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The Guardian

Oct 06 2020
'They called her a crazy witch': did medium Hilma af Klint invent abstract art?

Years before Kandinsky, the Swedish artist was painting circles, sunbursts and looping lines – instructed, she believed, by spirits. Now, over 75 years since her death, she is being recognised as a pioneer

In 1971, the art critic Linda Nochlin wrote an essay called Why have there been no great women artists? The question may be based on a false premise: there have been, we just didn’t get to see their work.

The visionary Swedish artist Hilma af Klint exemplifies this clearly, argues Halina Dyrschka, the German film-maker, whose beautiful film Beyond the Visible, about the painter’s astonishing work, is released on Friday. When I ask her why af Klint has been largely ignored since her death in 1944, Dyrschka tells me over video link from Berlin: “It’s easier to make a woman into a crazy witch than change art history to accommodate her. We still see a woman who is spiritual as a witch, while we celebrate spiritual male artists as geniuses.”

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The Guardian

Oct 06 2020
'Our lives depend on it': how artists are working to help Joe Biden

A new auction of works, from artists including Shepard Fairey and Jeff Koons, is part of an initiative to help elect a Democrat president

Jeff Koons’ new artwork – a fluffy, cloud-like American flag ready to burst or blow away – is apropos for an unusually precarious moment in time in the US.

The piece is part of Artists for Biden, an online auction to fundraise for the Biden Victory Fund. Artists such as Koons, Shepard Fairey and Catherine Opie have donated their works to benefit the fund ahead of election day on 3 November. They remain on sale until 8 October.

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The Guardian

Oct 06 2020
Extraordinary women: courage and defiance through war and hardship – in pictures

A selection of photographs by photojournalist Tom Stoddart shot over several decades all over the world showcase the will, endurance and perseverance of women in war and extreme situations. The book and exhibition Extraordinary Women aims to gives a voice to women around the world whose perspectives are often left unheard

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The Guardian

Oct 05 2020
Chalk streams and waterfalls: the natural wonders under threat from HS2 – in pictures

Hs2 threatens to carve up vast swathes of countryside, impacting its fragile ecosystem. Matt Writtle’s pictures of Chesham explore our delicate relationship with nature

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The Guardian

Oct 05 2020
Michelle Wolf to Melania's roses: the arts and pop culture that sum up the Trump era

CocoRosie’s call to arms, the rage of Sweat, Arthur Jafa’s white supremacy montage and the first lady’s grand designs … Guardian writers pick the works that encapsulate Trump’s reign

Since he’s a former real-estate tycoon, it seems fitting that Donald Trump’s tenure should express itself in some sort of building. So which edifice best defines his era? Well, there is the “big, beautiful wall” planned for the border with Mexico. “Nobody builds walls better than me!” he declared, yet so far just a few miles of steel fence have materialised, some of it already blown over in the wind.

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The New York Times

Oct 05 2020
Barbican Exhibition Showcases Michael Clark’s Cheeky World of Dance
Barbican Exhibition Showcases Michael Clark’s Cheeky World of Dance
The British choreographer and provocateur, now 58, is the subject of an eye-popping exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery.
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The New York Times

Oct 05 2020
Mellon Foundation to Spend $250 Million to Reimagine Monuments
Mellon Foundation to Spend $250 Million to Reimagine Monuments
The initiative, the largest in the organization’s history, will support the creation of new monuments, as well as the relocation or rethinking of existing ones.
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The New York Times

Oct 05 2020
Blood, Passion and Captivity: Gentileschi’s Life Is in Her Paintings
Blood, Passion and Captivity: Gentileschi’s Life Is in Her Paintings
A new blockbuster exhibition at the National Gallery in London shows the artist’s defiant strength, forged in the trials she endured.
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artforum.com

Oct 05 2020
Amid Mounting Backlash, Museum Directors Defend Move to Delay Philip Guston Exhibition
The directors of London’s Tate and Washington, DC’s National Gallery of Art (NGA) have separately spoken out against the chorus of dissent that greeted their decision to postpone by four years a major
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The New York Times

Oct 05 2020
Baltimore Museum to Sell 3 Blue-Chip Paintings to Advance Equity
As museum staffs demand social justice in the office, an institution sells off prime works to answer the call. Is this the right way to do it?
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The New York Times

Oct 05 2020
The New Museum Is World Class, but Many Find It a Tough Place to Work
The New Museum Is World Class, but Many Find It a Tough Place to Work
Critics acknowledge the success the New Museum in New York has achieved. But they say it has come at the expense of many people who work there.
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The Guardian

Oct 05 2020
Bruce Nauman review – 'I have no doubt of his greatness'

Tate Modern, London
Featuring funny walks, shouting, inertia, banality, sex, detritus and an abject clown, this retrospective of the pioneering video artist’s career is a disturbing thrill

Even before you get to Bruce Nauman’s exhibition at Tate Modern, he’s there. Washing his hands in a two-monitor video installed on the ground floor that inverts the same ritual, the same suds, the same palms and fingers kneading water and soap. Nauman’s voices follow you up and down the stairwell, in a replay of his 2004 Turbine Hall commission, Raw Materials. In the Tate cafe, the video Good Boy, Bad Boy plays on monitors, like a disturbing conversation at the next table, while an hour-long video shows Nauman on his ranch, prosaically setting fences in the sun and heat. At the entrance to his show is a bright neon work, the one that tells you that the true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths. Fat chance, as the artist might say.

And then we are there, plunged into the New Mexico night, and the mess of Nauman’s studio, where he installed cameras to record the nocturnal activity in the empty building. Insects doodle bright trails of light in the gloom. There goes a mouse, running along the foot of a wall. I know that a cat appears at some point, but I missed it, in this almost six-hour work filmed over several weeks in 2001. I sit in one of the swivel chairs dotted about the dark space, paddling in circles with my feet and taking in the seven projected views, which are sometimes flipped back to front or inverted, bleached-out or saturated in colour. Sitting there turning in the projected night I feel like I have become part of the installation, and that I’m method-acting the artist himself, marooned in that creative emptiness from which everything in his art flows.

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artforum.com

Oct 05 2020
Smithsonian Institution Cuts 237 Jobs as Pandemic Continues to Exact Toll
The Smithsonian Institution last week greeted its October 1 fiscal new year by laying off 237 employees in its first permanent job cuts since the Covid-19 pandemic forced the Washington, DC–based
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The Guardian

Oct 05 2020
Save jobs and sell the Hockney? The dilemma laying bare inequality in the arts | Charlotte Higgins

Fighting for survival due to Covid-19, it’s no wonder the Royal Opera House is selling its David Hockney portrait – originally bought with a staff whip-round. So what does Hockney himself think of the sale?

Who knew the Royal Opera House owned a David Hockney? I certainly didn’t. The portrait of David Webster, who ran Covent Garden between 1945 and 1970, could now be the institution’s saviour as Covid-19 brings it towards the brink of collapse; soon it will be sold by Christie’s. The auction house hope it might make as much as £18m. “This was a really tough call,” Alex Beard, the Royal Opera House’s chief executive, told the Observer. “But we have to face the situation we are in and if we can remain viable and get through this, then we can get back to employing people in the future.”

Well, that’s where we seem to be: jobs or assets. In this particular case, surely the shade of any former boss of the Opera House would be rising from the grave to say, “Of course you should sell the damn portrait.” It’s sad, it’s part of Covent Garden’s history, it’s almost certainly displeasing to Hockney himself, but now is very much the rainy day when the portrait can help to safeguard the House’s actual work of opera and ballet, and its role as a major cultural employer.

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The Guardian

Oct 05 2020
Greenpeace drops 1.5-ton rock outside Defra HQ in fishing protest

Fiona Banner artwork is part of group’s direct action campaign against illegal North Sea fishing

Security had been told to expect an artwork for the secretary of state at 9am. Perhaps they were not expecting it to be an enormous chunk of granite painted with squid ink and so heavy it will need a crane to remove.

The artist Fiona Banner and a team from Greenpeace deposited the 1.5-ton artwork outside the Westminster offices of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on Monday.

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The Guardian

Oct 05 2020
Fashion designer Kenzo Takada's catwalk – in pictures

The late fashion designer was the first from Japan to break into Paris’s exclusive fashion milieu in the 1970s. His colours and prints were a far cry from the traditional Parisian style of the time

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artforum.com

Oct 05 2020
Kaleem Hawa on Zeina Maasri’s Cosmopolitan Radicalism: The Visual Politics of Beirut’s Global Sixties
Cosmopolitan Radicalism: The Visual Politics of Beirut’s Global Sixties by Zeina Maasri. Cambridge University Press, 2020. 342 pages. TWO WHITE WOMEN IN BIKINIS, feet planted in the froth of the
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The New York Times

Oct 04 2020
Jenny Holzer App to Bring ‘Great Books’ Home
Jenny Holzer App to Bring ‘Great Books’ Home
The project, commissioned by the University of Chicago, will let users virtually project thought-provoking quotes from its Core Curriculum onto their surroundings.
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The New York Times

Oct 04 2020
Why Philip Guston Can Still Provoke Such Furor, and Passion
Why Philip Guston Can Still Provoke Such Furor, and Passion
Guston’s Ku Klux Klan paintings are but one facet of an incendiary artist’s storied career, stretching from social realism to abstraction and back.
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The Guardian

Oct 04 2020
Alexa, can I keep on learning in my 70s? | Brief letters

Your editorial (2 October) rightly celebrates the National Gallery’s new Artemisia Gentileschi exhibition, but refers to her as “a female old master”. Surely a change in this terminology is overdue – why not describe artists as Renaissance or 17th century, with gender specified if necessary?
Clive Sykes
London

• Your Ranked! feature has cast its net rather too wide in the past to cover a whole aspect of cinema via 10 films, but you went altogether too far with 20 African films (1 October). You’ve given the cinematic output of the second-largest continent as much attention as you did Tom Hardy.
Bryn Hughes
Wrexham, north Wales

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The Guardian

Oct 04 2020
'This is the Everest of zero carbon' – inside York's green home revolution

The city plans to build Britain’s biggest zero-carbon housing project, boasting 600 homes in car-free cycling paradises full of fruit trees and allotments. When will the rest of the UK catch up?

Joseph Rowntree, Yorkshire’s chocolatier-philanthropist, had a dream. He wanted to build “improved houses” for working people and, in 1902, revealed his plans for the experimental village of New Earswick, on the edge of York. The village would make the most of the existing natural landscape, setting little terraces of arts and crafts houses along streets edged with grass verges. Not only would their interiors be flooded with fresh air, natural light and “a cheerful outlook”, they would also have the modern luxury of indoor loos. Designed by garden city doyens Raymond Unwin and Barry Parker, the development went on to inspire the national Homes Fit for Heroes programme after the first world war, paving the way for the birth of council housing.

More than a century on, York is set to break the mould once again. Plans have just been submitted for the first stage of arguably the UK’s most ambitious council-led housing programme in a generation. The city is planning to build at least 600 homes across eight sites within the ring road, each designed to have a net carbon emissions figure of zero. Every element of the scheme, from the front door out into the transport network, is tuned to tackle the climate emergency head on.

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The Guardian

Oct 04 2020
The UK's retail parks were once the future. Now they look like drab relics of the past | Eddie Blake

Covid-19 and online shopping have put malls on the brink of extinction. But will we miss them when they’re gone?

As you cruise round the ring road at 50mph, they slide into view: huge square hulks with their supernaturally bright colours and 6ft lettering. Underappreciated and rarely discussed, commercial retail parks are a major part of the UK’s economic and social life. But now, amid a combination of long-term trends and the impact of coronavirus, they might be on their way out.

To understand why, we must understand why retail parks exist in the first place. The first was the Kalamazoo Mall in Texas, designed in 1959 by Viennese architect Victor Gruen. Envisioned as the ideal urban experience, it was intended as a way of capitalising on the popularity of the car. Gruen included more than shops in his proposals: he wanted medical centres, libraries, even apartments. The mall spawned so many derivations around the world – with the UK particularly keen – that in 1978 Gruen disavowed his creation, insisting: “I refuse to pay alimony for those bastard developments.”

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The Guardian

Oct 04 2020
The big picture: a father tries to freeze time

Magnum photographer Christopher Anderson sensed something poignant when he began creating images of his young children

At the end of his book of images of his daughter, Pia, Christopher Anderson includes a short letter. “Dear Pia,” it begins, “the making of these photographs must seem as natural to you as butter and toast. I probably photographed you every day of your life that I have been with you. There are too many days when travel and work took me away. But, truth be told, we’ve had more conversations about brushing teeth than about creating photos.”

That naturalness was what made Anderson, a celebrated photographer of the frontlines of war and conflict zones in his earlier career, start making portraits of his children. There was no editorialising – that necessity for photojournalists to find a picture that gave an angle to a particular story – he could simply photograph exactly what interested him visually. Anderson’s first book in this mode came after his son Atlas was born in 2008; at the time it did not occur to him that those pictures would become part of his “work”. The more he looked, though, the more he sensed that everything he had done up to that point, on assignment for the Magnum agency in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, was a preparation for these personal stories.

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The Guardian

Oct 04 2020
Royal Opera House to sell off David Hockney painting in bid to stay afloat

Portrait of former chief executive and arts pioneer David Webster could fetch up to £18m

The Royal Opera House is to sell a David Hockney portrait thought to be worth as much as £18m to raise essential funds.

The painting, which was commissioned for the Covent Garden building in the 1970s, is to go up for auction later this month in an unprecedented attempt to protect the venue’s future as a home for the Royal Ballet and for international opera.

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The Guardian

Oct 04 2020
Ai Weiwei on China, free speech – and a message for London

As a new project explores his artworks, the dissident artist says reaction to Trump’s diagnosis shows people are ‘brainwashed’

Ai Weiwei, one of the world’s leading visual artists, has spoken of his shock and sorrow at the tone of the Chinese public’s reaction to Donald Trump’s illness.

“People were just laughing and celebrating on social media,” he said on Saturday. “The attitude was, ‘You lose, Trump!’ It is so sad that a nation has been brainwashed to that degree. They take the relationship with America so personally, and yet they have no understanding left about common human feeling. That is what an authoritarian regime can do by limiting the information the public get: brainwash people so they do not feel that way any more.”

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The Guardian

Oct 04 2020
Artemisia review – overwhelmingly present

National Gallery, London

Full of vigour, purpose and drama, the extraordinary work of the 17th-century painter Artemisia Gentileschi finally gets the blockbuster UK show it deserves

Artemisia Gentileschi is painting for all she’s worth. Light flashes from her forehead and breast, and the naked white forearm where the sleeve falls back to reveal an unexpected strength. Her fingernails are dirty and her hair coming loose as she wheels towards a large empty canvas. It is a picture of passion: the artist showing herself in dizzying motion, head tilting up towards the mark she is so urgently making – which could be anything, such is her freedom. This is painting as live performance.

Self-Portrait As the Allegory of Painting is exhibit A in any history of women’s art, just as Gentileschi (1593–c1654) is the most celebrated female painter of her age. It was the first self-portrait by a woman to become internationally famous – the painting hand swooningly copied in prints – and among the first to enter a royal collection, perhaps even commissioned by Charles I, at whose London court Gentileschi was employed.

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The Guardian

Oct 03 2020
Gold Medal winner David Adjaye deserves a better brief for the Holocaust memorial | Rowan Moore

The outstanding architect’s remit for his latest project is badly flawed

Some time in the 1990s I went into a noodle bar, the look of which had a certain something. I asked who had designed it and was given the card of the then unknown architects Adjaye and Russell. Half of that now former partnership, David Adjaye, has just won the Royal Gold Medal for architecture. It is deserved: he has a particular skill for making the surfaces of buildings animate and arresting. His National Museum of African American History and Culture does an outstanding job of holding its own with the great white monuments of Washington DC, while also, as it must, announcing its own identity.

Yet I find myself lined up, in a public inquiry later this month, to give evidence against a project on which he is working with two other practices, the UK Holocaust memorial and learning centre proposed near the Houses of Parliament. This is not because I think Adjaye is a terrible architect, still less because I oppose the aim of remembering the Holocaust. It is because I believe that, ever since this project was announced by David Cameron in January 2016, it has had the hallmarks of too many of the former prime minister’s ideas: a seemingly cost-free political win (who could object to such a memorial?), accompanied by glibness in conception and laziness about detail.

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The Guardian

Oct 03 2020
Carlisle Cathedral Fratry review – poised and intelligent

It may draw flak from both modernists and traditionalists, but Carlisle Cathedral’s Fratry hall, rebuilt by Feilden Fowles, is well crafted and respectful of its past

For at least two centuries, architecture has been riven by style wars: gothic against classical, one kind of gothic against another, modernist against historicist, postmodern against modern – feuds with the internecine venom of religious sects. John Ruskin, for example, was an arch style warrior: “An ugly soot from the smoke of the pit… the sickly phantoms and mockeries of things that were,” he called the kind of gothic he didn’t like. Yet, in any sane view, architecture has always come in multiple shapes. Square or pointy or curvy, ornate or plain, machine-made or hand-crafted, orderly or free form – it doesn’t really matter so long as it’s good.

Such wars, to the extent that followers of Prince Charles and Donald Trump promote neoclassicism as the one true architecture, are still going on, but the more pernickety battles, the ones that might once have impaled your career for using the wrong kind of crocket, have receded. So a project such as the Fratry at Carlisle Cathedral, whose pointed arches would have roused accusations of heresy from modernists and of impurity from traditionalists, now comes across as a work of sweet and slightly playful reason.

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The New York Times

Oct 03 2020
Things to Do This Week
Things to Do This Week
This week, dive into the British Museum’s artifact collection, make art out of leftover veggies and revisit the myth of the Loch Ness monster.
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The Guardian

Oct 03 2020
The age of waste: five designers modelling a ‘circular economy’

Imagine if everything we threw away had a new life. We talk to pioneering designers whose products are made from waste

Humans have always named epochs of history for the materials that define them: from the stone, bronze and iron ages to the 100 years that straddle the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, known as the plastics age. But now, as the finite resources of our planet become ever scarcer, are we about to enter the “waste age”?

Two-thirds of the resources we take from the Earth are discarded. We are throwing away, burning and burying the same valuable materials we have gone to such great lengths to excavate – to the extent that copper can now be found in higher concentrations in the ash left over from the incineration of rubbish than in traditionally mined ore. In the UK, we each produce 1.07kg of rubbish every day (it’s almost double that in America). Of the virgin materials used by the fashion industry, 47% don’t even make it into the clothes on the high street. Approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, while we cut down rainforests to make space to grow more. And by 2050, it is estimated that the oceans will contain more plastic than fish.

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The Guardian

Oct 03 2020
The art of the handbrake turn – in pictures

Few artists can say inspiration struck at Sainsbury’s in Beckenham, but the street photographer Nick Turpin has always found the extraordinary in the everyday.

His eye was caught by arcs of burnt tyre rubber on the asphalt. “I love how the marks interact with the official white lines and symbols,” he says. His project Donuts – named for the skill of spinning through 360 degrees in a handbrake turn – can be seen in Smoke and Mirrors: Cars, Photography and Dreams of the Open Road, out this month (Particular Books, £25).

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The New York Times

Oct 03 2020
A High-Tech Twin for a Renaissance Masterpiece
A High-Tech Twin for a Renaissance Masterpiece
A copy of Michelangelo’s David printed in 3-D will be the centerpiece of the Italy Pavilion at the next world fair.
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The Guardian

Oct 03 2020
Margaret Howell: ‘My only clothing advice is to be comfortable’

The designer, 74, on her love of children, getting the giggles and going with her gut feeling

It’s funny seeing your name on a label or shopping bag. Sometimes I’ll see it on someone’s tote bag on the tube and that’s a surprise, though I’m very glad they’re using our bags. I always hope they don’t see me because it’s guaranteed I’ll be looking shabbier than them.

My dad told me that if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. I hate a job half done. Even if it’s housework, you have to do a thorough job. I don’t have a dishwasher because I prefer to do it myself.

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The Guardian

Oct 03 2020
Original Observer photography

Idles, Issa Rae and a walk on the wild side – the best photography commissioned by the Observer in September 2020

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The Guardian

Oct 03 2020
Listed building scheme gives English churches a new lease of life

Government-funded initiative allows almost 400 buildings to be repaired and maintained

Almost 400 listed churches in parts of England have been patched up against the ravages of time and weather over the past two years, under a government pilot scheme to protect treasured historic buildings.

The churches in Greater Manchester and Suffolk have been given expert advice and grants for repairs, maintenance and ideas for wider community involvement as part of a £1.8m pilot funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and run by Historic England.

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The Guardian

Oct 03 2020
20 photographs of the week

Donald Trump and Joe Biden clash, wildfires in California, the enduring impact of Covid-19, and Milan fashion week: the most striking images from around the world

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artforum.com

Oct 02 2020
Miryam Haddad
Miryam Haddad invokes the Phoenician god of chaos and storms in “La complainte de Yam,” her second exhibition at this gallery, where new works in watercolor and oil draw on symbols associated with
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The New York Times

Oct 02 2020
Early Works by Edward Hopper Found to Be Copies of Other Artists
A grad student’s discovery challenges the notion that Hopper was an absolute original, uninfluenced by others.
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artforum.com

Oct 02 2020
Former Witte de With Announces Name Change to Kunstinstituut Melly
Rotterdam’s erstwhile Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art today revealed that from January 27, 2021, it will be known as Kunstinstituut Melly. The name springs from a 1990 work, Canadian artist
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artforum.com

Oct 02 2020
Katie Holten
Katie Holten’s Irish Tree Alphabet (A-Z), 2020, is based on an agreeable, legible conceit: matching each letter of the ABCs with the silhouette of a specific tree. Read her twenty-six original pictograms
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The Guardian

Oct 02 2020
The Guardian view on Artemisia Gentileschi: triumph of a trailblazer | Editorial

An old master takes her place in the National Gallery. But this should be only the beginning of a rebalancing of the canon

There is a painting by Artemisia Gentileschi, the 17th-century Roman artist, of Clio, the muse of history. The figure stands defiant, chin tilted upwards, gaze set into the distance. On the desk before her rests an open book – a work, we can assume, of historiography. On its pages, Gentileschi has painted her own name. It is her signature; but she is also writing herself, literally, into history.

The reality of her reputation has not, however, been so straightforward as the bold aspiration this painting encapsulates. Though beset by difficulties – she was raped as a 17-year-old, lost four of her five children, and endured many financial problems – her work was admired and celebrated in her lifetime. It was in the centuries after her death that she was sidelined by connoisseurs. A revival came only in the late 20th century, much aided by the strength of feminist scholarship.

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artforum.com

Oct 02 2020
Curator Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung Awarded Order of Merit of Berlin
Berlin’s governing mayor, Michael Müller, on Thursday named Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung to the Order of Merit of Berlin, conferring upon him the city-state’s highest honor, Artnews reports. The
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artforum.com

Oct 02 2020
“No more land West”
How will galleries and alternative spaces survive 2020? This seemingly endless refrain obscures the rich history of unorthodox approaches to presenting art as well as the potential for innovation that
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artforum.com

Oct 02 2020
Amir H. Fallah
Known for his maximalist, floral tableaux and portraits of people shrouded by richly patterned fabric and often surrounded by objects referencing their own histories, painter Amir H. Fallah presents a
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artforum.com

Oct 02 2020
Jonathan Lyndon Chase
The viral ascendance of Atlanta rapper Lil Nas X’s SoundCloud-born breakout “Old Town Road,” a hip-hop production dyed with Western clichés, rode a resurgent fascination with rodeo aesthetics that
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The Guardian

Oct 02 2020
Thao Nguyen Phan review – tribute to the Mekong River's myth and might

Chisenhale Gallery, London
The Vietnamese artist has created a lyric poem in moving images that explores colonisation, consumption and the rhythms of nature

Thao Nguyen Phan’s Becoming Alluvium opens with sound: an outboard motor puttering in the dark. The tea-brown, silt-clouded water of the Mekong appears, gliding beneath the prow of a little boat. Lines from the great poet Rabindranath Tagore’s The Gardener lap the screen, concluding: “Why did the harp-string break? I tried to force a note that was beyond its power. That is why the harp-string is broken.”

Becoming Alluvium is a lyric poem in moving images that echoes the mythic passion of Tagore’s verse, its varying rhythms and its themes of love, care and oneness with the natural world. At the heart of Phan’s short film is the Mekong River, the waterway flowing from Tibet through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia before meeting the sea in southern Vietnam.

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The Guardian

Oct 02 2020
Meleko Mokgosi review – panoramic paintings brim with dazzling, complex life

Gagosian, London
Jokes, warnings, clues, allusions and signposts … the Botswana-born artist’s grand cycle is full of vitality and observation in an exhibition that’s close to a big, discursive novel

A young man, little more than a boy, hands draped superciliously over the sides of his chair and with one leg fastidiously crossed over the other, stares me down from behind his dark glasses. I’d ask him to stop staring but to either side of him stand two identikit bare-chested minders in low-slung jeans and flip-flops. The hired muscle doesn’t seem to like the look of me either. Behind them all hangs a cheesy picture of Jesus with the Sacred Heart and a photo of a guy – perhaps Dad? – in a military uniform. You just want to get out of there, or move on to the next painting in Meleko Mokgosi’s Bread, Butter, and Power, a 2018 cycle of 21 large painted panels, which abut one another in larger and smaller groupings, the largest of which fills the longest wall of the biggest gallery in Mokgosi’s first UK exhibition.

I could go on all day about this one group of paintings: a woman in a sumptuous if ugly salon, holding a paper in her hand – a letter, a bill, a poem, a shopping list, who knows? – and staring off into some self-absorbed distance. Uniformed schoolgirls dig a bit of parched earth, watched over by a man with several large dogs. A guy on a bed, fully clothed, resting after work, strong daylight filtered through a curtain; Mokgosi is very good at lassitude, solitude and introspection, and the sense of things impending. Soft shadows on the wall, a patterned pillow. The man looks back at us, as if we’ve walked in uninvited.

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The Guardian

Oct 02 2020
Gentileschi's shocking genius and Bruce Nauman's Clown Torture – the week in art

The RA has a starry summer exhibition, Nauman’s black humour is on full display and a knock-out Artemisia Gentileschi show opens at the National Gallery – all in your weekly dispatch

Artemisia
The genius of Artemisia Gentileschi is so immediate, shocking and moving that it is hard to believe she died more than 350 years ago. She takes the modern art world by storm in this extraordinary exhibition that reunites all her great paintings – they’ve come from German castles, Italian palazzi and even Hampton Court to form the most dazzling show you will see this year. It’s not often you can feel history change in an exhibition but this is epochal in its revelation of one of the greatest artists who ever lived. Read my full review.
National Gallery, London, from 3 October until 24 January.

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The Guardian

Oct 02 2020
Nathaniel Mary Quinn's Lunch: the human form stripped back to its essence

The American mixed-media artist’s new work explores the way we perceive each other, especially during the pandemic

A weekly Guide column in which we dissect the influences and interpretations of a work of art

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