Ultra Violet - Color of 2018

Pantone has announced its color of the year for 2018: Ultra Violet (18-3838).

Recently, the Pantone selection process seems to have acquired more of a socio-political veneer.

“It’s...the most complex of all colors,” Pantone announced, “because it takes two shades that are seemingly diametrically opposed — blue and red — and brings them together to create something new.”

However, this characterization is incorrect. Purple is a combination of red and blue, while Violet has its own place on the UV spectrum.

But then again, the 2017 color of the year, Greenery (15-0343), was supposed to denote "new beginnings"...and we all know how that turned out.

Congratulations to MacArthur Fellowship Awardee Njideka Akunyili Crosby

The Nigeria-born, now Brooklyn-based, artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby was awarded a well-deserved MacArthur ("Genius") Fellowship for 2017. Her exquisite paintings, dense with visual information, are both immediately striking and rewarding of sustained examination.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby,  Predecessors  (2013). Courtesy of the artist via her website. 

Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Predecessors (2013). Courtesy of the artist via her website. 

I first saw her work several years ago at a gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa, before she joined Victoria Miro Gallery and acquired broad exposure. It was immediately obvious on first encountering her work that she was a major talent.

Tensions Rise in Gentrifying Chinatown over Art Exhibit

The current exhibition by Omer Fast, "August," has caused a firestorm of debate. Mounted at James Cohan Gallery in the Lower East Side of New York, the centerpiece of the exhibition is an immersive installation that alludes to the gallery's Chinatown location.

Courtesy of ArtNet News: Installation view, “Omer Fast: August,” James Cohan, New York, 2017. Photo: Phoebe d’Heurle.

Courtesy of ArtNet News: Installation view, “Omer Fast: August,” James Cohan, New York, 2017. Photo: Phoebe d’Heurle.

A large protest headed by community groups including Art Against Displacement, Decolonize this Place and the Chinatown Art Brigade was mounted last weekend.

The Chinatown Art Brigade issued the following statement:

"The conception and installation of this show reifies racist narratives of uncleanliness, otherness and blight that have historically been projected onto Chinatown. Your appalling exhibition should be shut down.”

The artist, who immigrated from Israel to the US as a teenager, has issued a response:

"...The point of this work was never to insult or incite but to talk about identity and immigrant experience – my immigrant experience – warts and all, in its complexity and in its contradictions, pitting essence against appearance. For what it’s worth, I think this is what this work does..."

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.

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.

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.

Alice Cooper's rock'n'roll warhol

Little Electric Chair. Photo courtesy of Alice Cooper.

Little Electric Chair. Photo courtesy of Alice Cooper.

Heavy metal musician and "Godfather of Shock Rock" Alice Cooper recently discovered that he has unknowingly owned a "Little Electric Chair" painting by Andy Warhol since 1972. The musician developed a friendship with Warhol in the early 1970s they both frequented Max's Kansas City. Warhol reportedly thought the painting, which depicts the electric chair at the notorious Sing Sing prison, was appropriate for Cooper, who performed a fake electrocution in his stage show.

It appears that Cooper purchased the work for USD $2,500 in 1972, but forgot that he done so. Cooper describes this period in his life as "a swirl of drink and drugs," and he was also admitted to a psychiatric hospital shortly thereafter.

The painting, which has never been stretched, was discovered rolled up in a tube in storage space owned by Cooper.

Comparable works from the "Little Electric Chair" series have sold at auction for up to USD $11.6 million.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/jul/24/alice-cooper-andy-warhol-little-electric-chair?CMP=share_btn_fb