While Texas may have the fifth largest Muslim population in the United States by some estimates, its public art collections have only recently begun to reflect the 14-century sweep of Islamic history. But on Friday, with the stroke of a pen — sealing a complex agreement hashed out over months — the Dallas Museum of Art will become the long-term custodian of one of the most important collections of Islamic art in private hands.
The Keir Collection, amassed over decades in Britain by Edmund de Unger, a Hungarian real-estate magnate who died in 2011, will go to Dallas for at least 15 years beginning in May, under an unusual long-term renewable loan that will give the museum the right to lend pieces to other institutions and to make objects widely available to scholars. The agreement will instantly give Dallas, which now has only a few dozen Islamic pieces, perhaps the third most important Islamic collection in the country, after the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington.
With the 2011 expansion of the Islamic galleries at the Met and long-term loans and acquisitions of significant works by institutions like the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Cleveland Museum of Art, the profile of Islamic art in the United States is rising, as threats to major collections and historic sites in parts of the Middle East come with ever greater frequency. On Jan. 24, the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo, one of the most important in the world, was badly damaged by a truck bomb, which destroyed more than 70 artifacts.
The Keir Collection — named for a house near London where the collector once lived — had been assumed for several years to be headed to the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin, where Mr. de Unger had lent some works before his death. But Sabiha Al Khemir, a highly regarded scholar of Islamic art who was recruited to advise the Dallas museum in 2012, helped persuade the de Unger estate, controlled by the collector’s two sons, that the collection would be better served in Texas, where the museum would be able to make room to keep a few hundred works on view at a time. “They were looking for really a larger commitment for the whole collection and we could give them that,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, director of the Dallas Museum of Art.
No, not every deserving artist gets their first taste of attention through one of the art world’s largest platforms such as the legendary Art Basel show, or the Frieze Art Fair. In particular, African-American artists and other artists of color are still working towards greater visibility in the highest spheres of the rarified art community. Thus, there can never be too many lists bringing attention to the abundance of talented creators on the cusp of discovery who are ready to emerge.
Here are the fresh faces and more established visionaries still gaining ground that you need to know in 2014. The African diasporan artists compiled in the photo gallery above carry forth the traditions set in motion by visual artists from significant eras such as the Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movement, yet speak with new images and forms that lead us into the future.
With their various approaches to creativity, visual communication, and craft, these artists each examine critical issues of the past, present and future that reflect our shared experiences across the intersecting lines of race, class, gender, sexuality and politics. Through their works, the experiences of those of the African diaspora — and beyond — are critiqued, celebrated and preserved.
Visibility is essential to supporting the continued success of these artists, and ensuring that black artists — who are increasingly gaining recognition — continue to render our images in refined and thoughtful forms from the art world’s center stage. Regardless of whether these artists ever appear at Art Basel, or already have, please keep your eyes to the wall (and in some cases the floor, ceiling, and sidewalks), because you will want to follow these folks, who are the latest provocateurs, innovators and dreamers.
These selections are not ranked in any order to acknowledge equally the importance of each artist’s style — with the awareness that there are likely more great visual “voices” out there who deserve recognition. Click here to see more inspiring art.
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.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A new exhibit created by a University of Pennsylvania professor and host of a popular public television show examines how wartime propaganda has been used to motivate oppressed populations to risk their lives for homelands that considered them second-class citizens.
“Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster,” opens Sunday and continues until March 2 at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Lectures, film screenings and other programming will be rolled out over the course of the exhibit’s run.
The exhibit’s 33 posters, dating from the American Civil War to both World Wars and the African independence movements, are part of the personal collection of Tukufu Zuberi, Penn professor of sociology and African studies and a host of the Public Broadcasting Service series “History Detectives.”
Zuberi began his collection in 2005 and owns 48 posters in all. There are five he’s seeking to complete his collection, but he’s not divulging any specifics. “Oh, I don’t want to go there,” he said with a laugh. “If I say anything, then there’s going to be someone out there with more money and I won’t be able to buy anything again.”
If Thelma Golden didn’t exist, you would want to invent her. As director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, Golden brings her unique passion, commitment, style and laser-focus to every project she touches.
Being so good at what one does almost always stems from true love, and Golden has always been smitten with art. “When I was about 10 years old, a family friend gave my brother and I the board game Masterpiece, which involved figuring out who had stolen a great work of art,” the Queens-born Golden told theGrio. “The game included cards that represented the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, and those deeply engaged me in the idea of a museum.”
However, it was her elementary teacher, Lucille Buck, who really brought her into the study of art history. “Mrs. Buck was an art aficionado and felt strongly that we should not only visit museums, but also learn about the art, artists and artworks we were going to see before our visits. She began my lifelong love of learning about art.”
Golden takes the art world by storm
Armed with a B.A. in Art History and African-American Studies from Smith College, Golden actually started her career at the Studio Museum in 1987, prior to joining the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1988. She spent ten years at the Whitney. Her first big exhibition as curator was the 1993 Whitney Biennial (always a provocative seasonal show), but she really made her mark in 1994 when she organized the controversial exhibition Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art.
The show ruffled the feathers of black and white viewers — and critics — alike, but opened up new dialogues. Golden says that in many ways, it was her dream show. “By having been fortunate enough to do that so early on in my career, it has really freed me to be truly curatorially curious. I had the great advantage to make an exhibition so wholly influential to my thinking and the ideas that I was engaged with that it has let me, in the intervening twenty years, follow my mind and my heart around the art and artists that I love.”
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.
Portrait of Charlie Parker, 1968, Oil on canvas
Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York
The Whitney Museum of American Art exhibit, “Blues for Smoke,” features an exciting array of works by a wide range of contemporary black artists. But it offers so much more. A journey back in time, the combination of works, inspired by African-American music, slips you, with a heady mix of anticipation and foreboding, into a dark, back alley jazz club that would be easily at home in the ruins of Potsdam, Berlin, or along the steamy backwater canals of New Orleans. The mood of the show captures the feeling of folks gathered at smatterings of café tables as you enter, where you sit and listen to live jazz vocals in an atmosphere tinged with the bite of a gin cocktail and the halo of cigarette smoke.
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:
PRINCETON, NJ – The Princeton University Art Museum presents Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe, an exhibition exploring the presence of Africans and their descendants in Europe from the late 1400s to the early 1600s and the roles these individuals played in society as reflected in art. Africans living in or visiting Europe during this time included artists, aristocrats, saints, slaves, and diplomats. The exhibition of vivid portraits created from life—themselves a part of the wider Renaissance focus on the identity and perspective of the individual—encourages face-to-face encounters with these individuals and poses questions about the challenges of color, class, and stereotypes that a new diversity brought to Europe. Aspects of this material have long been studied by scholars, but this exhibition marks the first time the subject has been presented to a wider American public.
Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe will be on view at the Princeton University Art Museum from February 16, 2013 to June 9, 2013, and will feature over 65 paintings, sculptures, prints, manuscripts, and printed books by great artists such as Dürer, Bronzino, Pontormo, Veronese, and Rubens. Organized by the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore in collaboration with the Princeton University Art Museum, the exhibition includes artworks drawn from major museums and private collections across Europe and the United States, including works from both Princeton and the Walters.
“The exhibition focuses new attention on an important but poorly understood aspect of Western history and the history of representation and thus continues our commitment to expanding the borders of scholarship and public understanding,” according to Princeton University Art Museum Director James Steward. “This exhibition affords an exceptional opportunity to discover great works of art and encourages us to reflect on our understanding of cultural identity both past and present.”
The presence of Africans and their descendants in Europe was partially a consequence of the drive for new markets beginning in the late 1400s. This included the importation of West Africans as slaves, supplanting the trade of slaves of Slavic origin. There was also increasing conflict with North African Muslims and heightened levels of diplomatic and trade initiatives by African monarchs.
The State Museum in Albany, NY is marking the 100th birthday of photographer Gordon Parks with an exhibit of his works. The show opens on Jan. 26 and will showcase six decades of Parks’ photographs. It will include his most famous photo, “American Gothic, Washington, D.C.,” which shows a black cleaning woman standing in front of an American flag with a broom and a mop.
State Education Commissioner John King says Parks’ work helped drive the Civil Rights movement by exposing the stark realities of life faced by many African Americans.
The State Museum display is organized by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The exhibit includes images from the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information collections at the Library of Congress.