Essential Books: 7 Exhibition Catalogs for Your Reference Library

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Ars longa, vita brevis, the old saying goes, though it’s worth noting that a principal tool for disseminating our knowledge of art—the exhibition—is as transitory as life itself. Shows open, then close, and even major traveling surveys are usually around for only a year or so. If you aren’t a globe-trotting art professional, or you somehow missed an important exhibition even though it was just down the street, you can still see a show through its catalog. Like the best exhibitions, the best exhibition catalogs are works of scholarship often years, even decades, in the making. Many of them, in fact, offer a deeper reading of the subject at hand than the original show and deserve a place on any bookshelf devoted to art history and critical theory. … Read the rest

Staggering Photos Capture a Frozen Apartment Complex in Vorkuta, a Dwindling Russian City That’s the Coldest in Europe

All images licensed, © Arseniy Kotov

Photographer Arseniy Kotov is dedicated to documenting the changes in Russian life and architecture since the fall of the USSR, a commitment that brought him to the coldest European city last February. Located about 110 miles from the Arctic Ocean, Vorkuta is a small mining town that once held one of the largest and most grueling forced labor camps during Stalin’s reign. Often plagued by temperatures as low as -45 degrees Celcius, the city now has one of the fastest dwindling populations in all of Russia.

During Kotov’s visit, he toured various housing complexes built for workers, many of which were abandoned when the mines closed. One building in particular, though, is evidence of how desertion continues to unsettle the once-thriving city, an ongoing problem that Kotov captured in a stunning series. His photographs frame the dilapidated, five-story structure that’s entirely subsumed by feet-long … Read the rest

ARTnews in Brief: Garrett Bradley’s ‘Time’ Nominated for Academy Award—and More from March 15, 2021

Monday, March 15

Garrett Bradley’s Time Nominated for Academy Award
Time, a critically acclaimed documentary by artist Garrett Bradley, has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Bradley, who recently joined Lisson Gallery, is currently the subject of a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art co-organized with the Studio Museum in Harlem. Time focuses on Fox Rich, an abolitionist activist, and her attempts to get her husband out of prison; Bradley won the directing award for it at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

Longtime Director of Kimbell Art Museum’s Conservation Department to Leave
Claire M. Barry will step down as director of the conservation department of Fort Worth’s Kimbell Art Museum at the end of this month. Barry will continue to collaborate with the museum on a consultative basis before transitioning to the position of director of conservation emerita on April 1. Barry … Read the rest

10,000 Letters Dangle from the Ceiling in an Immersive Installation by Artist Chiharu Shiota

“I hope…” (2021), rope, paper, steel, installation view at König Galerie, Berlin. All images by Sunhi Mang, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, courtesy of the artist, shared with permission

A towering expanse of red thread, a new installation by Chiharu Shiota (previously) suspends 10,000 letters within the nave of Berlin’s König Galerie, a Brutalist-style space located in the former St. Agnes church. The immersive construction runs floor to ceiling and is awash with notes from people around the world who share their dreams following a particularly devastating year. Aptly named “I hope…,” the large-scale project hangs two wire boats that appear to float upward at its center, evoking travel into an unknown future.

For this collaborative installation, the Japanese artist, who’s lived in Berlin for the last two decades, draws on a similar piece from 2015 titled “The Key in the Hand.” That earlier work similarly utilizes … Read the rest

‘Ordinary Sacramento’: A Photo Project Finds Playful, Unexpected Scenarios in the Familiar

All images © Enoch Ku, shared with permission

Suit-inspired landscaping, overgrown shrubs, and misaligned stripes are just some of the scenes that comprise Enoch Ku’s Ordinary Sacramento, an ongoing project documenting the visual language of the Californian city. Ku is adept at identifying humor and quirkiness among the otherwise mundane urban landscape, framing a street sign or bike rack in a playful manner. Generally taken during a quiet moment, the compositions are evidence of the photographer’s keen sense of awareness and ability to observe what others might not.

Prior to launching Ordinary Sacramento, Ku worked as an actor and wedding photographer, two jobs that required him to rush from one place to the next. The pace of that lifestyle, in addition to the performative nature of the work, sparked his desire to slow down and document the world through a different lens. He explains:

In an Instagram world

Read the rest

See Works from Collector Pamela J. Joyner’s Historic Gift to SFMOMA

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has received a gift of 31 paintings, sculptures, and drawings by 20 American artists from ARTnews Top 200 Collectors Pamela J. Joyner and Alfred J. Giuffrida. The donation includes pieces by Elizabeth Catlett, Beauford Delaney, Norman Lewis, Richard Mayhew, and other artists. 

Neal Benezra, the director of SFMOMA who announced earlier this year that he will step down from the helm of the institution, said in a statement, “These important works strengthen the museum’s collection in critical ways and allow us to present a richer, more expansive picture of art history.”

Based in the Bay Area, Joyner and Giuffrida are known worldwide for their collection of abstract works by Black artists of several generations. Giving advice to collectors starting out in the field, Joyner, who joined the board of SFMOMA in 2020, once said, “Figure out where the vacuum is, where Read the rest

$69 M. Beeple Buyer is a Pseudonymous Singapore ‘Bitcoin OG’

If you hoped that the revelation of the buyer of Beeple’s $69 million (42329.453 ETH) Everyday: The First 5,000 Days would help you understand the mind-boggling sale at Christie’s or the value of NFTs, you had no luck today. The auction house announced this afternoon that the buyer uses the pseudonym Metakovan and is the proprietor of an NFT investment fund called Metapurse.

Twobadour, whose position is described as “Steward of Metapurse,” describes Metapurse as a collection of “iconic or culturally significant NFTs.” Metakovan, who was a “Bitcoin OG,” according to the Twobadour. He invested in cryptocurrency from the “early to middling days” around 2013 when Bitcoin cost $13 (it trades around $57,500 today.)

Metakovan and Metapurse have been been funding acquiring NFTs since late 2016. “We haven’t sold a single NFT,” the Steward of Metapurse adds. “There isn’t a business model as such because there are no customers or … Read the rest

New Research Shows That Former Documenta Adviser Was Member of Nazi Paramilitary Organization

Werner Haftmann has long been considered one of postwar Germany’s most important art historians. He wrote important texts that staked a claim for the art that the Nazis had labeled “degenerate,” and he advocated for a return to the educational principles of the Bauhaus movement. He was also influential in the development of Documenta and served as the founding director of Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie from 1967 to 1974. Now, new research points to evidence that Haftmann lied about being a member of the SA, the Nazi Party’s paramilitary wing.

The findings were published in an article for Hamburg-based weekly newspaper Die Ziet written by writer Karin Wieland and sociologist Heinz Bude, who is also the founding director of the Documenta Institute, a new organization that is conducting research into Documenta’s history.

“Probably no other art historian in the early Federal Republic was as influential as Werner Haftmann,” Bude and Wieland … Read the rest

8 Great Books About Painting and Painters

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During Conceptual art’s height in the early 1970s, critics proclaimed that painting was dead. It wasn’t the first time that painting’s obituary had been prematurely written, and may not even be the last, but for now, such sentiments are exceedingly rare as more artists than ever take up a brush. Painting’s resilience draws from a rich history that, whatever period or genre is your jam, is best experienced at a museum or gallery. Unfortunately, the pandemic has made visiting either harder to do. Luckily, there’s a next best thing: Diving into a book about painting. Tomes on the subject are myriad, of course, and come in different flavors, including exhibition catalogs, artist monographs, and critical writings. But they all offer a window into a medium that just won’t quit. … Read the rest

Records for Derrick Adams, Elaine de Kooning, and Jammie Holmes Set in Christie’s $23 M. Contemporary Auction

On Tuesday, ahead of its upcoming London evening sales scheduled for the end of the month, Christie’s saw a stable performance during its New York mid-season ‘Postwar to Present’ auction, focused on offerings by emerging and mid-career blue-chip artists. Generating a total of $23 million with premium, the sale realized an 86 percent sell-through rate across 120 lots. The total came out to a solid 23 percent above the pre-sale expectation of $18.9 million (with fees.)

With records for Derrick Adams, Elaine de Kooning, Lucas Samaras and Jammie Holmes, the result is on par with the equivalent March 2020 total of $22 million. The total is up slightly from the previous year’s comparable sale, which achieved $20.9 million. Following Phillips historic-high total for its ‘New Now’ sale last week, the outcome at Christie’s signals steady demand in the middle market.

Demand was strong throughout the sale: 37 percent of the … Read the rest