Global contemporary art events and news observed from New York City. Suggestion? Email us.
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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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Protests Begin in Norway as Picasso Mural is Removed from Damaged Building

July 29th, 2020

Protests have begun in Norway, as the government begins tearing down a massive Picasso mural damaged in the 2011 terrorist attack in Oslo. “There is a grieving process that this is happening,”  “At the same time, the spirit that many displayed to campaign to protect the building has been very positive. People have woken up to the value of this art.”
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Final Van Gogh Work Location Discovered

July 29th, 2020

The site of Van Gogh’s last painting has been discovered as Auvers-sur-Oise, village north of Paris where the artist died.  “Having worked for hours on a painting which shows a preoccupation with the relentless struggle between life and death, Van Gogh, feeling alone and seeing no alternative, decided to find his earthly rest with the setting sun, on the outskirts of the village with a view of a freshly harvested wheatfield,” says researcher Wouter van der Veen. 
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Tate Blasted Over Cuts Alleged to Disproportionately Affect Minority Staff

July 29th, 2020

The Tate is under fire after trade unions accused the museum of disproportionately cutting black and minority ethnic staff members as it reopens.  “Many of these colleagues will be amongst the lowest-paid staff on the Tate estate, with some at risk earning little more than the national minimum wage, and in some of the most diverse teams across Tate,” the union representing employees stated.
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Pace Gallery Lays Off Staff

July 28th, 2020

Pace has informed a number of previously furloughed employees that they will not be returning to work. “The economic situation caused by the global pandemic means we cannot sustain our previous level of staffing,” says gallery spokeswoman Amelia Redgrift. “This decision was taken after every other measure to ensure we are prepared for an extended period of financial uncertainty and to protect as many jobs as possible in the long-term.”
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Gavin Brown Closes Gallery to Partner with Gladstone Gallery

July 21st, 2020

Gavin Brown is closing his solo gallery, and partnering with Barbara Gladstone, the NYT reports. “It’s been a very rapid process,” Brown says. “Barbara is someone I’ve held in esteem for three decades. I remember, vividly, seeing the Matthew Barney show on Greene Street.”
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Paintings by de Kooning, Calder, Discovered in Stony Brook Hospital Basement

July 21st, 2020

A trove of paintings, including work by Willem de Kooning and Alexander Calder, have been discovered in the basement of Stony Brook Hospital, The New York Post reports.  “It was a great find,” says art consultant Vincent Mazo “It was like opening up King Tut’s tomb.”
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REFERENCE LIBRARY

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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Dustin Yellin and Vik Muniz Converse Live on Art Observed’s Instagram Channel

April 23rd, 2020

Dustin Yellin and Vik Muniz Converse on Instagram Live, via Art Observed
Dustin Yellin and Vik Muniz Converse on Instagram Live, via Art Observed

This week, artists Dustin Yellin and Vik Muniz sat down this week on Art Observed’s Instagram Live channel to discuss art, the current state of the world, and share insights into their practice.  The full interview is now up on our Instagram channel. Read More »