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    French Designer and Provocateur Michèle Lamy Is Unveiling a High-Art Skate Park in West Hollywood

    Carpenters Workshop Gallery is opening a high-art skatepark in West Hollywood tonight with “Turning Tricks” (November 17, 2022–January 14, 2023). The group show was organized by Michèle Lamy, the designer and provocateur (and wife of Rick Owns) behind the creative collectives LamyLand and OwensCorp.
    Five undisclosed pro skateboarders will be at tonight’s opening event to shred their boards on the show’s twelve skateable sculptures, created by pro skater Danny Minnick (the exhibition’s co-curator) alongside artists and designers Skyler DeYoung, Chris Benfield, and Lamy’s daughter Scarlett Rouge.
    Typically, these skaters would charge appearance fees, but they’re friends of Lamy, who maintains a rich cadre of collaborators, and always brings a posse to art openings. Rapper A$AP Rocky credits her with shaping his career.
    Lamy and Carpenters Workshop Gallery partner Loïc Le Gaillard are also friends. As the two talked recently, Lamy expressed a desire to push art’s existing limits, transcending mere objects to encapsulate an ephemeral but palpable vibe. Skating, and its community, came to mind.
    “I’m fighting for a new way of being,” she said in a statement. “I’m ready to imagine a new world.”
    Rouge at work, on site at Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Courtesy of the gallery.
    “I have always been about creating spaces for people and inviting artists to create, and this project is an extension of my world,” Lamy continued. “We are all on this ride together.”
    Even though skateboarding only gained mainstream appeal in the early 1990s, Los Angeles has been a hub for it since the 1950s. “No sport is more connected to Southern California than skateboarding,” the Los Angeles Times wrote late last year.
    L.A. residents emptied their pools during droughts. Some turned them into DIY skateparks. Last summer, the sport made its Olympic debut at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
    Still, lingering associations between skateboarding and pesky kids—or worse, crime—persist.
    Between the gallery and artists, everyone hopes that the communal energy of tonight’s “Turning Tricks” opening carries on well throughout the show’s run over the next two months, leaving a social memory as much a design one.
    To that end, they’ve filled out the gallery by fabricating full-on ramps, while reimagining trash cans and fire hydrants as objets d’art and replicating L.A.’s most iconic skating sites.
    An installation view of Danny Minnick, Skater shredding H-Street Office Ramp (2022). Courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery.
    In Sandpit, for instance, Rouge reanimated a legendary skating site off the Venice Beach boardwalk, once “a notorious intersection between graffiti and skating, with worldwide influence,” the work’s description explained. Legends like Henry Sanchez, Guy Mariano, and Eric Koston practiced there, until the city razed the site in 2000.
    Atelier OwensCorp built their own iteration of the Lockwood Elementary School, whose concrete playground remain a popular skating spot, using cinder blocks, asphalt, a chain-link fence, paint, and concrete. Minnick, meanwhile, honors skate and apparel company H-Street, founded in 1986 by pro skaters Tony Magnusson and Mike Ternasky, by recreating their notorious in-house quarterpipe from plywood, masonite, and steel.
    The artists also all painted, carved, and re-shaped a total of 65 skate decks from maplewood for collectors at the occasion. Every single one comes with its own print of relief oil-based ink on archival Arches cover paper.
    “The essence of skateboarding will be seen and heard for the first time through objects as they should be, without being considered a nuisance, an outlaw, or outsider activity,” Minnick mused in the release. “The exhibition brings the artist energy that has been such a big part of my life to a format for all to consider and enjoy.”
    “Turning Tricks” is on view at Carpenters Workshop Gallery in Los Angeles through January 14, 2023.
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    David Hockney Put a Personal Touch on the New Immersive Experience Based on His Work Coming to London

    The boom in immersive art shows has seen some of the world’s best-loved masterpieces reimagined on the largest scale, and toured to audiences worldwide. The focus so far has been on historical works, with artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Gustav Klimt and Frida Kahlo among the most popular subjects. 
    David Hockney may now be one of the first living artists to get the same treatment for a new show, “Bigger & Closer (not smaller and further away)” opening early next year in London. 
    Installation of David Hockney’s Gregory Swimming Los Angeles March 31st 1982 at “David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away),” an immersive art experience at Lightroom in King’s Cross, London. Photo: courtesy of Lightroom, ©David Hockney.
    Hockney has been able to take the reins and direct this new immersive journey, inviting visitors into some of his most renowned paintings, from the swimming pools he painted during his years in California to the vast canyons he captured in the American West.
    Photographs and polaroid collages will also be used to tell visitors about the artist’s life, transporting audiences between Yorkshire, where Hockney is from, to Los Angeles, where he moved to in the 1960s, and Normandy in southern France, where he now lives. 
    These insights and many more will stretch across six themed chapters, which are set against commentary from Hockney and a custom score by the American composer Nico Muhly.
    Installation of The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twentyeleven) (1998) at “David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away),” an immersive art experience at Lightroom in King’s Cross, London. Photo: courtesy of Lightroom; © David Hockney.
    “The world is very, very beautiful if you look at it, but most people don’t look very much,” Hockney muses in one voice-over. “They scan the ground in front of them so they can walk, they don’t really look at things incredibly well, with an intensity. I do.”
    Three years in the making, this mega production won’t be the first time Hockney has kept an eye on tech trends and adapted his painting practice to new media. He began using computer software to draw as early as the 1980s and, since 2009, he has regularly exhibited portraits, landscapes and still-lifes that were made on an iPad.
    David Hockney viewing the model box containing an immersive view of his work August 2021, Landscape with Shadows. Photo: Mark Grimmer, © David Hockney.
    The show will open in Lightroom, a new four-story exhibition space for immersive experiences in the creative district of Kings Cross, organized by the London Theatre Company and 59 Productions. “David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller and further away)” runs from January 25 to April 23, 2023 and tickets are now on sale at £25 ($30) for adults and £15 ($18) for students.
    London is also home to Frameless, another venue for experiential art forms that opened in Marble Arch in September. The arrival of Lightroom suggests that the immersive art craze shows no sign of disappearing, following major investment in this fast growing sector.
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    In Pictures: See Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Nets and Polka Dots at the Hong Kong M+ Museum’s Blowout Exhibition Celebrating Its First Anniversary

    At the age of 93, Yayoi Kusama is still actively making art. Some of her most recent creations can be found among her iconic oeuvre on show in a blockbuster retrospective in Hong Kong that celebrates both the artist’s seven-decade artistic journey as well as the first anniversary of M+ museum.
    The highly anticipated show, titled “Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now,” features more than 200 works ranging from paintings, sculptures, installations, moving images, and archival materials. Divided into six themes: Infinity, Accumulation, Radical Connectivity, Biocosmic, Death, and Force of Life, the colorful exhibition chronicles the artist’s trajectory, beginning with her formative years in Japan, through to her breakthrough in the West following her move to the U.S. in 1957, and finally to the decades after her return to her native country in 1973.
    Kusama is now a household name in the art world. She has earned the title of the best-selling Japanese artist in the world, according to data from Artnet Price Database, with sales of her works reaching more than $1 billion as of the beginning of this month. Widely regarded as one of the most influential artists from Asia, her work has been exhibited across the globe, including in previous retrospectives such as the 2012 shows at Tate Modern in London and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the 2017 exhibition at National Gallery Singapore, and last year’s presentation at Gropius Bau in Berlin, which closed in May at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
    So why is M+ staging another Kusama retrospective, and how is it different from its predecessors? “Her New York years had been highlighted and focused upon again and again. However, for me, what has been under-examined is [the period] after she returned to Japan,” Doryun Chong, M+’s deputy director and chief curator, told Artnet News. Chong co-curated the Hong Kong retrospective with independent curator Mika Yoshitake.
    Kusama went through a personal crisis after returning to her native country in the 1970s. She was an outcast in Japan, noted Chong, and was soon forgotten by the American art world. But she continued to reinvent her practice and slowly clawed her way back in the 1980s and 1990s to become Japan’s representative at the 1993 Venice Biennale.
    “It took her 20 years to get there from 1973. This is the part that we put a lot of emphasis on [in the show], giving equal or even more weight to the second half of her career,” Chong said.
    The M+ exhibition, which runs until May 14, 2023, is accompanied by a series of public programs as well as a range of exclusive merchandise. The museum has even teamed up with Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR) to create a Kusama-themed MTR train, complete with images of the artist’s famous dotted pumpkins.
    Here are some highlights from “Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now”.
    Installation view of “Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now.” Photo: Lok Cheng. Courtesy M+, Hong Kong. © Yayoi Kusama.
    Installation view of “Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now.” Photo: Lok Cheng. Courtesy M+, Hong Kong. © Yayoi Kusama.
    Installation view of “Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now.” Photo: Lok Cheng. Courtesy M+, Hong Kong. © Yayoi Kusama.
    Installation view of “Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now.” Photo: Lok Cheng. Courtesy M+, Hong Kong. © Yayoi Kusama.
    Installation view of Death of Nerves (2022) at “Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now.” Photo: Lok Cheng. Courtesy M+, Hong Kong. © Yayoi Kusama.
    Installation view of Red Flower (1980) and Gentle Are the Stairs to Heaven (1990) in “Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now.” Photo: Lok Cheng. Courtesy M+, Hong Kong. © Yayoi Kusama.
    Installation view of Self-Obliteration (1966–74) in “Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now.” Photo: Lok Cheng. Courtesy M+, Hong Kong. © Yayoi Kusama.
    Installation view of Pumpkin (2022) in “Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now.” Photo: Lok Cheng. Courtesy M+, Hong Kong. © Yayoi Kusama.
    Installation view of Clouds (2019) in “Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now.” Photo: Lok Cheng. Courtesy M+, Hong Kong. © Yayoi Kusama.
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    In a Solo Show at the Munch Museum, Artist Camille Henrot Tackles the Traumas of Motherhood, Hoarding, and Fitting In

    “There is a very deep ambivalence in all relationships, but the more intimate and closer the relationship, the more ambivalent it will be,” said the French artist Camille Henrot at the opening of her exhibition, “Mouth to Mouth,” at the Munch museum in Oslo.
    Ambivalence might be an overarching theme in the exhibition, taking place on the ninth floor of the waterfront museum that opened last year to house the world’s largest collection of paintings by Edvard Munch, the Norwegian artist best known for The Scream. But it is the psychologically charged aspect of Henrot’s work that draws the closest comparisons to Munch’s. 
    The French-born, New York-based artist, who works across video, paintings and sculpture, was the winner of the inaugural Edvard Munch Art Award in 2015. Worth 500,000 Norwegian kroner ($50,000), the prize is given to an international artist no older than 40, and includes an exhibition at the museum. 
    Camille Henrot, Big Kiss (2019), watercolor and ink on Japanese paper. © Camille Henrot. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.
    After winning the Munch award, Henrot had to wait seven years to have her solo show in Oslo, as the museum, designed by Spanish architects Estudio Herreros, was being constructed. Her vision for the show changed in the interluding years, during which she had a large-scale exhibition, “Days are Dogs,” at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, in 2017.
    “When I received the Munch award, the connection between my work and that of Edvard Munch was not particularly obvious and it doesn’t have to be,” Henrot said. “But somehow, this new body of work around language, primal fear and early development in our life, has much more to do with his work.”
    Her unframed watercolor paintings capture the complexity of human relationships, such as those between mother and child, or between lovers. The works “caress” the walls, in the words of exhibition curator Tominga O’Donnell, thanks to a specially designed system of magnets. “Camille is an incredible artist who approaches the exhibition like it’s a total installation,” O’Donnell says.
    Installation view of “Camille Henrot: Mouth to Mouth,” at the Munch museum in Oslo. © Camille Henrot. Photo: Munch museum. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth.
    The paintings, many of them in red or yellow, with the figures boldly outlined in black, belong to Henrot’s ongoing “Systems of Attachment” series, started in 2018. A whole gamut of emotions is portrayed, from tenderness to anger. One painting depicts a mother and a child kissing; in others, a mother is biting and devouring her child, or a child is holding up its mother’s mouth and biting her nipples. 
    As research for this theme, Henrot said she read Austrian-British psychoanalyst Melanie Klein’s writing on her Object Relations Theory about the mother-child relationship. Henrot began the series as a way to explore her feelings about childhood, as well as her experience of becoming a mother. “There were a number of intense physical sensations and even trauma associated with my own childhood that I felt was probably driving my work at that moment,” she said. 
    Believing that women artists portraying such subjects are still looked at pejoratively—and noticing a dearth of artworks—Henrot tackles motherhood, and the labor of breastfeeding, from a feminist and political stance. Her exhibitions, “Wet Job” and “Mother Tongue,” held earlier this year at Belgium’s Middelheim Museum and Austria’s Salzburger Kunstverein respectively, both explored the subject. 
    Referring to how her oeuvre touches on a difficult subject, Henrot said: “Even women themselves have a disgust of motherhood; we all have a disgust of our own mother, because that’s where we come from. In a patriarchal society, we’ve been taught to disrespect mothers and devalue their work.”
    Installation view of “Camille Henrot: Mouth to Mouth,” at the Munch museum in Oslo. © Camille Henrot. Photo: Munch museum. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth.
    “I’ve seen no images of [breast pumping] even though it’s a very important primal thing,” Henrot added. “There are images of sex, death, every possible kinky, intense, dirty aspect of being human, but this image is nowhere and I was very intrigued by that.” 
    Born in Paris in 1978, Henrot studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, the French capital’s decorative arts school, where she specialized in animation. After graduating, she moved to New York and made experimental music videos while working as an assistant for French artist Pierre Huyghe. Some of her videos were noticed by the art world, inspiring Henrot to make longer films. 
    Her big break came when curator Massimiliano Gioni presented her compelling video Grosse Fatigue in “The Encyclopedic Palace,” the main exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2013, where she won the Silver Lion Award for promising young artists. 
    Installation view of “Camille Henrot: Mouth to Mouth,” at the Munch museum in Oslo. © Camille Henrot. Photo: Munch museum. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth.
    Grosse Fatigue tells the history of the universe through a vast breadth of images colliding across a computer screen while recognizing the inherent failure in the narrative attempt. It was created thanks to a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, which allowed Henrot to film the collections of several American museums.
    “I remember telling Massimiliano the different ideas that I had and he interrupted me, saying: ‘No, you just have to do a master work.’ I thought ‘Oh, my God’ and decided to embrace that sense of panic in the film.”
    Rather than writing a cohesive narrative, Henrot made a storyboard in order to keep the possibilities open and let the editing be intuitive. The key was in making the images look random and for the structure to be invisible. “What’s interesting about the film’s format is that you can call upon the viewer’s ability, intelligence and memory of association and experiences,” she said. 
    Installation view of “Camille Henrot: Mouth to Mouth,” at the Munch museum in Oslo. © Camille Henrot. Photo: Munch museum. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth.
    Henrot said that the making of Grosse Fatigue was born out of a problematic situation when she relocated to the US. “I had no studio and the computer was the only tool I had,” she recollects. “I was working in pajamas in my bed. The computer window was my whole world.”
    Prior to moving across the Atlantic, Henrot had acquired a mass of objects on eBay—including animal parts and pornography—that were blocked by U.S. customs. This accumulation would form the basis of her installation piece, The Pale Fox (2014), which, she said, “is a bit like a metaphor of the museum, [about someone] who is greedy and wanting to accumulate everything.”
    During the Covid-19 pandemic, Henrot once again found herself in a state of disequilibrium. Having lost her New York studio, she moved back to France to stay with her mother not far from Paris. While ordering and decluttering the library, Henrot found her mother’s books on etiquette. The rather antiquated tomes inspired her series “Dos and Dont’s,” on view at the Munch museum. “My mum is a hoarder; I’m a hoarder,” she said, smiling. 
    Camille Henrot, Dos and Don’ts – My Bio (2020), digital collage serigraph print with watercolor, ink, acrylic and oil on prepared canvas. © Camille Henrot. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.
    The multimedia pieces combine screenshots, computer-generated images, photographs, paintings, playlists and wordplay. The series – which involves her revisiting the idea of the computer window for the first time since Grosse Fatigue – draws an analogy between etiquette and the process of manipulation, by both digital and traditional means. 
    “It’s a back-and-forth where I’m scanning real brushstrokes then manipulating them on Photoshop so they look like digital brushstrokes,” Henrot said. “There are prints of paintings, and paintings imitating the computer window, and cracks. I was working a lot with a graphic palette on Photoshop which is weirdly named ProCreate.” 
    Describing how she amasses images and ideas from multiple sources, Henrot said: “Looking at them when I take a step back, I’m asking myself: ‘Why did I collect that image, what’s interesting in it for me?’ Then I print all the images, and organize them in categories or in Dropbox—I change the places a thousand times. It’s almost borderline because I feel as if I’m losing my mind deciding where they’ll go.”
    Although the “Dos and Dont’s” series seems witty, there is something slightly sinister underpinning the references to the etiquette books, Henrot said. “It looks like I’m talking about something very inoffensive, obsolete and ridiculous, but it turns out to be a good metaphor for the world of control and surveillance,” she explained. “Like children, we are under parental control. In every rebellion to injustice, we have a sense of powerlessness, an experience that is very strong when we are children. I don’t identify with the mother, I identify with the child in everything I do.”
    Installation view of “Camille Henrot: Mouth to Mouth,” at the Munch museum in Oslo. © Camille Henrot. Photo: Munch museum. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth.
    Also on view in Oslo are two bronze sculptures: a monumental work of animals reclining on top of each other, inspired by the fairytale “The Bremen Town Musicians,” and Misfits. The latter is a large cube with cut-out triangles, circles and squares; the corresponding shapes are squeezed haphazardly into the wrong slots, or are discarded on the ground. “There is a certain violence in things being unilateral, being able to function only in a certain way,” Henrot said.
    Offering insight into her wide-reaching practice and manner of flitting seamlessly between ideas, she mused: “I think I’m someone who strives in multiplicity. In a way, I am drifting a lot. I like to keep things very open.”
    “Camille Henrot: Mouth to Mouth” is on view at the Munch museum in Oslo, through 19 February 2023. 

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    An Astonishing Exhibition Shows How Ancient Mesopotamians Not Only Worshiped, But Respected, Women

    She lived more than 4,000 years ago, she was a Sumerian priestess and, worth mentioning, she was the first recorded author in the world. Her name is Enheduanna, and her place in history is finally being recognized in a new show at New York’s Morgan Library and Museum.
    It’s an exhibition that tells an extraordinary story of not just one individual, but of the role of women as a whole in the ancient society of the Fertile Crescent. Not only did the Mesopotamians worship the goddess Ishtar (in Akkadian) or Inanna (in Sumerian), but they also respected women and their important societal contributions, whether as mothers or wet nurses, as skilled agriculture or textile workers, or as religious priestesses with cultic responsibilities.
    In the most famous of three poems attributed to Enheduanna, The Exaltation of Inanna, she writes about a usurper named Lugalanne exiling her from her post—and the goddess coming to her aid and restoring her to the temple. The first 60 lines start off as a simple prayer. But then, something unprecedented happens, and the author identifies herself: “I am Enheduanna, let me speak to you my prayer.”
    “For the first time in world literature, the writer steps forward and uses the first persons singular and introduces autobiography,” curator Sidney Babcock, head of the Morgan’s department for ancient Western Asian seals and tablets, told Artnet News during a tour of the show. “And what does she write about? Abuse, sexual harassment, defilement, exile, the destructive forces of nature, things that are with us to this very day. And it’s profound and it’s personal. A very strong voice comes through.”
    While the exhibition takes its starting point from Enheduanna, most of the artifacts on view are stone carvings depicting women, and the material is in and of itself significant for a culture located on a flood plain where most buildings were made from mud, the most common natural resource.
    “Stones represent imported, rare, raw materials,” Babcock said. “That they should immortalize women’s roles is extraordinary. We have women tending animals, women making pottery, and women at a loom weaving. This one shows a priestess in front of a temple, and they’re bringing her offerings.”
    Cylinder seal (and modern impression) with two female figures presenting offerings Mesopotamia, Sumerian, possibly Umma (modern Tell Jokha) Early Dynastic IIIa period (ca. 2,500 B.C.E.) Photo by Olaf M. Teßmer, ©Staatliche Museen zu Berlin-Vorderasiatisches Museum.
    The artworks to which he was pointing are tiny carvings on round cylinder seals, which the Mesopotamians would have rolled onto clay tablets, using them to prove the authenticity of these written documents. (The show features impressions made with contemporary reproductions of each seal, to better visualize the imagery.)
    “Many institutions have these early seals where the role of women has been commemorated and preserved, but they’re mostly overlooked,” Babcock said. “I thought we should celebrate them.”
    That these cylinders record the activities of women may seem unusual to modern viewers. That they depict women of all classes, not just the elite, carrying out daily activities—even a scene of childbirth, rarely seen throughout art history—seems almost unbelievable.
    Cylinder seal (and modern impression) with birth scene Mesopotamia, Sumerian Early Dynastic III period (ca. 2,600–2,350 B.C.E.). Photo courtesy of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.
    Other sculptures on view are diminutive figures of women that at first glance may seem unremarkable. But unlike many ancient statues of women, these delicately carved artworks aren’t fertility figures, and these aren’t ancient royalty.
    “These are individuals. This is sort of the beginning of portraiture,” Babcock said, pointing to the subtle modeling and fine carving in the sculptures. “These are so sophisticated. To combine stylized details to a natural whole, that is a sign of a great thinking artist.”
    The curator first considered staging an Enheduanna exhibition a decade ago, and it was delayed three times due to the pandemic. But despite the logistical challenges that caused, the Morgan secured loans from museums around the world, making sure to install the sculptures to be seen in the round, for viewers to be able to appreciate the details such as the women’s flowing hair from all sides.
    Kneeling female figure Iran, proto-Elamite, Susa (modern Shush) Late Uruk period (ca. 3300 B.C.E.) Photo by Les frères Chuzeville, ©Musée de l’Armée, Dist., RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, New York.
    The curator stopped before a statue of a female worshipper kneeling in prayer, on loan from the Louvre in Paris. “At her home institution, she’s on a glass shelf with about 20 other things, and here she just fills the case,” he said. “She embodies this sense of humility before the divine or the unknown, whatever you want to call it.”
    Another highlight, a heavily damaged bust of a woman borrowed from the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin, isn’t even on regular view back in Germany.
    “She’s so magnificent, but she’s so battered,” Babcock said. “The reason why she looks like that is that she survived the bombings of the World War II in Berlin. And here she is. She survived.”
    Cylinder seal (and modern impression) of Queen Puabi Mesopotamia, Sumerian, Ur (modern Tell el-Muqayyar), PG 800, Puabi’s Tomb Chamber, against Puabi’s upper right arm Early Dynastic IIIa period (ca. 2,500 B.C.E.) Photo courtesy of the Penn Museum.
    The show also includes the first depiction of a named woman in recorded history, a stone scraper that shows a woman raising her hands in front of her mouth. Inscriptions on the object and an accompanying chisel, both dated to around 3,000 B.C.E., identify her as KA-GÍR-gal, and suggest that she was a co-seller in some kind of land deal.
    The centerpiece of the exhibition is a stunning golden headdress archaeologists found in the tomb of Queen Puabi of Ur, identified only by her own name, not in relation to a male relative or husband. Babcock believes that Puabi may have worn the gorgeous ensemble, on loan from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, during nighttime rituals celebrating the moon god, the chief god of Ur.
    “Imagine the total darkness of Southern Mesopotamia, and the bright light of the moon on the flood plain, and how this gold headdress, which just reflects the moon and glistens,” he said. “The whole thing would be absolutely dazzling.”
    Queen Puabi’s funerary ensemble Mesopotamia, Sumerian, Ur (modern Tell el-Muqayyar), PG 800, Puabi’s Tomb Chamber, on Puabi’s body Early Dynastic IIIa period (ca. 2,500 B.C.E.). Photo courtesy of the Penn Museum.
    But the star of the show is still Enheduanna. The daughter of the Akkadian king Sargon, the author took her name, which means “high priestess, ornament of heaven,” when he appointed her priestess of the temple of the moon god.
    “We don’t have any texts from her own time, but Enheduanna’s work was considered so important that it was one of the 10 works that were taught in all scribal schools for hundreds of years after her lifetime,” Babcock said. “So her writings survived in copies.”
    But Babcock believes that Enheduanna wasn’t unique, and that there is evidence of a more widespread female literacy in Mesopotamia. He’s especially excited about a small kneeling statue of a woman, also on loan from the Vorderasiatisches.
    “When this was published by the German scholar, a hundred and something years ago, he said ‘Woman with tablet in her lap, meaning unclear.’ It’s been forgotten until this exhibition, and we have resurrected it as the visual proof of women in literacy,” Babcock said. “It is from slightly later than Edheduanna’s time, but if it’s not her image, then it’s an image of what she meant for successive generations.”
    See more works from the exhibition below.
    Disk of Enheduanna, daughter of Sargon Mesopotamia, Akkadian, Ur (modern Tell el-Muqayyar), gipar Akkadian period (ca. 2,300 B.C.E.). Photo courtesy of the Penn Museum.
    Seated female figure with tablet on lap Mesopotamia, Neo-Sumerian Ur III period (ca. 2,112–2,004 B.C.E.). Photo by Olaf M. Teßmer, ©Staatliche Museen zu Berlin-Vorderasiatisches Museum.

    Tablets inscribed with “The Exaltation of Inanna” in three parts Mesopotamia, possibly Larsa (modern Tell Senkereh) Old Babylonian period (ca. 1,750 B.C.E.). Photo by Klaus Wagensonner, courtesy of the Yale Babylonian Collection.

    Vessel with faces of female deities Mesopotamia, Sumerian Early Dynastic IIIa period (ca. 2500 B.C.E.). Photo by Art Resource, New York, ©The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
    Vessel with faces of female deities Mesopotamia, Sumerian Early Dynastic IIIa period (ca. 2500 B.C.E.). Photo by Art Resource, New York, ©The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
    Fragment of a vessel with frontal image of goddess Mesopotamia, Sumerian Early Dynastic IIIb period (ca. 2400 B.C.E.). Photo by Olaf M. Teßmer, ©Staatliche Museen zu Berlin-Vorderasiatisches Museum.
    Cylinder seal (and modern impression) with sheep and stylized plants Mesopotamia, Sumerian Late Uruk–Jemdet Nasr period (ca. 3300–2900 B.C.E.). Photo by Klaus Wagensonner (seal) and Graham S. Haber (impression).
    Stele of Shara-igizi-Abzu Mesopotamia, Sumerian, possibly Umma (modern Tell Jokha) Early Dynastic I–II period (ca. 2900–2600 B.C.E.). Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, funds from various donors, 1958.
    Seated female figure with vessel in hands Mesopotamia, Neo-Sumerian, Girsu (modern Tello) Ur III period (ca. 2,112–2,004 B.C.E.). Photo by Franck Raux, ©RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, New York.
    Cylinder seal (and modern impression) with goddesses Ninishkun and Ishtar Mesopotamia, Akkadian Akkadian period (ca. 2,334–2,154 B.C.E.). Photo courtesy of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.
    Cylinder seal with mother and child attended by women Mesopotamia, Akkadian, Ur (modern Tell el-Muqayyar), PG 871 Akkadian period (ca. 2,334–2,154 B.C.E.). Photo courtesy of the Penn Museum.
    Modern impression with mother and child attended by women Mesopotamia, Akkadian, Ur (modern Tell el-Muqayyar), PG 871 Akkadian period (ca. 2,334–2,154 B.C.E.). Photo courtesy of the Penn Museum.
    Head of a high priestess (?) with inlaid eyes Mesopotamia, Akkadian, Ur (modern Tell el-Muqayyar), area EH, south of gipar Akkadian period (ca. 2334–2154 BC). Photo courtesy of the Penn Museum.
    Fragment of a standing female figure with clasped hands Mesopotamia, Neo-Sumerian, Girsu (modern Tello) Possibly the reign of Gudea, ruler of Lagash (ca. 2,150 B.C.E.). Photo by Thierry Olivier, ©Musée du Louvre, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais/Thierry Olivier/Art Resource, New York.
    “Enheduanna and Women of Mesopotamia” is on view at the Morgan Library and Museum, 225 Madison Avenue, New York, October 14, 2022–February 19, 2023.
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    A New Royal Academy Show Explores Modernism Through the Eyes of Four Women Artists Who Helped Shape the Movement

    There’s some wild painting on show in London in Making Modernism. The Royal Academy’s new exhibition of women artists working in Germany in the early 20th century offers a fresh perspective on some of the great Modernist subjects—nightlife, the nude, the self. The work is burningly experimental—I spent ages hovering in close, trying to work out how paint had been applied—and distinctive in viewpoint.
    Gabriele Münter portrays small children as complex beings full of thoughts and feelings. One grasps himself anxiously, another cocks her head, full of attitude. Paula Modersohn-Becker’s retort to the supine nudes of art history is to paint herself standing upright, naked but for a straw hat trailing orange ribbons—a color picked up in the fruit she holds, and the assertive triangle of her pubic hair. In Gabriele Werefkin’s The Dancer Alexander Sacharoff (1909), the gender-fluid performer emerges from fields of ascending blue, his skin, pale as a duck egg, illuminated by coral red burning from his eyes, lips and cheeks. Käthe Kollwitz translates studies of her own body writhing in sexual frenzy into a series of etchings showing skeletal death wrestling a grieving mother for the body of her child. 
    Paula Modersohn-Becker, Self-portrait as a Standing Nude with Hat (1906). Image courtesy Paula Modersohn-Becker Stiftung, Bremen.
    Making Modernism is the work of British curator Dorothy Price, who has researched, written about, and taught German Modernism for, she admits “all of [my] adult life, basically.” Some 30 years ago, during her postgraduate research into the art and images of 1920s Berlin, Price realized that there was “a huge gap between how art history is constructed and taught in UK academia, and the existence of a whole world of women.” Even her own PhD thesis presented “a one-sided view of modernism—it [didn’t] take account of female subjectivity at all.” So she went back and started to explore the lives and art of the women working in Germany at the time. Recently appointed Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art and Visual Culture at London’s Courtauld Institute, Price’s scholarship has introduced British art history students to the work of important women artists, most notably Paula Modersohn-Becker.
    With the exception of Käthe Kollwitz, the artists in Making Modernism have been little, if ever, shown in Britain. And as Price admits, the exhibition only “scratches the surface” of the subject. “It would be great if this prompts other institutions in this country to do monographic shows.”
    In the opening gallery, Price positions her artists within a dynamic creative milieu, demonstrating how deeply involved they were in conversations around color, spirituality, psychoanalysis, and modern society. In one interior study, Gabriele Münter shows her partner Wassily Kandinsky peeping over the bedcovers in an adjacent room. In another, he is seated at the kitchen table in his slippers, deep in conversation with the artist Erma Bossi. Münter also paints Paul Klee in a deep blue armchair, his head positioned as though an artifact in the collection of Folk Art arranged on a shelf behind him. 
    As with the Barbican’s (unfortunately overloaded) 2018 exhibition Modern Couples, Making Modernism not only moves away from the idea of the avant-garde as a boys’ club, it also reminds us that ideas seldom emerge in isolation. Münter and Kandinsky weren’t just sharing a bed: they painted side by side, argued, conversed, and hung out with artist friends.  
    How important were these women to developments in the art of this period? “From my perspective—from things I’ve read, and from their own words, none of it could really have happened without the women in the circle,” explains Price. The influence was material, as well as intellectual. “Münter financed Kandinsky, Marianne Werefkin financed [Alexej Von] Jawlensky. So [the avant-garde group] Der Blaue Reiter would not have been the same without Münter and Werefkin at all.” 
    Living in twinned apartments with Jawlensky in Munich, Werefkin held artists’ salons where “ideas were discussed and fermented,” says Price. “The idea of the Phalanx and Neue Künstlervereinigung [art groups] and all those avant-garde moments are born in the salon.”
    Werefkin, meanwhile, was recording her own ideas about art in an epistolary diary, published after her death in 1938 as Lettres à un Inconnu (Letters to a Stranger). “She talks a lot in terms of the spirituality of color,” notes Price. “This was in the early 1900s, prior to Kandinsky publishing Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1912), where he obviously talks a lot about spirituality and color. The kernel of those ideas are already being written in Werefkin’s diaries. She records having conversations with Kandinsky and him dismissing her ideas a little bit, so there’s interesting gender politics around those diaries as well.”
    Marianne Werefkin, Circus – Before the Show (1908/10). Image courtesy of Leopold-Hoesch-Museum, Düren. Photo: © Peter Hinschlaeger
    In addressing female subjectivity, Price was keen to include works that suggested female sexual desire “because we don’t often see that in Modernism—we see a lot of male sexual desire.” Pondering the ways in which male desire manifests itself in art of the time, the treatment of girlhood in this exhibition is particularly striking. 
    Ottilie Reylaender’s Beta Naked (ca.1900) portrays a chilly-looking 12-year-old dwarfed by the high-backed chair she’s perched on. Tense and a little cross, her pale limbs poke out of the darkness of a wintery interior. As Price points out, Reylaender was a teenager herself at the time—just 17 or 18: “There’s not a massive difference in age, probably five years or so between model and the artist. So there’s a different kind of relationship between artist and model. It’s a girl on the cusp of adulthood—Ottilie—painting a girl on the cusp of pubescence. A really interesting dynamic.”
    Throughout the show, girlhood is addressed without sentimentality or prurience. Werefkin’s Portrait of a Girl (1913) is towering—eyes closed, she seems caught in private thought. In Modersohn-Becker’s Seated Nude Girl, Her Legs Pulled Up (ca.1904), the artist paints her stepdaughter Elsbeth looking cold and a little bored. The artist wrote of the awkwardness she felt in paying local children to model for her when living in the artists’ colony in rural Worpswede. “In all representations of the nude there’s a power relationship,” notes Price. “I think what’s interesting about the ones that I’m showing is that it’s not a sexualized power relationship in the same way as, say, Gauguin or Munch. But it is a power relationship nevertheless. And it’s a class one.” 
    Käthe Kollwitz, Woman with Dead Child (1903).  © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln
    No one at this point would argue the importance of shining a light on overlooked women artists. Taking the position of devil’s advocate, I ask Price what these women actually bring to the story of Modernism? She directs my attention to the central room in the show, which explores intimacy. On one side are Kollwitz’s powerfully claustrophobic studies of maternal love and grief, and her own experience of illicit sexual pleasure. On the other, Modersohn-Becker brings the mannered poise of Renaissance saints into her treatment of solid flesh-and-blood women, complete with dirty fingernails and ruddy faces. The nude is re-imagined as a maternal figure.  
    “We’re seeing the female perspective on Modernity,” says Price, simply. “I wanted to think about what the themes of modernism are, typically, and how they then are recalibrated if we look at them through the eyes of women artists.”
    Making Modernism: Paula Modersohn-Becker, Käthe Kollwitz, Gabriele Münter and Marianne Werefkin, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 12 November 2022–12 February 2023

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    In Pictures: See Joan Didion’s Art, Furnishings, and Personal Effects That Embody Her ‘Bicoastal Glamour’ and Are Up for Auction

    Just under a year after her passing, Joan Didion’s personal estate has come to auction. Until November 16, “An American Icon: Property From the Collection of Joan Didion” at Stair Galleries, an auction house in Hudson, NY, present an intimate view of the acclaimed writer and critic through 224 lots that reveal Didion’s tastes, style, and sensibilities.
    Those lots include fine art—some depicting Didion herself, her late husband John Dunne, and daughter Quintana Roo—alongside furniture, homeware, and books by the likes of Norman Mailer and Joyce Carol Oates. Proceeds will benefit Columbia University’s research into movement disorders (Didion died of complications related to Parkinson’s), and the Sacramento City College scholarship for women in literature, both chosen by Didion’s family.
    The sale was spearheaded by New York-based consulting group Art Market Advisors, which approached Stair Galleries to make a proposal to Didion’s estate. “We have a strong history of handling single-owner collections from notable people,” Lisa Thomas, Director of Fine Arts Department at Stair Galleries, told Artnet News. “We were thrilled to have been chosen.”
    “We chose items for the sale that would help us tell the story of who Joan Didion was and how she lived in her private space,” she continued. “Every item in the sale has meaning in some way.”
    The digital catalog notes that Didion and her family embodied an intellectual, bicoastal glamour that translated into Didion’s writing—and her belongings. Upon seeing her parents’ new Upper East Side apartment in 1988, Quintana Roo reportedly remarked, “I hope you California it up.”
    And Didion, who grew up in Sacramento, certainly did. Among the lots is an image that depicts a West Coast Didion, perched atop her Stingray Corvette for photographer Julian Wasser shortly after the publication of Slouching Towards Bethlehem in 1968. The writer’s own art collection favors landscapes, nature, and abstraction, with works by Jennifer Bartlett and Richard Diebenkorn harkening, as always, back to California.
    Didion’s craft also centers the “An American Icon”: her Victorian-style rattan chair, her XL partner’s desk from California, and a set of unused notebooks—preloaded with potential—collectively offer a picture of where and how she wrote.
    Preview more of the collection below.
    Pair of Celine Faux Tortoiseshell Sunglasses. Estimate: $400–$800

    Les Johnson, Portrait of Joan Didion (1977). Estimate: $3,000–$5,000

    Richard Serra, Malcolm X (1981). Estimate: $10,000–$15,000

    Jennifer Bartlett, House: Dots, Hatches (1999). Estimate: $2,000–$4,000

    American Oak, Walnut and Bird’s Eye Maple Partner’s Desk, J. Breuner, Sacramento, California. Estimate: $8,000–$12,000

    Richard Diebenkorn, Twelve (1986). Estimate: $50,000–$70,000

    Group of Three Victorian Style Upholstered and Oak Slipper Chairs. Estimate: $500–$700

    Mary Ellen Mark, John Dunne and Joan Didion – New York City (1996). Estimate: $2,000—$4,000

    Transfer Printed Porcelain “California” Charger. Estimate: $200–$300

    Annie Leibovitz, Joan and Quintana (1989). Estimate: $3,000–$5,000
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    In Pictures: See the Cheerfully Unsettling Pop Surrealist Barbie Dolls Set to Debut at Kasmin’s L.A. Pop-Up This Week

    When it was announced last week that Mattel was teaming up to launch a limited-edition, collectable line of Barbie dolls with painter Mark Ryden, the so-called “godfather of Pop Surrealism,” the pairing made an unexpected kind of sense.
    This Friday, fans get their first chance to get their hands on the special art Barbies at a pop-up in L.A. put on by Kasmin, Ryden’s gallery. The exhibition features a 1994 work, Saint Barbie, which shows a young girl piously praying to a divine Barbie. Today it is one of Ryden’s best known works. For the “Pink Pop” show, the artist is also debuting a new series of paintings, drawings, and sculptures.
    “Barbie has made appearances in my art for a long time,” Ryden said in a statement. “It is difficult to define Barbie. She is a cultural phenomenon, an archetypal figure. She is a bona fide celebrity, a subject worthy for Andy Warhol to portray alongside the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe.”
    A centerpiece of the collaboration is “Nature Queen Barbie,” a one-of-a-kind figurine with chartreuse hair and a dress sprouting a bouquet of animal heads, as well as a gold crown.
    Nature Queen is the centerpiece of the “Pink Pop” exhibit by Mark Ryden X Barbie. Image courtesy of Mattel Creations.
    Nature Queen is the centerpiece of the “Pink Pop” exhibit by Mark Ryden X Barbie. Image courtesy of Mattel Creations.
    Nature Queen is the centerpiece of the “Pink Pop” exhibit by Mark Ryden X Barbie. Image courtesy of Mattel Creations.
    As for the more collectable Ryden-themed Barbies, notable is “Bee Barbie,” who wears a bee-striped fur dress and hood, and has bee wings and a deathly pale face. “She’s sweeter than nectar and deep like a sting,” the Mattel Creations site enthuses. “Bee Barbie” is $150.
    Barbie Bee Doll is part of the limited edition Mark Ryden X Barbie collection. Image courtesy of Mattel Creations.
    Barbie Bee Doll is part of the limited edition Mark Ryden X Barbie collection. Image courtesy of Mattel Creations.
    Certificate for Barbie Bee Doll. Image courtesy of Mattel Creations.
    The signature product of the Mark Ryden x Barbie collab is likely the “Pink Pop Barbie,” awash in Barbie-core synthetic pink. With candy-stripe stockings and a purse in the form of a T-bone steak, the doll is accompanied by a pet yak and a goony, sentient flower pot. It is $350.
    Pink Pop Barbie Doll is part of the limited edition Mark Ryden X Barbie collection. Image courtesy of Mattel Creations.
    Pink Pop Barbie Doll is part of the limited edition Mark Ryden X Barbie collection. Image courtesy of Mattel Creations.
    Detail of Pink Pop Barbie Doll from the Mark Ryden X Barbie collection. Image courtesy of Mattel Creations.
    Detail of Pink Pop Barbie Doll from the Mark Ryden X Barbie collection. Image courtesy of Mattel Creations.
    Yak from the Mark Ryden X Barbie collection. Image courtesy of Mattel Creations.
    Flower pot from the Mark Ryden X Barbie collection. Image courtesy of Mattel Creations.
    Higher up the price scale is the “Mark Ryden x Barbie at the Surrealist Ball” set, which goes for $500. It features two dolls, each with cropped bangs and a dress studded with surreal motifs. One has an orb on her head; the other, a star.
    The set also comes with an occult-like pedestal with a dodecahedron studded with glazed, starring eyes.
    Black and White Surrealist Ball Dolls is part of the limited edition Mark Ryden X Barbie collection. Image courtesy of Mattel Creations.
    One of the dolls part of the Black and White Surrealist Ball Doll set from the Mark Ryden X Barbie collection. Image courtesy of Mattel Creations.
    One of the dolls part of the Black and White Surrealist Ball Doll set from the Mark Ryden X Barbie collection. Image courtesy of Mattel Creations.
    The Surrealist pedestal from the Black and White Surrealist Ball Doll set from the Mark Ryden X Barbie collection. Image courtesy of Mattel Creations.
    A variety of merch related to the collection ranges from a $50 Mark Ryden x Barbie “Bee Brooch” and a $60 “Pink Pop Umbrella” up to a $300 Mark Ryden x Barbie “Pink Pop Purse.”
    Mark Ryden X Barbie pin. Image courtesy of Mattel Creations.
    Selection of pins from the Mark Ryden X Barbie collection. Image courtesy of Mattel Creations.
    Mark Ryden X Barbie umbrella. Image courtesy of Mattel Creations.
    Mark Ryden X Barbie handbag. Image courtesy of Mattel Creations.
    The full capsule and accessories are available to purchase exclusively at Kasmin for one week before they open to the broader Barbie-collecting public from November 18.
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