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

Nature’s Palette: A New Book Expands the Landmark Guide to Color for Artists and Naturalists with 800 Rich Illustrations

All images © Thames & Hudson, shared with permission

Prior to the proliferation of photography-based reference guides, naturalists and scientists relied on elaborate taxonomic descriptions to identify flora and fauna. One of those invaluable materials was Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours, a universal catalog originally arranged by German geologist Abraham Gottlob Werner in 1814 and updated with more detail by Patrick Syme just a few years later.

The rich volume, which was the preeminent guide for artists, zoologists, botanists, and others working with pigments and the natural world throughout the 19th Century, is filled with hundreds of simple swatches and notes on where the various shades can be found around the globe. The head of a golden pheasant, for example, is King’s Yellow, while Hepatica flowers are Berlin Blue and some speckles in iron ore are Greyish Blue.

A forthcoming volume published by Princeton University Press celebrates the 200th anniversary … 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

Cosmic Nature: A Spectacular Polka Dot-Filled Exhibition by Yayoi Kusama Sprawls Across New York Botanical Garden

Now inhabiting the verdant, 250-acre campus of the New York Botanical Garden are oversized flowers sprouting in seasonal arrangements, a glowing pumpkin-packed infinity room, and a sea of 1,400 reflective spheres by Yayoi Kusama (previously). Teeming with squiggly sculptures, site-specific installations, and smaller pieces covered in the Japanese artist’s iconic polka dots, Cosmic Nature is an expansive exhibition celebrating decades of Kusama’s bold, joyful body of work.

Four new pieces are debuting during the immersive show, like the tentacled creature that marks the entrance to the grounds. Others include a 16-foot-tall dancing pumpkin, an obliteration greenhouse, and a new infinity room that reflects the lush greenery of the outdoor environment. Coupled with a variety of smaller acrylic paintings, fabric sculptures, and drawings on paper—the earliest of which dates back to 1945— the most recent works establish a broad visual trajectory of Kusama’s fixation on the natural world and never-ending penchant … Read the rest

New Gardner Museum Art Heist Documentary Offers a Fresh Take for the ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ Crowd

When it took place in the early hours of March 18, 1990, as celebrations for St. Patrick’s Day were still going strong, the theft of 13 artworks, including a major painting each by Rembrandt and Vermeer, from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum became international news. Almost immediately, it was labeled the largest art heist the world had ever seen. Now, 31 years later, with the missing artworks valued together at $500 million, it still retains that title. In the intervening years, numerous theories about an extremely complex case have been floated as to who could have taken the paintings, why they might have done so, and, most importantly, where, exactly, these invaluable masterpieces are.

The theft and the search for the 13 stolen works that followed are now getting the Netflix true crime docuseries treatment with This Is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist, directed by Colin Barnicle. … Read the rest

Ironic Compositions Juxtapose Outlandish Scenarios in Paco Pomet’s New Paintings

“The Lesson” (2020), oil on canvas, 130 x 170 centimeters. All images © Paco Pomet, shared with permission

In Beginnings, Spanish artist Paco Pomet (previously) visualizes a series of jarring and absurd scenarios born out of an equally concerning event. He juxtaposes disparate elements—a mushroom cloud erupting in a classroom, women cavalierly poking at a tabletop sunrise, a mountain range lying on an operating table—in a series of satirical commentaries infused with pop culture references and nods to art history.

Generally contrasting a black-and-white scene with a recurring, full-color sunrise or sunset, Pomet’s compositions merge time periods and situations to mark the start of a new reality, a broad theme tied to the current moment. “Romanticism with a twist of irony is a very powerful visual engine,” he says about the series.

If you’re in Santa Monica, Beginnings is on view through May 8 at Richard Heller Gallery. Otherwise, … Read the rest

Janicza Bravo on Self-Soothing

Portrait of Janicza Bravo.

I worked on my movie Zola for almost four years. I think of it as a version of myself, and so, I’m looking forward to its release because I would like to move on to the next chapter of my life and work. It was supposed to be released last year, but was delayed due to the pandemic. I’ve gone through my own period of mourning with it over the last 11 months. But I’m ready to move forward with what’s ahead.

The television series Law and Order has so much life in it. Much like rooting fora favorite sports team, I’m particularly jazzed about Sam Waterston, who plays a District Attorney in seasons five through twenty. I discovered the program a few years ago—a very late find—while I was staying at a hotel. I kept it on in the background, and before I knew it, … Read the rest

Discs Extracted from Antique Porcelain Become Delicate Jewelry by Gésine Hackenberg

All images © Gésine Hackenberg, shared with permission

From her studio in Amsterdam, Gésine Hackenberg (previously) punches perfectly round discs from Delftware and antique ceramic dishes. The ornate, pearl-like forms are then strung together into necklaces or secured into metal bands for rings and earrings. Juxtaposing the old and new, the completed wearables are positioned alongside the original dinnerware to draw connections between the domestic objects and personal adornments that are ubiquitous in everyday life.

The ongoing collection—which Hackenberg says was inspired by her grandmother’s pearl necklaces and massive cabinet of porcelain dishes—evidences what the designer sees as “a certain kinship” between what’s worn on the body and the pieces that decorate and sustain a living space. She says:

What one keeps and owns, often contains an emotional meaning next to its practical function or worth. Possessions, especially personal treasures, define and represent their owner. Jewelry is in particular an

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Los Angeles Partners with Getty to Preserve City’s Historic African American Sites

As cities across the country reckon with the ways in which the contributions of Black people have long been under-recognized, the Getty will partner with the city of Los Angeles to identify and preserve places that illustrate how African Americans have been integral to L.A.’s history. Of the city’s 1,200 designated local landmarks, only 3 percent (about 36 places) can be linked to African Americans and their contributions to the city, according to a press release from the Getty.

Taking place over three years, the Los Angeles African American Historic Places Project will see the Getty Conservation Institute partner with L.A.’s City Planning Office of Historic Resources (OHR) to create a community engagement program. The two institutions will partner with other local organizations to dig up under-known histories of these communities. The project will also devote resources to analyzing the role that systemic racism plays in L.A.’s historic preservation policies.… Read the rest

Chasing Ghosts: A Short Documentary Debunks a Long-Held Theory About What Pollinates the Ghost Orchid

What insect has the ability to extend down into the nearly foot-long nectar tube of the ghost orchid? For generations, that question has interested researchers who’ve speculated that the giant sphinx moth, which has a proboscis that often exceeds 10 inches, was one of few species with a tubular tongue that could reach the sticky pollen nestled inside the endangered flower.

Shot during the course of three years, a short documentary by Grizzly Creek Films follows researchers committed to proving this hypothesis. It draws on Charles Darwin’s 160-year-old studies about orchids’ evolution, particularly in relation to one species in Madagascar about which he famously said, “Good heavens. What insect could suck it?” In  “Chasing Ghosts,” the team wades into the buggy swamplands of south Florida alongside snakes and alligators to reach a grove of cypress trees, where the white flowers wrap themselves high among the boughs. There they installed … Read the rest