More stories

  • in

    How the Spiraling Installations in Yayoi Kusama’s New Berlin Retrospective Hold Up a Mirror to Our Anxious and Repetitive Modern Lives

    There are only a handful of living artists as well known as Yayoi Kusama. The 92-year-old’s colorful hair and stern gaze in photos is as recognizable as her mirrored funhouses and spot-covered installations, which have made her one of the most in-demand artists in the world.
    But a major new retrospective at Gropius Bau in Berlin looks beyond that span of famous work. “A Bouquet of Love I Saw in the Universe,” which opened today (but will temporarily close again due to a new lockdown), has recreated eight exhibitions that mark less-recognized turning points in the Japanese artist’s career.
    The indexical approach sheds light on the enduring complexities that hide in plain sight in Kusama’s obsessively painted and warping world. Though pleasurable for all the senses, a plunge into Kusama’s work offers little reprieve from the anxieties and shifting realities outside. Each decade of her oeuvre is packed with frantic energy and emotion. Boundaries are crossed, one’s psychological stamina is tested. There is a sort of endlessness to each installation that creates a frenzy of seeing as chaotic and constant as a TikTok feed.
    Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirror Room — Love Forever (1966/94). Courtesy: Ota Fine Arts.
    The exhibition spans Kusama’s 70-year career, starting chronologically with her childhood in Matsumoto, Japan, where she had her first shows. Earlier pieces, many from the artist’s own collection, ring with a similar intensity to later works, but young Kusama was more somber. A lonely pair of trees is swallowed up by an ominous landscape in the 1950 painting Accumulation of the Corpses (Prisoner of Depersonalization).
    Revelations about abusive episodes from her childhood filter in a restaged version of her 1963 show “Aggregation: One Thousand Boats,” which was originally held at the Gertrude Stein Gallery in New York. The row boat, dressed up with Kusama’s signature stuffed phalli, touches on the artist’s self-described “fear of sex” that resulted from watching her father’s affairs at the behest of her mother. It is a disturbing story that importantly complicates the crazed landscapes of bulging sculptures that appear in the following rooms.
    There was a frenzy of touch in her 1960s and ’70s happenings, and her recreated exhibition “Love Room,” originally shown in The Hague in 1967, exemplifies Kusama’s utopian visions of blending boundaries between herself, others, nature, and the universe. She paints dots on naked visitors who move around the room in a recording from the opening.
    “I felt as if I had begun to self-obliterate, to revolve in the infinity of endless time and the absoluteness of space, and be reduced to nothingness,” Kusama once said.
    “Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective,” installation view, 2021, Gropius Bau. Photo: Luca Girardini.
    On the wave of that 1970s mood, the artist returned home to Japan but found the hippie revolution would not rise up there in quite the same way. Gropius Bau has presented pieces made in Japan from Kusama’s 1977 collaged paintings of horrific wartime photos from Vietnam and World War II. That same year, Kusama committed herself to a psychiatric facility, where she still lives and works today.
    Of course, there’s a healthy dose of early and late Infinity rooms, the ultimate Kusama crowd-pleasers that, thanks to good curating, are given an intellectual rigor here. The artist’s first room, from her show “Peep Show or Endless Love,” in New York in 1966, features two small boxy “holes” that you can stick your head into, while someone else pushes their own face through another hole across the way. Together, socially distanced at the Gropius Bau, you can stare at each other, and into a never-ending optical illusion at the exact same time.
    It struck me all as a bit of a pharmakon. While Kusama offers a dazzling escape from mundanity, the feelings of the world are turned on and tuned up when you step side it. Decades later, the artist still seems to know our own vices better than we do.
    “Yayoi Kusama: A Bouquet of Love I Saw in the Universe” is on view at the Gropius Bau, Niederkirchnerstraße 7, Berlin, April 23–August 15.
    Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective, Installation view, 2021, Gropius Bau Photo: Luca Girardini
    “Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective,” installation view, 2021, Gropius Bau. Photo: Luca Girardini.
    “Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective,” installation view, 2021, Gropius Bau. Photo: Luca Girardini.
    “Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective,” installation view, 2021, Gropius Bau. Photo: Luca Girardini.
    “Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective,” installation view, 2021, Gropius Bau. Photo: Luca Girardini.
    Yayoi Kusama, The End of Summer (1980). Courtesy: Sammlung Goetz, Munich.
    “Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective,” installation view, 2021, Gropius Bau. Photo: Luca Girardini.
    “Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective,” installation view, 2021, Gropius Bau. Photo: Luca Girardini.
    “Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective,” installation view, 2021, Gropius Bau. Photo: Luca Girardini.
    Follow Artnet News on Facebook: Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward. More

  • in

    After Initially Declining to Participate, David Hammons Unexpectedly Added Never-Before-Seen Works to His Drawing Center Show

    David Hammons has made a surprise intervention in a show of the artist’s influential “Body Prints” series at the Drawing Center. 
    More than two months into the show’s run, the artist has added six never-before-seen prints from his personal collection—including one made this year of a dark, spectral figure that appears to be wearing a mask. (The addition happens to make a misnomer of the show’s title, “Body Prints, 1968–1979.”)
    David Hammons, Untitled (2021). Courtesy of the artist.
    Drawing Center director Laura Hoptman had organized the show without Hammons’s participation, or what she called the artist’s “benign neglect” in the introductory essay to the exhibition catalogue. So it came as a surprise when she received a call from Hammons a few weeks ago with a plan to send more art.
    But then again, it wasn’t that surprising. “This is what he does,” Hoptman tells Artnet News, explaining that while Hammons rarely participates in the process of putting together shows of his older work, he will often put his stamp on them after the fact. (At every stop in her career, including stints at MoMA, the Carnegie Museum, and the New Museum, Hoptman has proposed solo shows to the artist, and each time he has declined.)
    Installation view of “David Hammons: Body Prints, 1968–1979,” at the Drawing Center, 2021. Courtesy of the Drawing Center.
    Hoptman describes the gesture as an “intervention,” but that’s not Hammons’s own term. “I think we lack the language for what this is,” Hoptman says. And when asked if she had any insight into the intentions of the famously elusive artist—whether he intended the move as a playful rejoinder to curatorial decisions, or a correction, perhaps—she simply laughed and said “No!”
    Considered to be among the most important works of his career, Hammons began his series of “Body Prints” in the late ‘60s by greasing himself up with margarine or baby oil, pressing himself against a piece of paper or other material, and then spreading charcoal or powdered pigment on the imprint. What emerged was a powerful index of the Black body—sometimes sensual, sometimes trapped.
    David Hammons, Untitled (1976). Courtesy of the artist.
    Whereas other artists had applied paint to their bodies in the past, Hammons’s more visceral technique was all his own. “It was a formidable innovation,” New York Times critic Will Heinrich wrote recently. “Instead of the vague, if graphic, smudges a painted body would produce, these soft-edged, X-ray-like images caught every last detail. They look less like ordinary artworks than like the Shroud of Turin.”
    Until this month, Hoptman and her team believed that Hammons hadn’t made any “Body Prints” since the end of the ’70s. That he had continued the work, and was willing to show it, proved to be more of a revelation than the “intervention” itself. 
    “I think it’s an exquisite and moving reminder of the fact that his genius is still alive,” says Hoptman, who has on many occasions referred to Hammons as “the greatest living artist in the United States.”
    “I don’t see it as a revision of his history, but rather an assertion of the artist’s voice in the making of that history,” she said. “I think that’s something that Hammons has always stood for and that, as a curator, I deeply respect.” 
    Follow Artnet News on Facebook: Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward. More

  • in

    The Guggenheim’s New Show of All-Star Photoconceptualists Questions Official Records and How We Depict the Past

    “Fake news” will be a tempting aperture through which to approach “Off the Record,” a new group show at the Guggenheim that looks at the ways in which artists consider, critique, or otherwise manipulate “official” documents of history and state power. 
    It wouldn’t necessarily be wrong to take that tack. But it’s not what was on curator Ashley James’s mind as she organized the show—her first since becoming the museum’s first full-time Black curator in 2019.
    “I’m less interested in speaking to the specificities of our contemporary historical moment than in thinking about a certain position in relationship to history as such,” she tells Artnet News over the phone. She pauses as construction noises from the show’s installation clang behind her.
    “It’s about a point of view,” she continues as the din dies down. “It’s about a kind of posture toward history and documentation that is something that’s applicable to the past, to the present, and to the future. It’s more about a methodology.”
    Sara Cwynar, Encyclopedia Grid (Bananas) (2014). Courtesy of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
    Heavy on photoconceptualism, “Off the Record” comprises some 25 works—all but one of which were pulled from the museum’s own collection—from artists including Sadie Barnette, Sarah Charlesworth, Hank Willis Thomas, and Adrian Piper. It’s a group that represents a wide swath of generations, interests, and artistic practices. What unites them here, explains James, is a shared “skepticism of received history.”  
    But how that sense of skepticism manifests in the work varies with each artist. For Sara Cwynar, represented in the exhibition by three pieces from her 2014 Encyclopedia Grid series, it’s an intellectual exercise. Taking a cue from the John Berger classic Ways of Seeing, the artist has culled various pictures of the same subject (bananas, Brigitte Bardot, the Acropolis) from multiple encyclopedias and rephotographed them—a process that shows us, without judgment, the representational quirks and biases of the supposedly objective resources. 
    Sadie Barnette, My Father’s FBI File; Government Employees Installation (2017). Courtesy of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
    Lisa Oppenheim, meanwhile, sees creative potential in the document’s deficiency. For a 2007 photo series, the artist reimagined details redacted from a group of Walker Evans’s Great Depression-era negatives, which were hole-punched to prevent publication. Oppenheim’s own small circular photographs, paired next to Evans’s originals, read as a kind of revisionist history—albeit one that is just as flawed as its source material.
    Other examples are more charged, such as prints from Carrie Mae Weems’s iconic 1995-96 series “From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried,” in which the artist appropriates ethnographic photos of enslaved people to show how photography was used to reinforce racial inequality. Each is paired with a pointed phrase: “DESCENDING THE THRONE YOU BECAME FOOT SOLDIER & COOK,” reads one.
    Hank Willis Thomas, Something To Believe In (1984/2007). © Hank Willis ThomasPhotography. Courtesy of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
    Like these examples, almost all of the artists in the exhibition draw on material from generations past. But that’s not to say that the show doesn’t have something to say about the contemporary moment, James points out—even if its message has little to do with the Trump era specifically. 
    Best exemplifying this is the one work in the show that doesn’t belong to the museum’s collection: a 2020 wall-hung assemblage by Tomashi Jackson, in which an archival print of President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act is overlaid with paint and campaign materials for a 2018 gubernatorial race. 
    It’s a piece that literally fuses the past with the present, the “official” with the unofficial. And it alludes to another theme that ties together the various pieces in the show: “power,” says the curator, ”whether that power is because of the institution itself or power in a narrative that has been received in a certain way over time.” 
    Follow Artnet News on Facebook: Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward. More

  • in

    Dia Chelsea’s Deft Expansion May Start a New Trend in the World of Museum Renovations: Subtlety

    For major museums and galleries, a renovation is a statement. The announcements usually look the same: X starchitect will lead Y’s redesign that cost Z millions of dollars. Z is always a big number.
    But the Dia Art Foundation has opted to tweak the traditional formula—instead of going big, it has opted to go subtle. The Minimalism-focused organization opens its renovated 20,000-square-foot home in West Chelsea, New York, on Friday after a two-year renovation.
    In 2018, when Dia first announced a fundraising campaign to upgrade its campuses, including a redesign of its three contiguous industrial buildings in Chelsea, it said the goal was to raise $90 million. That’s a big number, to be sure. But only $20 million—an uncharacteristically small figure for such a prominent project—was put toward the renovation in Chelsea. The rest was put back into the organization’s endowment for future use. (Money from the fund will also be used for the construction of Dia’s new 2,500-square-foot exhibition space in Soho starting next year.)
    The restraint and foresight to squirrel away money for safekeeping looks even more canny today, two years and one pandemic-induced financial crisis later. It also expresses the ethos of the redesign, which is about preserving what you have. 
    Dia Chelsea, New York. Photo: Elizabeth Felicella. Courtesy of Dia Art Foundation,New York.
    Led by Architecture Research Office, Dia’s industrial properties, which were in rough shape prior to construction, weren’t whitewashed in pursuit of the big, boxy aesthetics we’ve come to associate with flashy renovations. Instead, the buildings were left more or less intact. Broad wood beams span the ceilings, bisected by windows that fill the place with natural light. The walls are brick; the floors, concrete. 
    “The modesty of this was very intentional,” says Dia director Jessica Morgan, who, upon taking the director job in 2015, scrapped her predecessor’s flashier renovation plan. “These buildings are remarkable, particularly for showing art—even more so, I would argue, than some spaces that are deliberately designed that way, which often end up competing with the art that they are showing.” 
    The goal, Morgan adds, was to find a “way to do it that was practical, achievable, and that would allow us to put more money into the institution.”
    Lucy Raven, Casters X-2 + X-3 (2021), installation view, Dia Chelsea, New York City. © Lucy Raven. Photo: Bill Jacobson Studio, New York. Courtesy of Dia ArtFoundation, New York.
    A suite of newly commissioned works by American artist Lucy Raven, on view through January of next year, inaugurates the new galleries. Dia’s first room is illuminated by two wall-mounted spotlights, which the artist calls Casters. Attached to moving armatures—a technology that was invented for war before being appropriated by big-budget filmmakers—each one projects a beam of light that roves around the space as if simultaneously searching for an escaped convict and promoting a Hollywood premiere. 
    Sitting in the second gallery, meanwhile, is a massive movie screen, recalling those found in drive-in theaters. This one plays Raven’s slick new black-and-white film Ready Mix, which depicts the process by which minerals become concrete. It was shot with an anamorphic lens—another military invention adopted by the movies. 
    The artworks occupy all 20,000 square feet of street-level exhibition space, which may come as a surprise when you see just how minimal they are in their installation. But granting artworks like Raven’s the space to breathe is something Dia, which is best known for its sprawling converted Nabisco factory space in Beacon, upstate New York, has long prioritized.  
    Lucy Raven, Ready Mix (2021), installation view, Dia Chelsea, New York City. © Lucy Raven. Photo: Bill Jacobson Studio, New York. Courtesy of Dia Art Foundation,New York.
    Early on in the renovation process, Morgan turned to friends like Zoe Leonard and Roni Horn, both of whom have shown with the foundation before, for an artist’s perspective on what to do with the space. Both preferred a minimal approach that embraced the industrial vibe; anything else would be like putting lipstick on a pig—and in this case, the pig wasn’t a bad place to show art in the first place.
    “They really encouraged me to dig into what would be possible by staying here and using what we had rather than thinking about building anew,” the director explains. “Ultimately, these are galleries and we want to make sure that artists are inspired by these spaces.” 
    “It’s not about what I think is necessarily a good space,” she continues, “it’s about what artists think is a good space.” 
    Follow Artnet News on Facebook: Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward. More

  • in

    Artist Sam Durant’s Eerie Modernist Drone Will Hover Over New York as the Next High Line Plinth Commission

    An ominous but easily missable new sculpture will appear 25 feet over the High Line next month. Sam Durant’s fiberglass kinetic sculpture of a Predator drone will be more or less visible depending on the wind, time of day, and light conditions. Sometimes it will blend into the clouds altogether.
    The artist’s stripped-down drone looks like a sleekly abstract Modernist sculpture, and does not include the remote-controlled military aircraft’s cameras, weapons, or landing gear. But with a 48-foot wingspan, it is the same size as the real deal.
    “For Sam, the goal is to make visible in America the drone warfare that this country carries out against countries very far away,” Cecilia Alemani, director and chief curator of High Line Art, told the New York Times.
    The U.S. military began using Predator drones in 1995. It has used them to conduct reconnaissance and airstrikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and other countries in the decades since.
    Sam Durant, Untitled (drone), rendering. Photo courtesy of High Line Art.
    “We can pretty much say that there’s never been a just war,” Durant said in a video produced by High Line Art. “Maybe people are not aware of the drones and just how ubiquitous they are in other parts of the world.” The sculpture, which rotates like a weathervane, will be on view for 18 months,
    “Untitled (drone) is meant to animate the question about the use of drones, surveillance, and targeted killings in places far and near, and whether as a society we agree with and want to continue these practices,” Durant said in a statement.

    [embedded content]

    Durant’s work is the second commission for the High Line Plinth, a dedicated space for monumental contemporary art that was first announced in 2017 and inspired by the “Fourth Plinth” in London’s Trafalgar Square. Durant’s proposal was one of 12 finalists unveiled that year, but his selection remained under wraps until now.
    The plinth’s inaugural work, Brick House by Simone Leigh, has been on view since 2019, when the last section of the old train tracks that make up the High Line first opened. (Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced a two-pronged expansion of the elevated park.)
    Leigh has since been tapped to represent the U.S. at the Venice Biennale in 2022, for which Alemani is director of the international exhibition.
    Simone Leigh, Brick House at the Spur, the last section of the original structure of the High Line to be converted into public space in New York. Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.
    Last summer, the High Line offered the public a chance to weigh in on 80 proposals for the third and fourth plinth commissions, set to appear in 2022 and 2024. The 12 artists still in the running include Iván Argote, Nick Cave, and Teresita Fernández.
    Untitled (drone) is Durant’s first major public sculpture since a controversy erupted after Minneapolis’s Walker Art Center acquired his piece Scaffold (2012) in 2017. The work, which had been exhibited without issue at Documenta in Germany, served as a critique of capital punishment in the U.S. The sculpture was a composite of the gallows used in six high-profile executions, including the largest in the nation’s history, of 38 Dakota men, in Mankato, Minnesota.
    Sam Durant, Scaffold. Courtesy of Sarah Cascone.
    The tribe, which was not consulted ahead of the work’s acquisition, objected to the display and Durant ultimately handed the sculpture over to the tribe to be buried.
    “Having my work seen by the Dakota community, whose struggle with historical injustice it was meant to support, as an attack on them was deeply painful,” Durant told the Times. “They wanted to perform a ritual healing process and that was, in my eyes, the most appropriate way to continue with the work.
    Follow Artnet News on Facebook: Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward. More

  • in

    The Late Artist Matthew Wong Made an Ink Drawing Every Morning. For the First Time, Two Dozen Will Go on View in New York

    Next month, two dozen never-before-exhibited ink drawings by the late painter Matthew Wong will debut at Cheim & Read in New York. 
    The graphic, black-and-white drawings represent just a small sampling of such works the artist left behind when he died by suicide in 2019 at the age of 35.
    ARTnews, the first outlet to report the upcoming show, points out that, for years, Wong would make an ink illustration every morning after waking up. “The only thing that takes place at the same time every day is when I get out of bed, I have to do an ink drawing before doing anything else, such as brushing my teeth or eating,” the artist said in an early interview with the blog Studio Critical.
    Matthew Wong, Winter Wind (2016). ©2021 Matthew Wong Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Alex Yudzon / Cheim & Read, New York.
    “Footprints in the Wind, Ink Drawings 2013–2017,” as the show is called, comes via a collaboration between the gallery and the newly created Matthew Wong Foundation, run by Wong’s parents. (The foundation, which is still in its early stages, will determine what to do with the 1,000 works Wong left behind.)
    It’s set to open May 5 at Cheim & Read’s old building in Chelsea—the first time the dealers John Cheim and Howard Read have used the space for a public exhibition since decamping to the Upper East Side in 2018. A representative from the gallery declined to share the price range of the works, but did mention that “several of them have been earmarked for museum acquisitions only.”
    You can expect collectors to make the trip. The market for Wong’s work has been rapacious in the wake of his death: Since June of 2020, 11 of the artists’ paintings have fetched over $1 million at auction, with each exceeding their pre-sale estimate by at least 100 percent, according to Artnet’s Price Database.  
    Matthew Wong, The Watcher (2017). ©2021 Matthew Wong Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Alex Yudzon / Cheim & Read, New York.
    The influence of Chinese landscape painting looms large in Wong’s ink-on-rice-paper illustrations, but a darkness—literal and metaphoric—undercuts the sense of sublimity you’d expect from such work. Mysterious figures and looming specters appear throughout.
    In a statement to Artnet News, Cheim, one of the artist’s earliest supporters in the New York art world, compared his drawings to “Kusama, Van Gogh, Munch, and the early ink drawings of Louise Bourgeois. It is as if you can feel the particles in the air. The space between the interior and the exterior dissolves—a kind of psychological pantheism presents itself.”
    Sometime in 2014, the dealer met Wong over Facebook, a platform on which the artist often engaged in public discussions about art. The next year, Wong and his mother Monita visited Cheim in New York with a tube of large black ink drawings in tow. “Matthew was a striking presence—tall, handsome, a shock of black hair and large black eyeglasses, all carefully considered,” the dealer recalled. 
    “I found the ink drawings to be singular, intense,” Cheim added. He reportedly purchased one at the time and maintained a close relationship with the artist thereafter.
    Follow Artnet News on Facebook: Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward. More

  • in

    Saudi Arabia Refused to Lend the ‘Salvator Mundi’ to the Louvre Because It Wouldn’t Be Shown Next to the ‘Mona Lisa,’ a Report Says

    The plot thickens around the Salvator Mundi, the world’s most expensive painting, and the mystery of why the Louvre didn’t include it in its blockbuster 2019 Leonardo da Vinci exhibition.
    A new documentary film, The Savior for Sale, which premieres tomorrow night on French television, claims that according to anonymous French officials, the museum refused to acquiesce to Saudi Arabian demands that the work be displayed as an autograph Leonardo after scientific testing determined that the artist merely contributed to the painting.
    But a New York Times story now contradicts that claim. According to a Louvre report obtained by the Times, the museum didn’t doubt the work’s authenticity. The real issue is that Saudi officials demanded it be shown next to the Mona Lisa, which curators refused to allow.
    “In general, the museum world, and the specialist art historians and curators in it, never really had any doubts about the painting’s authenticity,” dealer Robert Simon, who played a key role in the rediscovery of the work after it turned up at an estate sale in 2005, told Artnet News in an email.
    Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi (ca. 1500). Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd.
    “There have been a couple of outliers, of course, but most scholarly discussion has had to do with the date, patron, iconography, and workshop participation, if any,” he added.
    The newly leaked report—from a planned Salvator Mundi book pulled from the Louvre’s gift shops when plans to exhibit the work fell through—would have confirmed the painting as an authentic Leonardo. The Center for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France is said to have made that determination on the strength of a weeks-long forensic examination using fluorescent X-rays, infrared scans, and high-resolution microscopes in 2018.
    State of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi before restoration. Image courtesy Christie’s.
    “The results of the historical and scientific study presented in this publication allow us to confirm the attribution of the work to Leonardo da Vinci,” Jean-Luc Martinez, the Louvre’s president, wrote in the introduction.
    The cancelled publication also identified the Saudi Culture Ministry as the painting’s owner. The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, is widely understood to have purchased the work at Christie’s New York for a record-setting $450 million on 2017.
    The Louvre pulled its book on Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi. Photo courtesy of the Louvre.
    But a power struggle developed because the Louvre didn’t think it was a good idea to exhibit the painting next to the Mona Lisa. The Louve’s most famous painting was to remain on view apart from the rest of the Leonardo exhibition, in order to accommodate its regular crowds. What’s more, adding another major work to the gallery would have presented too big of a security challenge.
    The Saudis ultimately withheld the painting, and the Louvre withheld its evaluation, which caused a storm of doubt about the work.
    (A planned appearance at the Louvre Abu Dhabi was also cancelled, and the painting—not seen publicly since its sale—has been rumored to be aboard the prince’s yacht, the Serene.)
    Antoine Vitkine’s The Savior for Sale will debut on French television on April 13. Image ©Zadig productions/FTV.
    But Antoine Vitkine, the director of the new film, stands by his version of events, suggesting to La Tribune del’ Art that the book was produced as a contingency plan in case the government agreed to bow to Saudi demands that the painting be shown as authentic.
    The museum has declined to comment on the issue.
    “It is, of course, unfortunate that the painting was pulled from the Louvre exhibition, but that does not reflect poorly on the painting,” Simon said. “In fact, it probably just adds to the painting’s celebrity and allure, and will only generate more interest in it when it is eventually shown, wherever and whenever that might be.”
    Follow Artnet News on Facebook: Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward. More

  • in

    For Its Major Post-Pandemic Triennial, the New Museum Has Invited 40 Rising Artists to Explore the Theme of Persistence

    The 2021 New Museum triennial—the fifth iteration of its signature exhibition of emerging artists—has been in the works since long before the pandemic. But its overarching theme, of tenacity in the face of hardship, will likely feel more relevant than ever when the show opens this fall, well over a year into the pandemic.
    The museum announced today that the exhibition, co-organized by Margot Norton, a curator at the New Museum, and Jamillah James, senior curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, is titled “Soft Water Hard Stone.” The name comes from a Brazilian proverb: Água mole em pedra dura, tanto bate até que fura (“Soft water on hard stone hits until it bores a hole”).
    For the curators, it’s a metaphor for persistence: Even the most inexorable of materials change with time and energy. 
    The 40 artists included in the show—a group that represents five continents and nearly all media—the proverb can, occasionally, be read more literally. The transfiguration of discordant materials and ideas will constitute a prominent theme in the exhibition, as will the use of outmoded models and artistic traditions.
    “Their works exalt states of transformation, calling attention to the malleability of structures, porous and unstable surfaces, and the fluid and adaptable potential of both technological and organic media,” a statement on the triennial reads. 
    Ambera Wellmann, UnTurning (2019). Courtesy of the artist and KTZ gallery, Berlin.
    Though all of the artists were born after 1975, the curators say they didn’t look to birth dates for their definition of “emerging artists.”
    “We decided that, instead of age, our parameter would be based on exposure,” James tells Artnet News, “so that artists we invited that had not yet had a major solo exhibition in a U.S. museum.” 
    Norton and James began research for the Triennial in the summer 2018, logging nearly two year’s worth of travel and in-person studio visits before the pandemic necessitated some improvisation. “When we scheduled our travel, we were interested in visiting locations where it made a difference to be there physically, and in areas where artists are often underrepresented in international exhibitions,” James says, pointing to places such as North Africa, South Asia, and Eastern Europe.
    Since then, the curators have “become quite accustomed to the Zoom studio visit, to say the least.” Norton says. “While there is a huge disadvantage to not seeing work in person, we actually found it to be quite efficient to continue our research remotely, particularly as we honed in on the show’s theme, and for the artists whose works we have had the opportunity to see in person prior.” 
    Brandon Ndife, Modern Dilemma (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Bureau, New York.
    “Soft Water Hard Stone,” is set to run from October 27, 2021 to January 23, 2022 at the New Museum. See the full list of participating artists below.

    Haig Aivazian (b. 1980 Beirut, Lebanon; lives and works in Beirut, Lebanon)
    Evgeny Antufiev (b. 1986 Kyzyl, Russia; lives and works in Moscow, Russia)
    Alex Ayed (b. 1989 Strasbourg, France; lives and works in Brussels, Belgium, and Tunis, Tunisia)
    Nadia Belerique (b. 1982 Mississauga, Ontario, Canada; lives and works in Toronto, Canada)
    Hera Büyüktaşcıyan (b. 1984 Istanbul, Turkey; lives and works in Istanbul, Turkey) 
    Tomás Díaz Cedeño (b. 1983 Mexico City, Mexico; lives and works in Mexico City, Mexico) 
    Gabriel Chaile (b. 1985 San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina; lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal)
    Gaëlle Choisne (b. 1985 Cherbourg, France; lives and works in Paris, France)
    Krista Clark (b. 1975 Burlington, VT, United States; lives and works in Atlanta, GA, United States) 
    Kate Cooper (b. 1984, Liverpool, United Kingdom; lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands) 
    Cynthia Daignault (b. 1978 Baltimore, MD, United States; lives and works in Baltimore, MD, United States) 
    Jes Fan (b. 1990 Toronto, Canada; lives and works in New York, NY, United States and Hong Kong)
    Goutam Ghosh (b. 1979 Nabadwip, India; lives and works in Kolkata, India) 
    Harry Gould Harvey IV (b. 1991 Fall River, MA, United States; lives and works in Fall River, MA, United States) 
    Clara Ianni (b. 1987 São Paolo, Brazil; lives and works in São Paolo, Brazil)
    Kahlil Robert Irving (b. 1992 San Diego, CA, United States; lives and works in St. Louis, MO, United States) 
    Arturo Kameya (b. 1984 Lima, Peru; lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands) 
    Laurie Kang (b. 1985 Toronto, Canada; lives and works in Toronto, Canada)  
    Bronwyn Katz (b. 1993 Kimberly, South Africa; lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa) 
    Ann Greene Kelly (b. 1988 New York, NY, United States; lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, United States)
    Kang Seung Lee (b. 1978 Seoul, South Korea; lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, United States) 
    Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho (b. 1987 Dallas, TX, United States; lives and works in New York, NY, United States) and (b. 1985 Manila, Philippines; lives and works in Berlin, Germany) 
    Tanya Lukin Linklater (Alutiiq) (b. 1976 Kodiak, AK, United States; lives and works in North Bay, Ontario, Canada)
    Angelika Loderer (b. 1984 Feldbach, Austria; lives and works in Vienna, Austria)
    Sandra Mujinga (b. 1989 Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo; lives and works in Oslo, Norway and Berlin, Germany)
    Gabriela Mureb (b. 1985 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; lives and works in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
    Brandon Ndife (b. 1991 Hammond, IN, United States; lives and works in Brooklyn, NY, United States)
    Erin Jane Nelson (b. 1989 Neenah, WI, United States; lives and works in Atlanta, GA, United States) 
    Jeneen Frei Njootli (Vuntut Gwitchin) (b. 1988 Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada; lives and works in Vancouver, Canada)
    Ima-Abasi Okon (b. 1981 London, United Kingdom; lives and works in London, United Kingdom and Amsterdam, the Netherlands)
    Christina Pataialii (b. 1988 Auckland, New Zealand; lives and works in Wellington, New Zealand)
    Thao Nguyen Phan (b. 1987 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
    Nickola Pottinger (b. 1986 Kingston, Jamaica; lives and works in New York, NY, United States)
    Rose Salane (b. 1992 New York, NY, United States; lives and works in New York, NY, United States)
    Blair Saxon-Hill (b. 1979 Eugene, OR, United States; lives and works in Portland, OR, United States)
    Samara Scott (b. 1984 London, United Kingdom; lives and works in London, United Kingdom)
    Amalie Smith (b. 1985 Copenhagen, Denmark; lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark)
    Iris Touliatou (b. 1981 Athens, Greece; lives and works in Athens, Greece) 
    Ambera Wellmann (b. 1982 Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, Canada; lives and works in New York, NY, United States)
    Yu Ji (b. 1985 Shanghai, China; lives and works in Shanghai, China)

    Follow Artnet News on Facebook: Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward. More