The Best Acrylic Matte Mediums for Artists and Hobbyists

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Acrylic medium is a versatile product for use with acrylic paint and in mixed-media projects. A liquid that’s milky when wet and translucent when dry, it can be added to acrylic to increase fluidity; the more you add, the thinner and more transparent the color will become. This makes it particularly handy for glazes and blending. It can also be used to create a clear ground on canvas or paper in place of gesso, and it works as an adhesive for use in collage and image transfers. Most acrylic mediums come in two finishes: glossy and matte. Since acrylics tend to have a glossy finish to begin with, choosing a matte medium to mix in with your paints can make a significant difference in your work’s final appearance. Whether Read the rest

Robert Colescott Painting of George Washington Carver Set to Break Artist’s Auction Record

Robert Colescott’s 1975 painting, George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware River: Page from an American History Textbook, a riff on Emanuel Leutze’s widely-known 1852 painting of the first President of the United States crossing the Delaware river by boat, will be sold at auction next month. The painting will be offered with a guarantee during Sotheby’s contemporary art evening sale on May 12, where it is expected to achieve a price of $9 million–$12 million— far above the artist’s auction record of $912,500, which was set in November 2018.

In Colescott’s painting, he has replaced the white figures in Leutze’s scene, which has been in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s permanent collection for more than a century, with Black figures representing racist tropes that have been used throughout American history. Colescott, who in 1977 became the first Black artist to represent the U.S. at the Venice Biennale, is recognized … Read the rest

New Documentary Showcases Bill Traylor’s Bracing Visions of the Past and the Present

Although Bill Traylor is now coming to be considered a major figure in 20th century U.S. art history, little is known about his life. The facts are these: Traylor was born in 1853 into slavery, and he died in 1949. A Black man in Montgomery, Alabama, he spent the majority of his life enduring Jim Crow oppression. He came to art-making late in his career, working with charcoal, paint, crayon, paper, and other materials when he was already in his 80s. Historians are aware of various details throughout, but there are still a number of gaps, leaving questions about who Traylor really was.

The reason many have remained fascinated in Traylor, though, is not the lacunas in his biography, but the explosive creativity that can be seen in his art. His output was so singular, it seems that it was always just waiting below the surface, ready for Traylor to … Read the rest

Olivier Meslay on Counteracting Art Depravation

Illustration Denise Nestor.

The 2020–21 issue of Art in America’s Annual Guide, released in December 2020, includes interviews with museum directors about how they responded to the Covid-19 pandemic. In October, A.i.A. spoke with Olivier Meslay, director of the Clark Art Institute, which was privately founded in 1955 and is best known for its collection of European and American fine and decorative arts dating from the Renaissance to the early twentieth century. One of the first American museums to reopen after the worldwide Covid-19 closures, the Massachusetts venue has the advantage of a rural location and sprawling campus, both of which are conducive to social distancing on the institution’s grounds. Below, Meslay details the indoor safety measures that have worked for the Institute, and discusses counteracting the effects of art depravation.

We wanted to welcome our visitors back as soon as possible. After all, our mission is to provide art … Read the rest

$34.2 M. Phillips London Sale Brings Tunji Adeniyi-Jones Record and Air of Optimism

Phillips’s live-streamed evening sale of 20th century and contemporary art in London tonight brought in a hammer total of £20.1 million, or £24.8 million with premium ($34.2 million), exceeding the auction’s £16.7 million–£23.5 million. Of the 33 lots on offer (a couple works, including the sale’s cover lot by Tamara de Lempicka, were withdrawn), 30 works sold, and 5 were guaranteed at a collected low estimate of £4 million ($5.5 million).

This year’s result is up by 17 percent from the total achieved during last year’s equivalent sale in February 2020, which brought in £21.4 million ($29.5 million) across 40 lots. That was a significantly lower total than the one achieved at March 2019’s sale, however, which, generating £37 million ($51 million) across 29 lots sold.

With the vaccine rollout underway in the U.S. and U.K., there is an air of optimism about businesses opening back up. In a post-sale … Read the rest

Victor and Sally Ganz, Picasso Connoisseurs: ‘A Brand That People Were Proud to Own’

In 1997, Christie’s put 58 works, including ones by Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and Eva Hesse, up for sale. All eyes were on a prized group of Picassos, however. At the time, the Spanish artist’s market was on the rise, but no one was sure just how well this cache of art would do—Impressionist art was still the top earner at auction, and Picasso’s market ascent had only recently been cemented.

The Christie’s sale, which drew an astounding 2,000 people to salesroom, ended up exceeding expectations, netting a then-staggering $206.5 million, against an estimate of $125 million. The result was a game changer, setting a record for a single-owner auction. The owners in question were the late New York couple Victor and Sally Ganz, who, having amassed the most significant private holdings of Picassos in the U.S. during their lifetime, gained a reputation as two of the most … Read the rest

With a Focus on Indigenous Knowledge, 2022 Sydney Biennale Names Artists

With just under a year until its opening, the Biennale of Sydney has revealed the first grouping of artists, collectives, and organizations that will take part in its upcoming 23rd edition that will run from March 12 to June 13, 2022.

Taking the title “rīvus,” which means stream in Latin, this iteration will take the concept of waterways and river tributaries as a jumping off point. In particular, close attention will be paid to acknowledge the Indigenous histories of where the Biennale of Sydney is sited—its main venues are situated along the banks of the waterways of the Gadigal and Burramattagal people.

For this edition of the Biennale, artistic director José Roca and his curatorial team have so far invited 59 artists, collectives, and nonprofit organizations from 33 countries—from Australia to Cameroon, Venezuela to Slovenia, Taiwan to Tonga—to participate.

Among the most high-profile artists that will show work are Hera … Read the rest

The Best Charcoal Pencils for Rich Effects With Less Mess

Love charcoal but hate the mess? Pick up a charcoal pencil, which is composed of compressed charcoal inside a protective layer, typically wood. Suitable for drawing, sketching, or smudging, a charcoal pencil offers a familiar feel and provides you with a lot of control over your marks. Even in this more structured form, it can be manipulated to create an array of rich and dark tones, as well as thin lines and bold ones. Our picks range from beginner to artist-grade sets. Remember that charcoal, even in pencil form, is delicate, so these can still break if dropped. And sharpen with care.

General’s Charcoal Kit

This trusted brand, which has been manufacturing pencils since 1889, produces drawing tools championed for their smooth, uniform quality. Its charcoal pencils have little drag, take to blending very nicely, and are affordable. This set includes lots of options to achieve different shading Read the rest

Picasso, Sanyu Works Expected to Fetch $26 M. in Sotheby’s Hong Kong Auction

Prompted by growth in the Asian art market in the past year, Sotheby’s has unveiled plans to stage a curated five-lot auction titled “ICONS: Masterpieces from Across Time and Space,” which will featuring paintings by Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Sanyu, and Zhang Daquian, as well as a Song Dynasty Bodhisattva sculpture from the 11th century. Scheduled to take place on April 18 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong gallery at One Pacific Place, just before Sotheby’s modern art evening sale, the auction is expected to achieve a collective $38 million.

This spring season is part of the house’s grandest sales series in the region to date, with 2,500 lots ranging from antiquities to contemporary art set to be offered across 14 sales from April 16–23. Together, they are expected to bring in at least $417 million. Evening sales devoted to modern and contemporary art featuring works by Clyfford Still, Yoshitomo Nara, Zao … Read the rest

Norman Stone, Vivacious Bay Area Collector and Arts Patron, Has Died at 82

Norman Stone, a San Francisco arts patron and collector who, along with his wife Norah, was known for a renowned contemporary collection and larger-than-life style, died on April 2. He was 82. The news was first reported in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Stones began collecting art in the late 1980s, and ranked on the ARTnews Top 200 Collectors list each year between 1995 and 2019, the year Norah died. In the Bay Area social circuit, they were known for a flair for bold, complementary outfits that matched their passion for modern and contemporary art.

Under the tutelage of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art curator John Caldwell, the Stones developed a taste for eye-catching art with a strong conceptual underpinning. Norman was a psychologist and Norah a lawyer, but collecting swiftly became the focus of their lives. Around 1,000 artworks were spread across their home in San Francisco’s … Read the rest