Art Digest: May 4—10

By Mai 9, 2020 No Comments

Julia Kryshevich

Art Digest: May 4—10

Obviously, the world is changing: the more unforeseen and large-scale the challenges are, the deeper transformation we can observe. And the art world reacts — some artists do (while thanking doctors all around the world or creating fortune cookie installations), some auctions do (successfully moving online, providing us with all that might be necessary for learning about the present series). Not to mention fantastic exhibitions that prove to be as good in the online-format as in the reality. Actually, it is reality — new reality we are facing and, frankly speaking, enjoying to some extent.


Félix González-Torres “Fortune Cookie Corner” to be exhibited across the globe 

The “Untitled” (Fortune Cookie Corner) by the American artist Félix González-Torres was presented in 1990 — now it might be a perfect time to re-enact the installation. Organized by Andrea Rosen and David Zwirner, the show will run from May 25 to July 5 in numerous locations simultaneously (just like it used to be in 1990) — however, this time it’s expected to be a largest-ever showing of González-Torres oeuvre. 

Félix González-Torres: “Above all else, it is about leaving a mark that I existed: I was here. I was hungry. I was defeated. I was happy. I was sad. I was in love. I was afraid. I was hopeful. I had an idea and I had a good purpose and that’s why I made works of art”.

A huge pile of fortune-cookies covering a circle of a gallery floor — that’s how the work looks. Visitors are welcome to take as many treats as they want, yet, the supply is never-ending as it’s being replenished. 1,000 people selected by Rosen and Zwirner will re-create the installation in their chosen place all around the world. Félix González-Torres would be pleased — to see his work being realized again two decades after it originated. And just on point — in the context of the overall situation, when people are chained to their flats, experiencing fear and hopelessness. The artist himself died in 1996, six years later the “Fortune Cookie Corner” was presented, the cause of death was HIV infection. The Sculptor of Love and Loss (as the famous NY Times baptized him in the news of his death) created several series of works that were meant “to unite”, including his “Billboard” works (1991) and “Candy” project (1991), dedicated to the artist’s boyfriend, Ross Laycock, who died of AIDS in 1991. A 175-pound pile of candies making up the installation resembled the joint weight of the unhappy couple. What for the re-enactment of “Fortune Cookie Corner”, by the end of the exhibition the cookies will no longer be considered to be González-Torres work, as the project focuses on the regeneration of the concept, which is valuable in this regard. 

Frieze Viewing Room, a new online-project by Frieze New York opening May 8—15

Though cancelled offline, Frieze New York Art Fair takes place online from May 8—15. A specially created digital initiative Frieze Viewing Room will enable visitors to get a proper look at all major works by established and emerging artists in the virtual space. There is also an invitation-only Preview which runs on May 6—7. 

Just amazing — over 200 galleries participating (each accessible in its’ own virtual viewing room space). The digital edition of Frieze might be handy — it claims to have a search engine which makes it easier for visitors to navigate among the different categories such as artists, medium, price and others. The curated program acclaimed for Frieze New York 2020 also sets the tone for Frieze Viewing Room, dividing the artworks into thematic sections. Thus, if you have an eye for Latin American art, take a look at “Diálogos”, while Frame section might be of interest to those who enjoy discovering new, promising galleries in the vastness of the art world. To explore Frieze Viewing Room, don’t forget to register for the event.

BP Portrait Award announced its’ winners 

The BP Portrait Award is probably the most prestigious international portrait competition. On May 5 this year’s prize winners were announced on the contest website. And the Award goes to: Thai artist Jiab Prachakul for “Night Walk” (first prize), Russian artist Sergey Svetlakov for “Portrait of Denis: Actor, Juggler and Fashion Model” (second prize), and English artist Michael Youds for “Labour of Love” (third prize). Dutchman Egbert Vincent Modderman who presented the work “Restless” was honored with the BP Young Artist Award

The BP Portrait Award as we know it today has been running annually for 31 years. In 1989 it replaced its’ predecessor John Player Portrait Award that, in turn, existed between 1980—1989. The thing is that today the Award is organized by the two authoritative structures — the National Portrait Gallery (London) and BP oil and gas company, both influencing the most important decisions that are taken within the frame of the contest, including the judging procedure. However, the public (the participating artists not excluded) has recently opposed to the National Portrait Gallery collaboration with BP, claiming the latter exacerbates the climate crisis and doesn’t respect human rights. For the first time this year BP representatives didn’t judge the contestants, which caused a great resonance, yet, the company continues to support the Award. 

Banksy dedicates his new artwork to hospital workers 

A new artwork by the famous British street artist Banksy has been found on the wall of Southampton General Hospital. The painting depicts a young boy playing with an NHS nurse model figure (instead of paying attention to those of Spiderman and Batman that have been put aside). The note left by the artist seems to be a perfect comment on the work:

Banksy: “Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s only black and white.“

It’s a large 1m2 monochrome painting, now hanging in the foyer of the hospital, near the emergency department. The only colored element in the picture is the Red Cross emblem which is to be found on the apron of the toy nurse. It seems like Banksy has chosen a new hero of the following decade — the one who is ready to undertake the mission of rescuing the world. Now you can try imagining the reaction of the hospital staff discovering the gift by Banksy! (on the video below). The painting will be on view until the autumn, when it will be auctioned to raise money for the NHS.

T-shirt by Takashi Murakami raised $1 million for COVID-19 relief

“The Warhol of Japan” famous artist Takashi Murakami has decided to turn his outrageous income for the benefit of the society. In collaboration with the streetwear brand Supreme the artist created a T-shirt, the sale of which has raised about $1 million in funds for COVID-19 relief efforts. The price of a single item is $60. The money raised will be donated to the Help USA non-profit organization that provides support for individuals facing homelessness and poverty. 

Putting one’s name to a product which is meant to raise money for charitable purposes is a common practice for artists. While the new T-Shirt created in collaboration with Supreme doesn’t really represent the character of Murakami’s oeuvre, it’s really worth getting acquainted with his art, if you haven’t already. Having majored in Nihonga, the traditional Japanese painting technique, Takashi Murakami soaked up the diversity of Japanese culture and stormed the world of contemporary art, being determined to change it. Takashi Murakami is famous for blurring the boundaries between high and low arts, namely producing his works in large numbers at the empire factory Kaikai Kiki Co, while at the same time endowing each with his own vision and philosophy. My Lonesome Cowboy, Mr. DOB, Miss ko², and other characters created by the artist, disclose a lot about the Asian mindset and the local cultural tradition, though looking showy, modern, and commercially attractive.  

The Fondation Cartier digitized a few spectacular projects 

While the Fondation is still closed for visitors, it has announced the digital release of some interesting content on the website. An exhibition by Brazilian photographer Claudia Andujar, a sound installation by the famous bioacoustician Bernie Krause, and a film, following up the past exhibition “Trees” (2019) are already available for exploring.

The digital getaway, prepared by the Fondation Cartier looks (and sounds) exquisite. The exhibition by Claudia Andujar was open in the end of January, but didn’t last for long. Now we have an opportunity to learn more about the life and art of the female photographer who was the first to photograph the Amazonian Indians called Yanomami, having moved to Brazil after her family had died during the Holocaust. 

If you enjoy discovering the world by ear, don’t miss Bernie Krause unique sound map, which is made up of birdsongs recorded in different parts of the planet. For those who saw the exhibition “Trees” last year, it might be interesting to watch the film “Mon Arbre” which has been produced as a supplement to the show.

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