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    How Tavares Strachan Reimagined Leonardo’s ‘Last Supper’

    The Royal Academy in London has unveiled a monumental new public sculpture by the Bahamian-born interdisciplinary artist Tavares Strachan. The First Supper (Galaxy Black) (2023) has been installed in the courtyard as part of “Entangled Pasts, 1768-now: Art, Colonialism and Change,” a new exhibition that puts the RA’s historic artworks in conversation with contemporary masterpieces to explore and challenge narratives around empire, race, and colonialism. It opens today and runs through April 28, 2024.
    Inspired by one of art history’s best known paintings, Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper (ca. 1495-98), the mammoth bronze sculpture imagines a convivial gathering between notable historical figures from Africa and its Diaspora who, in reality, never met because they were separated by time and place. Among these 12 Black scientists, activists, and artists are the abolitionist Harriet Tubman, the gay rights campaigner Marsha P. Johnson, the U.S.’s first Black congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the poet Sir Derek Alton, and the gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
    Less prominent figures that Strachan has chosen to highlight include the Brazilian resistance fighter Zumbi Dos Palmares, the nurse Mary Seacole, the astronaut Robert Henry Lawrence, and the explorer Matthew Henson. The 13th figure is a self-portrait of Strachan himself in the guise of Judas. The central figure who takes the place of Jesus is Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, who some Rastafarians consider to be the returned messiah.
    Tavares Strachan, The First Supper (Galaxy Black) (2023). Image courtesy of the artist and Perrotin, collection of Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Maryland.
    The long table of animated figures faces museum visitors as they turn into the courtyard from Piccadilly, welcoming them in. The group’s various gestures and expressions lend the work a lively theatricality, and it cuts a striking figure against the RA’s aged gray facade thanks to Strachan’s use of black patina and gold leaf.
    Another statue of the RA’s founding president, the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds, can be seen standing on its usual perch just behind. Installed in 1931, its presence reminds us that for centuries these kinds of public monuments were erected almost exclusively to commemorate white men.
    “I think it’s important for us to have an archive of the stories of our folks; one that doesn’t necessarily centre Europe, modernism or any -ism that is not indicative of us,” Strachan commented for the show’s catalog.
    Strachan was born in 1979 in Nassau, Bahamas and is currently based between New York City and Nassau. His conceptual practice has long brought to light marginalized histories, which is the focus of his ongoing project The Encyclopedia of Invisibility. It was born out of Strachan’s research into Matthew Henson, the first person to reach the North Pole in 1909. For over a century, Henson’s achievement went unrecognized and the milestone was mistakenly credited to his fellow explorer Robert Peary instead.
    “Entangled Pasts, 1768-now” opens today and runs through April 28, 2024. 

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    How Do You Tell Photography’s History? ICP’s Big Birthday Show Embodies the Struggle

    What do I want from a history of photography now? That’s what I was asking myself as I went through the International Center of Photography show “ICP at 50: From the Collection, 1845-2019,” the stimulating survey of highlights from the New York museum’s holdings, curated by Elisabeth Sherman and staged for its golden jubilee year.
    Here’s a well-known bit of trivia, showing how art’s relation to photography has shifted over time: Before the 1990s, the work of Cindy Sherman was collected by the Museum of Modern Art’s department of painting and sculpture, not its department of photography. Sherman had become famous for her “Untitled Film Stills,” using herself as a model and staging scenes that evoked classic Hollywood movies. But though she worked with photos, Sherman wasn’t considered a “photographer.”
    Cindy Sherman, Untitled #118 (1983) in “ICP at 50.” Photo by Ben Davis.
    Critic Douglas Crimp described the debates over where Sherman belonged as more than academic. He thought that photo-conceptualism was a kind of intellectual timebomb in the museum, set to eventually go off and expose how incoherent the idea of categorizing art by media was—photography vs. sculpture vs. performance, etc. The genre the museum had valorized as “art photography,” Crimp thought, actually represented a very narrow idea of what photos could be, focusing on technical prowess. And photography’s full embrace of Sherman would be “the moment in which one would recognize that the way the museum organizes itself is in some form of crisis.”
    The angst inspired by such questions is greatly diminished now—not just at MoMA, but here at ICP, an institution dedicated to celebrating the craft of photography. Cindy Sherman appears smack dab at the center of the history being unspooled in “ICP at 50.” Her work Untitled #118 (1983) centers a crowded wall in the show’s second gallery showing diverse modes of photography from the ’80s. When she was named an ICP trustee in 2022, the artist told the New York Times, “I sensed that the organization, in asking me to participate, wanted to branch out from its more traditional roots and be seen in a broader sense of how photography is being used today.” That could also be the thesis statement of this show.
    Installation view of the two floors of “ICP at 50.” Photo by Ben Davis.
    The story “ICP at 50” tells starts with 19th-century experiments, tiny tintypes, early panoramic photos, hand-colored studio portraits, and such. The long mid-section of the show, representing photography’s heroic age, spans roughly the ‘20s to the ‘70s, when photography came into its own as a self-conscious professional and aesthetic community. The highlights here are too many to enumerate, and liberally include oddities and offbeat works by famous names, to convey the eclectic approach to image-making the show wants to emphasize.
    There’s a certain notable focus on moments of self-conscious artifice. Gordon Parks appears, not by his classic Civil Rights images, but by a stunning photo-illustration staging a scene from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Weegee appears, not by one of his New York crime photos, but via a picture of actor Peter Bull on the set of the film Dr. Strangelove, frozen mid-yell.
    This classic era’s vigor and magnetism clearly comes from the particular status of the photographer during this period: the rise of a new medium brought potential new and popular audiences, yet taking good photos was still considered skilled work, requiring knowledge of a technical piece of equipment. In photojournalism, this led to a certain sense of dignified urgency that came from the belief that photographers have a special role in shaping public perception of important events; in fashion photography, to an aura of rarified glamor connected to the feeling that a special skillset was being brought to bear on a sitter’s image.
    Top row: Cristina García Rodero, La Tabua (1985) and Masaaki Miyazawa, Once Upon a White Night (1985). Bottom: Susan Meiselas, Alphabetization campaign for market sellers, Nicaragua (1980). Photo by Ben Davis.
    Cornell Capa founded ICP as a museum in 1974 to evangelize and preserve the tradition of “concerned photography.” That was the name for a style of socially engaged, formally rigorous documentary photography, most famously associated with the Magnum photo agency—and Cornell’s older brother Robert, the great war photographer who died on assignment for Life in Vietnam, in 1954.
    Near to Sherman’s painting-scaled Untitled #118 is a smaller, roughly contemporaneous photo by Susan Meiselas (current president of the Magnum Foundation), a late, great example in that tradition. It is a gorgeously colored 1980 chromogenic print from her famous reportage on Central American conflicts, capturing two teachers at a blackboard, engaged in a literacy campaign aimed at the poor in Nicaragua. (A wall label calls it an “alphabetization campaign,” but I believe that is a mistranslation from the Spanish.)
    This juxtaposition of Sherman and Meiselas, for me, symbolizes a pivot point in the story. Indeed, one potential reading of “ICP at 50” is that shortly after the institution put down roots a half century ago, the discipline of photography itself became painfully self-conscious.
    Gerda Taro, Republican Militiawoman Training on the Beach, outside Barcelona (August 1936) in “ICP at 50.” Photo by Ben Davis.
    Up to a certain moment in “ICP at 50,” the big names you will remember are people like Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Helen Levitt, Gordon Parks, Gerda Taro—a canon recognizably set apart as “photographers.” After, the figures who dominate are Louise Lawler, Bruce Nauman, Shirin Neshat, Martha Rosler, Laurie Simmons, Carrie Mae Weems—basically, names that one would see as key to any survey of post-‘70s contemporary art, at any art museum, possibly grouped under the unlovely catchall “lens-based practices.”
    (The exhibition accompanying “ICP at 50” for the institution’s birthday year, “David Seidner: Fragments, 1977–99,” is much more in the vein of honoring a photo-specific figure who hasn’t gotten his due. My colleague William van Meter is covering it separately.)
    Bill Biggert, no title (September 11, 2001) in “ICP at 50.” Photo by Ben Davis.
    ICP director David Little is keen to stress what this show says about the flexibility of the museum’s mission, how the institution has always been hip to “photography in all of its forms,” not just Capa’s “concerned photography.” One of the last photos in “ICP at 50” that actually might fit that foundational rubric—documenting an unfolding reality in an impactful way—is Bill Biggert’s hazy, haunted image of New York on 9/11, which shows an ambulance trundling through dust and rubble. Yet this image also shows how untenably high the bar is for such journalistic images to feature in this narrative: The picture is haunted, almost literally—it’s notable as much for what it shows as for the fact that Biggert himself perished that day in Lower Manhattan. His film was developed posthumously.
    Clearly an artist like Cindy Sherman is also “socially concerned”—specifically, her work is full of ideas about how identity itself is formed, and deformed, by the media. The photography world was (and still is, in some quarters) suspicious of Cindy Sherman because it viewed her work as deskilled. Yet in a twist of fate, it is precisely that approach that has made her work so prescient as time has gone on, as images have proliferated. Photo elements have been incorporated into art projects of all kinds, while, more generally, the public itself now communicates via photos constantly, in many fluid ways. The hyper-self-conscious mindset represented by Sherman, conveying identity as a continuous act of self-styling in a world where media is everywhere, has pervaded social life.
    Barbara Bloom, Greed (1988) in “ICP at 50.” Photo by Ben Davis.
    If a certain genre of gallery art swells to dominate in ICP’s story—images get bigger, becoming painting size (Mickalene Thomas) or become part of installations (Barbara Bloom) or are treated as sculptural objects (A.K. Burns)—that may just be a curatorial choice, a matter of taste. Some part of me does feel that it clearly reflects a waning of confidence in the project of the individual photographic image, on its own, to hold attention.
    There is an economic background to this erosion. The photo clubs and photo magazines that created a public for photography and supported photographers from the early 20th century on are long gone. Jürgen Schadeberg’s 1954 photo of the bustling office of South Africa’s Drum magazine, where he served as photo editor and mentor to a generation of South African photographers—including Peter Magubane, also here—now seems like a window into a distant past. And so, the art gallery context looms larger and larger as the site where image-making is taken seriously, and can take on serious value.
    Installation view of “ICP at 50.” Photo by Ben Davis.
    That pragmatic background is worth noting, because if the story “ICP at 50” is telling is all about vibing with the “broader sense of how photography is being used today,” it clearly crops out one of the broader ways that contemporary audiences relate to photos—the one closest to “concerned photography.”
    Digital media has changed many things, but the project of raising awareness via striking images continues. There are individual photos, like Getty journalist John Moore’s heart-wrenching 2018 picture of a terrified toddler at the U.S.-Mexico border, that capture a moment and have great impact. More importantly, the decade of Black Lives Matter saw images of police brutality, captured mainly by citizen journalists and bystanders with cellphones, detonate massive protests. And right now, public opinion is being shaped by tragic images coming out of Gaza, both from professionals (often working at tremendous risk) and from ordinary Gazans sharing images of the horror they are living through.
    A.K. Burns, In Labor (2012) in “ICP at 50.” Photo by Ben Davis.
    Douglas Crimp was talking about a “crisis” for museums at the level of theory, as art and photography blurred together. When it comes to a mid-sized, financially delicate institution like ICP, the leveling of categories is also ultimately a practical problem, in terms of defining a clear and distinct pitch to the public, in a world where there is fierce competition for fragmented attention spans. And this show’s conclusion leaves me still asking the questions that I walked in with: What is the project of a photography-specific museum now? Is it just an art museum without paintings?
    Don’t get me wrong: There’s something to love in almost all the parts of the story “ICP at 50” tells. Please go see this show! It would be easy to take for granted that a physical space exists where you can discover such a rich collection of historically resonant images, and be inspired to debate what they mean. Nevertheless, it seems significant to note that the overall effect of this selection from the International Center of Photography’s collection is something like looking through a camera as someone turns the lens, watching the category of “photography” come into crisp focus—and then go out of focus again and dissolve into a blur.
    “ICP at 50: From the Collection, 1845-2019” is on view at the International Center of Photography, New York, through May 6, 2024.
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    A Rediscovered Masterpiece by Guercino Will Go on View in the U.K.

    A recently rediscovered masterpiece by the Baroque painter Guercino made headlines in 2022 after it overshot its $6,000 estimate to sell for a whopping $600,000 at auction in Paris. The dramatic portrayal of Moses looking up to the heavens with his palms raised will now go on public display at Waddesdon Manor in England, having been recently acquired by the Rothschild Foundation.
    The specialist at Chayette and Cheval auction house, who was tasked with appraising Moses (ca. 1618–19), presumably regrets attributing the work to an anonymous follower of Guido Reni from the 17th-century Bolognese School. In the catalogue notes, it was even explained that Guercino had been considered a possible author.
    The real attribution did not escape the expert eye of Old Masters dealer Fabrizio Moretti, who snapped up the sleeper hit. “We never questioned the attribution,” he said in 2023. “From 100 meters, you can tell this is an early Guercino.”
    Moretti Fine Art had the painting restored, uncovering a striking luminesce beneath the aging vanish and several centuries’ worth of filth. It was exhibited at the gallery’s Paris location in September and put back on the market for a major markup of €2 million ($2.2 million).
    The painting now returns to the public eye for the special exhibition “Guercino at Waddesdon: King David and the Wise Women,” where it will be joined by four more paintings by Guercino that were all painted in 1651. Spanning just over three decades, the exhibition will offer visitors a sense of how the Master’s style evolved during his lifetime.
    Born Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, Guercino was a highly sought-after artist who was regularly commissioned by dukes, popes, and foreign courts. He is known for his masterful use of chiaroscuro, of which Moses is a prime example.
    The other paintings in the exhibition are King David, already part of the collection at Waddesdon and three sibyls: Libyan Sibyl on loan from the Royal Collection, and The Cumaean Sibyl with a Putto and The Samian Sibyl, both from London’s National Gallery.
    The Rothschild Foundation is a charitable organization founded by Jacob Rothschild. On behalf of the National Trust, it manages Waddesdon Manor, a 19th-century estate that originally belonged to Ferdinand de Rothschild and is now open to the public.
    “Guercino at Waddesdon: King David and the Wise Women” is on view at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, England, March 20 through October.
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    Brazil Will Turn the Spotlight on Indigenous Artists at the 2024 Venice Biennale

    At this year’s Venice Biennale, Brazil’s representatives will shine a light on their home country’s indigenous peoples, once brought to the brink of extinction by colonial rule and now fighting to reclaim what was taken from them. 
    The mission starts with the name of the exhibition site, which has been rebranded from the Brazilian Pavilion to the Hãhãwpuá Pavilion—a reference to the Pataxó people’s word for the territory before it was colonized by the Portuguese. Artist and activist Glicéria Tupinambá has been tapped to take it over, but hers isn’t the only work that will be on view. Artists Olinda Tupinambá and Ziel Karapotó also have contributions planned. 
    For Denilson Baniwa, Arissana Pataxó, and Gustavo Caboco Wapichana—the three curators behind the Hãhãwpuá Pavilion—a communal approach was central to the message.  
    “The show brings together the Tupinambá Community and artists coming from the coastal peoples—the first to be transformed into foreigners in their own Hãhãw (ancestral territory)—in order to express a different perspective on the vast territory where more than 300 indigenous peoples live (Hãhãwpuá),” the curators said in a joint written statement.  
    For them, the Hãhãwpuá Pavilion “tells a story of indigenous resistance in Brazil, the strength of the body present in the retaking of territory and adaptation to climatic emergencies.” 
    Curators Denilson Baniwa, Arissana Pataxo, and Gustavo Caboco Wapichana. Photo: Cabrel. Courtesy of the São Paulo Biennial Foundation.
    “Ka’a Pûera: we are walking birds” is the name of the show planned for the pavilion—and it too says a lot about how the curators are thinking of their Venice project. The key phrase, Ka’a Pûera, is a portmanteau that suggests dual allusions: first, to a type of cropland that, after being harvested, yields a wave of low-lying vegetation; and second, to a small bird that expertly camouflages itself in dense forests. 
    Both images reflect the Tupinambá, who were considered extinct until 2002, when they were finally recognized by the Brazilian State. In this sense, the Tupinambá are both birds and resurgent croplands: nearly erased but never gone, powerful in their ability to blend in, more powerful when they demand not to. 
    Artist Glicéria Tupinambá. Courtesy of the São Paulo Biennial Foundation.
    A series of mantles—feathered capes made by the Tupinambás—are included in a pavilion installation planned by Glicéria Tupinambá, who has pushed to have the few remaining examples from the 17th-century repatriated to Brazil. One of just 11 known mantles from this period was recently returned from the National Museum of Denmark, where it had lived since 1689. The other 10 remain in European collections. 
    “The garment spans time and brings the issues of colonization into the present day, while the Tupinambá and other peoples continue their anti-colonial struggles in their territories—like the Ka’a Pûera, birds that walk over resurgent forests,” the Hãhãwpuá Pavilion said. 
    Glicéria Tupinambá, Manto tupinambá (Tupinambá Mantle) (2023). Courtesy of the artist.
    “We are living in a moment of convergence between the past, the present, and the future, in order to find a path towards sustainable ways of life and a rethinking of human relations,” said Andrea Pinheiro, president of the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo. “The questions raised by the work of the curators and artists point to relevant paths for the arduous process ahead of us.” 
    The concerns of the Hãhãwpuá Pavilion mirror those of the main exhibition at this year’s 60th Venice Biennale, organized by another Brazilian curator, Adriano Pedrosa. A sprawling presentation of 332 artists titled “Foreigners Everywhere,” his planned show is all about outsiders. The exhibition includes numerous indigenous artists—including the Brazilian collective Movimento dos Artistas Huni Kuin—who are, according to Pedrosa’s curatorial statement, “frequently treated as [foreigners in their] own land.” 
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    Barbara Kruger Updates Her Iconic Text-Based Works for the TikTok Era

    When a serious museum show dedicated to a crowd-pleasing artist like Yayoi Kusama or Olafur Eliasson is branded “Instagram-friendly,” it is usually meant as a backhanded compliment. Yet “Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You,” a new survey of works by Barbara Kruger at London’s Serpentine South Gallery goes one step further: it is proudly TikTok-friendly.
    Since rising to prominence in the 1980s, the legendary American conceptual and collage artist has proven that she’s still well ahead of the curve. Take, for instance, the Serpentine show’s TikTok filter that allows users to make their own versions of one of Kruger’s most iconic artworks, Your Body is a Battleground, with their selfie cameras. This savvy conceit takes an eye-catching graphic that was first mass-reproduced in print in the 1980s and jettisons it across the globe at lightning speed thanks to the power of social media.
    Barbara Kruger, Untitled (No Comment) (2020). Photo: The Art Institute of Chicago, courtesy of the artist and Sprüth Magers.
    The influence of the internet is present throughout the main show. Unlike the slow-moving, painfully esoteric films that feature frequently in contemporary art museums, Kruger’s newest piece Untitled (No Comment) (2020) is an immersive three-channelled video installation that was born ready to compete in the attention economy. Its unrelenting, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it stream of cats, hair tutorials, flashing slogans, and quotes from thinkers as diverse as Voltaire and Kendrick Lamar manages to simulate the all too familiar feeling of scrolling on our phones “to relax” before bed.
    “This digital availability that you have online is just so irresistible and so dominant today,” Kruger said in a recent interview with curator Hans Ulrich Obrist.
    Random sounds playing out from speakers in the galleries are intentionally disorienting. “Having rogue audio thread through the exhibition as a sonic intervention was just another way of challenging and adding to receivership,” she added.
    Installation view of “Barbara Kruger: Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You.,” on view from February 1 to March 17, 2024 at Serpentine South. Photo courtesy of Serpentine.
    Kruger, aged 79, left art school at Syracuse University after just one year and cut her teeth instead working as a graphic designer for magazines in New York during the 1960s. A decade later, she had developed her trademark style of Futura Bold or Helvetic Ultra Condensed font text on black, red, or white banners slapped over black-and-white images. The works had an immediately memorable impact, not unlike that of tabloid headlines. The popular streetwear brand Supreme once admitted in court to being “influenced” by Kruger’s work.
    Throughout the London show, one is assaulted with the artist’s directives, flippant propositions, and succinct statements, all of which seem to be a sad reflection on the state of society. Examples like Admit nothing/Blame everyone/Be bitter (1987) are always humorous enough, however, to avoid being too scolding or didactic.
    Untitled (Taxis), 2024, outside of Serpentine’s “Barbara Kruger: Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You.” Photo: George Darrell.
    A few of the works have been updated for our present moment through the medium of animation. Untitled (I Shop Therefore I Am) (1987/2019), for example, has the words disintegrate on screen before reforming to flash between new variations on Descartes’ infamous philosophical musing like “I shop therefore I hoard,” or “I sext therefore I am.”
    Similarly, in Pledge, Will, Vow (1988/2020) Kruger uses a three-channel video stream of classic texts like the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance to highlight the various ways in which a narrative can be constructed. As each word appears on screen, it flickers between several possible alternatives that would imply new meanings ranging from incisive to playfully absurd. “Allegiance,” might therefore become “adoration,” “adherence,” or “anxiety.”
    Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Our Leader) (1987/2020). Photo courtesy of the artist and Sprüth Magers.
    Kruger’s classic works reinvented for the internet age reveal the technological leaps that have occurred within her lifetime. Yet they also demonstrate that the pace of social change has unfortunately lagged within that same time. For instance, Your Body is a Battleground was originally made for the Women’s March on Washington for reproductive freedom in 1983 but has, if anything, only grown in relevance in recent years.
    Similarly, Untitled (Our People are Better Than Your People) (1994) offers a statement of delusional superiority: “Our people are better than your people. More intelligent, more powerful, more beautiful, and cleaner. We are good and you are evil. God is on our side,” and so on. Originally created as sharp satire 30 years ago, today it reads like MAGA-style political talking points nearly verbatim, with very little room for parody.
    “It would be great if my work became archaic,” Kruger told Obrist. “But unfortunately, that’s not the case at this point.”
    Barbara Kruger’s “Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You” is on view at the Serpentine South Gallery in London’s Kensington Gardens until March 17, 2024. 
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    Art Meets Fashion at B Dry Goods, the Little Brooklyn Gallery That Could

    The haute couture shows have just ended in Paris, following another round of men’s collection in Europe. So, while you’d be excused for feeling a little fashioned out, don’t hit pause for too long because the New York shows are less than two weeks away. As a palate cleanser, we propose a trip to the pocket-sized yet treasure-filled fashion exhibition “Fashion Forward” at B Dry Goods gallery in Brooklyn.
    Tucked away on a side street in Crown Heights, B Dry Goods feels every bit the high-end curiosity shop. Objects are hung densely and stacked high, every one of them handpicked by gallerist Gabe Boyers, who’s as generous with his boisterous laughter as he is knowledgeable about the 170 items on display, which range from rare vintage mementos to contemporary finds.
    Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dalí, telephone dial powder compact (ca. 1950s), black enamel, brass and glass, $1,500. Courtesy of B Dry Goods.
    I popped in a few days before the January 25 opening of “Fashion Forward” (through March 30) and we perused the weird and wonderful wares together. The first order of business was a telephone dial-shaped makeup compact from the 1950s, which the Italian avant-gardist Elsa Schiaparelli had actually come up with in the 1930s. “It’s based on a design by Dalí,” enthused Boyers, who said he found it in a Paris flea market some years ago (and it’s not the first one he’s sold). “They were just ‘funning’ around when she said, ‘Let’s make it!’”
    Several paper dresses caught our eye next, one bearing an outsized face of Bob Dylan and another, produced by Campbell’s Soup, that “capitalized on the Warhol craze,” said Boyers. “They called it the Warhol ‘Souper Dress,’ and it was originally folded inside of a magazine.”
    Andy Warhol, Souper Dress (ca. 1965), A-line dress made of screenprinted tissue, $4,500. Courtesy of B Dry Goods.
    Next came a group of items that belonged to Josephine Baker, including a feathery pink hat—similar to one she wore to the Battle of Versailles—as well as her infamous banana belt (ca. 1930). Baker herself wore all the items on display, confirmed Boyers, who acquired them from a Paris sale of deaccessioned items from France’s national public radio (ORTF). It is a stunning find, even if the cloth bananas now look like they saw their best shimmy long ago. 
    There is another Josephine Baker item in another display. When Karl Lagerfeld gifted a cape he’d designed to André Leon Talley, the Vogue editor and quippy fashion juggernaut, he included a portfolio of original fashion illustrations by the French poster artist Paul Colin. Some of those images, which were published unbound in 1930, depict a young, fresh-faced Baker—whose journey from a small Missouri town to the center of the Paris beau monde was the source of immense fascination for Talley. “It’s pretty rare to find a complete set of these pictures,” said Boyers, “made extra special because of the Lagerfeld provenance.”
    Trunk belonging to Marie Antoinette, oak and cyprus, studded leather and hammered metal, $200,000. Courtesy of B Dry Goods.
    The centerpiece of the show—literally in the center, stopping us in our tracks—is a large trunk owned by Marie Antoinette, so battered that it looked as if it had been buried under the sea for centuries. “This was used to transport Marie Antoinette’s famous gowns and finery from palace to palace,” explained Boyers. “Versailles had a trunk-maker on site, as one does.” As such, they were not “fine things” meant to be kept, like furniture, so they were typically destroyed after trips in horse-drawn carriages on unpaved roads rendered them unusable—which makes the existence of this one all the rarer. “I’m sure she had hundreds at one time, but Versailles only has three of them left,” offered Boyers, who said his sample most recently belonged to a well-known designer who probably had an inkling of what it was. After all, the trunk reads “Garde-robe de la Reine” across the top, or “Wardrobe of the Queen.” 
    The asking price for the trunk is $200,000. “That’s the price we put on it based on recent rare trunk sales,” said Boyers. “There were sales happening at Christie’s of Supreme Louis Vuitton where trunks were going for $280,000, and Marie is very hot right now as the goddess of fashion.” The highest price in the show, however, goes to a collection of 119 drawings by Hubert de Givenchy, costume designs for the Bolshoi Ballet’s production of Giselle in 1997. “They were gifted to his coordinator in New York, but we can only show a handful of them as they are so delicate.” Given their fragility, this archive is selling for $250,000.
    Left: David Hockney’s silk red bowtie, $8,500. Right: Sonia Delaunay fabric printing mold (ca. 1924), $6,000. Courtesy of B Dry Goods.
    Mixed among the bigger-ticket objects are smaller, more moderately priced pieces, too: a necktie worn by David Hockney; a Sonia Delaunay fabric printing mold (ca. 1924) containing remnants of pigment; two Nike quilts by Amy Rauner—former footwear designer at Converse—celebrating the Air Force 1 shoe; a T-shirt screenprinted by Andy Warhol with the likeness of Keith Haring (ca. 1986); a metal couture belt attributed to Paco Rabanne in 1970; a magazine photo of a model wearing an Oleg Cassini outfit with a handwritten message from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, telling the designer she wanted one (“A great wool dress—would love this”); and a bronze Roman belt buckle dating back to 100 C.E., more or less.
    Patrice Yourdon’s ‘bralette’ (2022) with stainless steel screws, $3,900. Courtesy of B Dry Goods.
    Contemporary fashion makes an appearance, too. The most eye-popping is a “bralette” made out of thousands of metal screws by New York-based artist Patrice Yourdon, whom Boyers discovered on Instagram years ago. “That would send quite a message on a first date,” he cracked. Elsewhere, Boyers included the paper disc dresses of artist Karina Sharif, also found on Instagram. “They might be difficult to wear on a rainy day like today, but perfect for laying around on a chaise.” Then there’s the “Big Hat Energy wall,” which is how Boyers describes a cluster of paintings by local artist Paul Gagner showing an exaggeratedly long cowboy hat.
    Left: Paul Gagner, Big Hat Energy (2022), $3,500. Right: Paul Gagner, The Wig Shop (2022), $3,000. Courtesy of B Dry Goods.
    Part of Boyers’s job, as he sees it, is to save archives from the dustbin of history. He once got a call from a picker—the people allowed to enter forgotten storage lockers for non-payment—who had opened a locker in Chicago and “not only found a piano, but a trunk full of musical manuscripts that turned out to be incredibly rare jazz manuscripts by Charlie Parker. If that guy hadn’t been there, they would have been lost.” Boyers and his team saved the musical treasures, which ended up with a “wonderful” collector, then surfaced again after his death. Which is to say, they wound up in the collection of Charlie Watts, drummer of the Rolling Stones and one of the great jazz collectors of all time. “Not to toot my own horn,” tooted Boyers, “but about 70 percent of the things in the Charlie Watts auction at Christie’s came from me.”
    “My biggest fantasy,” said Boyers, “is that people will buy these things and actually wear them.” The gallerist said he himself owns and uses two soup cups and soup spoons belonging to Anna May Wong. “It’s so much fun. There’s nothing very special about them except that they belonged to her—but it’s a vibe. And, you know, you could easily wear Paul Newman’s trench coat or Frank Zappa’s leather jacket covered in pins. You’d be wearing a piece of history.”
    “Fashion Forward” at B Dry Goods, 679 Franklin Avenue, Crown Heights, Brooklyn, January 25–March 30, 2024
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    Art Deco Star Tamara de Lempicka Is Finally Getting Her First Major U.S. Retrospective

    For a trailblazing female artist and Art Deco star, beloved by celebrity collectors from Madonna to Barbra Streisand, Tamara de Lempicka has surprisingly not yet recieved a major retrospective in the United States. That is, until now. 
    This fall, the de Young Museum in San Francisco will open the first retrospective in North America to spotlight the creative life of the Polish artist. “Tamara de Lempicka” will bring together her ultramodern masterpieces (the Centre Pompidou, for one, is loaning its entire Lempicka collection), while exploring her lesser-seen design process and the complexities of her biography. Following its run in San Francisco, the show will travel to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston in the spring of 2025.
    “The primary goal is to provide a more three-dimensional understanding of Lempicka,” Furio Rinaldi, the show’s co-curator, told me over the phone. “We wanted to provide a unified portrait of this incredible artist in a more complex and layered way—and not just as a poster girl for Art Deco.” 
    Tamara de Lempicka, Jeune fille dessinant (ca. 1932). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Lisa Sardegna and David Carrillo, Phoebe Cowles and Robert Girard, and Achenbach Foundation for the Graphic Arts Endowment Fund, 2022.10. © 2023 Tamara de Lempicka Estate, LLC / ADAGP, Paris / ARS, NY.
    The seed for the exhibition emerged three years ago, when the de Young Museum acquired a rare Lempicka drawing from 1932. A graphite sketch, it is a finely shaded portrait of Lempicka’s daughter Kizette that bears out the artist’s accomplished draftsmanship. For Rinaldi, it further offers a glimpse into her creative process, an aspect of that isn’t immediately apparent when viewing Lempicka’s polished, highly pictorial paintings. 
    “Drawing is the way she fine-tuned the figurative aspects of her compositions,” he said. “She always started everything on paper or by drawing directly on the canvas. It is essential to understanding her linear aesthetic.” 
    The show will be organized chronologically to capture the various identities that accompanied Lempicka’s evolution as a painter. On the surface are her names: when she first emerged in the Paris salons in the 1920s, the artist signed her works Łempitzky, using the male delineation of her (or really, her then-husband’s) last name. Her 1925 solo exhibition in Milan saw her switch to the moniker Lempitzka, revealing her female identity for the first time. 
    In 1933, when Lempicka wed Baron Kuffner, she took on the title of Baroness Kuffner. As Rinaldi pointed out, the artist’s thicket of collected names would bewilder even her close friend Françoise Gilot, who once recollected how Lempicka would confusingly call on her as Tamara one day and as the Baroness on another.  
    These were hardly Lempicka’s efforts to conceal her gender or self, but more so, reveal how she was comfortable in fluidity. She seduced and loved both men and women; she never stuck in one place for long, moving from Paris to New York City to Mexico. As she once declared: “I live life in the margins of society, and the rules of normal society don’t apply to those who live on the fringe.”
    Tamara de Lempicka, Saint-Moritz (1929). Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Orléans, Gift of the artist, 1976, inv. 76. 121. © 2023 Tamara de Lempicka Estate, LLC / ADAGP, Paris / ARS, NY.
    Lempicka’s many facets will inform the retrospective’s various chapters. “Russian Heritage” delves into the artist’s roots, while “Mannerism to Modernism” explores how the works of Old Masters and Renaissance painters animated her style. Her name-making paintings such as Young Woman in Green (1927–30) and Portrait of Ira P. (1930) are gathered in segments dedicated to “Society Portraits” and “the New Woman,” which also draw out Lempicka’s muses. 
    “Painting of female nudes has a long tradition of in art history,” Rinaldi said of Lempicka’s portraits of women. “But it rarely was depicted in such a powerful way by a woman. The paintings were done for Lempicka’s pleasure, from a woman’s point of view.” 
    Finally, a section called “Tamara in America” surveys her latter-day career. Lempicka moved to the U.S. in 1939, where, after World War II, her figurative style felt out of time and taste. She would venture into still lifes and abstraction, but after a disappointing showing at Iolas Gallery in New York in 1961, she never exhibited in public again. 
    Still, a century since she announced herself at the Milan show, Lempicka remains a potent figure. The de Young retrospective joins a forthcoming musical and documentary celebrating her richly layered life, just as the artist continues to hold sway at auction (her 1932 portrait of Marjorie Ferry set a record when it sold for $21.1 million in 2020) and in pop culture (Madonna’s current Celebration tour pays tribute to Lempicka throughout). It’s an enduring legacy befitting a woman who crafted herself in her own image.
    “Lempicka was not the daughter of a famous artist. She was not the companion, lover, or wife of a famous artist. She never really recognized anyone as her teacher,” said Rinaldi. “She really saw herself as a work of art and her paintings are an expression of her life and her self.” 
    “Tamara de Lempicka” is on view at the de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, from October 12, 2024 through February 9, 2025. 
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    Barcelona’s Casa Batlló Gets Lit With Sofia Crespo’s A.I.-Generated Projections. See It Here

    Over the weekend, January 27 and 28, Casa Batlló in Barcelona was transformed with light, color, and motion. About 95,000 visitors turned up to watch the kinetic display, in which artist Sofia Crespo’s artificial intelligence-assisted scenes and textures were projected onto the Antoni Gaudí-designed monument. 
    The Lisbon-based Crespo, best known for her use of technology to explore biological structures, is the Casa Batlló’s second artist-in-residence, a role created as part of its Heritage of Tomorrow program. Just as Refik Anadol before her, Crespo was invited to create new works referencing Gaudí’s design; the first of these, titled Structures of Being, was unveiled at the live projection mapping event (other installations from Crespo’s residency are forthcoming).
    Sofia Crespo, Structures of Being (2024) at Casa Batlló. Photo: Claudia Maurino.
    Across 12 showings, Crespo’s art danced over the facade of the building. Her luminously hued organic forms—florals, coral reefs, butterflies, and other natural phenomena—rippled and morphed in tandem with music by British composer Robert M. Thomas. The images also played off Gaudi’s surreal architecture, itself inspired by the shapes of the sea and marine life. 
    “The fact that he’s using architecture as a way of connecting with the natural world,” said Crespo about the Catalan designer in a video accompanying the event. “In a way, I see a big parallel with what I’m doing.” 
    Rendering of Structures of Being by Sofia Crespo. Photo courtesy of the artist.
    The work was created by Crespo in partnership with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, which provided the artist with data on the behavior of marine currents. With this, Crespo used A.I. to generate her projection, emphasizing the “active effort of creating datasets… of training… of directing where that output goes,” she said. Thomas’s score, too, was an algorithmically generated piece that was performed by local performers.  
    “We wanted to have this sound that illustrates Gaudí’s transitions,” Crespo explained. “There’s a big part of Gaudí’s work that is largely alive because it’s constantly being interpreted by people and literally being built right now. We wanted to tell that story.” 
    See more images from the event below. 
    Sofia Crespo, Structures of Being (2024) at Casa Batlló. Photo: Claudia Maurino.
    Sofia Crespo, Structures of Being (2024) at Casa Batlló. Photo: Claudia Maurino.
    Sofia Crespo, Structures of Being (2024) at Casa Batlló. Photo: Claudia Maurino.
    Sofia Crespo, Structures of Being (2024) at Casa Batlló. Photo: Claudia Maurino.
    Sofia Crespo, Structures of Being (2024) at Casa Batlló. Photo: Claudia Maurino.
    Sofia Crespo, Structures of Being (2024) at Casa Batlló. Photo: Claudia Maurino.
    Sofia Crespo, Structures of Being (2024) at Casa Batlló. Photo: Claudia Maurino.
    Sofia Crespo, Structures of Being (2024) at Casa Batlló. Photo: Claudia Maurino.
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