‘I could have died’: how an artist rebuilt his career after a studio fire | Art

“The difference between a good life and a bad life,” begins a line attributed to psychiatrist Carl Jung, “is how well you walk through fire.”

Artist Mike Henderson knows the purifying, clarifying effects of fire. In 1985, a fire tore through his home studio, damaging much of his work from the previous two decades. But that moment of destruction was also one of creation.

“I realized that the fire was a changing part in my life,” the 79-year-old said via Zoom from his home in San Leandro near Oakland, California. “I could have died if I had stayed there. I started looking at my life in terms of relationships and what life is all about. Raising a family: I wouldn’t have done it. I decided to clean up my life so I could find that person.”

Henderson did just that and has now been married for over 30 years, although he sadly wags a finger at the camera to show that he recently lost his wedding ring – he removed it to put on a pair of rubber gloves and believes was stolen from his home by workers.

The painter, filmmaker and blues musician is now preparing for his first solo exhibition in 20 years. Mike Henderson: Before the Fire, 1965-1985 opened last week at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at the University of California, Davis.

Mike Henderson, Sunday Night, 1968. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Haines Gallery

This is a rare chance to see Henderson’s large, figurative “protest paintings” depicting the racist violence and police brutality of the civil rights era. The show includes many pieces that were thought to have been lost in the fire, but were recovered and restored by the museum. There is also a slide show of damaged artwork to highlight the dozens of paintings that were beyond saving.

It’s been a long journey here. Henderson grew up in a home without running water in Marshall, Missouri, during the era of Jim Crow segregation. His mother was a cook; his father worked in a shoe factory and as a caretaker. “We were poor,” he recalled, reclining in a chair under a blue baseball cap. “We couldn’t even play ‘weak’. We couldn’t find the P.”

But when he attended sermons at church with his grandmother on Sunday, Henderson was moved by the religious paintings. “I was a stranger because I was still a dreamer. I had these dreams of something else like wanting to be an artist or play the guitar. It didn’t make much sense. You have to be a football player, athlete, you go to the army, you get married, you live two doors down from your parents and it repeats again. Sitting around telling lies in the barbershop and so on. I tried to fit in, but I didn’t.”

He was severely dyslexic and left school when he was 16, but returned at 21. A visit to a Vincent van Gogh exhibit in Kansas City was inspiring and life-changing. In 1965, Henderson rode west on a Greyhound bus to study at the San Francisco Art Institute, then the only racially integrated art school in America. He found a community of artists and kindred spirits from backgrounds very different from his own.

“I went as an empty vessel. I had no opinions about anything, so I was like a sponge that just soaked up everything. I was around students whose parents were New York artists, kids who traveled the world. Truly diverse: Indians, Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, and various tribes of Native Americans. I made a habit of mixing with everyone I could to find out whatever it was that I didn’t know.”

Mike Henderson, The Cradle, 1977
Mike Henderson, The Cradle, 1977. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Haines Galler

It was also the tumultuous era of civil rights demonstrations, protests against the Vietnam War and, in Oakland, the birth of the Black Panthers, a political organization that aimed to combine socialism, Black nationalism and armed defense against police brutality.

The rallies were culturally and racially diverse, Henderson recalls. “There is a common thread here; everyone feels something here. Everyone questioned everything and said, why are we fighting? It was like a magnet that glued me to it and I just took everything in.”

He smiles when he recalls one anti-war protest where a limousine pulled up and a woman got out, kissed him and exclaimed: “Harry, I haven’t seen you in years!” It was singer-songwriter Joan Baez. Henderson, tongue in cheek, managed to point out, “I’m not Harry!” Baez excused herself, got back into the limo and headed to the civic center, where Henderson watched her perform the Lord’s Prayer.

But it was also a revolutionary moment in art – bad timing for a young figurative painter who idolized Goya, Rembrandt and Van Gogh. “In the 60s, painting was dead. Conceptual art, filmmaking, the new stuff was coming in. How am I going to make a living out of it? I do not know.

“I knew one thing. I’m not going to be on my deathbed wondering why I didn’t try. I knew that the protest paintings I was doing weren’t going to hang in someone’s living room, but the paintings came through me. There was a deeper calling. It wasn’t about, will it sell or is it popular? It came out of me and I had no control over it. It controlled me.”

It was a financial struggle. Henderson sometimes had popcorn for dinner and depended on student loans or the kindness of strangers. But in 1970 he joined the pioneering UC Davis art faculty and taught for 43 years with Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Arneson, Roy De Forest, Manuel Neri and William T Wiley (he retired as professor emeritus in 2012).

In 1985 he took a sabbatical from UC Davis to play in an orchestra touring Switzerland. But during his first weekend away, he learned that his home in San Francisco had been destroyed by fire. “It was like the rug was pulled from under my feet when my landlord called me and told me that everything was gone,” he says.

Mike Henderson, The Kingdom
Mike Henderson, The Kingdom, 1976. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Haines Gallery

“Wow, the first thing I did was get rid of all the booze around me because I wanted to bounce and it was going to miss my brain. I was in shock. When I came back, I later found out things weren’t so bad. There were some paintings that were saved.”

And luckily, the fire stopped at the door of a storage cabinet containing Henderson’s treasured films of blues musicians like Big Mama Thornton. “When the landlord told me the whole block was gone, I first thought of that film. I might be able to do the paintings again, but I could never replace those films.”

Henderson did not resume work on protest paintings after the fire. Instead, his later work explores black life and utopian visions through abstraction, Afro-futurism and surrealism. He reflects: “I didn’t want to paint figures anymore. I felt I was done with numbers.”

His house was gone and he could no longer afford to live in San Francisco – “I’m not Rauschenberg!” – so he got a place in Oakland instead. “It was a big change and I did a lot of soul searching as to why I was there. I knew there was only one way to go and that was to go forward.

“I remember thinking I was in a trench. I can’t go over the right or left side. I can’t go back. I have to go forward and just keep going, see where it leads, and maybe I can get out of this ditch. Eventually I moved on and got married and had a son: he is a wildlife biologist. I couldn’t complain because I chose art. So whatever he chooses is fine with me!”

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Whitechapel Gallery offers thrilling landmark show of female abstract artists — review

A call to spring and nature rising in the heart of the wintry city, Helen Frankenthaler’s “April Mood”, a glorious, watery extravaganza of stain-drenched pinks, oranges and blues, hovers over the opening wall of the Whitechapel Gallery’s exuberant new exhibition Action, Gesture, Paint: Women Artists and Global Abstraction 1940-1970. The show concludes on a grand note, with Joan Mitchell’s operatic color tangles and brilliant diffused light in “Rufus’ Rock” and “Untitled”, richly allusive yet taut compositions that play wild and free with landscape elements as evocations of emotion and memory.

Between these masterpieces, 80 artists fill in the picture of how women around the world from the 1940s to the 1970s embraced non-figurative painting as gestures of liberation and self-expression.

Only seven years, but a sea change in cultural sensibility, separate this ambitious exhibition from the Royal Academy’s colossal 2016 show Abstract Expressionism, which focused almost entirely on the big boys Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko et al, and dedicated the movement as built on explosive American macho energy. Part of current impulses to rewrite established art historical narratives, the Whitechapel draws and extends this reading in terms of gender and, impressively, geography.

The series is exciting. In South Korea, Wook-kyung Choi saturates her canvases with swaying, splintered oranges, scarlets, and ochres, a riotous dazzle of green and blue stripes interspersed with dazzling white impasto—abstract marks at their most vibrant and seemingly improvisatory, held within a just -ordered framework.

Wook-kyung Choi, ‘Untitled’ (1960s) © Wook-kyung Choi Estate

Training in Rome, Behjat Sadr absorbed European influences art informal in addition to printing Persian tapestries and Islamic architecture, returning to Tehran to paint elegant constructions dominated by sweeping curves, usually black, sometimes illuminated with shimmering primary shades, representing natural elements – tree trunks, forests, comets – and always, in the flowing liquid paint, referring to the black gold of oil.

Argentinian Noemí Di Benedetto’s stretched canvases with rough texture are stitched like wounds. Shadowy figures, reminders of exile, emerge in Palestinian Maliheh Afnan’s dark landscapes “Mindscape” and “Concours”. In “Open Game” and “Promenade” Ida Barbarigo translates Venice’s winding channels and reflections into opal curls, fluttering white stripes against sky-like backgrounds.

Throughout, a sense of fragility, urgency and excitement emerges during sociopolitical upheaval, in different global contexts. Barbarigo recalled an excitement that wandered through deserted Venice in 1945: “I felt this openness and was nourished by it . . . see light on things, colors, gray details. . . ecstatic vagabonding.”

An abstract painting in dark colors has curls and tubular shapes in blue, red and black, suggesting rock formations
Behjat Sadr, ‘Untitled’ (1956) © Behjat Sadr Estate/DACS

At the same time, as the war in Japan ended catastrophically, Toko Shinoda added thick bold black lines, gestural splashes and blurred passages to her refined ink paintings, fusing Asian calligraphy with modern abstraction. “The air of freedom after the war suddenly nurtured in me the seed of a desire to visually express the shape of my heart. I was suddenly emancipated. . . my brush moved like an outpouring,” she wrote.

On the other side of the world, Michael West (née Corinne Michelle West) also recorded the end of the war: “A great parade of tanks and guns roars under my 5th Avenue window — the noise is deafening, hysterical . . . this glorious roar — this beautiful abstract scene of people along the curb. . . is the new poetry, the new art.” A light smudge seeps over dense layers of enamel and sand in her “Nihilism”, which alludes to nuclear holocaust, but also creation arising from destruction. The rhythmic marks record the reach of West’s body as she painted; the entire surface is animated in a way that embodies Harold Rosenberg’s definition of American abstraction: “an arena in which to act”.

With many competing large, noisy canvases, group abstract shows are difficult to orchestrate, but this one is beautifully scaled down, with an excellent small room midway, allowing us to slow down and modestly sized paintings to breathe. Here Asma Fayoumi’s “Requiem for a City”, fragmented maroon and black architectural forms interspersed with cobalt and silver shards shine, like a moonlit ruin; it was painted in Damascus after Israeli-Syrian clashes in 1967.

An abstract painting has drips and swirls of black and blue paint on a pink background

Janet Sobel, ‘Untitled’ (c1948)

Opposite are delicate canvases covered in splattered pigment and looping lines, like the vibrant pink-turquoise “Illusion of Solidity” by Janet Sobel (née Jennie Olechovsky), a Brooklyn grandmother when she began painting in the early 1940s. She anticipated Pollock’s overall drip effects by several years, although the stronger comparison is to folk decorative styles from Sobel’s native Ukraine. Critic Clement Greenberg called Sobel “primitive” and “a housewife”.

However, there are under-the-radar New Yorkers here as tough and full of bravado as the men. Lee Krasner’s robust-voluptuous arcs and coils build wonderful compositions of controlled chaos – “Bald Eagle”, “Feathering”. Less well known, the sharply drawn strokes in Judith Godwin’s “Black Pagoda” and “Black Cross” have an architectural power and depth reminiscent of that of her friend Franz Kline, but a dynamic, lighter quality inspired by the physical movements of another friend, dancer Martha Graham. And Mary Abbott’s undulating warm-toned chords in “Purple Crossover” and the effervescent liquid flow of the towering vertical of “Mahogany Road” are as sensuous-robust yet graceful as the paintings of her once beloved de Kooning – and the influence was not not yet. one direction; they were experimenting with large abstracted landscapes around the same time.

An abstract painting contains a busy series of geometric shapes with suggestions of the head and beak of an eagle

Lee Krasner, ‘Bald Eagle’ (1955) © Pollock-Krasner Foundation/DACS

Krasner gradually gained acclaim, but the others, who also belonged to Greenwich Village’s ab-ex circles in the 1940s-50s, faded into obscurity several decades before their deaths – Abbott was 98 years old in 2019; Godwin in 2021. A shift occurred just before their deaths when interviewers sought them out as the last living links to the movement’s heyday; each spoke with little bitterness of the prejudice they faced as female painters in mid-century New York.

The market remains insanely unbalanced: Abbott’s wonderful “Mahogany Road” sold for just $16,250 in 2019. This is the more extraordinary because, of all genres, abstraction is gender neutral. “I am an artist, not a female artist, not an American artist,” Krasner insisted.

So why a women-only show? To fundamentally redress inequality and build a nuanced understanding. The selection could have been tighter: the artists included are of unequal stature – some will enter the canon, others are forgettable, few have sustained the evolving careers to warrant retrospectives like Krasner’s at the Barbican in 2019 and Mitchell Mitchell ‘s currently at Paris’s Fondation Louis Vuitton. But most had the courage to make art out of the maelstrom of their own experience: Krasner’s favorite line from Rimbaud, “I ended up finding sacred the disorder of my mind”, could speak for the majority.

This exhibition is full of feeling and is a landmark, celebrating so many women who have found their own voices and expanded the world scene of abstract expressionism. As Frankenthaler wrote, “If it’s beautiful and it works, hooray!”

Offered from February 9 to May 7, whitechapelgallery.orgthen at Fondation Vincent van Gogh, Arles, and Kunsthalle, Bielefeld

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“It’s Graffiti, But Why?”: 85 Hilarious Posts From This Facebook Group Showing The Best Examples Of Pointless, Random, And Silly Graffiti

Art comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s an impressionist painting, an ancient sculpture, an intricate mosaic or a toilet. Straight lines or swirling lines, monochrome or an explosion of neon, realistic or abstract, yes or no. However, what unites these diverse mediums and applications is the message and emotional impact on the viewer.

However, there is one art form that sits on the fine line between vandalism and art, and that is graffiti. From works that make you ponder your existential purpose in the universe, to the evocative message of “I’m here lol,” graffiti is here to stay, and today we’ll take a look at some of the best works humanity has ever come up with with, as shared by the “It’s graffiti, but why?” Facebook group.

This is filthy goodness that hits the spot for quality content. So be sure to upvote your favorites and leave comments along the way, and if you’re in the mood for actual art, here’s a link to we previous article. Oh, and one more, because I couldn’t choose. Now let’s get into it!

More information: Facebook

People are often divided when it comes to graffiti. Is it art? Is it vandalism? Should it be penalized more heavily or encouraged more? Should any form of writing on the wall convey any meaning beyond its original? While smarter people like me discuss these topics and attempt to find answers, the rest of us can simply laugh at the silliness of it all.

The Facebook group “It’s Graffiti, but why?” has united over 66,000 members who love to share and laugh at the dumbest and most random graffiti finds. Since September 2015, it has become a center for those who appreciate the absurdity of life, as well as its fragility. But enough of fancy wordy talk, let’s get into some more interesting bits about graffiti as a whole.

As stated by the Eden gallery, graffiti is a form of visual communication created in public places. It is usually produced illegally and often involves the unauthorized marking of public or private spaces by individuals or groups. It bears an uncanny resemblance to ancient inscriptions and cave drawings, which tell a story of contemporary life.

Regardless of that fact, the art form has been heavily criticized by the public as a whole, and it has only recently begun its journey to being recognized as real art. As stated by Jonathan Jones, the vast majority of graffiti is ugly, stupid and vaguely menacing, with only a small portion of anything witty or creative. “It’s boring and expresses a general disdain for community, kindness and the weak,” he says. But one should probably look at why people graffiti in the first place.

Modern graffiti began in the 1960s in New York City and Philadelphia, with one of the very first graffiti writers being Taki 183, who found himself bored one day. As he walked the streets, he was met with a small piece of writing that spelled out Julio 204. Taki got inspired and started writing his name everywhere. Others got inspired and wanted to try it too, and suddenly the city of New York was covered in names and addresses.

Nikita Krakhofer explains that it has become a kind of game and challenge. The way to get better at this game was to write in a better way than the others, and that’s how different styles emerged. Needless to say, this was highly illegal and dangerous. It can land you in jail, pay a hefty fine, or simply die because of the risk involved in being on the train tracks, in the subway, or in other dangerous places. But that didn’t seem to deter people.

There are certain aspects of creating graffiti that give one a rush, unlike that of simply drawing or painting. It gives one a sense of freedom to create anything and everything without limitations for space. It also brings a sense of rebellion against the system, society and any norms that may be critical of their message.

Furthermore, it can lead to fame and notoriety on a global scale. As long as one is incredibly good at what they do, or incredibly stupid to try to mark the most dangerous places. But, similar to mountain climbing, graffiti artists want to ‘climb’ them all—collect all the street spots, subways, cars, etc.

Regardless of all these reasons, the one that can unite every single graffiti artist is the desire to leave one’s mark on the world. To express yourself and be recognized for existing. Being known for something as illegal as vandalizing property, no matter how beautiful or artistic the subsequent graffiti, makes this graffiti worth it.

Besides, if we look at some absurdist philosophy, we might realize that we are looking way too deep into this as it is. Absurdism refers to the complex human tendency to find meaning and inherent value in life and the inability to do so in an aimless existence within an irrational universe. Having the ability to be aware of the absurd and respond to it allows individuals to achieve a greater degree of their freedom, and so we land back here to these examples of graffiti.

At the end of the day, graffiti is a language of today’s society. Although the actual doodle or genital silhouette lacks any artistic value, it speaks volumes about contemporary issues, some of which still revolve around the fact that we are an insignificant part of the universe with limited lifespans, and trying to satisfy our desire for the eternal life.

Or it means absolutely nothing and serves only as a means to temporary happiness for the artist and for the spectator. While that building may not stand forever, the memories and paint may outlive the people who put it there in the first place, and that’s all that matters.

As you continue scrolling through the list, be sure to vote up your favorites and leave comments below, and I’ll see you all in the next one!

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Ukrainian man goes on trial in France over theft of £1.3m painting found in Kyiv | France

A Ukrainian man has gone on trial in France accused of masterminding the theft of a €1.5m (£1.3m) painting discovered in a house in Kiev a year after it disappeared from a museum in Nancy.

The work of Paul Signac, Le Port de La Rochelle, went missing from the Musée de Beaux-Arts in Nancy, northeastern France, in 2018.

Museum staff were stunned to discover an empty frame on the wall after three people removed the canvas with a box cutter, rolled it up and walked out of the museum with it hidden under a raincoat one of them was wearing.

The painting, which measured 46 cm by 55 cm, apparently disappeared without a trace until a year later, when Kyiv police raided the home of a suspect allegedly connected to a murder. While searching his home in the Ukrainian capital, the unnamed suspect told them a valuable painting was in a cupboard and advised them to handle it with care.

Under interrogation, he apparently pointed the finger at a fellow countryman, Vadym Huzhva (64), then in an Austrian prison after being found guilty of stealing a Renoir painting in Vienna in November 2018. Upon his release, Huzhva was in Extradited to France June 2020.

Huzhva, an art collector, denied any connection to the theft and claimed he had been framed. His lawyer, Samira Boudiba, told the newspaper Le Parisien that the accused had “enough to say” to the court.

“He is not on the surveillance film. All you can see are three people who cannot be identified. All the video shows is the time the painting was stolen, but that’s all,” said Boudiba. “He is blamed for the theft of a painting in France, which is strange. Without getting into the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, he says it’s a conspiracy.”

Huzhva is also accused of other thefts, including the disappearance of a Renoir from a French auction house in the Paris region in 2017, the theft of two works of art from a Versailles auction house and a painting from Béziers, southern France, in 2018.

“What surprised us was how unsophisticated the theft was. It was that simple,” said François Pérain, the public prosecutor of Nancy, when the Signac painting was returned to Nancy two years ago. “They were wearing head coverings, but they performed with their faces uncovered, entered the main entrance and left through the same door.”

Painted in 1915, Le Port de La Rochelle is part of a series Signac made of the ports of La Rochelle, Marseille, Saint-Tropez and Rotterdam.

The trial is expected to last two days.

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Four cultural spots to hit this spring

A photographic shout-out to hip-hop in Manhattan

Wyclef Jean (left) and Lauryn Hill in New York, 1993 © Lisa Leone

Hip-hop was born in 1973 at a basement party in the Bronx, so it is said. While there have been numerous events and shows exploring its history since then, the one currently celebrating hip-hop’s 50th at Fotografiska on Park Avenue – the Manhattan satellite of the great Swedish photography museum – is a must for any student of the aesthetics of the genre. Hip-Hop: Consciously, Unconsciously, which opened last week, is curated by Sacha Jenkins, chief creative officer of the cult magazine Mass appeal and the mastermind behind Showtime’s original series Hip Hop 50.

Tupac, straitjacket, 1993 by Sawn Mortensen

Tupac, straitjacket, 1993 by Sawn Mortensen © Shawn Mortensen

It explores the history of the music and the huge international cultural phenomenon it spawned – which, as anyone who read magazines between 1980 and 2015 knows, has led to some of the best and most influential portraits of the past half century. From The Notorious BIG and Afrika Bambaataa to Mary J Blige and Eve (women’s contributions get a big nod), via Public Enemy, Nas and dozens of others, there are over 200 photos dated between 1972 and 2022. If you can’t make not that to NYC, the show will travel to Stockholm and then Berlin later this year. Until May 21;

A bedroom at the Marlton Hotel
A bedroom at the Marlton Hotel © Brandon Lajoie/The Marlton Hotel
The Marlton Hotel in the middle of the Village
The Marlton Hotel in the middle of the Village © Brandon Lajoie/The Marlton Hotel

Stay A central town location with style in the sixth arrondissement, and a 15-minute walk to Fotografiska’s Lower Park Avenue location: the Marlton offers both, plus value for money that’s satisfying amid the raging “hey; because we can” rates charged by some of the bigger players in town. From $203;

Greet Hepworth in Cornwall

An installation of Barbara Hepworth: Art & Life at Tate St Ives
An installation by Barbara Heprwoth: Art & Life at Tate St Ives © Tate Photography (Sam Day)

Barbara Hepworth moved to Cornwall in 1939, and never left; she found her spiritual home in St Ives, where her studio is now the Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. Tate St Ives’ current wide-ranging show, Barbara Hepworth: Art and Lifebrings together almost five decades of work across various media: drawings, paintings, prints and of course her incredible sculptures – a career-long dialogue in stone, bronze and wood with “standing”, “two” and “closed” forms, many of which are collected here is. Until May 1;

Fenestration of the Ear the Microscope by Barbara Hepworth

Fenestration of the Ear the Microscope by Barbara Hepworth © Bowness, courtesy of The Ingram Collection/John-Paul Bland

A bedroom at The Gurnard's Head

A bedroom at The Gurnard’s Head © Paul Massey

Stay The lovely and unpretentious rooms at The Gurnard’s Head – a few kilometers out of town, on one of the prettiest stretches of the St Ives to Pendeen South West Coast Road – are all you need: good beds, pretty colours, books over your shelves and, below, food that they draw in from far and wide. From £155;

Amsterdam’s Vermeer hit

View of Delft, 1660-61, by Johannes Vermeer

View of Delft, 1660-61, by Johannes Vermeer © Mauritshuis, The Hague

We first became aware of the Rijksmuseum’s ambitious Vermeer show more than a year ago, and are hard pressed to say whether it or Harry Styles is the ticket we crave and have more planned. (Not as far-fetched a conflation as it sounds: Johannes van Delft is the Dutch Golden Age’s answer to a full-fledged rock star, and it’s the biggest Vermeer show ever.) It’s also a greatest hits tour, from Girl with a pearl earring and View of Delft – both on loan from the Mauritshuis in The Hague – to The Lace Maker and The milkmaid

The Lacemaker, 1666-68, by Johannes Vermeer

The Lacemaker, 1666-68, by Johannes Vermeer © Musée du Louvre

His mastery of light and shadow is something you have to see up close, in person, to truly appreciate. That the Rijksmuseum is a knockout building is all the more reason to go (as is the fact that there is a Eurostar connection). Opens February 10;

A room with a canal view at the Pulitzer Hotel
A room with a canal view at the Pulitzer Hotel
Outside Pulitzer Amsterdam
Outside Pulitzer Amsterdam © (c)

Stay For the full canalside experience – and a smart, and exclusive, skip-the-line Vermeer package – book at the Pulitzer, spread across a handful of 17th- and 18th-century canal houses on the Prinsengracht, 20 minutes ‘s step of the museum. From €399; Vermeer package from €630;

Andy Warhol looks a hoot (Basquiat too) in Paris

Basquiat x Warhol: Painting 4 Hands at the Fondation Louis Vuitton

Basquiat x Warhol: Painting 4 Hands at the Fondation Louis Vuitton © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat licensed by Artestar, New York; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Licensed by ADAGP, Paris 2023

The Fondation Louis Vuitton has been knocking it out of the park with one virtuoso blockbuster after another, from 2019’s enlightening Charlotte Perriand retrospective to last year’s Icons of modern art which collected 200 modern masterpieces that all belonged to the uber-collective Morozov family at some 19th- to 20th-century time. Here’s another to book the Eurostar (and the tickets) before April: Basquiat x Warhol: Painting 4 Hands will bring together more than 160 works of art the two New York legends created together during the mid-’80s heyday of Basquiat’s career (and just two years before Warhol died, followed by Basquiat a year later).

Andy with Camera, c.1984, by Jean-Michel Basquiat

Andy with Camera, c.1984, by Jean-Michel Basquiat © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, licensed by Artestar, New York

It includes 80 canvases signed by both. The likes of Jenny Holzer, Kenny Scharf and Keith Haring – who once compared the meeting of these two artists to the creation of “a third distinctive and unique mind” – are also in the mix for downtown scene context. Opens April 5;

A bedroom at la Fantaisie on the edge of Pigalle
A bedroom at la Fantaisie on the edge of Pigalle

Stay If you’re seeing the show in early summer, La Fantaisie opens on June 1 to host you in chic Martin Brudnizki style on rue Cadet on the edge of the happening Pigalle. Hardcore foodies may already know that this marks the return from San Francisco of Dominique Crenn, the only female chef to achieve three Michelin stars in the US. From €550;

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Air India Express unveils new tail art on Boeing 737-800 developed at Kochi biennale

January 27, 2023 20:30 | Updated 28 January 2023 09:20 IST – Thiruvananthapuram

Tourism Minister Mohamed Riyas and artist Bose Krishnamachary at the unveiling of a new tail art developed at the Kochi Muziris Biennale painted on an Air India Express Boeing 737-800 aircraft at the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport. | Photo credit: Special Arrangement

Air India Express unveiled a new tail art developed at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale and installed on a Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The tail art was unveiled by Minister for Public Works PA Mohamed Riyas along with CEO of Air India Express Aloke Singh and Kochi Biennale Foundation president Bose Krishnamachari.

The 25 feet long tail art is an adaptation of an original acrylic painting by artist Smitha GS. The painting depicts a parallel timeline through the levels of memory, recreating colorful landscapes filled with chameleons, grasshoppers, microorganisms and aquatic animals. The metaphysical painting simultaneously reveals the mystery of small creatures and the vastness of hills and flower beds.

The unveiling took place at the hangar of Air India Engineering Services Limited at the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.

During the event Mr. Riyas said: “The vibrant tail art reflects the culture of India and this unique partnership between Air India Express and Kochi Biennale shows their commitment to art and culture. Air India Express operates international flights from all four airports of Kerala and I hope it becomes a more formidable force in Indian aviation.

The Tata link

Recalling that Tata’s first aircraft landed at Thiruvananthapuram Airport in 1935, Mr. Singh said Kerala has seen many such milestones since then. “The Kochi-Muziriz Biennale has emerged as a unique art event in the country, and by placing an artwork developed by the artists on our aircraft, we are taking the spirit of biennales to overseas destinations,” said Mr. Singh.

Mr. Krishnamachari said, “Both Air India Express and the Kochi Biennale Foundation believe in giving a platform to local and international artists to showcase their work to the world”. Air India and Air India Express are the official travel partners for the biennale which started in December 2022 and will run until April 2023.

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Meet the winner of the 2023 Telegraph Poetry Competition

Our guest judge for this year’s competition is Victoria Kennefick, whose book Eat or We Both Starve won the 2022 Seamus Heaney Prize. “Why Whistlejacket? immediately stood out to me, his clever couplets galloped across the page,” she says. “Taylor’s writing is fresh, confident and original, especially in creating a very sensual experience for the reader, ‘the taste of peat … the scent of a mare in his nostrils’.” Taylor amplifies and expands the painting’s meaning as she creates a work of art and a Whistlejacket all her own. It’s a poem, and a painting, to which I will return again and again.”

Above you can watch a video of Dame Harriet Walter performing Why Whistlejacket? “This poem ticks so many of my boxes,” she says: “A personal particularity of words, some sensual alliteration and tight rhymes and an immersion in place and tempo that in turn immerses the reader.”

Below you can read Why Whistlejacket? along with the other poems that made our shortlist. Among hundreds and hundreds of entries, there were many that raised a smile – I smiled at Telegraph crossword fan Frank Pearce’s ode to the okapi, an animal “of interest only for cross-commitments” – but we had to limit it to a final four runners -up.

Alex Faulkner’s Crane Fly, a witty, rhyming tribute to the ephemeral insect, was a reminder that the best light verse – like the best comedy – doesn’t leave you hanging for the last line too long.

Sharon Ashton’s Dying Swan seduced me with its pure musicality – “down, boned and tight-sewn” – as she portrayed the bird’s last moments. Just read these lines aloud: “this shift to winged others/ this step from flesh to graded feather”.

In Elizabeth Soule’s Creature – a riveting flight of gothic imagination, with shades of Sylvia Plath – the poet creates a kind of Frankenstein’s monster from bric-a-brac. It’s a revamped golem that “uses splintered fence posts to form a stiffened spine”, a “hanger pelvis” and “a birdcage for a ribcage”.

Hannah Gillie’s King Prawn was the only illustrated entry we received – and it’s a delight, her joyous cartoons adding an extra kick to the tight rhymes.

Anyone with a funny bone will smile at the sight of the titular crustacean in its crown, a hot pink despot carried around in a palanquin by two mice.

Poor old King Prawn’s ego takes a hit when he realizes he’s not the only ruling animal (don’t forget the Emperor Palanquin and Kingfisher).

I’ve read every single entry over the past few weeks, and I’ve appreciated the effort and imagination that went into all of them. It was especially encouraging to hear from readers who were inspired by this competition to try their hand at poetry for the first time in years. If you entered and didn’t make the final list, please don’t be disheartened. Rosamund Taylor has some great advice for aspiring writers: “Just the act of sending something out, even if it never gets beyond that, is a very important step on the writing journey.

“The more you send out, the more confidence you gain.”

After all, Whistlejacket didn’t win his first race at Newmarket in 1755 – but returned the following year and galloped to victory.

The winning poem:

Why Whistlejacket? by Rosamund Taylor

(After ‘Whistlejacket’, George Stubbs, 1762)

Not because he is a horse
⠀⠀ but because he makes me nimble,

run weightless through willow grass
⠀⠀and yellow-rattle, a delicious

wildness; because his smooth muscles
⠀⠀ could carry him

to another eternity; because his eyes
⠀⠀ miss the roll over the downhills,

and because he knows the taste of turf
⠀⠀underhead, the scent of a mare

in his nostrils, and because when he charges
⠀⠀to me in the gallery

the nubile women and Persian armies
⠀⠀ next to him gets tough

and because I tried to lose myself
⠀⠀ in the is-ness of things

and Whistlejacket it is is,
⠀⠀ eruption, in

himself; it’s not because he’s a horse
⠀⠀and that’s because horse is all he is.

The short list of poems:

Crane Fly by Alex Faulkner

the crane flies,
whose architecture
⠀⠀ One cannot disapprove
is good until it hits the wall
⠀⠀and then it can’t fly at all

Dying Swan by Sharon Ashton

It doesn’t grow easier,
this shift to winged others,
this step from flesh to graded feather ─
⠀⠀ congratulations
⠀⠀⠀⠀ to scapular
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀to mysterious
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ to flee;
this flattening of chest, compression of ribs, pause for breath
as wombs are exchanged for cages of down, deboned and tightly sewn up
to coagulate, release any blood that may drip through quills
through a thousand flexions and extensions of neck,
arches of spine, convolutions of joints as limbs realigned
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ to tremble
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ to hang
⠀⠀⠀⠀ to shudder
⠀⠀ until death
on boards becomes moonlit water.

Creature by Elizabeth Soule

Give me your cast-offs.
I’ll pick up your splintered fence posts
to form a stiffened spine,
tibia, fibula and femur,
gangling limbs swinging
of wire coat hanger basin
to patrol the borders of worlds
not on feet of clay
but broken souls.

Snapped pins, bent spears, included pins
will pinch, stab, write
in the future.

The rusty cage
in which your trapped canary
sang his life away
will form the ribs
and I will fill his void with poems
torn from books
which you have thrown aside.

I’ll take the radio you threw away
to keep up with a digital world
and I will make a skull
filled with echoes
of old music, wise discussions
scary stories

and I will gather fallen feathers
that my creature may have wings
to ride the lightning.

King Prawn by Hannah Gillie

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Amid a Feverish Market for Her Prismatic Paintings, Japanese Art Dynamo Etsu Egami Is Keeping a Cool Head

It’s only a few weeks into 2023, but Etsu Egami can already confirm that it’s been a great year.

The 28-year-old artist has just returned home to Chiba, Japan, after her sold-out solo exhibition soft-opened Whitestone Gallery’s new space in Singapore during the city’s art week; her works exhibited at the Japanese gallery’s booth at the recent ART SG also found eager buyers. She is now back in her studio in her hometown, preparing for a series of upcoming museum projects and showcases locally and abroad. Indeed, Egami is already eyeing a full schedule in the coming weeks and months, and her eyes are on the global stage.

“I want more Japanese artists, female artists and Asian artists to be seen in the international art world,” Egami said of her strong motivation to go global, speaking to Artnet News via video call from her studio.

Although there have been many great artists from Japan and Asia throughout history, she noted, the number of them who are internationally known remains small. He has appeared in exhibitions for almost a decade, achieving notable accolades – including a spot on the Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 List in 2021—Egami’s fiery determination to develop a career outside of Japan “is only natural.”

Etsu Egami at artist talk with curator Tan Siuli at the opening of her solo show at Whitestone Gallery Singapore. Courtesy of Whitestone Gallery.

Japan’s Ascendant Star

From the sounds of things (and looking at the data), going global is going to be a very achievable New Year’s resolution – her hard work is already paying off. Egami’s paintings, created with thick lines of colorful brush strokes, have gained a solid following since her debut in 2015; she has shown paintings in major art cities from Paris and New York to Seoul, Beijing and Taipei.

Prices for her paintings floating in the secondary market have skyrocketed since 2021, making her one of the art market’s fastest rising stars from Asia, widely recognized as a key artist of the third generation of postwar Japanese art. Her work has already entered the collections of institutions internationally, including CAFA Art Museum in Beijing, Moscow’s Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, and E-Land Foundation in Seoul.

But Egami’s rise in the market also means that she has also become a target of flippers—a fact that upsets the artist. According to data from the Artnet Price Database, most of her top 10 auction records have been for works that have held for three years or less, including her current record, which stands at HK$2.9 million ($366,921; all sale prices includes fees), for a 2021 diptych sold at Holly’s International (HK) Auctions last May. This was followed by the sale of painting Rainbow-2022-t-10 at a Holly’s Hong Kong auction in November 2022. The work, which fetched HK$1.3 million ($168,931), was exhibited at Tang Contemporary’s Seoul space only a few months earlier. On Saturday, January 28, Japan’s SBI Art Auction is offering a small 2021 painting for sale. (The auction house gave the work a rather low presale estimate of ¥700,000 to ¥1.3 million ($5,100 to $9,400), but SBI seems to have a track record of keeping their estimates at an accessible level.)

“[My artworks] are like my children, so I hope the work can stay with people much longer,” Egami said when asked about how this heated secondary market affects her. She works with her galleries to try to keep things under control: they have imposed a five-year non-sale agreement, and are extremely careful to weed out unaffiliated collectors.

However, she is grateful for the attention and hopes that it is sustainable. “I really appreciate that people like my work and collect it,” she said. “I hope people can see the messages in my work, why I make these works, and the stories behind them. I also hope that more people can spend time with my work, let their imaginations run wild and show my work rather than just keeping them in storage. I want people to focus on my art.”

Etsu Egami White Stone

Etsu Egami’s works at Whitestone Gallery’s booth at ART SG 2023. Courtesy of Whitestone Gallery.

International Influence

To understand Egami’s art, one must trace her practice back to her high school days. Growing up about 25 miles east of downtown Tokyo in 2008, she experienced a transformational change when she was exposed to Chinese contemporary art during the Beijing Olympics.

“It was a huge shock to the Japanese art scene,” Egami recalled of the televised Olympics, which were extremely popular in Japan. This broadened her view—she grew up with the work of modern Japanese painters such as Sotaro Yasui and Ryuzaburo Umehara. But for a long time she felt that there was a gap between Japanese pre-war and post-war art, and the exposure to Chinese contemporary art was a light bulb moment. “It seemed to bridge this gap,” she said.

She studied oil painting in China, at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing, before finally completing her MFA there in 2019, under the tutelage of Chinese painter Liu Xiaodong, one of the most important Chinese contemporary artists among the art market favorites were. about a decade ago when the genre was the most sought after from East Asia.

When she first studied abroad (in China, but also in Germany), she noticed that experiences of culture shock and the miscommunication of being a foreigner had a deep impact on her, especially those beyond words. Non-verbal cultural cues and subtexts confused her the most. “I realized that it wasn’t a language problem,” she noted. “Language is a tool of communication, but at the same time it is also the barrier.”

This miscommunication became a major source of inspiration in her early creations, including drawings, paintings and mixed media installations. Her style further developed during a period spent in New York as part of a 2020 Japanese Government Residency Award for Outstanding Artists. During those months, she saw the tumultuous lockdowns, the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise of targeted attacks against Asians.

These revelations spawned her ongoing “Rainbow” series. Some of the works from this series have sold well at auction, according to Artnet Price Database records. “The importance of diversity and coexistence gave me the inspiration of the rainbow,” she said. “These are lines that do not mix with each other, but they are in various colors that run parallel to each other. This is my only dream and hope, and has become my painting language.”

Etsu Egami

Etsu Egami, Rainbow-2022-W-42, on view at the artist’s solo exhibition “Ceaseless is the change of water where the current glides serenely on: the spray appears over a cataract, yet disappears without a moment’s delay” at Whitestone Gallery Singapore. Courtesy of Whitestone Gallery.

A big New Year

This year is likely to be a turning point. For one, a striking monumental diptych from her recent Singapore show with a title inspired by Japanese classical text Hōjōki, was acquired by a foundation that is building a yet-to-be-announced private museum in Singapore. The work is a visual ode to honoring the primitive nature and spirituality of feminine power through the artist’s signature brushstrokes in a warm color palette.

“I am very happy about this,” the artist said of the major acquisition, adding that she also met many collectors from the region during her time there, including those from Malaysia and Indonesia. “It’s nice that my work can be placed in a collection that will be open to the public,” she added.

And even though it is largely private buyers who pursue her paintings, Egami’s work will nevertheless reach a wider audience in the coming year. The painting Rainbow-2021-T-1– the work that set her auction record – was included in the third edition of the China Xinjiang International Art Biennale, which opened earlier this month. She is also working to expand her medium, and plans to spend a residency creating a site-specific audiovisual installation for a group show that will open in late February at the Museum of Modern Art in Japan’s Gunma Prefecture. For this project, the artist researched the history of the prefecture’s iconic Daruma dolls, modeled after a Buddhist monk widely known as the founder of Zen Buddhism.

Also in the pipeline are institutional exhibitions, one planned for London during Frieze week next fall, and another at a yet-to-be-announced museum in Shanghai; at both she plans to expand beyond painting, including experiments with photography, sound and sculpture. Her work will also make a fair presence at Art Basel Hong Kong and Art Geneva, both in conjunction with Tang Contemporary, according to the artist.

But Egami is happy to let her representatives take care of sales while she digs deeper into her art. “The galleries will handle the market side of things so I can focus on my work that questions about society or my feelings,” Egami said. “I want to try something new.”

Etsu Egami

Installation view of “Ceaseless is the change of water where the current glides serenely on: the spray appears over a cataract but disappears without a moment’s delay,” solo exhibition of Etsu Egami at Whitestone Gallery Singapore. Courtesy of the artist.

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Guggenheim Museum faces lawsuit over Picasso painting

Written by Toyin Owoseje, CNN

One of Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period paintings is at the center of a lawsuit between a Jewish family and New York’s Guggenheim Museum.

The heirs of Karl Adler and Rosi Jacobi want the repatriation of the artist’s 1904 masterpiece “Woman Ironing (La repasseuse),” which they say the couple sold under duress when they tried to escape persecution by the Nazis in their native Germany to escape in 1938.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in Manhattan Supreme Court, says Adler acquired the artwork in 1916 from Munich gallery owner Heinrich Thannhauser, but sold it to Thannhauser’s son, Justin, in 1938 for about $1,552, well below its value. The suit alleges that a desperate Adler took the significant loss due to his family’s circumstances.

“Adler would not have disposed of the painting at the time and price he did but for the Nazi persecution to which he and his family have been subjected, and will continue to be,” the complaint states.

In the lawsuit, the family members say Adler was chairman of the board of directors for Europe’s leading leather manufacturer, but things changed when the “Nazi regime in Germany shattered their lives.”

In 1938, the family fled Germany and traveled through the Netherlands, France and Switzerland before settling permanently in Argentina, the suit says.

The Guggenheim Museum said it believes the suit is “without merit.” Credit: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

“The Adlers needed large amounts of cash just to obtain short-term visas during their exile in Europe. Unable to work, on the run, and not knowing what the future held for them, the Adlers had to liquidate quickly what they could. collect as much cash as possible,” the lawsuit states.

The heirs claim that Thannhauser “profited” from the misfortune of German Jews. They also claim that “Thannhauser was well aware of the plight of Adler and his family, and that Adler, absent Nazi persecution, would never have sold the painting when he did so at such a price,” according to the lawsuit.

Rosi Adler died in Buenos Aires in 1946 at the age of 68, while her husband Karl died at the age of 85 in 1957 during a visit to his homeland.

“Woman Ironing” remained in Thannhauser’s art collection until his death in 1976. It was donated to the Guggenheim in 1978, along with the rest of his artwork.

Adler’s descendants, along with a number of non-profit and Jewish organizations named as plaintiffs in the class action, say in the complaint that the painting is “in the wrongful possession” of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

The family is seeking the painting’s return or compensation commensurate with its current market value, which the suit estimates is between $100 million and $200 million.

The Guggenheim Museum told CNN in a statement that it “takes provenance matters and restitution claims extremely seriously” but believes this case is “without merit.”

“Karl Adler’s sale of the painting to Justin Thannhauser was a fair transaction between parties with a long-standing and ongoing relationship,” the museum said.

It added: “The extensive research conducted by the Guggenheim since first being contacted by an attorney representing these plaintiffs shows that the Guggenheim is the rightful owner of the painting.”

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Victoria artist covers graffiti with massive mural of Wednesday Addams

As Paul Archer looks up at his latest mural, it glares back at him.

The Victoria Airbrush artist, known professionally as “Archer,” has taken his love of a fictional family to new heights with a 16-foot tall mural of Wednesday Addams, shiny eyes and all, on the back of a building in the downtown to paint.

The feat, which was completed on Jan. 13 with permission from the local Chamber of Commerce, was a creative way to remove graffiti that had spread to the parking lot at 850 Broughton St., according to Archer. look, to hide.

“Usually I just go out and repaint gray because I try to keep that area pretty clean. It’s right behind my shop. So instead of painting the gray back, I decided to do Wednesday because it was Friday the 13th, and I thought that would be appropriate,” he told CHEK News.

BC’s rainy winter season isn’t ideal for artists working outside, but the precipitation actually improved the final product for Archer this time around.

“When I started it, it started raining on me, so it created a texture in the face that was kind of different,” he said. “I finished it the next day and it took me about a full day in total.”

Wednesday, known for her morbid personality, pale skin and pigtails, is a character who appeared in the 1964 sitcom The Addams Familythe blockbuster films The Addams Family and Addams Family Valuesboth released in the 90s, and, most recently, the Netflix series Wednesdaywhich opened in November 2022 and stars Jenna Ortega in the title role.

Archer, who calls himself an “airbrush extraordinaire,” decided to take a picture of Ortega in character and, with a whole lot of paint, his already extensive mural portfolio which started more than 40 years ago.

“I do murals all over BC, and I get a fire burning inside once I find something I really want to do. Then I look at a wall,” he said.

“Usually at this time of year I only paint canvases or interior work, or interior murals. But my true passion is doing the great outdoors. I’ve done 18-story buildings, and I’m full of stuff in the Kootenays and the Okanagan most of this year. I have done more than 100 murals over the past few years.”

In Victoria, passers-by may recognize another of Archer’s pieces on the side of a building at the corner of Burnside Road and Wascana Street, where a mural of a girl with a sunflower stands about two stories high.

“It’s massive,” he exclaimed. “Now people actually plant sunflowers and a garden in front of it. As it grows, it works with the mural, and it brings the community together. It’s really cool.”

And the artist is no stranger to the spotlight, especially last fall when one of his mainland murals of a famous monarch went viral and was featured “on multiple news stations,” Archer recalls.

“I did Queen Elizabeth II the day she passed away when I was in Grand Forks,” he said. “I saw that the side of the courthouse had graffiti tags all over it, so I went into the town hall and said, ‘I want to paint the queen on the courthouse. Call me at this number if you’re interested.’ Ten minutes later I got the call.”

On his career and previous projects, Archer reflects that he has quite a few memorable ones and over the years has developed a passion for large-scale pieces that impress not only the public but himself.

“When you finish, walk off the swing stage and walk back about three blocks and look at it, I can’t describe that feeling inside,” he said. “It’s just a sense of accomplishment.”

As for his latest mural of Ortega, Archer says he hasn’t actually watched her new show, even though it’s an Addams Family with the famous theme song “the ringtone on my phone,” he added with a laugh.

(Photos courtesy: Paul Archer/

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