“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

Barry Le Va, a sculptor whose visually seductive installations often involved subjecting his materials to unseen systems that resulted in their destruction, has died. New York’s David Nolan Gallery, which represents Le Va, said that the artist died on Sunday at 79 but did not state a cause of death.

Le Va became part of the New York art scene during the late 1960s and went on to be associated with the Process art and Post-Minimalist movements. Unlike the best known adherents of those movements, including Richard Serra, Bruce Nauman, and Robert Morris, Le Va has remained a somewhat obscure figure, no doubt in part because his work is so formally rigorous and can be difficult to parse. But he has a set of devoted fans that include artists, critics, and historians spanning multiple generations.

Among Le Va’s most famous works are those from the ’60s made using felt … Read the rest

The City of London Corporation, which manages London’s historic center and financial hub, has voted to remove two monuments to British politicians linked to the transatlantic slave trade. The statue of William Beckford, a two-time mayor of London who made his fortune in plantations in Jamaica in the late 1700s, will reportedly be re-sited and replaced with a new work. The monument to Sir John Cass, a 17th-century member of Parliament, philanthropist, and merchant who profited from the Royal African Company, a major force in the slave economy, will be returned to the Sir John Cass Foundation. His name has already been stripped from the City University of London’s business school.

The vote follows an announcement from the U.K. government of laws intended to safeguard historic monuments in England. According to a report in the Art Newspaper, the proposed plans would require individuals to obtain “building consent … Read the rest

With the San Francisco Art Institute, one of the most highly regarded art schools in the U.S., facing pushback over recent moves it has made over its future, board chair Pam Rorke Levy has resigned. Photographer Lonnie Graham, who has been on the SFAI board since July, will take over her post effective immediately. The school also announced that John Marx had been named vice chair of the board.

In a statement, Levy, who has served as board chair since 2018, said, “As SFAI begins to reimagine itself for a new era post-pandemic and actively recruits for fall 2021, Lonnie Graham is the perfect candidate for the role of Board Chair.”

Last year, the nearly 150-year-old art school made headlines because it claimed that it faced the possibility of permanent closure due to Covid-19 and declining enrollment. Levy and Gordon Knox, the school’s president, said in April 2020 … Read the rest

Spread across a thick field of leeks in the Netherlands is Daan Roosegaarde’s new installation that illuminates the practice of modern farming, highlighting the plants that feed us and their plights. In “Grow,” the Dutch artist and designer, who’s known for glowing, interactive exhibits, implanted the rows with red, blue, and ultraviolet lights that shine vertically across the crop and shift in entrancing motion.

Spanning 20,000-square-meters, the multi-faceted project is both aesthetic and practical: the radiant landscape is visually stunning, while the embedded elements enhance plant growth and cut pesticide use in half. Roosegaarde worked with existing photobiological technology and distinct “light recipes” that are thought to improve crop resistance and their metabolisms without added chemicals. “It gives a new meaning to the word ‘agri-culture’ by reframing the landscape as a living cultural artwork,” the studio says in a statement.

In a conversation with … Read the rest

In 2019, when Charles Stwart was named CEO of Sotheby’s, he knew 2020 was going to be a year of big changes. But he got more change than expected, when, due to restrictions around the coronavirus pandemic that began in March, his first full auction season faced a global shut down. Yet when your mission is to continue to move a 276-year-old company into the digital future, more change is probably better than less. For the auction house, the pandemic’s silver lining has been the rapid change forced upon the international art market.

“The longer the current lockdowns and restrictions remain, the weaker the pre-Covid habits become,” said Stewart, seated in a back hallway at the houses’s York Avenue headquarters behind the exhibition for the upcoming blockbuster Old Masters evening sale, in an interview. “It’s not at all clear to me that everything snaps back.”

No one is suggesting … Read the rest

Gagosian, one of the world’s biggest galleries, with over a dozen locations, has named Antwaun Sargent a director and curator, according to the New York Times. The 32-year-old writer plans to dedicate his time to artists whose practices examine prescient issues of identity and representation. He will be based in New York City as one of around 30 directors working across the gallery’s sprawling operation.

For about a decade, Sargent has written about and curated exhibitions devoted to Black artists. His 2019 book The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion, which examined growing Black representation in fashion photography, was met with acclaim. He also edited the book Young, Gifted and Black: A New Generation of Artists, a survey of the next generation of Black artists driving visual culture focused on works owned by Bernard Lumpkin and Carmine Boccuzzi. (With Matt Wycoff, Sargent curated a … Read the rest

“At that time it wasn’t easy for me to be in the public with my camera because the country was very sensitive to reporters like me,” photojournalist Hazir Reka tells a group of muralists. “Being in the public with a camera was no different to being in public with a weapon because of how much it could affect reality.” Reka’s referring to a tumultuous time in Kosovo’s history when the region was in the midst of war, an experience he shares with the artists who traveled to the region in September 2020 for Mural Fest Kosovo.

Organized by the art collective Void Projects (previously), which is helmed by Axel Void, the initiative sought to revitalize the public spaces within Ferizaj, a small city desolated by war. Fifteen international muralists—the list includesAruallan, Emilio Cerezo, Doa Oa, Alba Fabre, Maria Jose Gallardo, and Zane Prater—gathered for the project … Read the rest

After 10 years at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Michael Darling, the institution’s chief curator, is leaving his post to join a startup called Museum Exchange. The news, which was first reported by the Chicago Tribune, follows an announcement last week that Naomi Beckwith, the MCA Chicago’s senior curator, will become the Guggenheim Museum in New York’s deputy director and chief curator in June.

Darling will join Museum Exchange, a digital platform for art donations made by collectors to museums across North America, as a cofounder and chief growth officer next month. He joins cofounders David Moos, an art adviser and former curator of modern and contemporary art at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, and Robert Wainstein, an art adviser and former curator at the Whitney Museum in New York and MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, at the New York-based company.

“The end-to-end … Read the rest

The three neon pink seesaws that slotted through the U.S.-Mexico border were just named the 2020 Beazley Design of the Year. Conceived by Oakland-based artists Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello (previously), the playful, subversive project was installed in July 2019 between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez and physically connected the two communities despite the 20-foot barrier. The prestigious, annual award comes from London’s Design Museum.

Rael and San Fratello spent a decade working on “Teeter-Totter Wall” before its installation at the border during a particularly divisive time under the Trump administration. Although it was in use for less than an hour, the interactive work intended to foster and display unity between children and adults from both countries as they physically lifted each other up. In response to the administration separating families at the border, Rael wrote about the project:

The teeter-totters represented the kind

Read the rest