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

The Annual Student Exhibition is an academic capstone event offering PAFA’s emerging artists the opportunity to curate, install, and sell their own work in America’s first art museum. All images © PAFA

100% of students receive merit scholarships; Fall ’21 applications are open

Finding an art college that best fits your desires and wallet can be challenging. Studio arts training should provide the foundational skills, intellectual context, discipline, and creativity needed for a lifelong pursuit of making art. An art-school experience that supports student development through curriculum, highly-mentored education, training in the business of being an artist, and access to a world-class museum sounds like an unattainable dream. Adding financial support and flexibility to the list makes it seem impossible. Making the impossible possible for student-artists is the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) mission.

PAFA educates artists worldwide to be innovative makers and critical thinkers, to cultivate a … Read the rest

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

“Heisenberg Object V – Cortez” (2021), leather, foam, and resin, 30 x 18 x 15 centimeters. All images © Fabian Oefner, shared with permission

In Heisenberg Objects, Fabian Oefner (previously) translates quantum mechanic’s uncertainty principle into a sculptural series of segmented objects. The Connecticut-based artist uses resin to solidify the everyday items, which include sneakers, a Leica M6, a tape recorder, a Seiko clock, and flight recorder, before slicing them into countless individual pieces. He then aggregates those fragmented parts into dissected sculptures that resemble the original object through a distorted view of the inner and outer mechanisms.

Drawing its name from German physicist Werner Heisenberg, the series is rooted in the basics of the uncertainty principle, which states that no two particles can be measured accurately at exactly the same time. “You can either determine one parameter and ignore the other or vice versa, but you can never … Read the rest

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

“In the Light of a Shadow” (2021), installation view. Photo by Tony Luong. All images courtesy of MASS MoCA, shared with permission

Rocky debris, vintage photographs, and a wooden ship colliding with its own hull are suspended above a 100-yard gallery at MASS MoCA for “In the Light of a Shadow.” The work of Los Angeles-born artist Glenn Kaino (previously), the monumental installation generates a sprawling environment filled with thousands of floating elements that speak to the vast impact of protest and collective movements.

Lined with an aisle of light and constantly moving shadows, the hovering artworks fuse memories of past injustices and a brighter, hopeful path forward in an immersive experience. Specifically, Kaino uses “In the Light of a Shadow” as a response to the horrific events of Bloody Sunday in both Selma, Alabama, and Derry, Northern Ireland. He models the wrecked ship after the Shadow V, a modest … Read the rest

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

“Blushing,” hand-built ceramic, 3.25 x 5 x 2.5 inches. All images © Marguerita Hagan, by Richard W. Gretzinger, shared with permission

Prior to sculpting the prickly lifeforms that comprise her Marine Abstracts series, Marguerita Hagan plunged into the waters surrounding the Cayman Islands to get a glimpse of the coral and sponges inhabiting the region. “My research is important to my work, whether from seeing firsthand like diving, which manifested the sponge and coral-inspired Marine Abstracts, or visiting labs and working with my scientist friends,” the Philadelphia-based artist says. “I am passionate about learning, and I immerse myself into the life of each piece/species.”

Mimicking the porous bodies of the aquatic creatures, the resulting works are amorphous in shape and hand-built in sweeping gestures from low-fire clay. Hagan subjects the ceramic forms to anywhere between three and eight rounds of firing in the kiln before they’re airbrushed with pastel … Read the rest

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 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