The Week in Art
Ukraine museum collections: kept safe or looted? Plus, Okwui Enwezor’s Sharjah Biennial and Ming Smith at MoMA
As we approach the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, The Art Newspaper has published an investigation that raises serious concerns that works of art taken by Russian troops from a museum in Kherson, Ukraine, in November 2022 may not be repatriated once the fighting ends. Our London correspondent Martin Bailey tells us about his story. Plus, the Sharjah Biennial opens next week, and is the final biennial curated by Okwui Enwezor, who died in 2019, but set the blueprint for the show, entitled Thinking Historically in the Present. We talk to Nadine Khalil about the biennial and Sharjah’s place in the Middle Eastern art ecosystem. And this episode’s Work of the Week is Invisible Man, Somewhere, Everywhere (1991) by the American photographer Ming Smith, a key piece in a new exhibition of Smith’s work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Oluremi Onabanjo, the curator of the show, tells us about the work.The Sharjah Biennial runs from 7 February to 11 June.Projects: Ming Smith, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 4 February-29 May. Ming Smith: Invisible Man, Somewhere, Everywhere, by Oluremi C. Onabanjo, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 48pp, $14.95/£17 (pb)
Kusama x Louis Vuitton: art and luxury. Plus, Michael Rakowitz’s Tate/Iraq gift and photographer Rosy Martin
This week: as robotic figures of the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama appear in windows of Louis Vuitton stores in New York, London and Tokyo, Ben Luke talks to Federica Carlotto, a specialist in art and luxury, about the latest collaboration between Kusama and the LVMH brand. What does it tell us about what the former creative director of Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, called the “monumental marriage between art and commerce”? Also this week, the artist Michael Rakowitz hopes to give a public sculpture he made for Trafalgar Square in London to Tate Modern and an Iraqi institution. He explains how it prompted Iraq to request the return of one of the lamassu, the ancient Assyrian sculptures that inspired Rakowitz’s work, from the British Museum to its country of origin. And this episode’s Work of the Week is I didn’t put myself down for sainthood (2018), a piece made by Rosy Martin in collaboration with Verity Welstead. The photographic ensemble is in the opening displays of the new Centre of British Photography in London. We speak to James Hyman, the art dealer, collector and co-founder of the centre, about the work.You can hear our interview with Michael Rakowitz when he unveiled the sculpture in Trafalgar Square in the episode from 22 March 2018 and an in-depth conversation with Michael in the episode of the A brush with… podcast from 9 June 2021.Headstrong: Women and Empowerment, Centre for British Photography, London, until 23 April.
Van Gogh’s Sunflowers legal dispute. Plus, Singapore’s art scene and photographer Grace Lau
Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in Tokyo are the subject of a legal claim in the US relating to Nazi loot. The Art Newspaper’s London correspondent and resident Van Gogh expert Martin Bailey tells us why Sunflowers (1888-89) is at the centre of the dispute, 35 years after it was sold for a record price at auction, and why the heirs of the German Jewish banker Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, who owned it until the 1930s, now value it at a staggering $250m. Our editor-at-large Georgina Adam has just returned from Singapore, where the first Art SG art fair took place last week. How successful was this new event in the art market calendar, and what does it tell us about Singapore’s ambitions to become an art hub? And this episode’s Work of the Week is Portraits in a Chinese Studio, a photographic work by the artist Grace Lau. In the project, which marks Chinese New Year, Lau is subverting the tradition of colonial 19th-century portrait studios in a shopping centre in Southampton on the south coast of the UK.Grace Lau: Portraits in a Chinese Studio, Marlands Shopping Centre, Southampton, UK, 21 January-12 February
The art world in 2023: market predictions, big shows, museum openings
In the first episode of the year, we look ahead at the next 12 months. Anny Shaw, the acting art market editor at The Art Newspaper, peers into her crystal ball and tries to predict the fortunes of the art market this year. Then, Jane Morris, one of our editors-at-large, José da Silva, our exhibitions editor, and host Ben Luke select the museum projects, biennales and exhibitions that they are most looking forward to in 2023.Events discussed:The Grand Egyptian Museum: no confirmed opening date. https://www.theartnewspaper.com/keywords/grand-egyptian-museumThe National Portrait Gallery reopens on 22 June. https://www.npg.org.uk/Factory International, Manchester, also opens in June. Yayoi Kusama’s You Me and the Balloons opens there on 29 June, as does the Manchester International Festival. https://factoryinternational.org/The Sharjah Biennial: Thinking Historically in the Present opens on 7 February. https://sharjahart.org/biennial-15The Gwangju Biennial: Soft and Weak Like Water opens on 7 April. https://www.gwangjubiennale.org/gb/intro.doCelebration Picasso 1973-2023 https://celebracionpicasso.es/en/calendarioVermeer opens at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, on 10 February. https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/stories/themes/vermeerManet/Degas opens at the at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, on 28 March and then at the Metropolitan Museum, New York, on 24 September https://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/whats-on/exhibitions/manet-degasJuan de Pareja: Afro-Hispanic Painter, opens at the Met on 3 April https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2023/juan-de-parejaSimone Leigh opens at the ICA, Boston, on 6 April, then at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., on 3 November before travelling to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Californian African American Museum in 2024 https://www.icaboston.org/exhibitions/simone-leighBarkley Hendricks: Portraits at the Frick opens at Frick Madison, New York, on 21 September https://www.frick.org/sites/default/files/pdf/press/2022/Hendricks_Release_Final_07_13_22.pdfAlma Thomas: Composing Colour is at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in D.C., from 15 September https://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/alma-thomasThe Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century opens at the Baltimore Museum of Art on 5 April and the Saint Louis Art Museum on 25 August https://artbma.org/about/press/release/baltimore-museum-of-art-and-saint-louis-art-museum-co-organize-monumental-exhibition-exploring-the-global-significance-and-impact-of-hip-hopJaune Quick-to-See Smith opens at the Whitney Museum, New York, on 19 April https://whitney.org/exhibitions/jaune-quick-to-see-smithRemedios Varo: Science Fictions is at the Art Institute of Chicago from 29 July Hilma af Klint and Piet Mondrian: Forms of Life opens at Tate Modern in London on 20 April https://www.tate.org.uk/press/press-releases/hilma-af-klint-piet-mondrian-forms-of-lifeMarina Abramovic is at the Royal Academy in London from 23 September https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/marina-abramovic
2022’s biggest art stories—and what they mean
It’s our final podcast of 2022 and so, as ever, we’re looking back at the worlds of art and heritage over the past 12 months. Ben Luke is joined by three members of The Art Newspaper team: Louisa Buck, contemporary art correspondent, Kabir Jhala, acting deputy art market editor, and Ben Sutton, editor in the Americas. Among much else, they discuss the effects of the war in Ukraine, Just Stop Oil’s activism, unionisation in US museums, the restitution of African and Native American (and Greek) objects, and the NFT crash. They also look at the big art shows and, finally, choose a work of the year.
Parthenon Marbles: breakthrough in sight? Plus, Afghan culture in crisis and Kiki Smith’s New York murals
This week: the Parthenon Marbles; it has emerged that George Osborne, the former UK chancellor and now chair of the trustees of the British Museum, has been holding talks with the Greek government about the ancient sculptures. So might this lead to a breakthrough in the long-running dispute over their ownership? Ben Luke speaks to Yannis Andritsopoulos, the reporter for the Greek newspaper Ta Nea who broke the story. In Afghanistan, it is more than a year since the Taliban reclaimed power—so what has become of the heritage projects and art community in the country, which is consumed by a devastating humanitarian crisis? We hear from Sarvy Geranpayeh, who has regularly reported from Afghanistan for The Art Newspaper, about art and archeology under the Taliban. And this episode’s Work of the Week is a group of five murals by the German-born US artist Kiki Smith. The works are about to be unveiled at Grand Central Madison, the new Long Island Rail Road terminal below Grand Central on Madison Avenue, Manhattan. Smith tells us about the origin and development of her series of vast mosaics.
Feast and famine: Miami millions and UK arts cuts. Plus, Ukrainian Modernism in Madrid
As Art Basel returns to Florida for the 20th anniversary of its Miami Beach art fair, Aimee Dawson, the acting digital editor at The Art Newspaper, talks to Anny Shaw, the acting art market editor, about the sales, news and talking points at the event that has become most synonymous with art-world excess. Meanwhile, after Arts Council England announced its funding allocation in November, arts organisations across the country, and especially in London, are reeling. Ben Luke talks to Jenni Lomax, the former director of the Camden Art Centre—the north London non-profit gallery whose funding has been cut by more than 30%. They discuss the effect of the cuts, and why the response from the visual arts community is relatively quiet compared to the uproar in the worlds of theatre and opera. And this episode’s Work of the Week is Oleksandr Bohomazov’s Sharpening the Saws (1927), a work from the National Art Museum of Ukraine in Kyiv. The painting is among a host of works moved from the war-torn country to the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum in Madrid for the exhibition In the Eye of the Storm: Modernism in Ukraine, 1900-1930s. Katia Denysova, the co-curator of the show, tells us about the picture, and the extraordinary journey it took from Kyiv to the Spanish capital.Art Basel in Miami Beach until 3 December.In the Eye of the Storm: Modernism in Ukraine, 1900-1930s, Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, Madrid, until 30 April 2023.
Pussy Riot and Ragnar Kjartansson; Shirin Neshat on Iran; Puerto Rican art after Hurricane Maria
This week: as the exhibition Velvet Terrorism: Pussy Riot’s Russia opens at the Kling & Bang gallery in Reykjavik, Ben Luke talks to Masha Alekhina, one of the founding members of Pussy Riot, and the artist Ragnar Kjartansson, one of the co-curators of the show. As protests continue across Iran, Aimee Dawson, The Art Newspaper’s acting digital editor, speaks to Shirin Neshat, the artist whose work expressing solidarity with women in Iran was recently installed outside the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. And this episode’s Work of the Week is by the Puerto Rican artist Gabriella Torres-Ferrer. Their 2018 sculpture—called Untitled (Value Your American Lie)—is part of a major new show at the Whitney Museum in New York, exploring art in Puerto Rico in the five years since the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Maria in 2017.Velvet Terrorism: Pussy Riot’s Russia, Kling & Bang, Reykjavik, until 15 January 2023. Pussy Riot: Riot Days, National Theatre of Iceland, Reykjavik, 25 November. Proceeds from the concert and the exhibition go to supporting Ukraine. You can hear an in-depth interview with Ragnar Kjartansson from 2020 on our sister podcast A brush with… on the usual podcast platforms.No existe un mundo poshuracán: Puerto Rican Art in the Wake of Hurricane Maria, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, until 23 Apr 2023.
Art at Qatar’s World Cup; New York auctions; Mozambican artist Luis Meque
Ben Luke talks to Hannah McGivern, a correspondent for The Art Newspaper who has just been to Qatar, about the vast number of public art projects that will accompany the FIFA Men’s World Cup that begins there on Sunday 20 November. She also discusses the museums that Qatar plans to open by 2030. How does this explosion of cultural initiatives sit with Qatar’s record on human rights and treatment of low-paid migrant workers in the building of its cultural venues and World Cup stadia? It has been a heady fortnight of auctions in New York. Ben speaks to Georgina Adam, an editor-at-large at The Art Newspaper, about the highs and lows, and whether we can expect even more sales of blockbuster collections in the coming years. And this episode’s Work of the Week is an untitled painting by Luis Meque, an artist born in Mozambique who came to fame in the 1980s and early-1990s in Zimbabwe. Tandazani Dhlakama, the curator of the exhibition When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting at Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town, tells us about Meque’s painting and his brief and brilliant life.When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting, Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South Africa, 20 November-3 September 2023