Exciting Obama Portraits to be Unveiled in Early 2018

 Photo of Kehinde Wiley by Chad Batka for the New York Times. 

Photo of Kehinde Wiley by Chad Batka for the New York Times. 

Barack and Michelle Obama have announced their selections of artists to complete the former first couple's official portraits and are receiving plaudits for their art-historically savvy, thoughtful choices: Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald.

Roberta Smith of the NYT notes of the selections, which were made by the Obamas themselves from a shortlist compiled by the National Portrait Gallery curators:

"Their choices...reflect the Obamas’ instincts for balancing the expected and the surprising, and for being alert to painting’s pertinence to the moment."

The paintings by Mr. Wiley and Ms. Sherald will be unveiled at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in early 2018.

Trump Emphatically Believes in his Renoir Reproduction

 Left, by Ron Galella/WireImage; Right, from Heritage Images, both via Vanity Fair

Left, by Ron Galella/WireImage; Right, from Heritage Images, both via Vanity Fair

Trump biographer Tim O'Brien, author of "Trump Nation: The Art of Being Donald," was featured on The Hive podcast and gave the backstory on Trump's supposed Renoir painting.

The painting, a copy of "Two Sisters (On the Terrace)" (1881), formerly resided on Trump's private plane and has since been relocated to his Trump Tower residence. The actual "Two Sisters" was purchased from the artist by pioneering Parisian dealer Paul Duran-Ruel and subsequently owned by Annie S. Coburn before being donated to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1933, where it remains on public view.

Trump's version of the painting is one of a number of known copies of the Renoir work. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Trump has reportedly insisted to visitors for years that the fake is "an original" Renoir.

Museo de Arte de Ponce is Running on Diesel and a lot of Heart

Amongst widespread devastation of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the island's premier art museum is using art to provide respite and hope.

Despite the surrounding physical destruction and a lack of power or outside communications, the Museo de Arte de Ponce re-opened within a week following the storm. It has resumed workshops and other public programming and is offering free admission.

The museum, which was designed by MoMA architect Edward Durell Stone, is the permanent home of Frederic Leighton's painting "Flaming June" (colloquially known as "the Mona Lisa of the Southern Hemisphere.")

An exhibition developed with the Frick, "Pequeños tesoros de la Frick Collection," remains on track to open next month.

 Photo by   Alejandra Peña Gutiérrez

Photo by  Alejandra Peña Gutiérrez

The New York Times Shares a Playlist of Basquiat's Favorite Tunes

 Photo courtesy of Maripol

Photo courtesy of Maripol

"Basquiat: Boom for Real" opened last night at the Barbican Center in London. The exhibition examines the artist's relationship to music in depth. Basquiat, who amassed a collection of3,000 albums, was obsessed with music. His devotion to music influenced his painting and drawing in both broad highly-specific, ways (he depicted his jazz heroes an incorporated their names into his works). 

Basquiat had eclectic taste in music, but it was jazz -- specifically Bebop -- that was his prime aural inspiration. 

The attached article from the NYT has a Spotify playlist with some of Basquiat's favorite tracks.

Disrupt the Gallery System because it's Failing

 Photo courtesy the Art Business Conference

Photo courtesy the Art Business Conference

Vanessa Carlos, the owner of Carlos/Ishikawa and founder of the international Condo project, gave an interesting talk at the Art Business conference in London. While recapitulating the economic challenges facing small to mid-size galleries (and noting that half of all London galleries are consistently losing money), Carlos thoughtfully grounds her take on market forces within the context of individual galleries' goals and missions.

Dismay in Chihuly's Studio Over Recent Lawsuit Against Him

The famed glass artist Dale Chihuly, whose works are currently on view at the New York Botanical Garden, is the subject of a lawsuit brought by a former contractor. The plaintiff, Michael Moi, is alleging that he worked for years as an uncredited assistant and claims that he is due co-authorship of many works. The Chihuly estate counters that Moi was in fact a "handyman" for the studio initially hired to do roof repairs.

Mr. Chihuly, whose health is failing at age 75, has never hidden the fact that he works with assistants. Given the scale of many of the works produced in his 34,000 sq. foot, the fact that others would assist seems unsurprising. Moreover, Chihuly has not hidden the fact that he has worked with assistants for decades (in fact, generations have glass artisans have essentially apprenticed at his studio).

Further complicating the dispute is the fact that Moi, prior to filing his lawsuit, reportedly demanded USD $21 million and threatened to reveal the artist's struggles with bipolar disorder if not paid. The issue of Mr. Chihuly's mental health is re-capitulated in the current lawsuit in a strikingly ad hominem swipe:

"For years Leslie Chihuly and Chihuly Studio have undertaken efforts to hide Dale’s struggles with mental health and his inability to work on a daily basis, not to protect him, but to ensure that the cash cow known as ‘Chihuly’ continued to moo.”

Photo by Kyle Johnson for The New York Times

Government Entity Committee on Arts and Humanities Resigns En Masse after Trump's Charlottesville Response

President Trump's Committee on Arts and Humanities, which is chaired by Melania Trump, has resigned en masse following the dissolution of Trump's business, manufacturing and infrastructure advisory councils.

This development raises the question: Trump had an arts and humanities advisory committee?

In fact, the group was assembled under President Obama's administration and had never actually convened since President Trump assumed office. Unlike the other committees that disappeared this week, however, the arts and humanities advisory committee was an actual government entity rather than just an informal assemblage.

The resignation statement was signed by all members of the committee, which included painter and photographer Chuck Close and novelist Jhumpa Lahiri.

Kara Walker's Upcoming Fall Show

Despite the onset of late August torpor that afflicts much of the New York art world annually, the heartbreaking and surreal events of the last week are already registering profoundly in the lead-up to fall gallery exhibitions.

 New work by Kara Walker for her upcoming fall show at Sikkema Jenkins

New work by Kara Walker for her upcoming fall show at Sikkema Jenkins

Sikkema Jenkins's press release for its upcoming show of new work by Kara Walker features a striking statement reflecting a tangle of conflicting emotions, including anger, resentment, defiance and resignation.

The first part of the press release consists solely of the 300-word title show, which is a wry commentary on the contemporary artworld: "Sikkema Jenkins and Co. is Compelled to present the most Astounding and Important Painting show of the fall Art Show viewing season! Collectors will flock to see the latest Kara Walker offerings, and what is she offering but the Finest Selection or artworks by an African American Living Woman Artist this side of the Mississippi..."

As described by Blake Gopnik, the remainder of the press release essentially consists of an artist's statement that Walker completed last weekend while the events in Charlottesville were unfolding.

Walker's statement (published on Sikkema Jenkins website) is as follows:

Artist’s Statement

I don’t really feel the need to write a statement about a painting show. I know what you all expect from me and I have complied up to a point. But frankly I am tired, tired of standing up, being counted, tired of “having a voice” or worse “being a role model.” Tired, true, of being a featured member of my racial group and/or my gender niche. It’s too much, and I write this knowing full well that my right, my capacity to live in this Godforsaken country as a (proudly) raced and (urgently) gendered person is under threat by random groups of white (male) supremacist goons who flaunt a kind of patched together notion of race purity with flags and torches and impressive displays of perpetrator-as-victim sociopathy. I roll my eyes, fold my arms and wait. How many ways can a person say racism is the real bread and butter of our American mythology, and in how many ways will the racists among our countrymen act out their Turner Diaries race war fantasy combination Nazi Germany and Antebellum South – states which, incidentally, lost the wars they started, and always will, precisely because there is no way those white racisms can survive the earth without the rest of us types upholding humanity’s best, keeping the motor running on civilization, being good, and preserving nature and all the stuff worth working and living for?

Anyway, this is a show of works on paper and on linen, drawn and collaged using ink, blade, glue and oil stick. These works were created over the course of the Summer of 2017 (not including the title, which was crafted in May). It’s not exhaustive, activist or comprehensive in any way.