More stories

  • in

    ‘It’s Less Scary, More Attractive:’ Artist Every Ocean Hughes on Her Unflinching Work That Gives People Another View of Death

    Many artists have made work about death, but few have been as close to their subject matter as Every Ocean Hughes. The American artist tackles the subject with humor, sensitivity, and knowledge mined from her training as a death doula. “Alive Side,” Hughes’s new exhibition at the Whitney in New York (on view through April 2), features a trilogy of video and performance works about dying. They are shown alongside a photo series dedicated to Manhattan’s redeveloped west side piers, which have themselves become a metaphor for the death, legacy, and rebirth of the neighborhood surrounding the museum.
    I first encountered Hughes in 2021, when she showed One Big Bag at Studio Voltaire in London. The second in her death trilogy, the single-channel film installation follows performer Lindsay Rico taking the role of doula and talking through her “mobile corpse kit,” with practical tools including water bowls and cotton swabs alongside more creative items such as ceremonial bells.
    Rico’s delivery is captivating, speaking beyond the mechanics of death care to its murky politics, racism within medical practice, and the lack of agency that many face at the end of their life. “I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just about a ‘good death’,” Hughes told Artnet News. “There can be so much stress and violence. I have always wanted to make sure I am keeping that in the picture.” 
    The artist decided to learn more about death care after the passing of her grandmother in 2016. She has since taken part in numerous death doula workshops, which teach students about everything from washing dead bodies to caring for the bereaved. 
    “I had some friends die when I was a kid and I always knew that I would have to take care of that at some point as an adult,” she said. “It’s the thing that has impacted me the most as a person. Then my grandmother died. She was my sister, my mother, my best friend. It was the first time I was able to be present. My mum and her friend are nurses and had also been hospice volunteers. They had the physical skills; I kind of slotted into spiritual care.”
    Every Ocean Hughes, still from One Big Bag (2021). Single channel video; 40 min. Courtesy of the artist.
    Her works stand as an encouragement to be more open to death. “It changes your life when you slow down and turn towards death,” she said. “The aim of the writing in these projects is to make it something people want to stay with. When people encounter this knowledge in a performative way, with a creative aesthetic, they are given multiple access points. It’s less scary, more attractive.”
    Help the Dead is a 60-minute 2019 performance. It’s the first in the trilogy that Hughes describes as speaking to the social side of death, where One Big Bag focuses on its material aspects. The two-person performance discusses horrors such as the unofficial “death tax” imposed in funeral homes across the United States for those dying with AIDS at the beginning of the crisis, and the fact that some bodies were buried deeper than usual for fear of contamination. The work balances painful conversation with upbeat melodies and lively performance.  
    “Especially with Help the Dead, I didn’t know which parts viewers would find funny and which they would find hopelessly sad,” she said. “Something disgustingly tragic might be a moment where someone needs to laugh. The choreography in One Big Bag is also to give some relief to the performer. She’s talking about a dead baby: what’s her body doing in that moment? She’s channeling the intensity for the viewer. It’s a very embodied, physical thing we’re talking about.”
    Both works are shown at the Whitney alongside River, a new commission which completes the trilogy, with a focus on the mythic side of death. “I say myth instead of religion, but it’s about the stories we tell,” she says. “Death is the basis of religion and culture.” The performance features a character who can pass between realms.
    “Are we talking about crossing into the underworld, like the Odyssey? Or the first time you go to a gay bar?” she said. “That’s a whole other world too. I’ve always loved that underground, underworld meeting. The character’s defining trait is their exuberance. It’s like when you first come out. Of course, there is anxiety, but you’re also excited about all this stuff you didn’t know about and how much you feel your life will change.” 
    Every Ocean Hughes, The Piers Untitled (2010-2023). Courtesy of the artist.
    Hughes’ photographic series on Manhattan’s west side piers will line the entrance to the show. She started working on the images fourteen years ago and much has changed since for communities who inhabited the area. 
    “I did not have my future gentrification glasses on when I started photographing that place,” she says. “I had been going there from the time that I moved to New York. I then understood that it was important culturally and politically. It’s unrecognisable now. My favourite set of pilings are underneath Little Island, this new development. One of the reasons they keep the pilings there is to protect the decades of polluting sediment that would be stirred up if they were removed. For this show I was thinking about dying, legacy and transitions; you can map those themes onto the gentrification of the Whitney’s neighborhood.”
    Many of Hughes’s works lead back to fear and the resulting barriers that are put up between bodies. This can be felt in her references to AIDS victims buried deep within the ground; in the pilings that hold down sediment while being crushed by new developments; and in the trepidation that many have for touching their loved ones’ dead bodies. Her work is an invitation to look at these things that are kept at arm’s length.
    “When I attended my first workshop, I knew why I was there, but I still felt shocked when she said we were going to wash the body,” she said. “I had the sense it would be toxic, that there’s something bad about the body after death. But where has that come from? Our elders and the generations before them would stay with the body. If you love somebody in life, what does it mean to wash and care for their body after death?”
    “Every Ocean Hughes: Alive Side” is on view through April 2 at the Whitney Museum of Art in New York.
    More Trending Stories:Art Industry News: Online Critics Lambast Hank Willis Thomas’s ‘Insulting’ Martin Luther King Monument + Other StoriesA 2,000-Year-Old Burial Chamber, Uncovered by Siberian Gravediggers, Reveals Clues About a Little-Known Scythian CultureA Monumental Munch Painting, Hidden From the Nazis in a Barn, Will Hit the Auction Block at Sotheby’s‘It’s Not a Dying Art Form, Only a Changing One’: Marina Abramović on the Transformative Power of OperaGerman Researchers Used Neutrons to Peek Inside an 800-Year-Old Amulet⁠—and Discovered Tiny BonesIn an Ironic Twist, an Illustrator Was Banned From a Reddit Forum for Posting Art That Looked Too Much Like an A.I.-Generated ImageHere Are the Winning Photographs From Britain’s Biggest Portrait Competition, From Boxers to Beekeepers
    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

    A New Show of Contemporary Mexican Design Explores the Explosive Scene on Its Own Terms

    Mexican art, architecture, and design have long garnered attention, more so in recent years as the country’s capital has emerged as a cultural agora for Latin America, if not the wider world. The renewed interest, however, has the potential to bring with it certain stereotypes. For many, Mexican design consists of thick woven tapestries, bright geometric patterns, and the use of natural fibers like rattan—items we might expect to find in a touristy market.
    With the “Everything Here Is Volcanic” show, running January 12 to February 18 at New York gallery Friedman Benda, curator Mario Ballesteros has set out to challenge those cliches. He’s borrowed the metaphor of volcanoes from Swiss architect Hannes Meyer’s observations of Mexico’s eruptive creative scene in the 1940s to reveal that such categorical thinking does little to encompass the full scope of its contemporary output. Residing in Mexico City for over a decade, Meyer (formerly the director of Bauhaus Dessau) aimed to counteract how certain forces overlook undefinable talents to maintain easily packaged images.
    Tezontle, Vernacular Kitchen (2022). Copper, volcanic rock, concrete. Photo: Lucas Cantu, courtesy of Friedman Benda and Tezontle.
    “There is something about Mexico that makes it impossible to categorize neatly,” Ballesteros told Artnet News. “The show is a small attempt to contain this flowing, vibrant, chaotic energy that transcends professional or typological concerns. Are these works by artists or designers? Is this furniture or sculpture? Are these objects speaking to the past, to the present, or the future? Where do they all meet? Where do they all point to?” 
    Andrés Souto, cHaRcO Lamp (2022). Courtesy of Friedman Benda and Pedro Reyes.
    In the exhibition, while art and architecture studio Tezontle reinterprets a suite of age-old cooking devices using volcanic rock in Vernacular Kitchen, fashion designer and artist Bárbara Sánchez Kane crafts her Body fillers and plastified diet (2022) bucket seats out of leather and pinewood. Pedro Reyes’s organicist Volcanic Table is literally made out of hardened lava. Amorphous figurines abound in Tony Mascarena and Ángela Esteban’s ceramics. In keeping with the rebellious theme of the exhibition, Andrés Souto’s cHaRcO Lamp riffs on Italian architect and designer Achille Castiglioni‘s iconic Arco luminaire.
    Bárbara Sánchez-Kane, Body fillers and plastified diet (2022). Photo: Daniel Kukla, courtesy of Friedman Benda and Bárbara Sánchez-Kane.
    Other noted exhibitors include renowned architect Frida Escobedo; rising talent Fernando Laposse; sculptor Lorena Ancona; ceramicist Alejandro García; fashion polymath Víctor Barragán; and young artists Allan Villavicencio, Tony Macarena, and Wendy Cabrera Rubio.
    Frida Escobedo, Creek Chair (2022). Photo: Studio C129, courtesy of Friedman Benda and Frida Escobedo.
    What curator Mario Ballesteros is demonstrating is that there is as much sophisticated conceptual ideations, material transmutation, and personal expression enacted through various creative disciplines in Mexico as there is in the United States and Europe, not that those scenes should be the rock against which all else is measured.
    Fernando Laposse, Feliz Navidad (2022). Cactus wood and thorns, stained beech wood, 3D printed eco-resin, patinated steel. Courtesy of Friedman Benda and Fernando Laposse.
    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

    8 Essential Shows to See Around the World in 2023, From a Fresh Look at Alexander McQueen’s Genius to the Louvre’s Treasures of Love

    There’s more art to see beyond the United States and Europe, and we’ve rounded up some of the most exciting shows debuting in the new year. From a spotlight on female designers to a survey of the Belle Epoque in South Korea, here’s what we have our eye on around the world in 2023.

    “Undercurrent: The New Future of Japanese Contemporary Art”Powerlong Art Museum, Shanghaithrough January 29, 2023
    Courtesy of the Powerlong Art Museum.
    Described as “a concentrated display of the new generation of Japanese artists in China,” this show features around 100 artworks by 16 emerging and established Japanese contemporary artists. The group came of age in the 1990s, and is often associated with the country’s “Lost 20 years,” when Japan’s economy cratered.

    “MMCA Lee Kun-hee Collection: Monet, Picasso, and the Masters of the Belle Epoque”National Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art, Gwacheon, South Koreathrough February 26, 2023
    Camille Pissarro, The Cereal Market in Pontoise (1893). Courtesy of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, South Korea.
    Nearly 100 works donated to the museum by the heirs of late Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee are on view in this sprawling exhibition focused on luminaries of Paris’s “Belle Epoque.” The show is divided into four sections: “Pissarro and Gauguin, Two Masters in Paris Who Met as Mentor and Mentee”; “Monet, Renoir, and Picasso, Masters Who Blossomed through Friendship and Respect”; “Picasso, Miró, and Dalí, Spanish Painters in Paris”; and “Picasso and Chagall, Masters Who Captured Beautiful Moments in Life.”

    “McQueen: Mind, Mythos, Muse“National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australiathrough April 16, 2023
    A selection of Alexander McQueen’s designs featured in “Mind, Mythos, Muse.” Courtesy of the National Gallery of Victoria.
    Fashion designer Alexander McQueen remains a source of endless discussion, even more than 12 years after his death in 2010. The exhibition features artwork drawn from the collections of the National Gallery and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art displayed alongside McQueen’s own designs “that help to illuminate the interdisciplinary impulse that defined his career.”

    “Egon Schiele from the Collection of the Leopold Museum–Young Genius in Vienna 1900”Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, JapanJanuary 26–April 9, 2023
    Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Chinese Lantern Plant (1912). Courtesy of the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum & the Leopold Art Museum.
    After three decades, the work of Egon Schiele is returning to Tokyo in this exhibition tracing “the dramatic life of a genius who died too young.” The show features 50 artworks by Schiele accompanied by some 120 works by other Viennese artists, including Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, and Richard Gerstl, to tell a comprehensive story of fin-de-siècle Viennese art.

    “Liu Kuo-sung: Experimentation as Method“National Gallery SingaporeJanuary 13–November 26, 2023
    Liu Kuo-Sung, The Earth, Our Home (B) (2004). Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.
    The forthcoming exhibition will be the largest show dedicated to Chinese artist Liu Kuo-Sung by a public Singaporean institution, with more than 60 paintings and 150 of the artist’s personal objects. Best known for his expressive ink paintings, Kuo-Sung helped to modernize the practice with his “Space” series, which incorporates photographs of the Earth taken by U.S. astronauts on the Apollo 8 mission in 1968.

    “Painting Love in the Louvre Collections“National Art Center, TokyoMarch 1–June 12, 2023
    François Gérard, Cupid and Psyche (1767). Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre) /Tony Querrec / distributed by AMF-DNPartcom.

    Art aficionados certainly love the Louvre, but this expansive show in Japan’s capital city delves into love at the Louvre—specifically 74 paintings from the legendary Paris museum’s collection that display amorousness in classical European art ranging from the chaste to the blush-worthy. Go with your special someone, or maybe meet them there.

    “Parall(elles): A History of Women in Design”Montreal Museum of Fine ArtsFebruary 18–May 28, 2023
    Dorothy Hafner, Fred Flintstone, Flash Gordon and Marie Antoinette coffee service (form); Blue Loop with Headdress (decoration), (1984). MMFA, Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection. Photo Annie Fafard.
    Designs by American and Canadian women are the subject of this sprawling exhibition, organized in collaboration with the Stewart Program for Modern Design. Objects from the mid-19th century through today highlight the breadth of styles and media that female designers made while marginalized in social, political, and personal settings. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) has also commissioned ceramicist Molly Hatch to create a giant mosaic of 198 hand-painted plates that will take over the exhibition pavilion.

    “Ningiukulu Teevee: Chronicles for the Curious“National Gallery of OntarioOpens January 14, 2023
    Ningiukulu Teevee, Shaman Revealed (2007). © Ningiukulu Teevee, courtesy Dorset Fine Arts. 2008/17.
    Kinngait (Cape Dorset)-based Ningiukulu Teevee is a graphic artist whose work first debuted at the National Gallery of Ontario only two years ago. Her “bold color, unique perspectives, and meticulous graphic style” have cemented her as a favorite among collectors.
    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

    17 Shows to See in Europe in 2023, From a Survey of Yayoi Kusama’s Inflatables to the Largest Showcase of Vermeer’s Work Yet

    This year may lack big headliners like Documenta and the Venice Biennale, but there is certainly no shortage of showstoppers. We scoured institutional programs across the continent and selected 17 shows set to open between January and June that we think will be the talks of the town.
    LuYang Vibratory Field Kunsthalle Basel, BaselJanuary 20—May 21, 2023
    LuYang, Digital Descending, ARoS, Aarhus, 2021. Exhibition view. Courtesy LuYang and Société, Berlin.
    Set to be the visionary Shanghai-born artist’s first show in Switzerland, “Vibratory Field,” will feature a range of LuYang’s signature body of work, which ranges from video animation, avatars, and video games. The show, according to organizers, is “a spectacular computer-generated cosmos”—given it much more deserved space than the artist’s work received at the Venice Biennale this year, where it was tucked away in a corner.
    “Topics such as our lives, desires, and the limitations and functions of our bodies are relevant to every living person. This allows me to go beyond the limits of my identity to think freely on a higher level, in a larger universe. Any human being can understand my works,” the artist told Artnet News.
    —Vivienne Chow
    Rudolf Levy: “Work in Exile”Palazzo Pitti, FlorenceJanuary 24—April 30, 2023
    Rudolf F. Levy, Fiamma (Flame) (1942). Courtesy Uffizi Galleries.
    I came across the tragic story of Rudolf Levy when I visited a paradigm-shifting exhibition that explored the history of Documenta (the world-famous German exhibition). Part of that show focused on the German-Jewish painter, who died in Auschwitz; this exhibition revealed that before Levy was deported from Florence, where he had been in exile, he would likely have come into contact with Documenta co-founder Werner Haftmann, who was a Nazi and temporarily stationed there. Levy, like many Jewish artists who were murdered in the Holocaust, were later pushed out of postwar German history by people like Haftmann, who did not want to draw more attention to Germany’s war crimes, especially if they were also complicit in them. Levy was excluded from the first Documenta, though he had been on preliminary lists.
    It is especially poignant that the Uffizi’s Palazzo Pitti is not far from where Levy spent his last months. The institution will present the first monographic exhibition dedicated to the artist; it will also include Flame, an acquisition the museum made in January, which was created while he lived in hiding in Florence in 1942.
    —Kate Brown

    Mohammed Sami: “The Point 0”Camden Art Center, LondonJanuary 27–  May 28, 2023
    Mohammed Sami, The Praying Room (2021). Courtesy the artist and Camden Art Center.
    I discovered Sami’s work when it was included in 2021 in the Hayward Gallery’s excellent survey of painting today, “Mixing It Up,” and it stood out among 31 of today’s painting stars. The Iraqi-born artist is now getting his first institutional solo in the U.K., which will showcase his unsettling large-scale paintings that draw from his own memories living under Saddam Hussein’s regime in Baghdad and subsequent refugee experience in Sweden. The troubling works, devoid of people, present eerie and uncanny visions of neglected interiors, overwhelming cityscapes, and everyday objects whose heft lies in what isn’t rather than what is depicted.
    —Naomi Rea

    “Klimt. Inspired by Van Gogh, Rodin, Matisse…”Belvedere, ViennaFebruary 3—May 29, 2023
    Gustav Klimt, Johanna Staude (1917/1918). Photo: Johannes Stoll. Courtesy Belvedere, Wien.
    In 2015, the Belvedere in Vienna and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam embarked on a collaborative journey with an aim to find out which works might have influenced the Viennese modern artist Gustav Klimt, in order to trace exactly how modern art arrived in Vienna at the turn of the century. From major exhibitions to smaller private collections, researchers have been digging deep into history and references to retrace the footsteps of Klimt. This 2023 exhibition should be a fascinating result of this joint research project; it is set to include about 90 paintings, drawings, and sculptures from Klimt alongside works by artists such as Monet, Rodin, van Gogh, and Matisse, who all inspired him. The exhibition marks the 300th anniversary of the Belvedere.

    Action, Gesture, Paint: Women Artists and Global Abstraction 1940-70Whitechapel Gallery, LondonFebruary 9–May 7, 2023
    Elaine de Kooning, The Bull (1959). Photo courtesy The Levett Collection © EdeK Trust.
    Even as artists like Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler and Elaine de Kooning have become major household names, the idea of an “action” painter making bold gestures on canvas still carries frustratingly white, male connotations. This major survey of 150 works by 80 artists will not only place under-recognized women at the center of the Abstract Expressionist movement, but it is set to push far beyond the confines of the New York scene, to bring to light the practices of women working globally, including Wook-kyung Choi in South Korea, Mozambican-born Italian artist Bertina Lopes, Ukrainian-born American painter Janet Sobel, Argentinian artist Marta Minujín, and Iranian painter Behjat Sadr. The exhibition’s scope proves that, from the 1940s onwards, radical notions of free expression and materiality inspired artists worldwide.
    —Jo Lawson-Tancred

    The Morgan Stanley Exhibition: Peter DoigThe Courtauld Gallery, LondonFebruary 10—May 29
    Peter Doig, 2022. Courtesy The Courtauld. Photo: Fergus Carmichael.
    This major exhibition, set to feature a range of new and recent works by the acclaimed painter Peter Doig, is the Courtauld’s first solo show of a contemporary artist since the London institution reopened in November 2021 following a major refurbishment. But it also marks a new chapter of the 1959-born artist’s creative journey: artworks on show will include paintings and works on paper that Doig created since he moved back from his longtime home of Trinidad to London in 2021. The exhibition will also highlight the artist’s work as a draughtsman and printmaker by showcasing a series of new drawings and prints.
    VermeerRijksmuseum, AmsterdamFebruary 10—June 4
    Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring (1664–67), Mauritshuis, The Hague, bequest of Arnoldus Andries des Tombe, The Hague.
    Arguably one of the most exciting exhibitions in 2023 for not just art lovers but also the general public, this rare exhibition has been billed as the largest showcase of Johannes Vermeer. It is set to bring together at least 28 iconic paintings by the Dutch master from all over the world under one roof; Girl Interrupted at Her Music, Officer and Laughing Girl, and Mistress and Maid are on loan from the Frick Collection, New York, will be shown for the first time together outside of New York in a century. They join The Girl with a Pearl Earring, on loan from Mauritshuis, The Hague, and four masterpieces from the collection of Rijksmuseum. Fingers crossed that climate activists can leave such important cultural treasure alone.
    Alice Neel: Hot Off The GriddleBarbican, LondonFebruary 16—May 21, 2023
    Alice Neel, Phillip Bonosky (1948). Photo by Ben Davis.
    One of the greats of American art is getting due recognition across the pond with her largest U.K. exhibition yet. Though both Alice Neel’s expressionistic figurative style and her interest in too often overlooked subjects – including activists, queer performers and pregnant women – may be fashionable today, when Neel was working in New York during the early to mid 20th century her practice was easily overshadowed by prevailing interests in modernist movements. Her dignified portrayals of people she encountered in everyday life offer a unique record of people that were otherwise pushed to the fringes of mainstream society and history. Neel’s life in Greenwich Village and later Spanish Harlem, as well as her staunchly communist politics, are also brought to life through letters and photographs. 
    Martin Wong: “Malicious Mischief”KW Institute for Contemporary Art, BerlinFebruary 25—May 14, 2023
    Martin Wong, Tell My Troubles to the Eight Ball (Eureka), (1978–81). Courtesy of the Martin Wong Foundation and P.P.O.W, New York © Martin Wong Foundation
    The brilliance of the work of American-Chinese artist Martin Wong, who died in 1999, is hard to overstate—and he is, not unlike Michel Majerus, deeply beloved by many artists I know. Yet it seems that art history is still beginning to come to know the vast breadth of Wong’s relevance and his densely packed paintings, which plot queerness, marginal communities, and social realities against landscapes of gentrification.
    That Wong is under-discovered is especially true in Europe, where the artist is only now getting a comprehensive, touring retrospective. “Malicious Mischief” spans his beginnings in late 1960s California, his most famous period of painting (and living in) New York in 1980s, and culminates with his last works made before his death from an AIDS. It will head to the Camden Arts Center (July 7—September 17, 2023) and then to the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, (November 2023—February 2024).

    General IdeaThe Stedelijk, AmsterdamMarch–July, 2023
    Installation view, “General Idea,” June 3 to November 20, 2022, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. © General Idea. Photo: NGC.
    I’ve always been a fan of gallows humor. The surprisingly tight gap between levity and hopelessness can be an effective space in which to broach difficult subjects, and to express unwieldy emotions. So, following its opening at the National Gallery of Canada, I’m excited that this retrospective of General Idea is coming to Europe.
    The Stedelijk will lend its spotlight to the collective, made up of Canadian artists Felix Partz, Jorge Xontal, and AA Bronson, who were active under the moniker between 1969 and 1994. The exhibition is the most comprehensive retrospective on the trio to date, and charts the group’s witty and eccentric output through more than 200 works. From major installations such as the 1987 AIDS sculpture, which riffs on Robert Indiana’s “LOVE” motif—both Xontal and Partz contracted HIV in the 1980s—to archival materials, publications, painting, and sculpture, the exhibition showcases the group’s playful commentary and critique on mass media, consumer culture, social inequality, queerness, and the art economy, tracing its impact on both their own moment and milieu.

    ‘Reaching for the Stars. From Maurizio Cattelan to Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’Palazzo Strozzi, FlorenceMarch 4–June 18, 2023
    Lynette Yiadom-Boayke, Switcher (2013). Photo courtesy of Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Collection.
    Since opening her non-profit foundation in 1995 in the northern Italian city of Turin, the mega-collector Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo has overseen and continued to grow one of the country’s most prestigious public collections, expanding to Madrid in 2017. Now, the historic Palazzo Strozzi in Florence will be the stage for a selection of highlights from her collection—a first show of its kind. It will include some of the biggest names in contemporary art, including Maurizio Cattelan—the boundary-pushing artist known internationally for Comedian, a banana taped to a wall at 2019’s Art Basel Miami Beach, South African artist William Kentridge, and painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, as well as major YBA art stars like Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas.

    Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers: Black Artists from the American SouthRoyal Academy of Arts, LondonMarch 17–June 18, 2023
    Ralph Griffin, Eagle (1988). Souls Grown Deep Foundation, Atlanta. © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2022. Photo by Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio.
    Taking its name from a Langston Hughes poem, this show tells the stories of Black artists working in the American South, including names that have received major acclaim in recent years like Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Nellie Mae Rowe, and Purvis Young. Many of these artists were self-taught, and their experimental practices frequently combined craft traditions, passed down through generations, with found materials to address pressing subjects, such as the relentless persecution and systemic racism faced by Black communities in the South. Interwoven with these are works that record the joys and hardships of everyday life. The show has been organized by the Atlanta-based Souls Grown Deep Foundation, which promotes Black artists from the South and seeks to support their local communities. 
    Michel Majerus: “Sinnmachine”Mudam Luxembourg, LuxembourgMarch 31—October 1, 2023
    Michel Majerus, ca. 2001. © Edith Majerus, 2022. Courtesy of the Michel Majerus Estate and Neugerriemschneider, Berlin.
    Last year was, officially, the year of Michel Majerus. It marked the 20th anniversary of the artist’s untimely death with shows all over Germany and at the ICA Miami, timed to Art Basel Miami Beach. Interest in the artist, whose estate and archive has been carefully preserved since his death, is booming. Despite the flurry of shows, one essential exhibition is still to come, at at the MUDAM in Luxembourg, which is Majerus’s home country. “Sinnmachine,” which means sense machine in German, will feature early paintings by Majerus and rarely seen archival material, including notebooks, his collection of books and magazines, and recorded VHS tapes—the aim is to build a full picture of how Majerus viewed (and sensed) the world around him.

    ICÔNESPinault Collection, Punta della Dogana, VeniceApril 2—November 26, 2023
    Maurizio Cattelan, La Nona Ora (1999). Pinault Collection. Installation view: “Maurizio Cattelan,” Palazzo Reale, Sala delle Cariatidi, 24 September – 24 October 2010, Milan, Italy. Photo by Zeno Zotti.
    Look, it’s always fun to see what’s in a billionaire’s private collection. This exhibition of works from François Pinault’s treasure trove will explore the theme of “icons,” both in the sense of the word’s Greek etymology, which defines an icon as an “image” or “likeness” and a term to designate religious paintings. Works by artists from Maurizio Cattelan to Arthur Jafa and Agnes Martin will be on view in the thematically grouped exhibition, which aims to consider both the fragility and the power of these kinds of images. The Venetian setting is apt for iconoclasm, and I’ll call that as good an excuse as any to make a trip to La Serenissima.

    Sarah BernhardtPetit Palais, ParisApril 14–August 27, 2023
    Georges Clairin, Portrait de Sarah Bernhardt (1876). Photo courtesy of Petit Palais.
    One of the original celebrities whose talent, glamor and intrigue inspired a cult following and enthralled an entire generation, Sarah Bernhardt was a symbol of her era in Paris. A new show celebrates the centenary of her death, bringing together almost 400 items that retell her exciting life story, both as a stage persona – through costumes, posters and paintings – and as a woman at the center of a wide network of prominent artists and intellectuals – through photographs, personal belongings and even her own artworks. Among the highlights is a resplendent portrait of the actress aged 32 by her friend Georges Clairin. 

    Liverpool Biennial, uMoya: “The Sacred Return of Lost Things”Various locations, LiverpoolJune 10–September 17, 2023
    Nicholas Galanin, Never Forget (2021). Courtesy the artist. Photo by Lance Gerber.
    The 12th edition of the Liverpool Biennial, which has been named after an isiZulu-language word meaning spirit, breath, air, climate and wind, will be centered around ancestral and Indigenous forms of knowledge, wisdom and healing. Curated by Khanyisile Mbongwa, more than 30 artists and collectives, from Brook Andrew (who directed the 2020 Sydney Biennial) to Julien Creuzet (who will represent France in the 2024 Venice Biennale) will respond to the theme.
    Yayoi Kusama: You, Me and the BalloonsFactory International, ManchesterJune 29—August 28, 2023
    Yayoi Kusama and Dots Obsession, (1996-2011). Installation view at The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. © YAYOI KUSAMA. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Victoria Miro and David Zwirner.
    “You, Me and the Balloons,” the first major immersive exhibition dedicated to the celebrated Japanese artist’s inflatable works, will be a major curtain raiser for Factory International, the highly anticipated new cultural landmark to open in Manchester in the U.K. in June.
    Spanning 143,698 square feet, the new space, designed by the award-winning architecture firm OMA, is the largest publicly funded national cultural project to open in the U.K. since the Tate Modern in 2000. The new Kusama show is set to feature works more than 33 feet tall that trace the artist’s practice in inflatable art —this promises to be a major attraction for art lovers and general public alike.

    More Trending Stories:
    The Art World Is Actually Not Very Creative About What It Values. What Would It Take to Change That?
    ‘It’s My Damaged Rembrandt’: New Book Asserts a Downgraded Portrait of the Dutch Master Is the Real Deal
    Introducing the 2022 Burns Halperin Report
    Possibly the Oldest Pair of Levi’s Jeans, Salvaged From an 1857 Shipwreck, Just Auctioned for a Deep-Pocketed $114,000
    Mr. Brainwash, Made Famous in the Banksy Documentary, Opens His Own Art Museum Where Guests Enter Through the Gift Shop
    Click Here to See Our Latest Artnet Auctions, Live Now
    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

    In Pictures: The Late Street Art Star Rammellzee’s Graffiti Paintings and ‘Garbage God’ Suits Go on View at Jeffrey Deitch in L.A.

    Get ready for Rammellzee!
    Jeffrey Deitch met the late graffiti and street art star way back in 1980, but only picked up his estate last year. “Gothic Futurism” marks the first spectacular outing for his works at Deitch’s L.A. gallery, and it’s worth the look.
    In recent years, Rammellzee’s cachet has only been growing. A collaborator (and sometimes critic) of Jean-Michel Basquiat, his work featured in L.A. MOCA’s ultra-popular, landmark “Art in the Streets” show—as well as in the rehang of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection a few years ago.
    A highlight of the show are the full-body collage suits that embodied “Garbage Gods,” the alter egos the artist adopted. As the great Greg Tate wrote, “he viewed subway art and hiphop as a total movement representing a multidisciplinary and racialized and working-class military campaign against capitalism, Western Civ 101, and white supremacy”—and “continued the war of hiphop generated symbol versus Western language symbol though performance in his technologically enhanced battle suits.”
    See photos from “Gothic Futurism” below.
    Installation view, “Rammellzee: Gothic Futurism” at Jeffrey Deitch. Photo: Joshua White.
    Installation view, “Rammellzee: Gothic Futurism” at Jeffrey Deitch. Photo: Joshua White.
    Installation view, “Rammellzee: Gothic Futurism” at Jeffrey Deitch. Photo: Joshua White.
    Installation view, “Rammellzee: Gothic Futurism” at Jeffrey Deitch. Photo: Joshua White.
    Installation view, “Rammellzee: Gothic Futurism” at Jeffrey Deitch. Photo: Joshua White.
    Installation view, “Rammellzee: Gothic Futurism” at Jeffrey Deitch. Photo: Joshua White.
    Installation view, “Rammellzee: Gothic Futurism” at Jeffrey Deitch. Photo: Joshua White.
    “Rammellzee: Gothic Futurism” is on view at Jeffrey Deitch, 925 N. Orange Drive, Los Angeles, through January 14, 2023.
    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

    How the Kochi-Muziris Biennale Overcame Organizational Mayhem, Extreme Weather, and a Gatecrashing Horror Film Production to Finally Open

    On December 15, as I rushed to find a seat at the Cochin Club for William Kentridge’s lecture-performance Ursonate—part of the programming for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB)—a visitor from Goa called it the “non-biennale biennale.” Ironically, Ursonate, based on a 1932 Dadaist sound poem by Kurt Schwitters that uses nonsensical vocabulary, was precisely about this breakdown of meaning. At some point, Kentridge invited Indian musicians to join him—Naisha Nazar on vocals, Ashwin R on Chenda drum and Mani KJ on harmonium—but his emphatic gibberish drowned them out.
    In a similar vein, at the biennale’s main venue, Aspinwall House, the hammering and installing of works was at times indistinguishable from the percussive rhythms of Asim Waqif’s new commission, Improvise, a massive resonant bamboo sculpture installed outside that visitors could play with sticks
    The curator of KMB’s fifth edition, “In Our Veins Flow Ink and Fire,” is Singapore-based artist Shubigi Rao. In the only public art talk she gave in the lead-up to the opening now scheduled for December 23, Rao explained that song was a thread running through the biennale. “Here, song could be lament or joy. It could be humorous, snarky, or silly. As artists we are taught to take ourselves seriously and valorize our ideas. Here there’s anger, humor, embarrassment, cringe and it’s ok to have that messiness.”
    That messiness was unintentionally linked to the biennale’s postponement, announced just the night before it was originally due to open, on December 12. The spaces in Aspinwall especially felt under construction, with cables clustered away from puddles, uninstalled monitors and a small village of workers holding down the fort. 
    At the biennale’s main venue, Aspinwall House, Asim Waqif’s new commission, Improvise, is a massive, resonant, bamboo sculpture, that visitors can play with sticks.
    Amid the ruckus, I was drawn to the sparseness of Algerian artist Massinissa Selmani’s delicate, pastel-colored drawings and videos of miniature beings and floating architectures. All trees are potential enemies (2022) evokes states of suspension, repetition and hopelessness, like his animated bird on a Sisyphean quest to fly through a birdhouse while attached to a fence. 
    Yet there was a certain sense of utopia as well. “When Rao invited me, it was a relief,” Selmani said. “We are often put into a box as Africans, but I’m influenced by Belgian Surrealists and my work doesn’t really speak of colonization. I like to think of minimal gestures situated between comedy and tragedy.” 
    An uncanny parallel to this feeling could be found in the biennale. For those of us who traveled to see the exhibition, on a press tour sponsored by BMW, a supporter from the first edition, our disappointment was met with a seemingly lighthearted approach on the ground. Artists simply got on with things, surrounded by a rallying local community. 
    Being from a country where people had to take matters into their own hands if they wanted basic resources, like running water or 24-hour electricity, I’m familiar with this attitude. Yet unlike in Lebanon, the issues at the biennale are less about a failed state and more about institutional hierarchies and procedures. 
    The Communist government of Kerala, which has been an unwavering supporter of the artist-initiated biennale—established as a foundation by Kerala-born, Mumbai-based artists Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu in 2011—currently provides the largest amount given to any cultural project in India, and almost a third of the biennale’s total budget—around $845,000 out of $2.7 million. But of this, only around $360,000 has actually been received in what an institutional director termed a “promise-to-pay” method.
    “It’s all just come to a head,” said Varun Gupta, director of the Chennai Photo Biennale, which has a space in KMB as part of the new Invitations programmes. “I arrived in September, and they were shooting a local-language movie for a famous actor [at Aspinwall]. When they finally got access to the venue, it was only a month ahead of launch day and they had 21 tonnes of debris to remove because of the film set that had to be torn down,” he said, adding that heavy rainfall in Kerala due to Cyclone Mandous (which hit nearby Tamil Nadu), only added to the infrastructure problems, including collapsing roofs at some heritage venues. “The rain was the straw that broke the camel’s back.” 
    An image from the installation Out of Breath at the Chennai Photo Biennale.
    Further complicating the situation was the ongoing friction between property giant DLF and the local government over the government’s acquisition of Aspinwall, resulting in DLF locking up the venue and barring entry for 10 days through December 1. KMB eventually had to agree to pay rent on the space because negotiations between the co-owners had reached a stalemate. “We were stuck in between and kept thinking we would get it today or tomorrow,” Krishnamachari said. 
    Other logistical hurdles include the need to secure bank guarantees in order to ship and release artworks from customs, which now have to be made by nationalized banks instead of private ones, adding weeks to the process, and shipment costs that have increased post-pandemic. On top of that, there are longstanding systemic issues at KMB, including Komu’s resignation due to allegations of sexual harassment in 2018, accusations of unpaid labour, and a remote style of management. 
    “A lot of these pressures existed before but [the biennale organizers] have managed by sheer tenacity to get it just over the line or just under the line,” said gallerist Amrita Jhaveri, who has been brought on as a new trustee of the foundation. “But they cannot do it every time—people run out of energy and goodwill. At some point, something’s going to give. I think this has to be a moment of reckoning, where something new will emerge.”
    “Doing public art in India is very challenging, it’s hands-on,” Jhaveri added. “It’s very precarious, because the biennale is dependent on a temporary venue. Also, it’s one thing to have an international curator, and another for the team not to be on the ground all the time, which you need to run an event of this scale.”
    The sequence of events signal a volatile relationship that exists between artists and art institutions. More accountability and transparency are necessary, perhaps especially so in places where there is less cultural infrastructure and stable sources of funding. In KMB’s case, there was emergency fundraising and a major failure in communication. While there is a certain laissez-faire or guerrilla style of operation that can be seen as endemic to the region, it doesn’t have to be that way.
    “There is a rot in the art world,” Rao told me. “The work goes up because of volunteers and labor that is invisible.”
    Palani Kumar documented the unsafe conditions and deaths of sanitation workers in Tamil Nadu, in a comment on caste and government-enforced labor.
    The most extreme example of this was found in Gupta’s space, where Palani Kumar documented the unsafe conditions and deaths of sanitation workers in Tamil Nadu, in a comment on caste and government-enforced labor. “In these spaces, we can show challenging work that no one else will show,” Gupta said. “And the government is erudite enough not to interfere.” Gupta added: “I love that KMB has tried to bring the Global South together in this edition, which they haven’t done in the past, by sending invitations to other institutions.” 
    Nearby, the Kiran Museum of Art was invited to host the exhibition “Tangled Hierarchy 2,” organized by the artist Jitish Kallat, curator of KMB in 2014. The thoughtful show stems from a meeting between Mahatma Gandhi and Lord Mountbatten in 1947, before the controversial Partition of the subcontinent. Because he had taken a vow of silence, Gandhi communicated with Mountbatten by writing on the back of a series of envelopes. Alongside the show is Kallat’s installation, Covering Letter, which features the words Gandhi wrote to Hitler before World War II, dissolving in a waterfall of smoke.
    At Pepper House, Pakistani artist Seher Shah’s work felt like a very different comment on estrangement and the unseen. Simply wrought compositions, Notes from a City Unknown (2021) were odes to Delhi, with each screenprint combining abstract architectural forms with text. In City of Forgotten Languages, she writes about a solitary bird forgetting its own song, and needing “a memory to remember how to sing.” Back at Aspinwall, the late Madiha Aijaz’s vivid photographs documenting language, devotion and intimacy in Karachi, could be gleaned beneath polythene sheets. 
    Seher Shah, Notes from a City Unknown (close up), Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2022, Pepper House. Photo: Randhir Singh.
    “When I curated this biennale, I looked at artists that people might think of as raw, with an unfiltered approach to specific problems in regions that are nevertheless universally understood,” Rao said during her talk.
    KMB feels like a political necessity in a country with a Hindu majority rule and an antagonistic relationship to the arts. 
    I left Kochi a bit disheartened that I didn’t see the biennale in its entirety, although it’s not every day that collateral events take precedence. One example was the excellent work at the Student Biennale curated by seven artists, which has been running in parallel to KMB for several years and really gives visitors a sense of the concerns of the artists working in the country, from the agrarian revolts to the Dalit community, the lowest stratum of the traditional caste system. Being with without, curated by Suvani Suri at the Students Biennale, was especially memorable and relevant, looking at states of negation and new ways of listening. 
    If there’s anything that this edition of the biennale has revealed, it’s that artists don’t function autonomously and there’s an unspoken precarity that exists between ambitious art projects and the organizational structures around them.

    Read the Year’s Most Popular Stories:
    After More Than 50 Years, Reclusive Artist Michael Heizer Is Finally Ready to Unveil ‘City,’ His Life’s Work. Here’s What It Looks Like
    A College Grad Paid $75 for an Illuminated Manuscript Page After Realizing It Was From a 700-Year-Old Prayer Book He’d Studied in Class
    A Man Broke Into the Dallas Museum of Art and Smashed Ancient Greek Artifacts Because He Was ‘Mad at His Girl’
    Scholars Have Decoded the World’s Oldest Sentence Written With an Alphabet. It’s a Highly Specific Warning… About Lice
    A College Student Bought a $10 Ashtray at a Goodwill. Turns Out It’s a Yoshitomo Nara—and He Flipped It for a 30,000 Percent Profit

    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

    An Interactive Online Exhibition Explores Ray Eames’s Indelible Impact on Midcentury American Design

    Despite public declarations made by Charles Eames defending the equal role his wife Ray played in shaping their shared practice, she was rarely given the credit she deserved. The Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity—a recently established platform promoting the legacy of the historically significant design firm—has opened “Ray’s Hand,” an online exhibition that sheds new light on her vital contribution. Launched on December 15, this latest activation coincides with what would have been her 110th birthday.
    Incorporating everything from preliminary sketches and color samples to toys and everyday products from the 1940s through the 1980s, animated vignettes, and eloquent texts procured by noted scholar Pat Kirkham reveal the multitalented creative’s dynamic approach and her use of varied sources of inspiration to develop innovative concepts that revolutionized midcentury American design. 
    Items from Ray Eames’s office. Photo: Nicholas Calcott, courtesy of Eames Office, LLC.
    “Ray came to design from painting and Charles from architecture, which created a dynamic partnership,” said Llisa Demetrios, the Eames’s granddaughter, executor, and the show’s curator. “From their first project together, they both realized the importance of letting their designs evolve from their hands-on learning. The artifacts in this exhibit demonstrate Ray’s exploration of solving problems and iterating on the solutions.” 
    Much of what was selected for the exhibition came from the storied Eames Office in Venice, California. “As we have been unpacking the crates, opening drawers, and looking in boxes, we have been inventorying what we’ve found so far and making discoveries along the way,” Demetrios added. “The narratives for the exhibits evolved directly from highlighting Ray and Charles’ process through the archival material in the collection.” 
    Courtesy of Eames Office, LLC.
    A major through-line of the showcase is the prevalence of analog hand tools and common materials. Crayons, colored pencils, paints, rubber stamps, silver and gold foils, tissue paper, and marbleized paper join precision tools like scissors, X-acto knives, and magnifying glasses. Adorned in different iconographies, rulers of various lengths also feature prominently. Somehow, Ray always worked within the confines of these readily available components but was able to surpass their limitation by meticulously crafting miniature maquettes, many of which could fit inside the palm of her hand.  
    ​​“I loved how she did not look at an object in isolation but how an object related to everything around it,” Demetrios recalled. “Ray and Charles considered themselves tradespeople. For them, the design process was about addressing a need that they had noticed, or something that someone had come to them for.” The online exhibition does the important work of not just showcasing what they made but how they accomplished these feats. Many of their techniques are as prescient today as they were 60 to 40 years ago.
    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

    In Pictures: the Musée d’Orsay Presents Kehinde Wiley’s Fallen Figures Alongside the Historic Sculptures That Inspired Them

    Formerly a train station, the grand central nave of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris has retained its high ceilings and streaming natural light, making it the ideal exhibition space for historic sculptural masterpieces.
    Now, the familiar collection of traditional statues has been enlivened by American artist Kehinde Wiley’s twist on the classical European tradition. At the centre of the hall, a large-scale canvas of a woman wearing bright street clothing, hangs beside two monumental sculptures.
    These new works are an extension of the artist’s ongoing “DOWN” series which, since 2008, has reimagined famous depictions of fallen figures, such as Hans Holbein’s The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb (c. 1520), but using contemporary subjects. In this case, Wiley was specifically inspired by the museum’s marble statue Woman Bitten by a Serpent (1847) by the French sculptor Auguste Clésinger.
    That work is directly quoted in Wiley’s painting Women Bitten by a Serpent (Mamadou Gueye), which focuses instead on the Senegalese athlete Mamadou Gueye, depicted in a yellow Louis Vuitton top, blue jeans and white sneakers.
    Each of Wiley’s subjects are laid down or, in the case of An Archeology of Silence, dropping from the seat of a horse in an inversion of the majesty we have come to expect of traditional equestrian portraiture. These poses might suggest calm repose—or violence and death.
    “Whilst playing with the stereotypes of Western painting and sculpture, Kehinde Wiley carries an up-to-date message concerning the violence of contemporary society,” said Christophe Leribault, president of the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie, in a statement. “I wanted to display these works as an actual strand of those collections at the Musée d’Orsay that have been such an inspiration to him and of which he offers a fascinating rereading.”
    Born in 1977, Wiley is known for his reinvention of art historical tropes and conventions to center contemporary Black subjects and experiences. The exhibition is an extension of his concurrent show at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice. See images of the installation below.
    “Kehinde Wiley” is on view at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, through January 8, 2023.
    Woman Bitten by a Serpent (1847), by Auguste Clésinger at the Musée D’Orsay. Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images.
    Installation view of “Kehinde Wiley” at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Photo: © Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Sophie Crépy.
    Installation view of “Kehinde Wiley” at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Photo: © Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Sophie Crépy.
    Installation view of “Kehinde Wiley” at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Photo: © Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Sophie Crépy.
    Installation view of “Kehinde Wiley” at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Photo: © Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Sophie Crépy.
    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