A terrific exhibition of carved wood sculptures inaugurates the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s first gallery exclusively dedicated to the display of the arts of Africa. On the second floor of the Hammer building the newly renovated space is not large: Big exhibitions often have entryways that are bigger. And it’s not uncommon to see shows with educational texts covering more wall space than is occupied by this compact show.
But bigger is not always better. The 27 ceremonial objects that make up “Shaping Power: Luba Masterworks from the Royal Museum for Central Africa” are scaled to the human body. Many are made to fit in the hand, on the head or under one’s neck, while sleeping. Each needs to be seen up-close and in person.
All of the ancestral figures, medicinal bowls, regal staffs, double-sided cups and elaborate masks resonate alongside their neighbors. This allows first-time visitors and more experienced viewers to see the stylistic consistencies that unify these fascinating objects and to notice the idiosyncrasies that distinguish one from another. Sometimes the hand of a specific artist is revealed. More often anonymous adaptations amplify each piece’s accessibility, not to mention its humanity. Such range reveals a robust, visually sophisticated culture.
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting titled “Dustheads” sold for $48.8 million yesterday at Christie’s at a sale of postwar and contemporary art in New York, setting a new auction record for Basquiat. His “Untitled,” a painting of a black fisherman, held the previous record when it sold for $26.4 million last November. Also breaking world auction prices for artists were works by Roy Lichtenstein and Jackson Pollock.
Lichtenstein’s “Woman with Flowered Hat” fetched $56 million. A classic example of pop art, the 1963 painting is based on Pablo Picasso’s portrait of his lover Dora Maar. An important drip painting by Pollock, “Number 19,” realized a record $58.3 million. Christie’s says Wednesday’s auction brought in $495 million, the highest total at any art auction.
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s ‘Museum Security (Broadway Meltdown)’ painting estimated at 7-9 million GBP is displayed at Christie’s in February in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? More to the point, is a sound only a sound if someone hears it? Without delving too deeply into the metaphysics, this riddle offers an imperfect analogy for the philosophical conundrum more relevant here, namely – is art only art if someone sees it? TheGrio interviewed Alexis Adler, a New York University embryologist and former romantic companion of iconic Haitian-American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, these and other tacit questions about how we evaluate, share and make meaning of art played mysteriously in the background.
Adler, who lived with Basquiat before he was famous, recently revealed plans to share a previously unseen, thirty-year-old collection of art works and ephemera from the early career of the tragic and prolific creator. Produced during their relationship in an East Village apartment — some pieces on the apartment — these pieces have never been seen by the art world or the public.
“This is allowing the people who knew Jean to tell the world more about him, who he was, how I knew him, his warmth and interest as a person,” Adler told theGrio about her plans. “There is a range of work from that time, and it offers a pretty intense snapshot of his beginnings as an artist.”
New York-based painter Kehinde Wiley‘s current exhibit Kehinde Wiley: Memling at the Phoenix Art Museum is attracting national attention, most recently via a mention in Time Magazine’s ‘Pop Chart’ in the March 18 issue. Wiley’s eight portraits take their poses and contexts from the works by the legendary 15th century Flemish master Hans Memling but Wiley has substituted contemporary sitters for the historical figures.
Elizabeth City State University, the historically Black educational institution in North Carolina, recently opened its new Kermit E. White Graduate and Continuing Education Center. The center houses the university’s art gallery.
One section of the gallery will display pieces from the university’s permanent collection of African and African American art. The other part of the gallery will exhibit a rotating selection or a visiting collection.
Professor Alexis Joyner, chair of the art department at the university, loaned eight pieces from his personal collection for the opening exhibit. In addition, works by Leonard Jones, a former professor at Virginia State University and Charles Joyner of North Carolina State University are in the opening exhibit.
The accompanying illustration shows one of the pieces in the exhibit, “Guitar Player” by Leonard Jones.
Kelvin Okafor, 27, is wowing art critics around the world – one pencil stroke at a time.
The London native and Middlesex University fine arts graduate has received numerous awards and an outpouring of praise for his incredible drawings that resemble soft focus digital photos. His artwork, which takes approximately 100 hours to complete, has been valued at £10,000 ($15,738).
Using only graphite pencils, charcoal, black colored pencil and gray pastels, Okafor has created stunning images of Mother Teresa (left), Princess Diana, Beyonce, Corinne Bailey Rae, Nas and more.
“I want my drawings to prompt an emotional response, making viewers feel as though they are looking at a real live subject,” he writes on his blog.
Click below to see video of Okafor and more of his astounding works:
Search engine giant Google honors MLK Day with Martin Luther King Jr.’s image on its default page. To remember his life, contributions and the future he envisions, Google has a yearly Google Doodle for the day. Today, the Doodle is in shades of blue, green and yellow. With Dr. King’s face as one of the “O”s in the Google logo.
Google has had a Martin Luther King, Jr. logo since 2003, skipping some years but being consistent with the logo since 2006. To see all the past Google Doodles for Martin Luther King Day, see The Google Doodle directory.
One of Camilo José Vergara’s photographs on view at the New-York Historical Society.
Since the 1970s Camilo José Vergara has been photographing murals of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. painted on walls in cities across the United States. Through them, he has documented social and political changes in the country itself. On a wall in the Callowhill section of Philadelphia, above, Dr. King is the potent orator of the Washington marches; on Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem he’s a solitary, anxious visionary. In Los Angeles his figure is all but buried under fresh graffiti; in the South Bronx, the site of turf wars between blacks and Latinos in the 1970s, his face is scratched out.
Most of the murals were based on published images of Dr. King, edited to context. With trends in immigration, he takes on Latino and Asian features. Over time he is joined by a shifting pantheon of timely heroes: Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, Michael Jackson and President Obama. As one person explained to Mr. Vergara: “Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run. Obama ran so we all can fly.” On the evidence of the 30 pictures in “The Dream Continues: Photographs of Martin Luther King Murals by Vergara” at the New-York Historical Society through May 5, the popularity of other heroes brightens and fades while Dr. King’s mystique lives on.
Jae Jarrell’s “Urban Wall Suit,” from 1969, recently bought by the Brooklyn Museum.
As the curator of American art at the Brooklyn Museum began work on an exhibition to coincide with next year’s anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, she happened on a trove of works from the Black Arts Movement, the cultural arm of the black power movement of the 1960s and ’70s, the New York Times reported.
Noticing that the collection bridged two generations of works already among the museum’s holdings — by earlier African-American artists like John Biggers, Sargent Johnson and Lois Mailou Jones, and by their contemporary successors — the curator, Teresa A. Carbone, persuaded the museum to acquire it.
“Even at a time when people are more aware of the established canon of black artists,” Ms. Carbone said, “these artists are only now gaining the recognition they deserve.”
The collection — 44 works by 26 artists — was assembled by David Lusenhop, a former Chicago dealer now living in Detroit, and his colleague Melissa Azzi. About a dozen years ago the two began buying pieces they felt were prime examples of the Black Arts Movement.
Philip Kwame Apagya, Come on Board, 2000/2003 Courtesy of The Walther Collection
Arthur Walther,64, is a German-American art collector who began collecting artwork and photography in China in the early 1990′s. Following his retirement as a general partner at Goldman Sachs and the founding partner of the firm’s German operations, Walther focused on his collection. The wave of modernization and economic reform flooding through China resulted in artists recording and analyzing the changes that were occurring. As China competed more in the global market, Walther found himself shying away from their artists and collecting more work from contemporary African artists.
“A number of these [artworks] overlapped continuously,” Walther said at the exhibition of his latest exhibition, Distance and Desire: Encounters with the African Archive, which is being shown at the Chelsea Arts Building in New York. “I collected Chinese art very slowly. In the nineties and early 2000, [Chinese art was] a real examination and investigation by the artist of society and of the transformations and of their histories. Which before didn’t happen to that degree [because art] was all propaganda and political.”