A black lascivious baby bandaging the head of a wounded soldier, possibly confederate. A white man walking while giving (or imposing) cunnilingus to a black hydrocephalic woman. Fredric Douglass. OJ Simpson. A composite of Peter Tosh and the Baron Samedi holding Trump’s head. Salome offering Trayvon Martin’s severed head on her tray, while a missionary with a voluptuous backside admonishes her. A Ku Klux Klan member hiding Trump under his skirts. An 18th century libertine masturbating. Batman stealing a mummy topped with a black head. [Read more…]
While it has long been traditional to show artists together when they belong to the same art movement, such as fauvists or expressionists, exhibitions with fairly unrelated artists seem to be the latest rage with curators. Monet, Hodler, and Munch, who were featured in a joint exhibition at the Marmottan Monet Museum in Paris earlier this year, overlapped chronologically over one century (1840-1944), but are classified respectively with impressionism, postimpressionism and symbolism. The Musée d’Art Moderne is currently showing together Derain, a fauvist, Balthus a neoclassicist, and Giacometti, usually classified as an existentialist sculptor. The work of Mapplethorpe was recently displayed on the walls surrounding Rodin’s sculptures at the Rodin Museum. [Read more…]
Works by artists from South of the Sahara are being exhibited at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, one of three exhibitions of African art. The building, a folly Frank Gehry has indulged in his advancing years, reportedly cost just under 900 million dollars, while less than a decade earlier his Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao cost a comparatively scant $100 million.
The works are part of a collection that curator André Magnin has put together on behalf of Jean Pigozzi, an art collector and heir to the Simca automobile brand. Pigozzi owns yachts and islands and admits, quite unabashedly, he has never set foot on the African continent and doesn’t plan to. Despite this rather paradoxical setup, the art — vibrant, expressive, masterly — silences any misgivings about the contradictions between art market and free expression, about the morality of exiling these works from their native audience, about the appropriateness of an “African Art” label and, finally, about the subjectivity of a Western critic’s review. [Read more…]
In 1916, when Florine Stettheimer was 45 and had been painting for over 20 years, she had her first solo show at the Knoedler Gallery in New York. Half way through the show, she wrote in her diary: “I am not selling much to my amazement.” And, at the end, “Nothing sold.” She did not get the recognition she expected as an artist through the sale of her paintings. Reviews were derisive or indifferent at best. It must have hurt. Had her paintings sold, she would have joined the ranks of painters such as O’Keeffe and Aaron Douglas and Arthur Dove and Gaston Lachaise, her Modernist friends who lived from their art. Instead, she was denied an escape from her position as an upper class idler. From then on, she refused all solo shows. She embraced brazenly her identity as upper class, at least publicly. She overpriced her paintings to prevent any sales. [Read more…]
I have a vested interest in finding whether essential differences exist between the art of women and that of men. A woman, I’ve been doing, appreciating, thinking about art all my life. Questions assail me as I approach the MOMA exhibition Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction. Is their work different from their male counterparts? If it is different, in what way? Is their art worse, justifying the relative obscurity they have been left in? Is there a unifying quality to the work, or is the collection of individualities more defining than the elusive gender? [Read more…]
Exploring the writer-reader relationship, whether real or imaginary
“I know it’s happenin’, but who is it happenin’ to? I know it’s happenin’, but who is it happenin’ to? What am I gonna do to wake up? ” cries Kate Tempest, the UK wunderkind, into an imaginary cellphone. On the largest stage of the Jaipur Literature Festival 2017, she is performing her work Let Them Eat Chaos, part one- woman play, part rap, part poetry. Gutsy, gusty, genuine, she paints with brilliance and poignancy the world of anguished young Brits: “He can’t tell, he can’t dream, he can’t feel, he can’t scream … And he thinks, Is this really what it means to be alive?” But the packed audience of young Indian people knows without the shadow of a doubt who it is happening to and what it means to be alive: they feel only too urgently their desire for a better life, a better India. Still, they clearly appreciate the passionate lament, and with open minds try to understand the strange, frumpy woman plodding the stage. [Read more…]