When art historian, curator, and artist David C. Driskell died last summer from complications related to Covid-19, his loss reverberated throughout the art world. A mentor and supporter of generations of Black artists, curators, and scholars, Driskell organized the landmark exhibition “Two Centuries of Black American Art,” which staked a claim for the importance and influence of art-making by Black people in this country. Black art was not something that had just sprung up during the civil rights movement, he argued. Instead, it was a tradition with roots that extended back to the very founding of this country, with artists like Robert S. Duncanson, Joshua Johnson, and Edmonia Lewis represented alongside more recent talents like Norman Lewis, Charles White, and Alma Thomas.

That it opened in 1976 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as part of programming celebrating the country’s bicentennial, further underscores how daring it all was. … Read the rest

Richard L. Feigen, an eclectic and influential art dealer whose galleries spanned Chicago, New York, London and Los Angeles—with clients around the world— has died at 90 from complications related to a recent battle with Covid-19, a representative for Feigen’s gallery said.

A collector since childhood, Feigen at various times showed work by a wide range of artists who had not yet gained a following in the U.S. He gave Francis Bacon his first solo show in the United States. He also put on exhibitions of work by Jean Dubuffet, Max Beckmann, Bridget Riley, and Allen Jones.

His greatest impact was as an Old Masters dealer where he often described himself as “a collector in dealer’s clothes.” He had the prescience to acquire artworks that were later greatly valued by the art market—a Turner painting, The Temple of Jupiter Panellenius Restored, from his collection sold at Sotheby’s for … Read the rest

It is not every day that a 19th-century landscape painter is the subject of national news, but that was the case last week, when a work by Robert S. Duncanson on loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum was presented to the Biden administration by Congress as an inaugural gift. Duncanson is not a household name—or, at least, not an artist as well-known as some of his contemporaries, including William Louis Sonntag and Worthington Whitteredge. (When the New York Times covered the gift, for example, it did not name Duncanson, only referring to him as a “Black artist.”) But during his day, Duncanson achieved fame, both in the U.S. and Europe, and blazed a trail for future generations of Black artists. To survey Duncanson’s achievements, below is a guide to his life and art.

In 19th-century Ohio, Duncanson’s landscapes brought him unparalleled success.

These days, Duncanson’s idyllic landscapes, filled … Read the rest

Following the record-breaking $92 million sale of a rare Botticelli portrait in New York, Sotheby’s ended the first segment of its Master Week with the sale of works from the collection of Hester Diamond, a late New York arts patron, dealer, and designer. The Diamond sale was slated with a pre-sale estimate of $23.3 million–$35.3 million with with buyers’ premium.

So far, Sotheby’s New York Masters Week generated more than $148 million, showing that mid-pandemic market for name brands in the classics segment is solid. Thursday’s marquee sale brought in $114.5 million, with the Diamond sale— one segment of a two part auction—totaling $26.7 million with premium.

As an art collector, Diamond had unique path. With her husband Harold, she began buying modern and contemporary art in the 1960s. It wasn’t until her husband’s death in 1982, however, that Diamond changed course, looking to Old Masters works as a … Read the rest

“Untitled” (2018), mild steel, 1900 x 1850 x 900 millimeters. All images © Regardt Van Der Meulen, shared with permission

Regardt Van Der Meulen is concerned with the ephemerality of human life, a fascination that manifests in his sweeping steel sculptures. Fragmented and oversized, the works juxtapose the unyielding material with the movement inherent in the figures’ poses and the shapes of their garments. Each of their bodies is incomplete, whether through a bisected limb or torso gaping with negative space.

Based in Johannesburg, Van Der Meulen shares that much of his work exposes the vulnerability of the body and how both minute and drastic changes alter its presentation. Branches, geometric pieces, and erosion interrupt the nondescript figures, serving as a metaphor for their mental and physical instability, as well as the precarious state of the natural world and civilization. The artist writes:

I am fascinated by human mortality and

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Daniel Wolf, a celebrated photography collector and dealer who was married to the architect and sculptor Maya Lin, died on January 25 at his home in Colorado. The news was confirmed by Wolf’s friend, the collector Larry Warsh, and Jim Ganz, the Getty’s senior curator of photographs. The cause of his death and his age were not specified by Warsh and Ganz.

Wolf amassed a collection that included works by Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and other marquee names. Warsh described Wolf as a “visionary” in the field.

“He was an amazing collector with instinct who took risks,” Warsh said in a phone interview. “He was able to use his insight and his instinct in terms of what in this case led to the creation of the whole category of photography, and how he amassed collections and gave it historical importance and context that it … Read the rest

“Devouring Star Jelly.” All images © Robert Steven Connett, shared with permission probes the ocean depths for

Whether rendered as a snapshot of the ocean floor or a few drops of water under a microscope, the densely inhabited paintings by Robert Steven Connett (previously) are brimming with vitality. The Los Angeles-based artist probes the planet’s bodies of water, unveiling a range of flora and fauna that populate the mysterious and sometimes psychedelic ecosystems with exacting detail.

From jellyfish and seaweed to microbes, the organisms memorialize Earth’s dwindling biodiversity. The onslaught of news concerning the climate crisis informs how Connett understands the urgency of his works—they evoke Ernst Haeckel’s illustrations but diverge from the German biologist’s drawings in color palette and foreboding elements—which serve as both earnest studies of aquatic creatures and  “a tribute to life as it was before the great extinctions began.”

Even so, Connett shares … Read the rest

Since its first iteration opened at venues across Southern California in 2011, Pacific Standard Time, a wide-ranging initiative by the Getty Foundation, has come to be seen as a game-changer for helping fund exhibitions devoted to art long under-known by the mainstream. On Wednesday, the public got its first look at what the 2024 edition, “Art x Science x LA,” might offer. The foundation has now revealed the first 52 projects at 45 institutions that it will receive a collected $5 million as part of the initiative.

“Over the centuries art and science have come together and come into conflict, learned from one another and built upon shared insights,” Getty Foundation director Joan Weinstein said in a statement. “We have faith that the remarkably diverse and inventive approaches taken by all the partner institutions will produce revelatory results and productive civic dialogue.”

Throughout the greenlit projects, there is … Read the rest

A new music video by FKA twigs that premiered on Tuesday evening has at its center an artwork that has spurred debate recently: a giant fountain sculpture by Kara Walker that is now on view at Tate Modern in London. Titled Fons Americanus, the sculpture appears throughout the video, titled “Don’t Judge Me,” which accompanies a song FKA twigs made with Fred Again… and Headie One. Since it first went on view in 2019, Walker’s work is believed to have been seen by millions of viewers.

Fons Americanus is intended as a monument to the horrors of the British slave trade. At 42 feet tall, the towering work is situated in Tate’s Turbine Hall, where it is due to remain on view through February 7. (After that, its materials will be recycled.) The work draws its inspiration from the iconic Victoria Memorial fountain at Buckingham Palace, and it pays … Read the rest

“Of Earth & Sky (Blue Cumulus)” (2020), collage and ink on paper. All images © Lorna Simpson, courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth

An extraordinarily glamorous collaboration graces the pages of ESSENCE’s January/February 2021 issue. The print publication paired acclaimed artist Lorna Simpson and pop icon and businesswoman Rihanna for a striking interpretation of modern beauty.

Within the Of Earth & Sky series are 12 collages and the cover image, which features Rihanna, eyelids coated in bright blue, staring directly at the camera. A diamond collar drapes around her neck, and she’s adorned with a roughly textured crown of crystal derived from 19th-century lithographs.

Many of the superimposed collages feature the Barbados-born singer framed in archival imagery, from star-studded galactic coiffes to bright bursts of watercolor. Others in the collection stray from hairstyle transformations and instead position her against vintage backdrops, including one shot … Read the rest