Evoking Historical Struggles, Hank Willis Thomas Examines the Intersection of Art and Activism

“If the Leader Only Knew” (2014). All images © Hank Willis Thomas, shared with permission

Through his bronze sculptures and public installations, Hank Willis Thomas (previously) examines history’s repetitions. The Brooklyn-based artist critically considers identity, social justice, and pop culture by visually weaving together the remains of the past that surface in present day. “Art is a platform where histories meet,” he tells Colossal.

Thomas’s sculptural pieces include a series of hands clenching a barbed wire fence, an oversized hair pick lodged into concrete, and a gleaming basketball balancing on players’ fingertips. No matter the medium, the interdisciplinary artist begins by examining advertisements and archival images and the messages those contain. “The transfer of a photograph into a three-dimensional expression allows the viewer to delve within a photograph and form an intimate understanding of the ideas it represents. That relationship inspires critical thought about the viewer themselves and … Read the rest

“If the Leader Only Knew” (2014). All images © Hank Willis Thomas, shared with permission

Through his bronze sculptures and public installations, Hank Willis Thomas (previously) examines history’s repetitions. The Brooklyn-based artist critically considers identity, social justice, and pop culture by visually weaving together the remains of the past that surface in present day. “Art is a platform where histories meet,” he tells Colossal.

Thomas’s sculptural pieces include a series of hands clenching a barbed wire fence, an oversized hair pick lodged into concrete, and a gleaming basketball balancing on players’ fingertips. No matter the medium, the interdisciplinary artist begins by examining advertisements and archival images and the messages those contain. “The transfer of a photograph into a three-dimensional expression allows the viewer to delve within a photograph and form an intimate understanding of the ideas it represents. That relationship inspires critical thought about the viewer themselves and … Read the rest

Art Basel’s 20th-Century Online Fair Sees Slow Sales in First Days

On Wednesday, Art Basel launched the second iteration of its revamped digital fair, “OVR,” which features six-work presentations from 100 galleries. In its first wholly digital endeavor, the fair placed a focus on work made in 2020. For this edition, named “OVR:20c,” Art Basel has spotlighted art made in the 20th century.

“Art Basel, as an entity within the art world, is known not just for contemporary work but also for historical work,” Marc Spiegler, Art Basel’s global director, told ARTnews of the digital experiments that have replaced the now-canceled main Swiss fair. “I’ve always felt that the historical material is important in terms of grounding the contemporary material, and the contemporary material is important in making the historical work feel topical.”

This second version of Basel’s online concept saw sales trickle in more slowly compared to its counterpart in September. In both editions, mega-galleries like Hauser & … Read the rest

Enhance! Explore the Orion Constellation in Astounding Detail with This 2.5 Gigapixel Image That Took Five Years to Complete

Full image of “Project Orion.” All images © Matt Harbison, shared with permission

For the past five years, Chattanooga-based astrophotographer Matt Harbison has poured more than 500 hours into capturing the minute details of the Orion constellation, an immense undertaking that’s culminated in a stunning 2.5 gigapixel image. In its entirety, “Project Orion” is composed of 2,508 individual shots meticulously stitched together into a fiery, star-studded mosaic.

In a statement about the monumental project, Harbison writes that his fascination with the neblua began in childhood during camping trips and Boy Scout excursions and later, as he drove to high school and college. Orion “was always there, seemingly inconspicuous.  I have always felt a connection to this cosmic way-finder. Big decisions and events in my life came and went, yet those stars seemed to always find their way into my consciousness,” he says.

 

A close-up of “Project Orion”

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Baltimore Museum of Art Calls Off Controversial Deaccession Plan Hours Before Sale

In a shocking last-minute move, the Baltimore Museum of Art has “decided to pause” its plans to sell three works from its collection with Sotheby’s, according to a press release. The news was announced by the Maryland institution just two hours before two of the works were expected to hit the auction block in New York.

In a release, the museum said that the decision was made following “a private conversation between the BMA’s leadership and the Association of Art Museum Directors,” a prominent industry group that offers recommendations about deaccessioning. Previously, members of the BMA’s leadership had staunchly defended the plan in the face of a mounting outcry that resulted in a call for a formal investigation and the resignation of two board members.

The museum had previously planned to sell works by Brice Marden, Clyfford Still, and Andy Warhol; the Marden and the Still abstractions were to be … Read the rest

Frederick Weston, New York Artist Known for Incisive Collages, Has Died at 74

Frederick Weston, the New York artist, performer, and fashion designer whose elaborate collages interrogated the media’s representation of New York’s Black and queer communities, died last week at age 74 from cancer. The news was confirmed by arts nonprofit Visual AIDS, of which Weston had been an active member of the group after his HIV-positive diagnosis.

Weston was a dedicated archivist of mass media representations of men, amassing binders of magazine advertisements, paper ephemera, and fabric which he stored in his longtime Chelsea apartment and studio. (“Hoarding is about ownership and attachment. They really train us to be consumers,” he once said.) In addition to magazine clippings, his intricate and eye-catching collages were culled from photography prints, fabric swatches, food packaging—anything that could be duplicated with a Xerox machine.

“My whole practice really is about the way that men look, men comport themselves and the way that men pose,” Read the rest

Artists Explore Self-Expression Through Bizarre and Whimsical Masks at Denver’s Vicki Myhren Gallery

Felicia Murray, “Our Dying Reefs,” felted COVID mask, 2020. All photos shared with permission.

There is perhaps no symbol more representative of contemporary life than the humble face mask. A simple health device crucial to saving millions of lives around the world from a deadly COVID-19 pandemic spread by invisible airborne pathogens, and yet an object that’s been quixotically politicized at the callous expense of humanity for the gain of an elite few. A new exhibition at the University of Denver’s Vicki Myhren Gallery approaches the lighter side of face coverings: the ancient tradition of masks as self-expression.

Arranged on mannequins lining the gallery space, over 40 artists present interpretations of protective face wear in MASK, currently on view by appointment through December 1, 2020. The collection of whimsical, grotesque, quirky, and beautiful masks are medically non-functional but guaranteed to provoke a reaction through their novel construction. Several designs … Read the rest

The Most Controversial U.S. Museum Deaccessions: Why Do Institutions Sell Art?

Amid economic fallout resulting from the pandemic, many institutions are selling works from their holdings in order to raise capital for the care of their collection. The practice, known as deaccessioning, has been undertaken in recent weeks by the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York, Newfields in Indianapolis, and, most notably, the Baltimore Museum of Art, whose controversial plan to sell $65 million in art have become the subject of national news.

There are no official laws guiding deaccessions in the United States, but most museum officials adhere to guidelines set in place by industry groups like the Association of Art Museum Directors, which has recently relaxed its rules in order to alleviate the economic strain of the pandemic on institutions. Yet even though the AAMD’s leadership has made it clear that deaccessioning could be necessary under certain circumstances, some … Read the rest

German Artist Collective Claims to Have Stolen Joseph Beuys Sculpture

The artist collective Frankfurter Hauptschule claims to have stolen one of Joseph Beuys’s 1985 Capri Battery works from an exhibition in Oberhausen, Germany. According to a report by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, the group says that they have given the artwork to a museum in Tanzania as part of a “symbolic act of restitution to the former German colony.”

In a video posted to YouTube, Frankfurter Hauptschule appears to document the heist, which the group claims took place on October 18. That video also includes footage of them transporting the work to Tanzania’s Iringa Boma museum. The group has titled their campaign “Bad Beuys go Africa,” and a description accompanying the video states that the Beuys work is now on permanent display at that institution.

“The museum, which is located in a former military hospital of the German colonial rulers, now displays the ‘Capri-Battery’ alongside traditional objects … Read the rest

Patty Chang’s Affecting Videos and Photographs Find Emotion in Breast Milk, Death, and More

In March, at the start of what would become a global lockdown, Los Angeles–based artist Patty Chang emailed a Google survey to residents in the city, soliciting lists of their personal fears.

“Personal, global, societal, mundane, or profound,” the survey read. “Everything is valid. Just write down quickly any thoughts that come to your head.” The dozens of responses that Chang received went into the latest iteration of Milk Debt, an ongoing video project based on collective fear—and by extension, fear’s frequent companions of dread, despair, and uncertainty.

In May, with a scheduled solo exhibition postponed by the pandemic, Chang and the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica, California, streamed a preview of the new piece online. The 10-minute clip featured a Zoom call with an unidentified blonde performer who, opening her palm-leaf printed robe, attaches a mechanical milk pump to each of her bare breasts.

As the … Read the rest

Royal Opera House’s $16.8 M. Hockney Stars in Christie’s $118 M. Paris-London Series

To get the backstory behind buyers and sellers in Christie’s Paris and London October evening sales, read Colin Gleadell’s detailed Art Market Monitor report available to AMMpro subscribers.

On Thursday, Christie’s brought in a total of £90.3 million ($118 million) with buyer’s premium across four sales at its Paris and London headquarters. In the auction series, titled “20th Century: London to Paris,” the house deployed the live-streamed format, with Christie’s France president Cécile Verdier and its Europe president Jussi Pylkkänen at the helm.

The total hammer price was £77.9 million ($101.9 million), landing at the low end of the pre-sale estimate of £76 million ($99.4 million). With premium, the sales generated a total £90.3 million ($118.4 million), achieving a solid 84 percent sell-through rate.

Still unable to host large live audiences, auction houses have engineered new set-ups that focus attention on the bidding dynamic across specialists and auction staff—which acts … Read the rest