Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Rare Photographs of Frida Kahlo Shed Light on Her Legendary Life

Rare Photographs of Frida Kahlo Shed Light on Her Legendary Life

In the catalog introduction to “Mirror Mirror,” a collection of rare vintage photographs taken of Frida Kahlo by some of her era’s most prolific and respected photographers, the critic and psychologist Salomon Grimberg writes of the various lenses cast at the painter wherever she went. “As much, if not more, than any movie star in Mexico,” he writes, she “was photographed and her photos nurtured the limelight around her.” 
The show, currently on view at Bentley Gallery in Phoenix, brings together over 20 rare photographs of the famed Mexican artist, images that taken together reveal obscure dimensions of the artist’s legendary status—and her multifaceted public profile—during her lifetime. “Mirror Mirror” is also, given Kahlo’s desirability as a subject, a catalog of the artists, photographers, and intellectuals who gathered around Kahlo during her reign as one of Mexico’s most luminary post-revolutionary figures.

The collection contains photographs both apparently candid (as in Lucienne Bloch’s coy Frida Winking, 1933) and assiduously staged. Nikolas Muray’s portrait Frida Kahlo on White Bench, New York (1939), shows the painter set in front of a carefully constructed, fantastically formal floral background—in retrospect, an image of ironic distance, given that at the time the photographer and his subject were near the midpoint of an intense, decade-long love affair. Muray, a Hungarian-American photographer and Olympic fencer, is only one of the many famed artists to shoot the iconic Kahlo during her life.

Also on display are the photographs of the aforementioned Lucienne Bloch, a muralist with close ties to both Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera; she is thought to have captured the only visual record of Rivera’s ill-fated and controversial Rockefeller Center fresco, a mural that combatively depicted Lenin in a moment of intense political debate on the merits of American capitalism. Imogen Cunningham, a member of the California-based collective Group f/64 (which also counted Ansel Adams among its ranks) is represented through her muted, elegant black-and-white portrait, the tone of which runs refreshingly counter to today’s more bombastic portrayals of Kahlo. In a number of images, the artist is photographed near mirrors and in front of her own self-portraits, a nod to her massively famous practice of self-representation, a tendency that was as much about the creation of Kahlo’s self-image through symbolism as a display of her raw skill as an artist.
—M. Osberg

“Mirror Mirror: Rare Photographs of Frida Kahlo” is on view at Bentley Gallery, Phoenix, Jan. 14th – Feb. 27th.

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The Future of Art According to Hans Ulrich Obrist by Hans Ulrich Obrist

What Is the Future of Art?

A curator cannot predict the future of art. Artists, however, have antennae that are extremely sensitive to impending change and can often detect it before anyone else. And so by sticking close to artists, curators might be granted a glimpse of what is to come. Curating follows art, and in this spirit I have asked many artists (as well as scientists, poets, architects, mathematicians, photographers, philosophers, composers, and other leaders in their field) to complete the sentence “The future will be....” A very short selection of the many hundreds of answers I’ve gathered have been placed throughout this essay.

I address the impossibility of predicting the future in Age of Earthquakes: A Guide to the Extreme Present, the book I wrote with Douglas Coupland and Shumon Basar. The internet is changing the structure of our brains and the structure of our planet in extraordinary ways, so quickly that we haven’t yet developed a proper vocabulary for it. Technological progress has accelerated to the point that the future is happening to us far faster than we could ever have anticipated. This new world is what we call “extreme present,” a time in which it feels impossible to maintain pace with the present, never mind to chart the future.

Installation view of “Filter Bubble,” an 89plus exhibition co-curated by Simon Castets and Hans Ulrich Obrist, at LUMA Westbau, Zürich, until February 14th, 2016. Photo by Stefan Altenburger.

The 89plus project which I co-founded and co-curate with Simon Castets investigates the first generation to have grown up with the internet—a generation that currently makes up half of the world’s population, and whose voices are only now beginning to be heard. The project is not about predicting or creating the future, but rather about bringing practitioners in different fields together through panels, books, periodicals, exhibitions, and residencies to share their insights and ideas. Thousands of artists across the world have answered our open call, uploading information about their respective projects to our platform. Since we started in 2013, we have conducted onsite research in Singapore, Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong, Mexico City, New York, Zürich, Stockholm, Dubai, Madrid, and Cape Town, among others, creating public panels out of our conversations with local practitioners.
Through the 89plus research we learned that many are critically addressing the phenomenon of the so-called “filter bubble.” This is an algorithmic mechanism used by companies through which a user’s online experience becomes a static, ever-narrowing version of their own pre-existing preferences. It is a tool by which algorithms select online content that a user might want to see based on pre-existing data harvested from the same user, such as location, search history, and personal information. It guards users against exposure to any content that might contradict their viewpoints, therefore isolating them within a coherent, restricted ideological environment; Eli Pariser, who coined the concept, calls it a “personal ecosystem.”

The filter bubble inspired me to create a show of the same name at Zürich’s LUMA Westbau. It features over 40 artists and writers and translates three years of research with 89plus into an exhibition format. The show functions as an inquiry into the creative practices of a generation who grew up with the internet, investigating its ramifications for public discourse and dialogue.
The invention of the internet once promised to make knowledge open and accessible to anyone across the world, a perfect, radically open tool that encouraged the sharing of information and knowledge across societies and specialisms. Yet in opposition to the original nature of the web, the mechanisms behind the filter bubble are generating closed systems of knowledge. This is radically harmful to both individuals and societies.

Much of the 89plus research has revealed how devoted young practitioners are to protecting and extending the internet’s capacity to foster new interactions and relationships. And each of the insights to have emerged from 89plus demonstrates how traditional notions of authorship and cultural heritage are changing. By listening to the artists in the “Filter Bubble” show, we might gain some insight into the new ideas and iconoclastic approaches that will transform our relationship to knowledge. Their preoccupations provide us with an outline of the emerging fields for artistic and philosophical investigation—and resistance.

Installation view of “Filter Bubble,” an 89plus exhibition co-­curated by Simon Castets and Hans Ulrich Obrist, at LUMA Westbau, Zürich, until February 14th,  2016. Photo by Stefan Altenburger. Pictured: Hito Steyerl, Liquidity Inc., 2014; James Bridle, Citizen Ex Flags 003 ­ 007, 2015; Ho Rui An, Screen Green, 2015. 

Yollotl Alvarado recognized that the algorithms that guide our interaction with the internet are “political statements” that can “expose the forces at play in our access to information,” while Louise Gagliardi alerted us to the fact that our personal devices, rather than serving as a portal to new information, are in fact “individual mirrors.” For “Filter Bubble,” Crista Siglin & Isaac Wilder contributed a “meditation on intimacy in the age of filtration,” investigating how digital relationships negate signifiers such as eye contact. Felix Melia imagined a nightmarish situation in which “anonymous romantic text messages are sent automatically to a group of mobile phones via a web-based messaging service,” while Urban Zellweger considered the alienating bodily experience of sitting in front of a computer.

Above all, these artists’ practices investigate and challenge the assumption that our future actions should be determined by our past behavior. As with all of the projects outlined in this short manifesto, the basic principle stands that it is urgent for us to overcome the fear of pooling knowledge. We must remain radically open to new ideas. And we must preserve and promote the systems by which it is possible to share, collaborate, and investigate. The future depends on it!

Portrait of Hans Ulrich Obrist at Serpentine Galleries by Kate Berry for Artsy.

Hans Ulrich Obrist

Portraits of Hans Ulrich Obrist at Serpentine Galleries by Kate Berry for Artsy.

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Visual Therapy is a luxury styling company based in Manhattan. We are looking for an enthusiastic fashion intern to join our team! Internship starts in February.

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Visual Therapy is a luxury styling company based in Manhattan. We are looking for an enthusiastic fashion intern to join our team! Internship starts in February.

Image courtesy of Visual Therapy
Visual Therapy is a luxury styling company based in Manhattan. We are looking for an enthusiastic fashion intern to join our team! This is an unpaid internship for the Spring season, minimum of three days per week, required to start in February.
We are seeking a highly motivated, detail-oriented candidate that possesses a strong knowledge of fashion, outstanding verbal and written communication skills, and a great work ethic. School credit is preferred, but not required. Previous internships or work in fashion preferred.
Duties include:
  • Use of Photoshop to create lookbooks *Basic skills required
  • Running Errands
  • Answering phone in a professional manner and taking detailed messages
  • Updating and maintaining appearance of office
Visit visual-therapy.com to learn more about us.
Please send resume and cover letter explaining what makes you a great candidate to jill@visual-therapy.com
No phone calls.

It’s hard to put love into words. That’s why we’ve...

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... Museum Gets a Hieronymus Bosch

Nelson Atkins Museum Gets a Hieronymus Bosch

Hieronymus Bosch
In anticipation of the opening of a traveling Hieronymus Bosch exhibition timed to the 500th anniversary of his death, a new work is being attributed to the painter by the Bosch Research and Conservation Project:
A worldwide study undertaken by the Bosch Research and Conservation Project (BRCP) has shown that The Temptation of St. Anthony from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, should be attributed to Hieronymus Bosch himself. The painting was acquired in the 1930s and kept in storage for decades because it was classified as the work of a pupil or follower of Bosch. The new attribution is a significant addition to the small body of existent work produced by Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450–’s-Hertogenbosch 1516).
The newly discovered work, which dates from around 1500–10, will be shown to the public for the first time at the large-scale Hieronymus Bosch: Visions of Genius exhibition opening at Het Noordbrabants Museum on 13 February 2016 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Bosch’s death.

Although the image was heavily retouched and overpainted during a twentieth-century restoration, Bosch’s hand is still clearly recognizable in the original brushwork. If we look beyond these later additions, it is clear how closely this St. Anthony scene is related to the left wing in particular of the Hermit Saints Triptych in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice, which is likewise included in the exhibition in Den Bosch. The BRCP’s research team also used infrared photography and infrared reflectography to reveal underdrawings that perfectly match what has been found in other panels from Hieronymus Bosch’s core oeuvre. A fairly thick brush and a watery medium were used in a general and exploratory way to set down how the image would appear on the panel. A similarly exploratory approach is found beneath the paint layer in virtually all Hieronymus Bosch’s other works. What’s more, there as here, he continued to adjust the image while actually painting. Bosch also regularly worked with different colours in the still wet paint, as we find in the head and the wing of the flying fish that has crawled onto the land in this St. Anthony scene. It was this way of working that enabled him to achieve his characteristic painterly effect.
Every detail of the image of St. Anthony – kneeling and scooping up water in a setting that teems with bizarre creatures – fits seamlessly into Bosch’s wider oeuvre. The figure of the saint closely matches that of Anthony in the left wing of the Hermit Saints Triptych and is also related to the water-scooping female figure in the central panel of the Last Judgement in Bruges. The little monsters in the panel are typically ‘Bosschian’: the little creature hiding beneath a funnel, the monster with the fox’s head, the little figure with the spoonbill’s beak, the pig’s trotter lying on the floating tabletop, the toad clambering out of the water and the floating sausage are found in other works by Bosch too.

Nigerian art collectors rode economic boom

January 31, 2016 4:20 pm

Nigerian art collectors rode economic boom

A pedestrian walks by as photographer Robin Maddock pastes a photograph on a wall for LagosPhoto festival in Lagos, Nigeria©Reuters
A pedestrian walks by as photographer Robin Maddock pastes a photograph on a wall for LagosPhoto festival in Lagos, Nigeria
For much of Nigeria’s history, private collectors of art have been marginal and unacknowledged players on the scene. It was not until the rapid growth of private galleries, which began tentatively in the 1990s and accelerated in the 2000s, that a band of collectors emerged and attracted attention.
“These are the people who, come rain or shine, would always make sure to attend [exhibitions],” says Bolanle Austen-Peters, founder and chief executive of Terra Kulture, one of Lagos’s most prominent private arts venues, housing a gallery, performance space and bookstore. “We started to call them the collectors.”
Ask artists and gallery owners about Nigerian collectors and the same names are mentioned: Yemisi Shyllon, Adedotun Sulaiman, Sammy Olagbaju, Newton Jibunoh, Rasheed Gbadamosi, Femi Akinsanya, Gbenga Oyebode, Kavita Chellaram, Abdulaziz Udeh and Joe and Sandra Obiago, among others.
Many have been collecting for decades. Newton Jibunoh founded the Didi Museum, which describes itself as Nigeria’s first private museum, in 1983, while Adedotun Sulaiman, a former country managing director of Accenture’s Nigeria practice, collected his first artwork in 1979. His collection, he says, “is now close to 400 pieces”.
Yemisi Shyllon is believed to be Nigeria’s largest private collector. His more-than 6,000 pieces, which he started collecting as an engineering undergraduate at the University of Ibadan in the 1970s, are displayed on the grounds of his home on the Lagos mainland.
Other collectors have benefited from Nigeria’s recent growth. The country’s economy was one of the fastest growing in the decade to 2014. That year, it overtook South Africa as Africa’s largest.
The fortunes of the super-rich have been built on the unprecedented boom in oil and gas, banking, construction, telecommunications and consumer retail. Nigeria was one of 15 countries worldwide in which, in 2014, the number of “ultra-high net worth individuals” — those with investable assets of at least $30m — grew by at least 5 per cent, according to the Knight Frank Wealth Report 2015.
Mrs Chellaram, an ethnic Indian whose family has lived and done business in Nigeria for decades, established Arthouse Contemporary, Nigeria’s first auction house, in 2007 — the same year Bisi Silva, the curator, founded the Lagos Center for Contemporary Art (CCA).
A handful of institutional collectors are also prominent. The Pan-Atlantic University in Lagos houses an extensive collection, as do the headquarters of Guaranty Trust Bank and Access Bank. Terra Kulture started its own auction in 2008 when Guaranty Trust asked it to help sell works taken from defaulting debtors and in 2011, the bank created a fund to support Tate Modern’s ambitions to expand its African collection.

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Recent years have seen an intensifying of the sense of community among Nigeria’s collectors. The Obiagos initiated the Collectors’ Series Forum in 2009, not only to take art out of the gallery and into public spaces such as hotels, but also to serve as a networking platform for artists and collectors.
Then there are the auctions. Since 2008, Terra Kulture and Arthouse Contemporary have organised separate auctions in Lagos. Terra Kulture’s — in partnership with Mydrim Gallery — is annual, while Arthouse’s is held twice a year. These sales have collectively raised more than $1m in recent years.
Nigerian art is also increasingly finding an international market. In 2009, Bonhams, the British auction house, started Africa Now, its Africa-focused auction.
Africa’s two biggest economies play commensurate roles: South African and Nigerian buyers dominate a market in which the most prominent artists are also South African and Nigerian.
“Most [Nigerian collectors] collect only Nigerian art, as it’s at par with any other, and resonates more with our surroundings,” says Terra Kulture’s Ms Austen-Peters. “Ninety per cent of my collection is Nigerian,” says Mr Sulaiman. “Ninety-nine per cent is African.”
The most expensive work by a Nigerian artist sold at auction is a set of sculptures by the late Ben Enwonwu, which fetched £361,250 in May 2013 in London. His 1976 oil painting, Princes of Mali, made £92,500 at Africa Now in 2014. (One of Mr Enwonwu’s most famous works is his bronze sculpture of Queen Elizabeth II, for which she sat at Buckingham Palace in London in 1957.)
Mr Sulaiman says the costliest sculpture and painting he has ever bought are both Enwonwus: he bought the sculpture in 2015 for N5m ($25,100), while the painting cost N3m 10 years ago.

African artists on the way up
Kapwani Kiwanga performing ‘Afrogalactica: A Brief History of the Future’ in 2012

From the Venice Biennale to New York’s Armory Show, the art world’s love affair with Africa is hotting up
Auctions can however be problematic, cautions Ms Austen-Peters. “Because of the auctions, a lot of younger artists now think art has to be expensive. Art auctions are artificial spaces, they don’t give the right indication of the art market. Exhibitions are better at giving the true value [of art].”
Terra Kulture, founded in 2004, now holdss over 20 exhibitions every year. A recent opening is Rele Gallery, which has held 9 exhibitions since it opened a year ago.
“From experience, it’s the same crowd you’ll see attending exhibitions and collecting work,” says Rele founder Adenrele Sonariwo. “That’s why we started Rele — we wanted to see a new crowd appreciating and collecting art.” The first step, she says, is getting new faces into the galleries. “They might not have the income now, but once their pockets deepen they’ll remember us and come back.”
Azu Nwagbogu, director of the African Artists’ Foundation, which he founded in 2007, and which organises the annual National Art Competition, shares similar enthusiasm.
“One of the things that excites me is that a lot of young people are starting to participate,” he says, adding that the younger collectors are pushing the boundaries. “They’re collecting more risky, more experimental art.” (Mr Nwagbogu’s brother, Chike, runs the Nimbus Gallery, which organised what is acknowledged as Nigeria’s first arts auction, in 1999, just as the country emerged from its longest-ever spell of military rule.)
‘At the moment, those driving the African-American art world are the hip-hop stars’ - Victor Ehikhamenor, poet and artist
But these are also difficult times for Nigeria, as the price of crude oil, its primary source of government revenues and foreign exchange, has fallen by 70 per cent since mid-2014. Businesses lament that ensuing import and currency restrictions are hurting them.
To shore up flagging revenues, the government has considered imposing a tax on luxury goods.
Nevertheless, Adenrele Sonariwo, preparing to celebrate the first anniversary of her gallery, is optimistic. “Rele started at a time when the economy was at a low point; there was political uncertainty and people weren’t spending money, yet we managed to have an OK year,” she says. “I think things can only get better this year.”
There is still plenty of untapped potential for swelling the ranks of young art enthusiasts and collectors, says poet and artist Victor Ehikhamenor, whose work has also featured in Africa Now at Bonhams.
His current ambition is, by pursuing collaborations with the country’s biggest hip-hop stars, to get them interested in art. (His book covers for well-known Nigerian writers have succeeded in turning a number of them into collectors of his work.)
“At the moment, those driving the African-American art world are the hip-hop stars,” Mr Ehikhamenor says. “Imagine if Nigeria’s young musicians, given to buying expensive cars with no second-hand value, started collecting Nigerian art — it’d change the game overnight.”

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