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    A New Ettore Sottsass Survey Celebrates the Italian Designer’s Embrace of Color and Play

    Just in time for New York’s design week, the SoHo gallery Raisonné has unveiled a sweeping five-decade survey of the late revolutionary Italian architect and designer, Ettore Sottsass. A maestro of brash, vivid color, no one quite saw the world like him, nor the possibilities of material and shape.

    An Ettore Sottsass glasswork sits atop a custom desk. Photo: Jeffrey Graetsch, courtesy of Raisonné.

    Sottsass’s (1917–2007) vision was often playful, sometimes garish, but never boring. “I design without rhyme or reason,” Sottsass said in a 1993 interview with Azure. “I don’t even know why I design. I design because I have this disease of the pencil. Because it comes to me. I do it because it’s my destiny.” His range is fully on display here. “Shapes, Colors, and Symbols” runs through June 29.
    An iconic Ettore Sottsass piece. Photo: Jeffrey Graetsch, courtesy of Raisonné.
    “We are both obsessed with him and thought he was undervalued and under-appreciated,” said Debbie August, Raisonné co-founder. “He has such a depth of character, whether it’s architecture or furniture or glassware or ceramics.”
    Sottsass was a founder of the Memphis Group (and even coined its sobriquet)—a collective that came to be known for its bright, unorthodox designs—but he was so ahead-of-his time that some of his most quintessentially 1980s pieces were, in fact, from the 1950s.
    An installation view of “Shapes, Colors, and Symbols.” Photo: Zach Pontz, courtesy of Raisonné.

    August and her partner in the gallery Jeffrey Graetsch have been working for over a year to assemble a broad swath of Sottsass’s oeuvre, mainly from Italy. “Every time we unbox something it’s exciting,” August said.

    More than 100 pieces are on display, and more is on the way. “We’re still overwhelmed and digesting it!” said Graetsch. “It’s unreal. These are things that you just don’t get a chance to see. And hopefully no one will knock them over.”
    An installation view of “Shapes, Colors, and Symbols.” Photo: Zach Pontz, courtesy of Raisonné.

    Included in the show are functional objects, like an Olivetti typewriter (he designed the first portable one, the “Valentine”) and one-of-a-kind tables, as well a series of fascinating glass totems inspired Native American katsina dolls. To Sottsass, they symbolized “the unknown in our existence in the universe.”
    Valentine typewriter for Olivetti by designers Italian Ettore Sottsass and British Perry A King, 1969. Photo: Indianapolis Museum of Art/Getty Images.
    “When I was young, all we ever heard about was func­tion­al­ism, func­tion­al­ism, func­tion­al­ism,” he once said. “It’s not enough. Design should also be sensual and exciting.”

    “Shapes, Colors, and Symbols” is on view at Raisonné 16 Crosby Street, New York, through June 29.
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    Meet a Long-Unsung Cartoonist Who Paved the Way for Disney

    “Louis M. Glackens: Pure Imagination” at the NSU Art Museum in Florida’s Fort Lauderdale, revisits the life and work of an influential but largely forgotten cartoonist, illustrator, and animator from the early 20th century whose often whimsical penmanship, according to the museum, paved the way for legends such as Walt Disney.
    Glackens was born in 1866 in Philadelphia and started drawing at an early age alongside his younger brother, William. While the latter went on to become a successful painter and prominent member of the Ashcan School, which focused on realistic portrayals of everyday urban life, Louis leaned towards the fantastical and cartoonish, pursuing a career in illustration.
    Louis M. Glackens, Here, Puss, Puss! (1908). Published in Puck, v. 64, no. 1640 (1908 August 4), cover. Puck © 1912 by Keppler & Schwarzmann. NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale.
    For 20 years he worked as a staff artist for Puck, one of the first widely distributed political humor magazines in the U.S., where his confident lines brushed up against a sparkly wit as much as mordant cynicism. A selection of Glackens’s illustrations for Puck have been collected by the Library of Congress.
    When Puck changed ownership in 1915, Glackens found work in the up-and-coming animation industry. Although he chiefly worked for a company called Bray Studios, his (uncredited) drawings can also be found in films and shows produced by Pathé and Sullivan Studios, two other early animation heavyweights.
    Louis Glackens, Hurry up Girls – Here comes the customers. Photo courtesy NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, William Glackens Collection.
    His work ranged from the kind of satire he developed for Puck, like the “Haddem Baad” series—in which primitive cavemen serve as stand-ins for their modern counterparts—to romantic fairytale adaptations such as Jack the Giant Killer, the sort of things Walt Disney would go on to make.
    Louis M. Glackens, Who are you? (1909). Published in Puck, v. 66, no. 1691 (1909 July 28), cover. © 1909 by Keppler & Schwarzmann. NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale.
    Glackens’s animated work was met with mixed reception. Although films often credited him as “Famous Cartoonist,” John Randolph Bray, founder of Bray Studios, later told animation historian Mark Langer that Glackens was “no good” and didn’t last “too long” in the field. Perhaps this conflict was linked to Glacken’s unique artistic tastes, which, according to the museum, tended toward the avant-garde.
    The cartoonist would also find work in the commercial field, illustrating books including The Log of the Water Wagon (1905) and Monsieur and Madame (1924). Glackens died in 1933; his brief obituary in the New York Times described him as “one of the first artists to do animated cartoons for motion pictures.” His legacy in the following decades, however, would quietly be forgotten.
    Louis M. Glackens, The flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la! (1911). Published in Puck, v. 71, no. 1834 (1912 April 24), cover. Puck © 1912 by Keppler & Schwarzmann. NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale.
    This is where “Louis M. Glackens: Pure Imagination” comes in. The exhibition shines a spotlight on several prints and drawings donated by the Sansom Foundation, centered by some of the political cartoons Glackens produced for Puck, which would be right at home in a present-day issue of The New Yorker.
    A particularly famous one shows former U.S. President William Howard Taft, dressed as a matronly, mustachioed housewife, pouring a watering can labeled with the word “patronage” over a bed of flowers labeled “delegates: hardy quadrennial.” The caption read: “The flowers that bloom in spring, tra-la!” It is a commentary on Taft’s ill-fated bid for re-election against his successor, William Harding.
    “Louis M. Glackens: Pure Imagination” is at the NSY Museum, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, April 15, 2024–March 30, 2025.
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    New York’s Lost Architectural History Is Brought Back to Life in a Museum Show

    Deep in the bowels of Penn Station, there’s a small sign that reads “Penn RR Trains,” its red arrow forever pointing passengers towards trains that no longer run for a station that once was. It’s a prosaic leftover of New York’s most notorious demolition, that glorious Beaux-Arts masterpiece that made travelers commuting through it feel “like a god,” as the historian Vincent Scully put it. The disappearance of such landmarks is the theme of the New-York Historical Society’s latest exhibition “Lost New York.”
    The show, which is set to run through September 29, is a reminder that to live in New York is to constantly feel the hands of change—new towers block beloved views, favorite restaurants close, familiar neighborhoods morph unrecognizably.
    Jules Crow, Pennsylvania Station Interior (1906). Photo: New-York Historical Society.
    Roving haphazardly across 300-odd years of the city’s history, “Lost New York” makes the point that these places do not really vanish, but endure in maps, photographs, paintings, ephemera and—sometimes most powerfully—through the anecdotes of residents.
    From the start, in fact, the show presents the New York experience as a thing in constant flux. A painting at the entrance shows the Knickerbocker Omnibus, a horse-pulled 12-seater carriage, the likes of which ran designated routes in lower Manhattan beginning in the late 1820s. Soon, steel tracks were laid for streetcars, offering passengers a smoother and faster ride.
    William Seaman, Knickerbocker Stage Line Omnibus (ca. 1850). Photo: New-York Historical Society.
    Though affordable and efficient, the cars added to the city’s sanitation quagmire, a problem Dr. Rufus Henry Gilbert addressed with his patented elevated railway that became a reality in 1878. There’s a wood and metal model of the Sixth Avenue line alongside Going Home, a painting by Lionel Reiss that captures the colorful bustle of New Yorkers climbing the stairs to the train.
    Nearby, there’s a memento from the city’s train system a century on: a Bowery station sign marked with Keith Haring’s crawling child and barking dog.
    It’s a gap of a century and a half that is starkly presented in a pair of paintings by Richard Haas. Both look south from 42nd Street. In 1855, the view from the Latting Observatory (then the country’s tallest structure at 315 feet) is bucolic—buildings are of brick, sail ships traverse the East River, and farmland stretches to a visible horizon. By 1994, the view is entirely obscured by silver and brown towers, the only green belonging to the stained gargoyles hunched at the window ledge. One constant? Pigeons and their detritus.
    Unidentified photographer, Manhattan: the Hippodrome, Sixth Avenue between 43rd Street and 44th Street (1905). Photo: New-York Historical Society.
    The museum picked through its archive to present some of the city’s colossal buildings lost during this time and beyond. There’s Crystal Palace, a marvel of glass and steel described by Walt Whitman as “loftier, fairer, ampler than any yet.” A Francois Courtin lithograph shows it abuzz as it hosts an exhibition on global industry. It burned to the ground in 1858.
    The Croton Reservoir stood nearby, a 50-foot-tall engineering feat that would make firefighting, sewage, and street-cleaning possible. It too was demolished and in 1900, with the New York Public Library in Bryant Park rising on its stone foundation.
    François Courtin, New York Crystal Palace for the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations (1853–54). Image: New-York Historical Society.
    The list of such disappearances in “Lost New York” runs on and on—the old Yankee Stadium (the House that Ruth Built), the New York Hippodrome in which Harry Houdini once disappeared a 10,000-pound elephant, the old Federal Hall which sat the first Confederation Congress in 1784. There’s also a fragment of the giant gilded statue of Britain’s King George III that stood in Bowling Green before it was torn down and turned into bullets during the Revolutionary War.
    Another sculpture to have been destroyed is “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by Augusta Savage. It depicted bodies arranged like strings in a harp and was the only work of a Black woman commissioned for the World’s Fair in 1939. There’s a miniature on display in this show and a promise that the initiative to reconstruct the monument is underway.
    “Lost New York” is on view at New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park W, New York, through September 29.
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    A First-of-Its-Kind Show Decodes the Mythical Motifs of the Chinese Bronze Age

    Have you ever wondered why Chinese visual culture is full of images of dragons, phoenixes and other mythical creatures? Archaeologists certainly have. For centuries, they searched in vain for their origins in the country’s vast but fractured archeological record.
    Relatively recent discoveries of artifacts from the Zhou dynasty, an ancient state that predates the Qin dynasty that unified China, provided answers, and now they will be going on display at an exhibition at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco titled “Phoenix Kingdoms: The Last Splendor of China’s Bronze Age.”
    Double-walled square jian-fou from Zhang, Warring States period (ca. 433 B.C.E.) Photo: Hubei Provincial Museum and Asian Art Museum.
    The show is the first of its kind in the United States, and features jade and bronze ritual vessels, ceremonial lacquerware, weapons and musical instruments. The objects, more than 150 in total, come from five different Chinese museums that specialize in Bronze Age archaeology, including the Hubei Provincial Museum, the Jingzhou Museum, and the Suizhou Museum.
    Lei wine vessel with dragon from Zhang in Western Zhou ca. 1050-771 B.C.E. Photo: Suizhou Municipal Museum and Asian Art Museum.
    Among the collection are a jade mask dated to 2,200 B.C.E. adorned with two raptors; a bronze drum decorated with 16 snakelike dragons recovered from the tomb of the Marquis Yi of Zeng, built around 433 B.C.E.; and a bronze double-walled wine cooler or jian-fou. Also recovered from the tomb, archeologists believe it was used as a kind of metal refrigerator to preserve millet and ale during hot summers.
    Lidded dou food vessel from Warring States period (475-221 BCE), approx. 433 BC. Photo: Suizhou Municipal Museum and Asian Art Museum.
    The majority of the objects come from Zeng and Chu, two mysterious vassal states of the Zhou dynasty in northwestern China. Little is known of their cultures and histories, which were erased when the territory was conquered by the Qin, the founders of imperial China, in 229 B.C.E. Up until that point, the Zhou had been in power for 789 years, making their rule the longest in all of Chinese history.
    The tomb of Marquis Yi, discovered in 1978, was a tipping point in Chinese archaeology, described by historian and Asian Art Museum curator Jeremy Zhang as “akin to [the discovery of] Tutankhamun’s tomb, Pompeii, or Knossos.”
    Body armor and helmet from the Warring States period (ca. 300 B.C.E) made of leather, lacquer, and fabric. Photo: Hubei Provincial Museum and Asian Art Museum.
    “We are living in what is truly a Golden Age of archaeology—Chinese archaeology that is,” Jay Xu, the Barbara Bass Bakar Director and current CEO of the Asian Art Museum, said in a statement. “There were always obvious gaps in the record that never made sense. We knew which states the Qin conquered—their historians were delighted to write that down—but what we were missing was the artistic evidence connecting the beliefs of older kingdoms with images that proliferated in later dynasties.”
    Base of a bronze drum stand, excavated from the tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng in Suizhou from the Warring States period (ca.433 B.C.E.) Photo: Hubei Provincial Museum and Asian Art Museum.
    “Many of the extravagant artworks in ‘Phoenix Kingdoms’ are considered national treasures due to their rarity and their beauty,” added Zhang, who organized the show. “Our original exhibition highlights the importance of the Yangzi River region in forming a recognizably southern style that would influence centuries of Chinese art and religion. We could not be more excited to update our understanding of this historical epoch by inviting our audiences to unlock the glorious mystery of China at the dawn of the first empire.”
    “Phoenix Kingdoms: The Last Splendor of China’s Bronze Age” is on view at the Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St, San Francisco, California, through July 22.
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    A U.K. Show Reflects On the Resilience of the Hong Kong Diaspora

    Protest artworks chronicling Hong Kong’s recent political trajectory and the ensuing wave of migration to the U.K. are currently on display at a museum in Leeds. Organizers hoped that, through art, the story of the former British colony and its political struggle can be better articulated to a wider audience.
    Titled “HongKongers in the UK—A Journey of Hope and Resilience,” the exhibition at Leeds City Museum features over a dozen work by five artists originally from Hong Kong in the museum’s public area. The exhibition, supported by a non-profit called Ngo Dei and the museum has been well-received since its opening at the end of April, organizers said.
    “The response is much better than what we expected. Visitors told us that they were touched by the artworks, the wall-texts, and understood better the connection between Hong Kong and the U.K,” said Chloe Cheung, founder of a group called Hongkongers in Leeds, which helped organize the show. “That’s the special thing about art. [It] is a great medium for people to understand our story and feel the emotions from looking at the works—more impactful than chanting the slogans in the streets.”
    Installation view of “HongKongers in the UK—A Journey of Hope and Resilience” at Leeds City Museum, U.K. Courtesy of Hongkongers in Leeds.
    Divided into five chapters, the exhibition follows a chronological timeline looking at the historical connections between Hong Kong and the U.K. starting from the British colonial times and 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China.
    “We want to explain to people why Hong Kongers moved to the U.K.,” Cheung said. “The U.K. is our roots because of this history, and it was because of the British colonization [that] Hong Kong became an international city, rather an ordinary Chinese city.”
    The show then covers major political events and the 2019 protests. Ricker Choi’s 721—Scream of Hong Kong (2019) depicts the horror of masked men in white T-shirts attacking pro-democracy protesters and commuters at a train station on July 21, 2019, in the form of a parody of Edvard Munch’s iconic The Scream.
    Beijing’s subsequent implementation of the national security law in 2020 to curb the protests led to the suppression of press freedom and the closure of pro-democracy news outlets, such as Apple Daily, as well as the persecution of news media operators and journalists, many of whom are still remanded after nearly three years. Cheung pointed out that, so far, there are 1,800 political prisoners in Hong Kong as a result. Among the works on show include those by political artist duo Lumli Lumlong depicting Jimmy Lai, the founder of Apple Daily, who is facing national security charges.
    Bowie, Moon We Share (2023). Courtesy of the artist and Hongkongers in Leeds.
    These political events led to the U.K.’s introduction of a visa scheme in 2021 that allows people from the city who meet the criteria to live, work, and study in the country. More than 190,997 have applied for the visa as of September 2023, according to government data. Works by artists Justin Wong and Bowie explore the life of this new Hong Kong diaspora.
    Despite the positive response, the exhibition also drew criticism from pro-China students studying in Leeds, noted Cheung. Some left derogatory remarks, ranging from anti-democracy comments such as “Hong Kong should not be free,” to others claiming that Hong Kongers were “kneeling to their U.K. colonial masters.” The comments were written in simplified Chinese on Post-It notes and put on the exhibition’s version of Lennon Wall, which echoes one of the key elements of the 2019 protests that allowed people to leave their remarks and wishes on sticky-notes.
    “But we did not take these sticky-notes down because this is a free country,” Cheung said.
    Organizers noted that they wanted to continue to speak up for Hong Kongers, especially those remaining in Hong Kong and unable to do so. There are plans to make the show a traveling exhibition but details are yet to be ironed out, according to Cheung.
    “HongKongers in the UK—A Journey of Hope and Resilience” is on view at the Leeds City Museum through June 10.
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    An Uncanny Exhibition Turns the Online World Into Artistic Material

    Something I’ve noticed: Almost a decade on, the Berlin art scene is still haunted by its 2016 biennale. The DIS-curated show enters the room whenever “post-internet art” is referenced, or during any discussion about the state of culture in the 2010s, and it rattles the picture frames when one of its artists has an exhibition here. It haunts the art scene because there is still no settled consensus on whether it was good or not. “These artists seem to want to have their fun and still get credit for topicality, but let’s get real: I have seen spambots with greater sensitivity,” wrote critic Jason Farago in the Guardian at that time. “Try being sincere; try believing in something,” he cautioned before taking himself to the opera.
    So when the group show “Poetic Encryptions” opened in February with a handful of the same artists as the DIS exhibition—with post-internet art among the leitmotifs on view at KW Institute of Contemporary Art, which was one of the Berlin biennale host venues—it was inevitable that people would draw comparisons with the earlier exhibition. Yet, in spite of a few crossovers (Jon Rafman, Simon Denny, Trevor Paglen), the state of play feels different. That abject irony that embodied this art scene around the 2016 Berlin Biennale, so cozied up it was with corporate slang and a flip of the hair, seems to have bled out—a feeling of real stakes has emerged.
    Installation view of the exhibition Poetics of Encryption at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin 2024; Photo: Frank Sperling
    Spread across four floors, “Poetics of Encryption,” which runs through the end of May, is part of an ongoing project by KW’s curator for the digital sphere, Nadim Samman, that looks at how virtual life has been shaped by and is shaping climate collapse, artificial intelligence, online micro-ideologies, and Pepe the Frog. It casts a wide net, prodding some unwieldy topics: including omnipotent algorithms, data banks on which our identities are swiped, doxed, and recorded, often with little consent, as well as the endless strings of code that underline contemporary life.
    As such, darkness—a sense of non-permeable black zones—pervades the spaces by way of black walls and dim lights (so dim it makes the didactic panels too hard to read in places). It does make it hard to remember the sterility that can be associated with post-internet art. A phantasmagoric cat reappears in two transfigurations, once with eight legs and, later on, two. Both artworks by Eva and Franco Mattes, these taxidermy sculptures are based on memes called “panorama fails”—warped images that distort figures. The show, in moments, feels like one of these pictures, where works seem to echo and repeat, though I am not sure it is always intentional. Warehouse-like PVC curtains recur in several rooms with a plasticky stench, recalling industrial factories, an architectural intervention by the architect Jürgen Mayer H.
    Installation view of the exhibition Poetics of Encryption at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin 2024; Photo: Frank Sperling
    “Poetics of Encryption” has little of the standoffish aesthetic that was a prototype for the art scene and DIS-era art scene of a few years ago. The tone of that biennale on the whole (there were many compelling works), which came to be the emblem of post-internet art—largely cynical, apolitical, typified by a bit of smugness—has lost an edge. And actually, it would seem crass in the world of 2024. (Although there is Tilman Hornig’s 2013 Glassbooks, a bunch of glass MacBooks arranged on a table that recalls the merchandising of an Apple Store.)
    Instead, the ethos of many artists in “Poetics of Encryption” strikes me differently from that 2016 moment—there is less celebration or naïve curiosity about digital life or the libertarian merits of crypto and online networks. One has a sense of moving through a techno-industrial landscape that meets a speculative museum of post-nature. Romanticism and, that pining sense of longing or maybe even mourning, is present in works that consider environments in states of entropy. Julian Charriere’s sculptures—faux meteorites made from trash—speak to this kind of yearning.
    A.I. feels like some kind of endgame in Calculating Empires: A Genealogy of Technology and Power, 1500–2025 (2023) by Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler, which places it within a 500 years-long mind map, an expansive two-part flowchart pasted on a pair of walls that attempts to visualize the complex intertwining systems of innovation, colonialization, and technology. Carsten Nicolai’s mysterious all-black sculpture engulfs an entire gallery, driving home a feeling of ominousness, mystique, and low-level anxiety.
    Installation view of the exhibition Poetics of Encryption at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin 2024; Photo: Frank Sperling
    But if this version of the future feels burdened by the past, it’s because it is. The anti-industrialist, anarchist, and murderer Ted Kaczynski, who died last year, is embodied by Freedom Club Figure, a 2013 work by Daniel Keller that includes on a slender mannequin wearing Kaczynski’s backpack, which the artist allegedly purchased from a United States government auction.
    Installation view of the exhibition Poetics of Encryption at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin 2024; Photo: Frank Sperling
    Rather than driving around the dubious detritus of the web, the group show steers right into it, and some of the most interesting works looks unflinchingly at the darker corners of the internet.
    Dylan Louis Monroe, of the right-wing conspiracy movement QAnon, is not on the artist list but his deep state maps are on view, shyly relegated to a hallway, maybe because they are a bit too real. A cluster of computers reminiscent of a dank internet cafe includes several online-platform works, one of which is the very dystopian PMC Wagner Arts, a surreal (and fictional) company populated by a board that includes Peter Thiel, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and Julia Stoschek (speaking of real, the latter is actually a KW board member). A work by the art collective ubermorgen, PMC’s two-bit website veiled with corporate lingo, a very 2016 technique using a very 2024 cast of ambiguous characters.
    Installation view of the exhibition Poetics of Encryption at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin 2024; Photo: Frank Sperling
    Several works analyze political and cultural compasses retooled by algorithm and a changing society. The collective Clusterduck’s The Detective Wall (2020–24) provides a physical visualization of a thousand memes in thematic clusters, with red threads (I do appreciate the meta comment on the Pepe Silvia meme) building out a pictorial universe. According to the press text, it references Aby Warburg’s visual mapping of culture, but I might not go so far—however, I appreciate the tactile, zine-like aesthetic. Joshua Citarella’s flag series E-DEOLOGIES (2020–23) hangs in an atrium at KW, with various political insignia overlaid and reimagined as flags. His project—to crystallize a new constellation of mutating political ideologies that have emerged in online micro-communities (“Under no pretext shall we be tread on” is apparently the motto of a very emergent “Anarcho-Collectivist Capitalist Mutualist” group) codifies a political spectrum that is unraveling and rethreading itself in surprising ways.
    Given the themes of this show—the web, politics, and our collective psyche as a shifty feedback loop—it is notable, then, that ubermorgen’s work caused controversy on social media when a preview of it was posted on KW’s Instagram as part of show promotion in March. It seemed to offend enough followers (who condemned the references to Prigozhin’s Wagner mercenaries) that KW removed the post. For a show that muses on the internet and changing society, this online spat felt ironic. How often it can be forgotten that the problems of the world rarely stem from art.
    I wonder also if, maybe, the anger could have in part been a projection given what was happening in real-time: KW board member Axel Wallrabenstein resigned in February after inciting anger over his commentary on Twitter, which some saw as a trolling rhetoric about the Israel-Gaza war; many were infuriated by his posts, which included heart eyes and an Israeli flag accompanying footage of Israeli soldiers smashing shops and humiliating detained Palestinians.
    Installation view of the exhibition Poetics of Encryption at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin 2024; Photo: Frank Sperling
    In that fray, some of the most powerful moments in the show are not representative. American Artist and Morehshin Allahyari decided to remove their work from “Poetics of Encryption,” crossing out their names from participation as a part of strike against German institutions. “The aggressive censorship and suppression of critical voices by the German government and the support of genocide in Gaza is something I cannot tolerate,” American Artist wrote on Instagram when announcing their respective withdrawal.
    This is where a struggle with media or post-internet art—how to bring the digital into the analog space in a convincing way—succeeds in the most concrete terms. There is one blacked-out screen among a series of works by other artists where Allahyari’s should have been (that said, I ran into someone who thought that screen was simply broken). In another gallery lies a crate that holds the sculpture American Artist chose to not unpack. What a shame to not be able to see the work Mother of All Demos III (2021), a computer of dirt, old parts, wood, and asphalt—a symbol of eroding modernity.
    Against the backdrop of a brutal conflict in Gaza, and in the midst of a wretched German political arena marred by censorship, and a psychodrama online where artists have been canceled by institutions for comments, likes, and reposts, a question from DIS’s 2016 curatorial text, dripping as it was then with irony, comes to mind: “Are we at war?”  Standing amid the hum of servers and screens at “Poetics of Encryption,” which only hint at the surrounding chaos, we can now answer from the future, this time with sincerity: yes.
    The group exhibition “Poetics of Encryption” is on view at KW Institute of Contemporary Art until May 26.
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    A New Show at Kensington Palace Honors 170 Years’ Worth of Unseen Labor

    British royals typically get all the attention, but an unprecedented new show at Kensington Palace highlights the staff that kept their palaces running. “Untold Lives” shares relics including an ice saw and an early toilet to piece together the oft-overlooked livelihoods of wet nurses, rat catchers, and even a wild cat keeper who worked for Britain’s monarchs between 1660 and 1830.
    A baby bonnet for George IV, an envelope containing hair from Prince Edward (Duke of Kent), a paper tape measure used to measure the heights of the children of King George III and Queen Charlotte, the childhood pink sash of Prince Frederick (Duke of York), and the blue sash of King George III. © Historic Royal Palaces.
    “We have had a number of exhibitions which have touched on the lives of those living in the historic royal palaces, but we felt the time was right to explore their story from ‘the bottom up’ and focus on those who worked behind the throne,” co-curator Sebastian Edwards said. Research for the show shed light on extraordinary professionals like a female Keeper of Ice and Snow, who cut ice from frozen ponds to chill drinks, and a 96-year-old washroom attendant called a Necessary Woman.
    A toilet, probably made for William III at Hampton Court ca. 1699. © Royal Collection Trust / His Majesty King Charles III 2024.
    Such untold lives unfold across thematic rooms. The one dubbed “Care and Intimacy,” for instance, displays a white linen apron worn by Queen Charlotte’s wardrobe maid Ann Elizabeth Thielcke in 1786.
    Installation view of “Untold Lives,” Origins and Identities room. © Historic Royal Palaces
    Meanwhile, “Skills and Expertise” offers the only surviving dress from Queen Charlotte, on loan from the Fashion Museum in Bath.
    That same room honors the critical security that staff provided, evidenced by a mid-19th-century fire bucket. “On three separate occasions, servants and staff saved Kensington Palace from fire,” the exhibition overview explains.
    Installation view of “Untold Lives,” Skills and Expertise room. © Historic Royal Palaces
    “Untold Lives” also recounts the labor force’s growing multiculturalism amid Britain’s conquests and early globalization. “This exhibition brings together three extraordinary portraits probably for the first time since they were painted in Britain over 300 years ago,” Edwards said. Sir Godfrey Kneller created all three. One depicts Keeper of the Privy Purse Mehmet von Königstreu, who was taken prisoner in the Ottoman Empire and transported to Britain, where he was ennobled in 1716. Another portrait immortalizes von Königstreu’s German wife, Marie Wedekind. Together, they were the first interracial couple to live among royals, at the German court of King George I.
    Sir Godfrey Kneller, Portrait of Mehmet von Könsigstreu. © Klosterkammer Hannover, Gina Grond.
    Turkish valet Ernst August Mustapha von Misitri appears alongside them in the Origins and Identities room. “Mustapha’s portrait was only recently discovered in Germany and bought by a collector in the UK, who has loaned it to the exhibition,” Edwards said.
    Sir Godfrey Kneller, portrait of Ernst August Mustapha von Misitri. Courtesy of the Ömer Koç collection
    In the show’s press release, co-curator Mishka Sinha notes, “With so little remaining of their presence, we often find that the legacy left behind of those who worked in the royal palaces 300 years ago is simply invisibility.” The curators recruited contemporary artists to fill in those gaps.
    Matt Smith, plates devoted to the story of Gustavus Guydickens, for “Untold Lives.” © Historic Royal Palaces, Matt Smith
    Matt Smith crafted ceramic plates to share the story of disgraced Gentleman Usher Gustavus “Gusty” Guydickens, who served Queen Charlotte from 1777 to 1792—when, sources say, “he was caught in Hyde Park in ‘an unnatural situation’ with an 18-year-old lawyers’ clerk.”
    Peter Brathwaite, commission for “Untold Lives.” © Historic Royal Palaces, Peter Brathwaite, courtesy of Autograph, London.
    “Untold Lives” also commissioned a photograph from Peter Brathwaite that expands upon Black identity in Kensington Palace’s King’s Staircase. Elsewhere, Robert Taylor bridges this show with the present in photographs that document staff overseeing the Palace’s State Apartments and grounds today.
    Installation view of “Untold Lives,” Legacies room. © Historic Royal Palaces.
    “Untold Lives” is on view at Kensington Palace, London, through October 27, 2024.
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    Impression at 150: Here Are 9 Shows Advancing the Historic Movement

    Several major exhibitions in France and abroad are adding to a nuanced moment as the world celebrates the Impressionism movement turning 150 this year. In an unprecedented move, the Musée d’Orsay has loaned 178 artworks to museums in about 30 French towns, and there are a cornucopia of differently angled shows exploring new and overlooked facets to the artistic movement. There’s a VR element at the Musée d’Orsay—which has received mixed reviews—and even an ice-skating rink-turned-digital artwork by Miguel Chevalier in Rouen’s Edith-Ballester skating rink.
    Here are nine shows not to miss around France, beyond the Musée d’Orsay’s blockbuster “Paris 1874: Inventing Impressionism,” which we’ve covered separately and highly recommend.

    “1863 Paris 1874,” at the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud
    Frédéric Bazille, Fisherman with a Net, 1868, oil on canvas, Arp Museum Rolandseck Station / Rau Collection for UNICEF, © Photo: Arp Museum Rolandseck Station / Rau Collection for UNICEF, inv. No. GR 1.653 (Photographer: Mick Vincenz, Essen)

    The unofficial prequel to the Orsay show is on view in Cologne, Germany until July 28, 2024. It offers a fascinating new look at what led up to the first Impressionist show, beginning with the “Salon of the Rejected” artists, who were, per the title, rejected from the Salon. That event paved the way for a pioneering French avant-garde and new, modern ways of exhibiting. The show’s curator, Barbara Schaefer, says that the exhibition demonstrates how the Impressionists developed, noting that many of their painterly techniques can be detected earlier than may be commonly thought in works also shown in the Salon, effectively backing a key argument made by the Orsay/NGA show. “The ‘new’ painters were in fact fed by a long academic tradition,” said Schaefer, and the decade’s cultural influence on these artists was “not that well-known by the public—something we would like to change.”

    “Van Gogh et les Etoiles” (Van Gogh and the Stars) at the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh
    Vincent van Gogh Starry Night Over the Rhône (1888). Oil on canvas, 73 x 92 cm. © Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais/Patrice Schmidt.
    Elsewhere, in Arles, France, a new exhibition (on view June 1 through September 8, 2024) will center on the artist’s rarely loaned La Nuit étoilée (1888) (Starry Night), which he painted in Arles. The show looks at the mystical and cosmological interests of painters around the late 19th and early 20th century, as creators responded to new scientific discoveries. Works depict night skies and range over a broad period, from a 1904-1905 painting by Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis to Georgia O’Keeffe’s Starlight Night, Lake George (1922).
    Nearby, LUMA Arles has also invited the Dutch artists DRIFT to create an installation and performance in dialogue with the Van Gogh exhibit, starting May 31.

    Berthe Morisot at the Musée des Beaux-Arts Jules Chéret More