased the house in 2017, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated it a National Treasure the following year.
The auction, co-organized with Sotheby’s, will feature works by Pendleton, Ellen Gallagher, Rashid Johnson, Julie Mehretu, Mary Weatherford, Stanley Whitney, Robert Longo, and Cecily Brown. Some of the artworks will be on display at Pace from May 12 through May 22.
Saudi Arabian Pompidou
Centre Pompidou, the renowned Parisian Museum famous for its collection of modern and contemporary art, has signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia to establish a new museum in AlUla, an ancient oasis city.
The museum will have a particular focus on art from Asia and Africa, special attention given to Land Art and new digital forms. In addition, the institution will commission regional and international artists to create immersive installations and public artworks.
AlUla strives to establish itself as a hub for cultural exchange and artistic innovation through a series of initiatives with some of the world’s leading cultural institutions. These include partnerships with the Louvre, Riyadh’s Misk Art Institute, the German Archaeological Institute, and Desert X. The collaboration with Centre Pompidou is the latest in this series: it will include technical training for Saudi museum professionals as well as loan opportunities between the two institutions.
The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has an ambitious plan to open more than 200 cultural attractions by 2030, and welcome two million visitors annually by 2035. RCU is working towards opening the museum in 2028-29.
TEFAF Maastricht, the famous European Fine Art Fair annually taking place in the charming city of Maastricht, ends on March 19. This year’s edition, which kicked off the European fair season, hosted over 270 exhibitors and featured a diverse range of items, including Old Masters, antiques, jewelry, tribal art, contemporary design, and of course, contemporary art.
The 2023 edition of the extravagant art fair returned to its original time and size after being affected by the pandemic in previous years. Covering 7000 years of art history, the fair has been a feast for the eyes with stunning exhibits around every corner. We were particularly impressed by some of the works on display and have shared our favorites on our Instagram page.
Artwork Disturbs Hong Kong’s Feng Shui
French artist JR’s GIANTS: Rising Up, a massive sculpture depicting a high-jumper in mid-air, celebrates Hong Kong’s Art Month, which includes Art Basel Hong Kong.
The artwork has disturbed the city’s Feng Shui masters. They argue that the depiction looks like a person fell off a building and projects a bad omen. Kaws’ Companion, which floated on the harbor in 2019, had received similar criticism.
London’s Spring Auctions
London’s spring auction season kicked off last week with modern and contemporary art auctions by Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips.
Sales were lower than 2022, and lots were fewer as well. Abstract pieces with complex and dynamic compositions, both modern and contemporary, caught bidders’ attention. Figurative works by emerging artists that explore themes of identity and representation were also of high interest.
We saw familiar names. Picasso, Kandinsky, and Lucian Freud brought high sales numbers. However, there were also culturally diverse names like Mohammed Sami who made their auction debuts. Demand for younger female artists was also noticeable.
Yuga Goes Bitcoin
Yuga Labs, famously known for Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks, is launching a new collection that uses Bitcoin instead of Ethereum. The collection called TwelveFold also introduces a new method of making NFTs called ordinals.
Ordinals allow for metadata (the information that describes a digital asset) to be inscribed on a Satoshi (the smallest unit of Bitcoin) instead of relying on smart contracts.
The 300 works in the collection will soon be sold at auction on a dedicated website. Bids will be in Bitcoin.
Until recently, the Bitcoin blockchain was not able to support smart contracts, and thus, couldn’t provide digital receipts that assign and track ownership of a digital artwork.
Time will show if the invention of the ordinals will cause a shift in NFT making habits and carry Bitcoin to a new level in the NFT game.
Weems Wins Prestigious Photography Award
Named after the Swedish camera inventor Victor Hasselblad, this year’s “significant achievement” in photography award went to Carrie Mae Weems. The artist is the first African American woman to claim the highly prestigious award. Previous Hasselblad winners include Cindy Sherman, and Wolfgang Tillmans.
A New Curator: Kelly Rowland
Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child curated a Sotheby’s auction. The singer joined the auction house’s roster of celebrities including Oprah Winfrey and Robert Pattinson to curate works. Highlighting artists of color in her selection, Rowland chose to include two figurative works by Ernie Barnes. Read more
Other notable artists in the selection include Stanley Whitney, known for his loose grids of colors, and famous photographer Robert Longo. As part of an effort to support at-risk LGBTQ+ youth, a group of queer artists, including Doron Langberg whose vibrant works were completely sold out at last week’s Frieze LA, will donate their artwork to the upcoming auction.
Critique of Refik Anadol’s MoMA Installation
Jason Farago of The New York Times described Refik Anadol’s installation at The Museum of Modern Art as resembling a scientific experiment rather than a work of art, citing its perceived lack of emotional resonance.
Art critic Jerry Saltz referred to Anadol’s work as a “glorified lava lamp”, highlighting the need for a human touch in a creative process. Saltz also claimed that the artwork is an example of a ‘tech-utopian’ fallacy that ignores the downsides of technology.
Anadol’s recent work, Unsupervised at MoMA, is a 24-foot high polychromatic audio-visual art installation which uses AI technology to process 200 years of art from MoMA’s archive and turn art history into an abstract imagery in real time.
MoMA is an institution that started collecting photography before the medium was established as fine art. Today, the museum is doing the same with AI-generated art, even though there is still skepticism toward machine-made imagery.
While the critics went about with their own analogies, Hyperallergic asked ChatGPT to review the piece. The six-paragraph review of the AI was as vague as it can be. The only piece of tangible critique was that some people may find it too abstract to relate with.
However, interestingly, once the bot was asked to review the piece in a post-colonial aspect, it went on to admit that AI is only a reflection of its creator’s biases. According to this claim, the imagery of the artwork does not reflect the art history of the world. Rather, it only reflects the collection of a Western institution. Without a doubt, this raises questions about how technology is trained and how systemic racism can be carried onto machine learning.
Whether Anadol’s goal was to raise ethical questions about machine learning or create a stunning, massive installation, the artwork has divided the art world into two camps: those who love it and those who hate it. Arguably, the very fact that it prompts us to question whether it qualifies as art or not is what makes it art.
Tate Modern Commissions El Anatsui
African artist El Anatsui, who is famous for his striking wall tapestries made of bottle tops, will create a monumental work for Tate Modern. The installation will premiere in Turbine Hall on October 10 and run through April 14, 2024.
Focusing on themes of consumerism, colonialism and environmentalism, the artist’s works have been included in prestigious collections such as the British Museum and Centre Pompidou. In 2015, Anatsui, who is also a sculpture professor at the University of Nigeria, received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale.
Protective Glass on Banksy Murals
Due to attempts of robbery and vandalism, Banksy’s murals in the war-torn cities just outside of Kyiv will be covered with protective glass. As Oleg Torkunov, the deputy head of Kyiv’s Regional Military Administration, puts is, the paintings are seen as having “cultural and historical significance for the country as a reminder that light must overcome darkness.” One of the artworks has been valued at $250,000.
ARCO 2023, Madrid’s top contemporary art fair, saw a crowd shocking sculpture: Picasso’s corpse. The artwork, Aquí Murió Picasso (Picasso Died Here), which is made by Spanish artist Eugenio Merino, drew in visitors eager to capture a selfie. The sculpture actually criticized mass tourism and the selfie-fixation. The work is an edition of three and had a price tag of €45,000.
Joan Mitchell vs Louis Vuitton
The Joan Mitchell Foundation has issued Louis Vuitton a cease-and-desist order after the fashion company used three of the late artist’s paintings in an advertising campaign without approval. The foundation only allows Mitchell’s imagery to be used for educational purposes.
Swastika at LACMA
An imagery of the emblem of the Islamic Republic of Iran that transforms into a swastika was spotted on LACMA’s fence. LAPD started investigating the hate crime. Kurosh ValaNejad, who likened the Iranian government to the Nazi regime, claimed ownership of the installation.
Visitor Shatters Balloon Dog
The accidental destruction of a $42,000 Balloon Dog by Jeff Koons at the Art Wynwood contemporary art fair in Miami has been making headlines. Reports indicate that an art collector attending the VIP preview of the fair unintentionally kicked the pedestal upon which the small electric blue sculpture was perched. The destroyed sculpture was part of a series of 799.
Rendition of Picasso’s Guernica
French artist Jean Pierre Raynaud paid homage to Pablo Picasso’s anti-war masterpiece, Guernica (1937), on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He donated the rendition to the National Museum of Art in Kyiv. Until it is transported there, the work will be stored in the Musée Picasso Paris.
Warhol in Saudi Arabia
AlUla, an ancient oasis city in Saudi Arabia, is hosting the kingdom’s first Andy Warhol exhibition titled FAME: Andy Warhol in AlUla, which runs through May 16 as part of the AlUla Arts Festival.
Curated by Patrick Moore, director of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the exhibition highlights Saudi Arabia’s ongoing efforts to become a global destination for art and culture. The country’s ambitious “Vision 2030” reform agenda seeks to wean its economic dependence on oil and gas and grow a creative economy. Large-scale exhibitions such as Desert X and Wadi Al Fann as well as the featuring of international artists are in line with this agenda.
The exhibition showcases 70 iconic works that reflect Warhol’s fascination with fame, glamor, and Hollywood. It includes prints of Dolly Parton, Muhammad Ali, Salvador Dalí, Bob Dylan, and Elizabeth Taylor.
Global media criticized the exhibition for lacking rapport given the limited emphasis on the artist’s personal life. The curator and the Saudi organizers stressed their interest in focusing solely on Warhol’s artistic legacy. This comes without surprise as Saudi Arabia is well known for criminalizing homosexuality.
Art World News
The art world responded to earthquake relief efforts for Turkey and Syria in different ways. Art Dubai declared that the organization will donate 50% of the upcoming art fair’s ticket sales. London-based non-profit platform Open Space Contemporary is holding an online fundraiser. Refik Anadol started a crypto donation campaign that he announced through Twitter – he raised ~$4.5mm so far.
Felix Art Fair, the relaxed cousin of Frieze LA, which is once again taking place in Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel, is full of colors, patterns, and glitter – there is no sign of minimalism. Visitors of the art fair were spotted holding their drinks while perusing the artworks from one hotel room to another, even lounging on artworks (furniture) themselves. Some galleries reported instant sales on preview day.
LACMA acquired 22 NFTs of generative artworks. All works were donated by the prolific NFT collector who goes by the name of Cozomo de’ Medici. The collection includes some of the most sought-after generative artists in the NFT scene and other well-known names such as Dmitri Cherniak, Cai Guo-Quiang, Matt DesLauriers, and Monica Rizzoli. Collectible NFTs by Crypto Punk and World of Women are also a part of the donation.
A new mural by Banksy was found on February 14 in the British town of Margate in Kent. It features a 1950s-style housewife with a swollen eye who stands next to an open chest freezer and an upturned plastic lawn chair. The woman appeared to have gotten rid of an abusive male partner. Only the man’s pant cuffs, black socks, and black dress shoes could be seen poking out of the appliance. Local workers removed the freezer for safety reasons.
Tate hosted a children’s event where Drag Queen Aida H Dee read nursery stories to children at the museum. A group of five right-wing protestors disrupted the event. They were met with pro-transgender rights counter-protesters and other groups including Stand Up to Racism.
Finding the Next Great Artist
On March 3, a new reality art show, The Exhibit: Finding the Next Great Artist, will begin airing on MTV. Seven artists from around the US will compete for $100,000 and a “career-defining exhibit” at the Hirshhorn Museum.
The chief juror of the competition is Melissa Chiu, the museum director of Hirshhorn Museum. Other members of the jury include Samuel Hoi, the current president of Maryland Institute College of Art, Abigail DeVille, an artist who is well-known for her large installations, JiaJia Fei, an art entrepreneur, Adam Pendleton, a blue-chip contemporary artist, Keith Rivers, a film director, and Sarah Thornton, an art writer.
Competing artists represent different backgrounds, styles, and mediums, but the roster could have been more diverse. Printmaker Jamaal Barber, Onondaga paint artist Frank Buffalo Hyde, sculptor Misha Kahn, painter Clare Kambhu, multimedia artist Baseera Khan, video and performance artist Jillian Mayer, and painter Jennifer Warren will take part in the episodic art commissions.
A similar show called Bravo’s Work of Art: The Next Great Artist took place a decade ago and only continued for two seasons. Similarly, the show awarded its winners a cash prize of $100,000 and an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. Bravo’s version had received a lot of criticism at that time when jurors ended up discussing whether a work is a piece of art or not.
Support Turkey and Syria
We at Zarastro Art are devastated by the aftermath of the series of catastrophic earthquakes that struck southeastern Turkey and northern Syria.
Rescue operations are ongoing, and there is a lot to be done in the region. If you would like to send your support, here are some of the organizations you can donate to:
Turkish Philanthropy Fund is a reputable, independent, and transparent charity fund for international donors, currently with matching from Chobani founder, Hamdi Ulukaya.
Doctors Without Borders is on the ground to provide urgent medical care.
UNHCR is a good option if you would like to help the refugee population.
White Helmets is running the rescue operations in Syria.
Art World News
Getty Images filed a lawsuit against Stability AI, accusing the company of using more than 12 million photographs and captions from the Getty collection to train its artificial intelligence image generator that creates photo-realistic images through text input.
- Hermès won their controversial
NFT copyright case against digital artist Mason Rothschild who created an NFT collection of MetaBirkins without any affiliation with the fashion house. The court decided that the artist violated Hermès’s Birkin trademark rights, but Rothschild’s attorney claims the justice system makes decisions “not because of what they (artists) create, but because their CV does not scream artist with a pedigree from a world-class art school.”
Australia selected Archie Moore to represent the country at the Venice Biennale in 2024. The Kamilaroi and Bigambul artist works in a variety of media to address identity and racism in Australia. Moore will be the second First Nations artist to represent the country with a solo show.
- The 19-foot-high, 40-ton “mini-Bean”
sculpture by Anish Kapoor, estimated to cost $8-10 million, finally arrived at the exterior of Jenga, the luxury tower in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan. Only residents can view all sides. Kapoor himself bought a four-bedroom apartment there for $13.5 million in 2016.
In a reversal of a Trump-era policy, the U.S. Department of Defense said that released prisoners are allowed to leave Guantánamo Bay with artworks they created there. A spokesperson said that they can take a “practicable quantity” of art, but that they will maintain to be the US Government’s property.
- A unique exhibition prepared by Sir Paul Smith, the reputable British Fashion Designer, is aimed to present
Picasso‘s art through a contemporary lens at the The Musée National Picasso-Paris for the fiftieth anniversary of the artist’s passing. The exhibition opens on March 7, 2023.
Historic Vermeer Exhibition
One of the top art and history museums in the world, Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands just opened a historic exhibition, the largest Johannes Vermeer show ever, running from February 10 through June 4, 2023.
Vermeer showcases 28 of the artist’s 37 best known works, the highest number since the National Gallery of Art in Washington has brought together 21 works back in 1995. This opportunity was also made possible by the Frick Collection, which owns three works – when they announced renovation plans, Rijksmuseum acted on it, and for the first time in history, the three works owned by the Frick are shown outside of New York.
The museum assembled artworks from 14 different museums and private collections from seven countries. The show also includes his most famous painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring. The curatorial team, conservators, and scientists conducted intensive research alongside with other prestigious institutions and referred to the latest technologies to attempt to solve the mysteries behind the Dutch painter’s works and to break down his painting techniques.
French architect and designer Jean-Michel Wilmotte designed spaces separated by floor-to-ceiling velvet curtains, sometimes presenting only one or two paintings in a room, allowing visitors to comfortably view the paintings that are usually small and provide an intimate setting.
There is only one dispute. According to The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, the work Girl with a Flute (c. 1665-1675) may not be authentic.
Venice Biennale 2024: Artists Announced So Far
Anna Jermolaewa (Austria)
Previous works include an installation on carrier pigeons and a film using impersonators of Russian leaders.
Kapwani Kiwanga (Canada)
The artist focuses on the role of art as a catalyst for revealing and addressing the alternative and frequently silenced socio-political narratives.
Edith Karlson (Estonia)
The Tallinn-based sculptor will create an immersive installation, reflecting on history, moods, and myths.
Pakui Hardware and Marija Teresė Rožanskaitė (Lithuania)
The artist duo Pakui Hardware will create an immersive installation featuring Marija Terese Rozanskaite’s paintings that convey the interconnectedness of bodies and environments in crisis.
Guerreiro do Divino Amor (Switzerland)
Young Swiss-Brazilian artist will present the latest installment of his long-running project, the “super fictional” World Atlas, which will incorporate digital elements, installation, film, and performance.
Near-Record Year for African Art
A soaring global demand for African art along with an increased digital access to African works have contributed to a near-record year for the South African auction house Strauss & Co, which reported sales totaling ~$20.6mm for 2022. Over the course of last year, Strauss & Co sold 6,381 lots with 53 lots selling for more than ~$58k and an average sell-through rate of 71%.
In a bid to share its success, Strauss & Co is introducing a new sale format on February 28. The auction house will bring together primary and secondary works by artists from all across Africa including works by Cyrus Kabiru, Zanele Muholi, Thierry Oussou, and Athi-Patra Ruga, among others. The objective of the new auction format is to improve the primary market landscape through curatorial voices that beautify the specificities and uniqueness of African cultures.
South Africa has long held the dominant share of the African art market, though in recent years Nigeria has recently nipped at its heels. Due to the unfavorable economic conditions in South Africa over the past couple of years, West Africa increased its market share in the continent from 28% to 41%, challenging South Africa’s historical dominance.
Art Fairs Around the World in the First Quarter
Art fairs made an impressive post-COVID comeback in 2022. Strong tailwinds will continue in 2023. Below is a list of major art fairs taking place around the world in the first quarter of 2023.
Zona Maco and Material,
A prominent fair in Latin America, Zona Maco will present more than 200 exhibitors from 26 countries.
Gathering 20 exhibitors, this small fair will give the visitors a taste of contemporary art from Africa.
India Art Fair,
The largest art fair of the subcontinent will bring together 85 exhibitors including Nature Morte, Jhaveri Contemporary, and Galleria Continua.
Felix Art Fair,
Featuring 60 galleries, Felix LA will take place at the iconic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel the day before Frieze opens.
Frieze Los Angeles
Presenting more than 120 galleries including Gagosian, Hauser & Wirth, and David Zwirner, the fourth edition of Frieze LA will take place at the Santa Monica Airport.
The 42nd edition of ARCOmadrid will present more than 200 galleries under three curated sections.
The 16th edition of Art Dubai, the largest art fair in the Middle East, will host more than 130 galleries from 43 countries.
Outsider Art Fair,
The Outsider Art Fair will gather 64 exhibitors for its 31st edition while featuring two special presentations.
More than 250 exhibitors will be hosted by TEFAF Maastricht. The Art Business Conference will also hold its new edition during the fair.
Art Basel Hong Kong
Amidst conversations around Hong Kong’s so-called downfall as the Asian art market capital, Art Basel Hong Kong will carry out its largest iteration, featuring 177 exhibitors.
Brazil’s largest art fair will bring together more than 150 exhibitors for its 19th edition.
Are NFTs Dead?
The phrase “NFT market collapse” has been thrown about in the media like a can of Andy Warhol soup. Are NFTs dead? Spoiler alert: they are not! Short answer: NFTs will endure, because they continue to provide substantial benefits to the real world and the economy.
There is ultimately a knowledge gap among investors and the public, which our latest article hopes to redress and create clarity by laying out the relevant discourse that the prospective NFT collectors should make themselves familiar with. Read more about the future of NFTs.
Anne Imhof at Stedelijk
Zarastro Art team visited Anne Imhof’s latest exhibition, Youth, at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
Stedelijk’s 1,100-square-meter lower-level gallery has been transformed into a labyrinthine installation. The artist combines light, sound, and art for this special occasion, and created a new video work as part of the installation.
Imhof is an art world superstar. She won the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2017, and her exhibitions at Tate Modern and Palais de Tokyo (2021) had stellar reviews. She scrutinizes life without meaning through a study of cultural history.
The exhibition ends on Jan 29, but you can check out our Instagram page for a detailed coverage.
Art World News
An exhibition at the National Assembly Building in Seoul was uninstalled as it included artworks mocking the recently elected head of state.
A TikTok post about the Mona Lisa being stolen went viral, making crowds confused whilst she remains peacefully at the Louvre.
Japanese art collective teamLab partially wins its copyright suit against the Museum of Dream Space in LA that allegedly had similarities to the collective’s immersive environments.
Can Instagram Curate an Exhibition?
Laura Herman, a doctoral researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, asks a compelling question: “What happens when an algorithm curates an exhibition?”
Her show at J/M Gallery in London is titled The Algorithmic Pedestal. For the exhibition, a curator and Instagram’s AI algorithm have gathered a bunch of works from the Met’s Open Access collection.
Fabienne Hess is the London-based artist assigned as the curator. Hess worked with the theme of loss to draw her collection of images and to counter the algorithmic perception.
Instagram worked with images uploaded on @thealgorithmicpedestal by the organizers since November 2022. Whatever the algorithm chose to display on followers’ feeds made it to the exhibition.
Shahnaz Aghayeva’s art focuses on the female experience. Using bold imagery, the artist’s works reflect women’s search for identity and sexual liberty, and question the way in which women are treated within society.
First Chicana Artist Chosen for NFL Collaboration
Arizona-based artist Lucinda Hinojos has been chosen by the NFL to design the upcoming Super Bowl’s tickets, and more. The game will take place at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on February 12.
Hinojos is the first Chicana and indigenous artist selected by NFL for such a collaboration. According to Marissa Solis, NFL’s Senior VP of Global Brand & Consumer Marketing, Hinojos is the perfect partner for this work as she is a talented artist and a football mom who authentically represents her Chicana heritage.
In her ticket design, the artist glorifies her family’s geographical ties to their ancestors as well as to the lands of Arizona. She aims to highlight the diversity of the state and focuses on human connection.
The collaboration includes creating a 9,500-square-foot mural, the largest in Super Bowl history, with the help of fellow indigenous artists.
Art World News
Due to increasing costs and decreasing number of international participants, the MCH Group has decided to cancel the 2023 edition of Masterpiece London, an antiques and art fair, which would take place this summer from June 28 to July 5.
A number of iconic artworks from 1927 entered the public domain as of the first day of new year, which is Public Domain Day in the US. Some of the higlights are Edward Hopper’s Automat, René Magritte’s The Menaced Assassin, Georgia O’Keeffe’s Black Abstraction, Pablo Picasso’s The Painter and Model, Max Beckmann’s Self-Portrait in Tuxedo, and Joan Miró’s Blue Star.
Rodin Museum’s project to build a multimillion-dollar branch in Spain’s Canary Islands is officially canceled due to an intense pushback, calling the project a “waste”.
Cy Twombly Exhibitions
The Gagosian in New York is hosting an exhibition of artworks produced in the last decade of Cy Twombly’s life. Starting on January 20, the exhibition will feature paintings, sculptures, and works on paper.
Making Past Present exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston will coincide with Gagosian’s show running from January 14 to May 7. It will present Twombly’s fascination with ancient Mediterranean art, culture, and history by piecing together ancient artifacts from the museum and objects from Twombly’s personal collection.
The two exhibitions explore Twombly’s psychological connection to the past and help viewers see how the artist shaped the art world in the 20th and 21st centuries. The late artist’s works convey a lively and free-spirited atmosphere, reflecting on poetry, history, and mythology.
Current Shows That Should Be on Your Radar
What’s Going On | Rubell Museum (Washington, DC)
Inaugurating the new franchise of the contemporary art museum, this exhibition brings together a collection of over 190 pieces created by 50 different artists, all of whom aim to address social and political issues affecting society today. The name of the exhibition is a nod to Marvin Gaye’s influential album of the same name from 1971, which spoke out against injustice and other societal issues.
Tala Madani: Biscuits | Museum of Contemporary Art (LA)
On view through February 19, a collection of paintings and animations by Iranian-born American artist Tala Madani will be presented by MOCA. The exhibition demonstrates Madani’s exploration of the relationship between art and society, highlighting the complexities of culture, gender and power as well as the fears, conflicts, and desires of today.
Christian Marclay | Centre Pompidou (Paris)
A comprehensive presentation of Christian Marclay’s work is on display in Paris for the first time in 14 years. The show is arranged in a way that reflects the artist’s sculptural installations and multimedia approach, showcasing a mix of pre-existing works along with new reinterpretations and transformations. It is on view through February 27.
NFT World Update
Artists started realizing that royalties never worked when selling NFTs from one platform to another.
Wash trading became a real problem. This is when a trader sets up multiple wallets and sells NFTs to themselves, thus creating the illusion that the asset is growing in value.
OpenSea announced a tool which makes royalties enforceable on-chain for all new collections. This snippet of code ensures that NFTs are only sold in platforms that support royalties.
In efforts to grow their communities, NFT platforms invented new programs.
To prevent wash trading, NFT platform Voice started applying high fees and mandating royalties to creators.
SuperRare has started RarePass, which grants the holder one NFT a month by a different artist.
Particle, the platform which offers clients fractionalized NFTs by artists such as Banksy, is now offering %25 discount on physical artworks sourced by Particle for Phillips as a new experiment in community building.
OpenSea is working to move from secondary to primary market by applying more storytelling and merchandising on its platform.
Nancy Atakan on Perception of Time
Nancy Atakan explores the way historical, cultural, and societal transformations are reflected in the human mind and body.
On through January 31, her new exhibition Scent of Time presents a selection of embroideries, textiles, watercolors, and video art, investigating the way we perceive and construct time in our own consciousness. This construction is influenced by our memories and imagination.
Atakan often uses textile to reveal the ever-changing meanings of personal experiences and to encourage the viewer to continually shift their perspective and interpretation.
A documentary about the artist is also in the making.
The Affordable Art Taste of the Duke & Duchess
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s art taste surprised the viewers of their new Netflix docuseries. The couple’s Montecito home seems to be decorated with affordable artworks.
One of these works is Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller’s Portrait of Louise Mayer. The catch here is that this is the “bubblegumified” version. Independent artists selling bubblegum art prints featuring historical paintings across online retail platforms have become increasingly prevalent in the last five years. This specific work can be purchased on eBay at a price ranging from $9.49 to $79.79, depending on size.
In the docuseries, we also see a $25 book titled “20th Century Photography” published by Taschen. The book focuses on the photography collection of Museum Ludwig in Cologne, which holds 70,000 photos spanning a century-long timeline in its collection.
The Best “Good” Art News of 2022
The Smithsonian made a significant decision to return the Benin Bronzes in its collection to Nigeria.
Greek collector Dimitris Daskalopoulos has generously donated over 350 artworks to museums in Greece, Belgium, and the United States.
The city of Basel announced it will provide $250k financial support to its museums in order to investigate collections for any objects that may have been unethically sourced.
Hospital Rooms, a charity from the UK, organized projects to bring together artists and patients in hospitals for collaborative projects.
As part of its new economic package, Germany announced it will allocate approximately $1 billion to cultural institutions.
Pennsylvania Garden has received a donation of 150 exceptional botanical works from the Kennett Collection, which will significantly change its appearance.
Previously overlooked, female artists were given prominent places at the Masterpiece Fair in London.
2022 Art Market Trends
There has been a trend towards figuration or representational art in recent years. This trend has included the use of faces, objects, and recognizable scenes in art fairs, galleries, and auctions. However, it appears that this trend may be shifting as abstract art becomes more popular again.
Jadé Fadojutimi’s abstract paintings, for instance, were sold out at an art fair, and Lucy Bull set a record at an auction in Hong Kong with her abstract work. This trend is not limited to younger artists: exhibitions of Bernice Bing and James Little have also been successful.
Surrealism Beyond Borders exhibition that started at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last year and moved on to the Tate Modern caused a renewed interest in Surrealism and its lesser-known artists.
This interest was further fueled by the Venice Biennale’s exhibition, The Milk of Dreams, which showcased female Surrealists and contemporary artists who explored themes of the subconscious, myth, and the spectral.
The popularity of Surrealist works by female artists such as Dorothea Tanning and Leonora Carrington was also demonstrated in sales at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, which included smaller works and prints.
The market for ultra-contemporary art, works by artists under 40, has been experiencing strong growth in recent years. This is evident in the success of young artists at auction such as Flora Yukhnovich, who set a new sales record of $3.1 million earlier this year.
A survey by Artprice found that the ultra-contemporary art market generated $420 million between July 2021 and June 2022, a 28% increase from the previous year. This trend is not limited to auctions: blue-chip galleries such as White Cube and Gagosian have also started representing young artists. Demand for these works is high, with gallery waitlists reportedly reaching the hundreds, and the sell-through rate for ultra-contemporary art at auction being around or even higher than the rest of the market.
Collecting for A Good Cause
In 2019, Salman Toor’s painting 4 Guests was sold at a Christie’s auction for nearly four times its estimated value, with the proceeds going to a charity supporting flood relief efforts in Pakistan. In the months prior, other artists and auction houses also held benefit auctions to support organizations such as the Art for Justice Fund and Planned Parenthood.
There is a growing trend among collectors to prioritize purchasing art from marginalized communities and to consider sustainability when buying art, with many collectors focusing on reducing their carbon footprint and choosing more environmentally friendly shipping methods. These developments indicate a growing awareness of the role that art can play in addressing important social and environmental issues.
The Ebb and Flow of NFTs
In 2021, NFTs gained an explosive popularity in the art world. However, the crash in cryptocurrency prices in the first half of 2022 exacerbated by the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX in the second half tarnished their appeal.
Despite the downturn, NFT space is still active. In March 2022, Bored Ape Yacht Club acquired CryptoPunks and Meebits, creating a large NFT company. Many NFT artists used their profits to support Ukraine. Decentralized crowdfunding of artworks became popular, with Pak’s Clock selling for a record $53 million in Ethereum to a group of collectors supporting Julian Assange’s legal fund.
It remains to be seen how the hype and prices surrounding NFTs will evolve in the future.
Georgian Art in Spotlight
At Zarastro Art, we strive to connect our followers with art from different parts of the world. This week, we are covering the ongoing exhibitions of prominent modern and contemporary Georgian artists.
The National Gallery in Tbilisi exhibits a small but significant part of Merab Abramishvili’s art. In 2022, the famous Georgian artist (1957-2006) would have turned 65 years old. The artist’s particular style reflects his passion for medieval frescoes and oriental miniatures as well as opulently decorative monumental forms.
Niko Pirosmanashvili is the first modernist artist from Georgia. He was a leading figure of the Russian avant-garde circle, and has been a national phenomenon ever since. It would not be an overstatement to claim that Pirosmanashvili’s global influence has been a great push for Georgian art globally.
Incorporating traditional South Caucasian and Georgian felting techniques such as dry and wet felting and the use of natural colors, Chkonia’s work revives these antiquated practices that are on the verge of extinction and creates a new visual language. Because of her training in architecture, Chkonia’s work is expansive, combining geometric abstractions into architectural arrangements and adding sculptural components to two-dimensional textile pieces.
Tamuna Sirbiladze graduated from the State Academy of Arts before completing her education at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and Slade School in London. Tamuna’s work has been widely displayed in galleries and museums around the US and Europe. The artist’s solo exhibition, Tamuna Sirbiladze: Sculpting in Color, includes her late paintings and drawings.
Koka Ramishvili, a significant figure in Georgian contemporary art, has shown in acclaimed international events and institutions such as the Venice Biennale and Tate Modern. His art was created against the backdrop of the most challenging transitions of the post-Soviet era. Being a creative thinker with a curious nature, he consistently makes novel links between concrete problems and abstract reasoning.
Miami Art Week 2022
Now open to the public, the 20th edition of Art Basel Miami Beach is hosting 283 galleries. Miami Art Week is holding a plethora of art and design events all around the city. Here are some lesser known, but definitely very intriguing exhibitions and events.
The Miami Design District has named architect-designer Germane Barnes as the winner of its Annual Design Commission. Barnes was tasked with decorating the public spaces of the Design District. His Rock|Roll installations promise Instagrammable moments for the visitors.
Hosted by various hotels in Miami, No Vacancy is a juried art show that brings to life site-specific pieces by twelve artists and collectives. The Loews, Avalon, The Betsy, and Fontainebleau are a few of the participating names. Some of the pieces include Coral Morphologic’s The Coral City Camera, a live-stream of a coral research site that combines art and science, and Patria y Vida, an installation made of 25 white crowd-control barricades by performance artists Antonia Wright and Ruben Millares.
The Head & The Load
The Head & The Load is a hybrid artwork by South African artist William Kentridge. The artwork shares the little-known tale of the countless African porters and carriers who served in the British, French, and German forces throughout WWI. The spectacle includes multilingual monologues, 100-year-old African music, shadow play, live theater, dance and projected drawings.
For Miami Art Week, ICA Miami and CryptoPunks are presenting an exclusive concert by Russian protest punk band and performance artists Pussy Riot. The tickets are sold out.
The immersive gastronomic experience, Superblue and Meta Open Arts present Aerobanquets RMX, inviting guests to wear virtual reality helmets while tasting bites created by James Beard Award-winning chef Chintan Pandya. As guests eat, a program created by digital artist Mattia Casalegno transforms these aromas and textures into fantastical virtual scenes. The combination was influenced by F.T. Marinetti’s “The Futurist Cookbook,” which made a prediction that future dining experiences would elevate people’s consciousness.
Saint Laurent & Madonna
The 30th anniversary of the post-feminist book “Sex”, a shocking, controversial collection of images by Steven Meisel and text by Madonna, is celebrated with a photography exhibition. Curated by Anthony Vaccarello and Madonna, the show is hosted by Saint Laurent in a beachfront box built specifically for the occasion. Signed copies of the book will be auctioned off to raise money for the Raising Malawi Foundation.
Jimmy DeSana and Barbara Ess
Other two mentionable photography shows are by two artists who had been undervalued by the art market of their time. Solo presentations of previously unexhibited photographs by Jimmy DeSana and Barbara Ess, who are both deceased now, were integral to New York’s art-fashion-music scenes in the late 1970s and early 80s.
Art World News
Two of the biggest US Anime Conventions are banning AI-generated art after a fan replicated famed South Korean illustrator Kim Jung Gi’s art style using a text-to-image generator.
Italy’s Culture Minister announced that museum admission prices could rise due to the increased security measures put in place to foil climate change protests.
Iran Protests and the Art World
The death of Mahsa Amini (22) sparked historic demonstrations across Iran and around the globe. However, the art world responded to the movement in relatively small and inconsequential ways.
Frustrated with the apathy of the Western museums, a group of Iranian artists unfurled a series of banners covered with the face of Mahsa Amini at the Guggenheim Museum last month. A similar event took place in San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA) on November 17th.
A mass protest was staged last week at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) marking the 40th day anniversary of the massacre in Zahedan (southeastern Iran) when security forces reportedly killed 96 people. A group of Iranian artists and scientists handcuffed themselves to the iconic Chris Burden installation Urban Light (2008).
Meanwhile, Shirin Neshat’s work hung outside the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin with the slogan “Women, life, freedom” received a lot of criticism. Female artists from Iran and the Iranian Diaspora commented that the artwork is orientalist, speaking to the way the Western world likes to see the Iranian women instead of representing the women risking their lives in protests today.
Art World News
The International Council of Museums (ICOM) has released a statement signed by 92 museum leaders, denouncing climate activists targeting artworks. Among those leaders are the British Museum’s Hartwig Fischer, Met’s Max Hollein, and Louvre’s Laurence des Cars.
- After a year of negotiations, union members protested the unsatisfactory proposal presented by the Brooklyn Museum and rallied “Fair Wages Are So Chic” at the VIP opening gala of the Thierry Mugler exhibition, Couturissime.
- British power player White Cube is set to launch its first US gallery in New York next fall. Courtney Willis Blair has been appointed to oversee the gallery’s presence in the U.S. and its programming in New York. She was a partner at New York’s Mitchell-Innes & Nash.
Brooklyn Museum Exhibitions
The Brooklyn Museum is currently hosting multiple shows that are getting a lot of attention from a variety of audiences.
Oscar yi Hou (24), whose figurative paintings entail contemporary iconography, reflects on the queer identity and racism against Asians. The artist is one of the youngest to have a solo show at a major New York institution. He was discovered by the senior curator of Brooklyn Museum during a gallery show in 2021.
Angelina Jolie was spotted viewing the exhibition Death to the Living, Long Live Trash by Duke Rileya few days ago. The visual artist uses garbage collected from beaches in the United States to draw attention to pollution and destruction through sustainable art. Riley substitutes the traditional whale teeth used in scrimshaw with recycled plastic containers, detergent bottles, toothbrushes, and other debris. Riley’s new short film shows corporation-caused pollution alongside New Yorkers trying to clean up rivers.
Showing at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art on the 4th Floor is the exhibition Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe. The American artist Nellie Mae Rowe (1900 – 1982) was an African-American artist who began creating her assemblages in her sixties. The show celebrates an under-recognized figure of twentieth-century American art, studying Rowe’s practice as self-expression and liberation for a Black female artist living in the American South.
In addition to the ongoing Virgil Abloh exhibition, the museum has just opened another show dedicated to a fashion designer. Thierry Mugler, the legendary French couturier whose extravagant designs defined fashion in the 1980s and 1990s, has a traveling retrospective at the museum after the exhibitions in Montreal, Rotterdam, Munich, and Paris. The mega-show is another addition to the museum’s glamorous fashion exhibition series that presumably bring a “cool” audience.
Art World News
Artist Lee Bontecou, a pioneering figure in the 1960s New York art scene, has died. The American artist is best known for her dramatic abstract constructions.
- 21 San Francisco museums will offer free admission on December 3 weekend thanks to an anonymous donation.
- New York City’s salary transparency law went into effect, revealing that the most established galleries, museums and auction houses are paying well-educated employees below NYC living wage.
LVMH Gagosian Buyout
Rumors of LVMH buying Gagosian flew about during the flurry of European art fairs that just ended. Both parties are denying, but the story persists, and here is why it makes so much sense.
Both LVMH and Gagosian have a shared client base: collectors who enjoy all kinds of luxury from fashion & champagne to art. LVMH owns Louis Vuitton, Dior, Givenchy, and Moët & Chandon among many other high-end brands, while Gagosian, the mega gallery that has 19 locations around the world, represents some of the trendiest contemporary artists in the world. Gagosian offers the perfect branding and brand streching opportunities for LVMH.
It also makes so much sense that Larry Gagosian who is now 77, could see this as an exit strategy, given that he has no obvious successors.
In Praise of Caves
Caves, one of the oldest settlements of humankind, are commemorated with a new exhibition at the Noguchi Museum in Queens, NY.
Scientists predict that caves will be needed again by humanity in the future due to climate change.
The exhibition features architectural projects making sense of natural structures in modern day living. Architectural projects on show are by Carlos Lazo, Mathias Goeritz, Juan O’Gorman, and Javier Senosiain, all from Mexico.
The exhibition converts the museum into an underground setting highlighting the benefits of relocating, both practically and environmentally, and how this transition may reunite humans with nature.
In Praise of Caves will be on display at the Noguchi Museum until February 26, 2023.
Art World News
- Bouncers urged Upper East Side collectors and celebrities to tidy lines as they anxiously waited to see Anna Weyant’s first show at Gagosian
- Google is designing a new AI-powered app that will allow users to create digital creations by just typing a few words
- Instagram is testing new marketplace features with select NFT creators including Refik Anadol
Maxwell Alexandre: Pardo é Papel
Pardo é Papel, Brazilian artist Maxwell Alexandre’s continuing series, is showing at The Shed in New York City. This is the artist’s first exhibition in North America. The artist’s paintings depict communal portraits honoring Black people’s strength, self-esteem, and success. Some of the recurring images include groups of people engaged in recreational activities as well as imagery of religious and art historical motifs.
The curation of works in the show aim to address the exclusionary tactics that are present in white, Western contemporary art institutions. The figurative paintings hanging from the ceiling establish passageways and intimate enclosures that encircle the guests.
Alexandre paints black figures on brown kraft paper that is known as pardo in native Portuguese. Historically, the term pardo is an ambiguous racial group in the Brazilian census. Activists argue that the term was designed to obscure Black identity by reducing the percentage of Black population in Brazil. The artist uses pardo paper to support black identity and representation.
The show is on through January 8.
Closing Soon in London
Tafadzwa Tega: Rwendo, Which Means Journey
JD Malat Gallery
Through November 7
In his first solo show, Tafadzwa presents a collection of fifteen paintings that depict the experiences of people who have faced the obstacles of relocation.
When the artist moved from Zimbabwe to Cape Town in search of a “brighter” future, he experienced the difficulties of adjusting to the local milieu as a foreigner. This prompted him to begin painting immigrants and narrating stories about their perilous journeys. Tafadzwa uses his paintbrush to portray and celebrate the African diaspora.
Edward Burtynsky: African Studies
Through November 19, 2022
Burtynsky’s work confronts the human footprint on the environment. Highlighting soil formation, extraction, agriculture, and urbanization, Burtynsky shows landscapes that are undergoing tremendous industrial growth through aerial photographs taken in Africa. In his works, we are struck by huge contrasts such as a giant quarry alongside a beautiful natural formation.