cover art for Afua Hirsch on Africa Rising, Liverpool Biennial, Basquiat in Basel with Jeffrey Deitch

The Week in Art

Afua Hirsch on Africa Rising, Liverpool Biennial, Basquiat in Basel with Jeffrey Deitch

As her new series for the BBC, Africa Rising, takes Afua Hirsch to Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa, we talk to her about the artists and art scenes she encountered and what she took away from her experiences. The Liverpool Biennial’s latest edition opened last weekend and has a South African curator, Khanyisile Mbongwa, and an IsiZulu title, uMoya: The Sacred Return of Lost Things. The Art Newspaper’s contemporary art correspondent, Louisa Buck, visited the biennial and reviews it for us. And it is Art Basel this week, in its original Swiss location, so this episode’s Work of the Week is one of the most notable works for sale at the fair. Valentine was painted by Jean-Michel Basquiat in 1984 and given to his then girlfriend, Paige Powell, on Valentine’s Day. Jeffrey Deitch, who is selling the work at Art Basel, tells us its story.

Africa Rising: Morocco is on the BBC iPlayer now. The Nigeria episode is on BBC Two on 20 June at 9pm for UK viewers and on BBC iPlayer, and South Africa is broadcast on BBC Two at 27 June at 9pm. For listeners outside the UK, check your local listings.

Liverpool Biennial, uMoya: The Sacred Return of Lost Things, until 17 September.

Art Basel, until 18 June; Jean-Michel Basquiat: the Modena Paintings, Beyeler Foundation, Basel, until 27 August.

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  • Art Basel in Miami Beach, the all-women museum in Athens, Pesellino’s David panels

    This week: the final big art market event of the year, Art Basel in Miami Beach. The Art Newspaper’s associate digital editor, Alexander Morrison, talks to our acting art market editor, Tim Schneider, in Miami about the fair, as tensions rise ahead of the pivotal 2024 US election. In Athens, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, or EMST, is next week opening a months-long programme which will end up with the entire museum filled with women artists. We talk to EMST’s director, Katerina Gregos, about the programme, called What if Women Ruled the World? And this episode’s Work of the Week is two objects: the 15th-century Florentine artist Francesco Pesellino’s panels telling the story of David and Goliath, made for a luxurious cassone or chest for the Medici family. The panels belong to the National Gallery in London and have just been restored for a new exhibition there, Pesellino: A Renaissance Master Revealed. We talk to Jill Dunkerton, who did the restoration, about these extraordinary paintings.Art Basel in Miami Beach, Miami Beach Convention Center, until Sunday, 10 December.What if Women Ruled the World? begins at EMST, Athens, on 14 December.Pesellino: A Renaissance Master Revealed, National Gallery, London, until 10 March 2024.
  • Gaza: damage to historic sites, Emily Kam Kngwarray in Canberra, a Gauguin manuscript

    The tragic human cost of the bombardment of the Gaza Strip in the Israel-Hamas war is well documented. What is now becoming clear is how many historic buildings and sites have also been destroyed. We talk to Sarvy Geranpayeh, a correspondent for The Art Newspaper in the Middle East, about the fate of heritage in Gaza. As a huge exhibition of the work of Emily Kam Kngwarray, perhaps the most celebrated of all Indigenous Australian artists, opens at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, we speak to the show’s curators Kelli Cole and Hetti Perkins, about her life and work. And this episode’s Work of the Week is a manuscript written by Paul Gauguin just months before he died in French Polynesia—Martin Bailey, our London correspondent, tells us more about the document, which has been acquired by The Courtauld in London.Emily Kam Kngwarray, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2 December-28 April 2024
  • US museums’ financial woes, Documenta’s new crisis, Kim Lim

    This week: The Art Newspaper’s editor, Americas, Ben Sutton discusses redundancies and ticket price-hikes at several museums across the US, and what it tells us about the economic climate for American museums in the wake of the pandemic. After a troubled 15th edition in 2022, Documenta—the influential exhibition that takes place twice a decade in Kassel, Germany—is at the centre of another controversy. The entire committee intended to appoint its artistic director has resigned following disputed allegations of antisemitism against one of the panel. Our correspondent in Germany, Catherine Hickley, tells us more about this and the wider crisis in the German art world relating to the war in Israel and Gaza. And this episode’s Work of the Week is Ronin (1963), a sculpture by the Singaporean-British artist Kim Lim. The work is part of the first survey of Lim’s work at a British gallery since 1999, at The Hepworth Wakefield. Marie-Charlotte Carrier, the curator of the show, tells us more about Lim’s life and art.To hear more about Documenta in 2022, listen to our episode from 24 June last year and our Review of the Year on 16 December 2022.Kim Lim: Space, Rhythm & Light, The Hepworth Wakefield, 25 November-2 June 2024.
  • New York auctions, radical Central Eastern European art, Terry Adkins x Grace Wales Bonner

    This week: the New York auctions. Tim Schneider, The Art Newspaper’s acting art market editor, joins us to discuss two weeks of major sales in New York and whether they have calmed a jittery art market. Multiple Realities: Experimental Art in the Eastern Bloc, 1960s–1980s, an exhibition exploring radical art made in six countries under communist rule in Central Eastern Europe, has just opened at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, US, before travelling to Phoenix, Arizona and Vancouver. We talk to the curator in Minneapolis, Pavel Pyś. And this episode’s Work of the Week is Terry Adkins’s Last Trumpet (1995). This sculptural installation is included in the latest edition of Artist’s Choice, a regular series of shows exploring the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, selected by notable figures outside the museum. This latest iteration, Spirit Movers, has been chosen by the fashion designer Grace Wales Bonner. We talk to Michelle Kuo, a curator of painting and sculpture at the museum, who has worked with Wales Bonner on the show.Multiple Realities: Experimental Art in the Eastern Bloc, 1960s–1980s is at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, until 10 March 2024, it then travels to the Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona, US, 17 April-29 September 2024 and then the Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada, 2 November 2024-23 March 2025.Artist’s Choice: Grace Wales Bonner—Spirit Movers, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 18 November-7 April 2024
  • Protest and performance in New York, UK National Trust row, Hans Holbein

    This week: live art and activism. Performance art has long been used as a vehicle for protest and political activism and now, in its tenth edition, the Performa Biennial in New York has a new programme dedicated to artists exploring the subject. Protest and Performance: A Way of Life, which started as part of the 19-day festival this week, features eight events involving artists from across the world but with particular links to the Middle East, While it was programmed months ahead of the present war in Gaza, it has inevitably gained further relevance. We talk to Defne Ayas, the senior program advisor, and Kathy Noble, the senior curator at Performa, about the programme. In the UK, the National Trust, which looks after historic buildings and landscapes across Britain, has become the subject of a row between its current management and campaigners who argue that it has strayed from its essential remit. The Art Newspaper’s associate digital editor, Alexander Morrison, speaks to Martin Drury, a former director-general of the Trust, about why it has prompted such an intense debate. And this episode’s Work of the Week is Hans Holbein the Younger’s portrait of Derich Born from 1533, a newly restored painting that features in an exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery in London, one of the principal venues for the UK’s Royal Collection. The show, Holbein at the Tudor Court, is curated by Kate Heard, and she tells us about the picture.Performa Biennial 2023, New York, until 19 November. Visit for details of events in the Protest and Performance strand.Holbein at the Tudor Court, Queen’s Gallery, London, until 14 April 2024
  • Can AI reveal the Herculaneum scrolls? Plus, Venice Biennale political row, Dorothea Lange

    As global political leaders, key figures in the tech industry and academics meet at Bletchley Park in the UK for a two-day summit on artificial intelligence— discussing in particular the risks of these new technologies and how they could be mitigated—we look at a project that reflects AI’s extraordinary potential. The Vesuvius Challenge aims to use AI to unlock the texts in the papyrus scrolls that were carbonised when the Roman city of Herculaneum was covered in ash and pumice after the eruption of the Vesuvius volcano in 79 AD. Brent Seales, the computer scientist behind the project, discusses the technologies involved and his optimism for a positive outcome. Then, Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, director of research and honorary professor of Roman Studies at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, tells us about Herculaneum and the Villa of the Papyri where the scrolls were recovered, and considers what the papyri might contain. In modern-day Italy, the country’s culture minister has designated Pietrangelo Buttafuoco—a right-wing journalist and author whose books include a literary portrait of the notorious former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi—as the next president of the Venice Biennale. It is the latest in a series of appointments that opposition politicians describe as “chilling”. We talk to The Art Newspaper’s correspondent in Italy, James Imam. And this episode’s Work of the Week is Dorothea Lange’s photograph Maynard and Dan Dixon (1930). Philip Brookman, the curator of a new exhibition dedicated to Lange’s portraiture at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, tells us more.Vesuvius Challenge, visit scrollprize.orgDorothea Lange: Seeing People, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 5 November-31 March 2024
  • Kyiv Biennial, sound art and migration, Jem Perucchini’s London Tube mural

    This week: the first Kyiv Biennial since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year is taking place in various locations across the wartorn country as well as a host of neighbouring European states. We talk to the co-curator, Georg Schöllhammer, about this year’s event. As refugees and displaced people continue to dominate the news, a global sound art project, Migration Sounds, aims to explore and reimagine the sounds of human migration and settlement. We speak to Stuart Fowkes, the founder of Cities and Memory, who has conceived the project with the University of Oxford’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (Compas). And this episode’s Work of the Week is Rebirth of a Nation, a mural made for Brixton Underground Station in London by the Ethiopian-Italian artist Jem Perucchini, which is unveiled next week. Jessica Vaughan, the senior curator of Art on the Underground, tells us about the commission.The Kyiv Biennial continues to unfold into 2024, visit 2023.kyivbiennial.orgCities and Memory’s Migration Sounds project,; Perucchini: Rebirth of a Nation, Brixton Underground Station, London, from 2 November.
  • Paris +, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Marie Laurencin

    This week: it’s the second year of Paris +, the event that has taken over from Fiac as the leading French art fair. How is Art Basel’s French flagship faring amid geopolitical turmoil and economic uncertainty, and is Paris still on the rise as a cultural hub? We speak to Georgina Adam, an editor-at-large at The Art Newspaper, and Kabir Jhala, our deputy art market editor, who are in Paris, to find out. The largest ever exhibition of the work of the Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto opened last week at the Hayward Gallery in London, before travelling to Beijing and Sydney next year. We talk to its co-curator Thomas Sutton. And this episode’s Work of the Week is La femme-cheval or the Horse-Woman, a painting made in 1918 by the French artist Marie Laurencin. She is the subject of a major survey, called Sapphic Paris, opening this week at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia in the US. Cindy Kang, who co-curated the exhibition, tells us more about this landmark work in Laurencin’s life.Paris +, 20-22 October.Hiroshi Sugimoto: Time Machine, Hayward Gallery, London, until 7 January 2023; UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, 23 March-23 June 2024; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia, 2 August-27 October 2024.Marie Laurencin: Sapphic Paris, Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, US, 22 October-21 January.
  • Frieze is 20, Hildigunnur Birgisdóttir, Matisse in New York

    The Frieze art fair has turned 20 this week, and is only growing in its ambitions, having acquired the Armory Show fair in New York and Expo Chicago. So what should we make of Frieze’s continuing expansion and what’s the mood at Frieze London and Frieze Masters this year? We talk to Tim Schneider, The Art Newspaper’s acting art market editor, who is over from New York for the fairs. In Reykjavik in Iceland, the artist-run Sequences Biennial opens on Friday. A former curator of the event is Hildigunnur Birgisdóttir, who will represent Iceland at the Venice Biennale in 2024. Tom Seymour went to the Icelandic capital to talk to her about Venice, Sequences and the Icelandic scene. And this episode’s Work of the Week is Open Window, Collioure (1905) by Henri Matisse. The painting is a highlight of the exhibition Vertigo of Colour: Matisse, Derain, and the Origins of Fauvism at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. We speak to Dita Amory, co-curator of the show, about this landmark painting in Matisse’s career.Frieze London and Frieze Masters, Regent’s Park, London, until 15 October.The Sequences Biennial, entitled Can’t See, begins on 13 October and continues until 22 October 2023.Vertigo of Color: Matisse, Derain, and the Origins of Fauvism, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 13 October-21 January 2024; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 25 February-27 May 2024.