Global contemporary art events and news observed from New York City. Suggestion? Email us.
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Tate to Make Half of Commercial Workforce Redundant

August 12th, 2020

The Tate will make half of its commercial workforce redundant, The Guardian reports. “Sadly, at the moment, the trading business is too big because we won’t be able to open all the cafes and the shops in the same way,” says director Maria Belshaw.
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Oregon Foundation Purchases Archive of Judy Chicago Prints

August 12th, 2020

Oregon philanthropist and collector Jordan D. Schnitzer has purchase an archive of prints and works on paper by Judy Chicago. “This will enhance the abilities of art historians to understand her process,” says dealer Tonya Turner Carroll.
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Don Marron’s Collection of Works on Paper to Go on View at Pace in Hamptons

August 11th, 2020

Part of the collection of late financier Don Marron, works on paper by Jasper Johns, Brice Marden and more, will go on sale at Pace Gallery’s Hamptons outpost this month. “The reason for this show is the same reason we are having the gallery here,” says Marc Glimcher. “To get people reengaged and in front of art again.”
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Philadelphia Museum of Art Employees Vote to Unionize

August 10th, 2020

The Philadelphia Museum of Art staff has voted to unionize. “We are all incredibly happy and excited to get to this point,” says organizer Nicole Cook. “It works out to an 89% victory, which feels really great. The win was very emphatic.”
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Met Lays Off 79 Employees

August 10th, 2020

The Met has laid off an additional 79 workers as the financial impact of COVID-19 continues to worsen.  “Our goal has always been to minimize the impact of the financial crisis for our staff,” reads an open letter from director Max Hollein and president/CEO Daniel Weiss. “Unfortunately, with staff salaries comprising around 65 percent of our annual budget, we are confronted by the difficult reality that reducing the size of our workforce and furloughing additional staff is the responsible next step to address our urgent financial challenges.”
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Beirut Art Scene Mourns Destruction Following Explosion

August 10th, 2020

A piece in the Art Newspaper traces the Lebanese art scene’s mourning after the massive explosion in the city last week. “All I hope now is for the quick recovery of those who have been injured and a safe return to the now-scattered people,” says Naila Kettaneh Kunigk, owner of Gallerie Tanit said in a statement.
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New Kerry James Marshall Pieces Delved Into Mystery of John James Audubon

August 4th, 2020

Kerry James Marshall unveils a body of new works in the NYT this week, inspired by the drawings of John James Audubon, and by historical assertions and evidence that the ornithologist and artist was black. “I didn’t know what to make of it, honestly,” he says. “If somebody did the research and put it in a book, then maybe it must be true. And I never forgot that assertion was made.”
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Hank Willis Thomas Interviewed in The Guardian

August 4th, 2020

Artist Hank Willis Thomas has an interview in The Guardian this week, as he exhibits a new sculpture in Atlanta’s Fourth Ward Park.  “To me, the work is a celebration and a provocation,” Thomas says. “It’s a symbol of community, strength, justice and belonging that aims to inspire action and demand social change.”
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Sotheby’s Announces $2.5 billion in Revenue for First Half of 2020

August 3rd, 2020

Sotheby’s announced earnings for the first half of 2020 at $2.5 billion with sales volume for the year down 25%, but impressive gains shown in online sales. “The art and luxury markets have proven to be incredibly resilient, and demand for quality across categories is unabated.” says CEO Charles Stewart.
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Yayoi Kusama’s Gropius Bau Retrospective Postponed Until 2021

August 3rd, 2020

Yayoi Kusama’s retrospective at the Gropius Bau in Berlin has been postponed until 2021.  “To Covid-19 that stands in our way/I say Disappear from this earth/We shall fight/We shall fight this terrible monster,” the artist said earlier this year in a statement on the current challenges caused by the virus.
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REFERENCE LIBRARY

Los Angeles – Ricky Swallow: “BORROWED SCULPTURES” at David Kordansky Through August 29th, 2020

August 10th, 2020

Ricky Swallow, Rocking Chair with Rope (Meditation #1) (2020), via David Kordansky
Ricky Swallow, Rocking Chair with Rope (Meditation #1) (2020), via David Kordansky

Currently on view at David Kordansky in Los Angeles is BORROWED SCULPTURES, an exhibition of new floor- and wall-based bronze sculptures by the Australian-born artist Ricky Swallow.  Continuing the artist’s enigmatic explorations of bronze sculpture and its relationship to the materiality of the everyday, the show mounts a body of works that walk a peculiar line between manufactured sculpture and readymade. Read More »

London – Heather Phillipson: “The End” Trafalgar Square Fourth Plinth Commission

August 3rd, 2020

Heather Phillipson, The End (Installation View), via City of London
Heather Phillipson, The End (Installation View), via City of London

A riddle topped with a cherry, Heather Phllipson’s new sculpture installation on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth in London has all the makings of a work fittingly in line with the surreal progression of events that have marked 2020.  A massive dollop of whipped cream, topped off with a cherry, a large fly and whirling drone, the piece, titled The End, seems to invite questions of just what its title might imply: are we looking at the end of meaning, the end of the world, or perhaps just the end of a particularly large sundae? Read More »

New York – Gary Simmons: “Screaming into the Ether” at Metro Pictures Through September 19th, 2020

July 28th, 2020

Gary Simmons, Screaming into the Ether (2020), via Metro Pictures
Gary Simmons, Screaming into the Ether (2020), via Metro Pictures

As galleries reopen in New York and test out their new exhibition strategies, the first string of gallery highlights and highly touted shows are beginning to pop up online.  Among these is Screaming into the Ether, the newest show of paintings by artist Gary Simmons at Metro Pictures.  Mining the language of classic cartoon aesthetics and the often physically expressive poses its characters took, Simmons’s show turns moments of comical action into desperate, unnerving moments through his slurred, blurry hand.   Read More »

AO Online – Hamptons Virtual Art Fair, July 23rd – 26th, 2020

July 25th, 2020

Sculptures by Anton Bakker at Walker Fine Art, via Hamptons Fine Art

Sculptures by Anton Bakker at Walker Fine Art, via Hamptons Fine Art

SPONSORED POST

With the summer months in full swing and the challenges of a post-COVID art world continuing to pose new issues for the market, an increasing number of fairs and exhibitions are moving towards online sales and shows.  Hamptons Virtual Art Fair, currently open online, marks a new entry in the string of fairs and online exhibitions that have run this summer, an intriguing addition that references the art world’s annual pilgrimage to the Eastern end of Long Island without the sun and sand.  It’s an interesting addition to an art calendar long defined by timing and travel for the collector class, a wink towards where, in late summer, its buyers may well be logging in from.

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RIP – Keith Sonnier, Pioneer of Neon-Based Light Works, Has Died at 78

July 20th, 2020

Keith Sonnier, Dala (2016), via Art Observed
Keith Sonnier, Dala (2016), via Art Observed

Artist Keith Sonnier, a pioneering voice in the development of light art and an ardent user of neon in complex, multi-layered sculptural arrangements, has died at the age of 78.  His studio confirmed the news the week. Read More »

RIP: Christo, Who Worked on a Monumental Scale, Passes Away at 84

June 1st, 2020

Christo at The Floating Piers, June 2016 Photo Wolfgang Volz
Christo at The Floating Piers, June 2016, Photo: Wolfgang Volz

Christo, the Bulgarian artist known for massively scaled environmental works that spread miles of fabric and other materials across natural landmarks and buildings at sites around the globe, has passed away at the age of 84.  Working for much of his life alongside his late wife, Jeanne-Claude, who passed away in 2009, the artist’s iconic pieces, like 2005’s The Gates in New York’s Central Park, or his wrapping of the Reichstag in Berlin, turned modern locales into subtle, surreal echoes of themselves.   Read More »

AO DIGITAL ROUND-UP – NADA FAIR, May 20th – June 21st, 2020

May 23rd, 2020

Edward Kay, via Rob Tufnell
Edward Kay, via Rob Tufnell

Making its own entry in the string of fairs and digital viewing sites embaraced by the art world to mitigate some of the damage caused by COVID-19, the New Art Dealers Alliance has launched a new project, the aptly titled FAIR.  Spanning several weeks of curated exhibitions from member galleries in New York and further afield, NADA’s new project will look to keep attention and focus on smaller galleries and artists amidst a time where many are suffering from the drop in physical contact and face to face encounters that make up so much of the art world’s business model.   Taking place May 20–June 21, 2020, FAIR will directly support 119 NADA Gallery Members and 81 other galleries that have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, totaling nearly 200 galleries around the world.   Read More »

Hong Kong – Bosco Sodi: “A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains” at Axel Vervoodt Through September 5th, 2020

May 16th, 2020

Bosco Sodi, A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains (Installation), via Art Observed
Bosco Sodi, A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains (Installation View), via Art Observed

As the city of Hong Kong gradually reopens, galleries are slowly returning to business as usual, with shows returning to their exhibition schedules, albeit slowly and gradually.  Among these shows is a quite striking exhibition of new pieces by Mexican artist Bosco Sodi at Axel Vervoodt, incorporating a range of material investigations and variations on his already enigmatic and exploratory processes. Titled  A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains, the exhibition takes the artist’s own hand and his engagement with traditional Chinese art techniques in equal stride. Read More »

AO Digital Round-Up – Frieze Art Fair’s Online Viewing Rooms, May 8th – 15th, 2020

May 11th, 2020

Mark Manders, via Tanya Bonakdar
Mark Manders, via Tanya Bonakdar

Taking the challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic head-on, the Frieze Art Fair has opened its Online Viewing Room program, bringing a selection of works by its exhibitors to view on its website.  Opened as a stand-in for the cancelled New York edition of its international fair program, the online show has created an expansive online show, welcoming those left working from home or sheltering in place to take a leisurely browse through the show. Read More »

Education Resources for Artists During COVID-19 Quarantine

April 23rd, 2020

Dike Blair, Untitled (2020), via Karma's Online Viewing Rooms
Dike Blair, Untitled (2020), via Karma.  The gallery is hosting a show of the artist’s work in its Online Viewing Rooms

As the weeks progress and institutions remain shuttered over COVID-19 concerns, many arts organizations are responding with online virtual education programming related to the arts, often accessible globally at no cost. Art Observed has compiled a selection of these resources, from online classes and exhibitions to panel discussions and online interviews. There has perhaps been no better time to develop and hone one’s skills, as regards both creating and appreciating art, and through these links, Art Observed hopes to enable its readers to branch out, exploring new concepts and skills from the safety of their homes, while helping to relieve some of the pressures and tedium of social distancing.
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