Bay Area artist Joan Brown, who died in 1990 at age fifty-two, produced a vast body of figurative paintings with an offbeat, vernacular appeal. This exhibition at Venus Over Manhattan featured a dozen of Brown’s dazzling canvases, primarily from the 1970s, characterized by dreamily composed scenes and highly stylized figures.

Brown emerged within San Francisco’s Beat and burgeoning “Funk” art scenes of the 1960s, alongside friends such as Jay DeFeo, Bruce Conner, and Wallace Berman. She and her cohort took pride in flouting the artistic conventions dominant in New York and Los Angeles at the time, making expressive, idiosyncratic work that served as an irreverent retort to the detached slickness of Minimalism and Finish Fetish. Despite her underground credentials, Brown’s subject matter is often bracingly banal: domestic scenes, dancing couples, swimmers, animal portraits, pictures of her husband. But the allure of Brown’s work is how it unsettles viewers’ assumptions about … Read the rest

The Tribal Arts Show and the American Indian Art Show, two regional showcases of African, Oceanic, and Indigenous art that have taken place in San Francisco for over three decades, opened together this year as one online edition on Thursday. The fair runs until next week, with 130 exhibitors from nine countries. This iteration, like numerous others over the past year, went digital for the time as a result of the pandemic.

The art fair typically invites small and mid-size dealers—with a few high-end exceptions, like Pace and Belgian dealer Didier Claes—to offer their wares, which range from antiquities to contemporary art by Indigenous artists. Last February, just before the coronavirus pandemic brought the art world to a grinding halt, John Morris and Kim Martindale, the co-directors of both fairs, staged them together as one event. (The duo had purchased the Tribal Arts Show from its founders three years prior; … Read the rest

More than 100 years after his death, Pierre-Auguste Renoir is still recognized worldwide for his intimate portraits, dreamy landscapes, and depictions of nude bathers. (Despite this, recent protests at various institutions claim that “Renoir sucks.”)  Though the artist began his career as an obscure painter of porcelain, Renoir was well-known by the early 20th century, and today he is celebrated for his highly original fusion of traditional painting styles and more outré ones derived from Impressionism, the late-19th-century movement with which he is associated. The guide below traces some of the key developments in the artist’s life and career, as well as some of his standout paintings.

In his youth, Renoir worked as a porcelain painter.
Born in 1841 in Limoges, a city southwest of Paris, Renoir earned money for his family as a porcelain painter when he was a young man. Honing his talents by copying artworks that hung … Read the rest

On Tuesday, Philadelphia-based auction house Freeman’s sold Viennese artist Carl Moll’s White Interior (1905) for a record-breaking $4.75 million during its European art and Old Masters sale, which brought in a collective $6.4 million.

The result for the Moll painting marks the highest price achieved for a single lot in the house’s history, surpassing the $3.1 million paid for a Chinese vase in 2011, and Tuesday’s sale is now the biggest auction ever held at Freeman’s. White Interior also bested Moll’s previous record of $385,700, paid for a landscape by the artist at Austrian auction house Dorotheum in 2007.

The record-setting painting, which depicts art critic Berta Zuckerkandl-Szeps in her Döbling apartment in an all-white palette, surfaced on the market after more than a century of being held privately. It came from a German family collection, having passed through inheritance to the California-based heir of the original owners, where it … Read the rest

For its first New York sale of 2021, Phillips’s live ‘New Now’ auction will feature 188 works by in-demand emerging artists such as Matthew Wong, Joy Labinjo, Lucas Arruda, Eric Parker, and Vaughn Spann. Scheduled to take place on March 3, the sale is expected to fetch $3.8 million.

Headlining the mid-season contemporary art sale is Wong’s Lotus (2017), an orange and blue landscape that is estimated to reach $600,000. The late painter’s market remains strong following his auction debut at Sotheby’s in June, and has seen continuously escalating auction prices, particularly for his oneiric landscapes. His 2018 landscape Coming of Age sold at Christie’s this past December for $1.6 million, there times its low estimate of $500,000.

Phillips, which is known for its focus on rising talents, will offer works by artists who have yet to be seen at auction in the “New Now” sale this March. Those making … Read the rest

Art history actually began as biography when Giorgio Vasari published his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects in 1550. Eventually, however, the two genres parted ways, with the former evolving into an academic discipline and the latter becoming the more popular avenue for learning about art. Most artist biographies tend to focus on famous names, for a reason as simple as it is self-perpetuating: Even if you don’t know much about Picasso’s work, for example, you’ve probably heard of him, which makes it more likely that you’d pick up a book about him. Still, writers often find lesser-known artists to be just as fascinating as their more canonical cohort—and ultimately, that matters just as much as, if not more than, name recognition. Whatever the case, a good artist biography makes for compelling reading, as you’ll see in our list of recommended titles. (Price and availability current at … Read the rest

In Calida Rawles’ world, Black bodies rise through sunlight and waves. The Los Angeles–based artist has earned widespread recognition for her exacting, ethereal depictions of water. Fittingly, Rawles’s work appeared on the cover of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s debut novel The Water Dancer in 2019. In her painting, a Black man is submerged in water. His arms are outstretched and curved like wings. The quiet of the image belies a formative point of the conflict: the protagonist, an enslaved man named Hiram Walker, is indelibly changed by the memory of his near-drowning in a carriage accident.

Of her work, Rawles said, “I’m trying to capture the figure in a pause, in the split seconds that your eye can’t always pick up, which is really intimate.”

Partly because of her work’s prominent placement on The Water Dancer‘s jacket and partly because her fan base includes figures like luminaries like Coates and painter … Read the rest

The Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid has acquired a 1929 painting by the Cubist artist María Blanchard, in a move that has angered some who claim that the work exceeds the museum’s purview.

Some in the Spanish art world have claimed that, because of its date, the painting belongs with the city’s Museo Reina Sofía, which has historically specialized in art from the 19th-century onward. According to a report by the Spanish newspaper ABC, the Prado’s purchase of the work, for which it paid €70,000 euros (about $84,900), breaks with a 1995 decree that distinguishes what the two museums can collect.

The Reina Sofía holds 15 works by Blanchard in its collection, whose chronological beginning, according to the decree, is 1881, the year of Picasso’s birth. (The Reina Sofía is home to one of Picasso’s most famous works, the monumental mural Guernica.) The Prado, on the other … Read the rest

A tiny figurine unearthed in Cambridgeshire has provided a rare—and surprising—insight into the popular fashion of the Roman-era Briton: many may have worn a clipped mustache and neat mullet. The little copper alloy statue, almost two inches tall, was first discovered in 2018 during excavation work on the National Trust’s Wimpole Estate, a site which has been continuously inhabited and farmed more than 2,000 years.

Per a report in the Guardian, the figurine was originally thought to depict a Celtic or Roman deity that has no recorded likeness, but some archeologists at the Trust now believe it may represent the average Iron Age male Briton.

“We have so few visual or written depictions from the Romans of what the native people looked like, so it’s tempting to say he was designed based on what people looked like or what the current styles or current trends were then,” Shannon Hogan,

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The second portion of Sotheby’s two-part sale of works from the collection of public art duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude, which in total comprised 373 lots, finished online on Thursday. The latter half of the sale raked in an additional $1.4 million in sales, bringing the entire auction’s total to €9.2 million ($11.2 million). (Nearly 30 lots were auctioned on Wednesday, in a live sale that netted $9.8 million.) At the end of the more-than-week-long stretch, the estate sale more than doubled its initial high estimate of €4.2 million ($5.1 million); every work auctioned was placed with a buyer.

Known for their large-scale public art projects involving wrappings of international public sites, the Bulgarian-born artist Christo, who died in May 2020, continued executing installations following Jeanne-Claude’s death in 2009. Later this year, one of Christo’s biggest projects, a wrapping of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, will be unveiled posthumously.

The … Read the rest