Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Culture Type: Black Art History, Here’s What Happened in January 2023


Plenty happened in opening weeks of 2023: King sculpture in Boston got unexpected reception, Black artists repping UK and Canada at next Venice Biennale, Winfred Rembert Estate joined mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth, plus Driskell Prize and Gordon Parks Fellows announced, and much more


MAGAZINES > | January/February: New issue of Frieze (right) features cover profile of Henry Taylor published on occasion of “Henry Taylor: B Side” at Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, artist’s largest exhibition to date and first museum show in hometown. | Culture Type

LIVES | Jan. 2: Ernestine Tina Turner Brown (1935-2022), director and co-founder of Malcolm Brown Gallery in Shaker Heights, Ohio, dies at 87. Opened Black-owned commercial gallery in 1980. Working with her artist husband, for whom gallery was named, showed his work along with other notable African American and Black diaspora artists, before closing business in 2011. | More

LIVES | Jan. 3: Artist and archivist Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa (below left), who spent most of her career in London, dies at 46. Her research focused on impact and legacy of European colonialism on post-independence Africa, Uganda in particular. (Photo © Stuart Williams) | ARTnews

ARCHITECTURE | Jan. 6: Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine, selects mass timber design proposed by LEVER Architecture of Portland, Ore., for $100 million campus revamp and expansion. Chandra Robinson is partner of record at LEVER, whose team includes Simons Architects and Unknown Studio, Chris Newell-Akomawt Educational Initiatative, Openbox, Once-Future Office, Atelier Ten, and Studio Pacifica. | More

GALLERIES | Jan. 8: Art dealer Sukanya Rajaratnam announces departure from Mnuchin Gallery in New York, effective Jan. 31. Rajaratnam joined Upper East Side gallery in 2008, rising to partner. Over past 15 years, she organized seminal exhibitions of David Hammons, Betty Blayton, Ed Clark, Mary Lovelace O’Neal, and Alma Thomas, among others. | Artnet News

APPOINTMENTS | Jan. 10: Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C., taps Michelle Commander as deputy director. She succeeds Kinshasha Holman Conwill, museum’s founding deputy director, who retired effective Dec. 31, 2022. Commander arrives from New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, where she served most recently as deputy director of research and strategic initiatives. She joins NMAAHC Jan. 30. | Culture Type

APPOINTMENTS | New leaders of Derrick Adams-founded Black Baltimore Digital Database, from left, Jeneanne Collins, Nicoletta de la Brown, and Jelisa Blumberg. | Photos (3) Courtesy BBDD


APPOINTMENTS | Jan. 10: Launched in January 2022 by Baltimore-born, New York-based artist Derrick Adams, Black Baltimore Digital Database (BBDD), archive of historic and ongoing contributions of Black citizens to city supported by $1.25 million grant from Mellon Foundation, announces new leadership: Executive Director Jeneanne Collins, poet, writer, artist, and community arts fellow with Billie Holiday Center for Liberation Arts at Johns Hopkins University; Creative Director Jelisa Blumberg, transdisciplinary designer focusing on architecture and lighting design, adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and core member of Dark Matter University; and Program Director Nicoletta de la Brown, interdisciplinary artist who teaches Mindfulness in Art Practice at Baltimore School for the Arts. | More

APPOINTMENTS | Jan. 10: Elisa Germán appointed Lunder Curator of Works on Paper and Whistler Studies at Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine, effective in April. Germán is currently Emily Rauh Pulitzer Curatorial Fellow in Contemporary Drawings at Harvard Art Museums. | More

APPOINTMENTS | Jan. 10: Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minn., names Taylor Jasper assistant curator of visual arts, effective Jan. 25. She joins Walker from The Momentary, contemporary art space in downtown Bentonville, Ark. (satellite of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art), where she was curatorial associate. | Culture Type

NEWS | Jan. 12: Opinion published by Leonard Todd in Edgefield Advertiser newspaper (and co-signed by nine others) disputes narrative presented in “Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina” exhibition at Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (audio tour and catalog). Article questions Met’s assertion that enslaved potter David Drake‘s leg may have been cut off by enslaver Reuben Drake as punishment for perceived infraction, as opposed to being lost in train track accident as documented by local Edgefield historians. Author is distant relative of accused. Met curators stand by their suggestion. | Edgefield Advertiser

APPOINTMENTS | Jan. 12: Germane Barnes and Edouard Duval-Carrié join board of trustees of Oolite Arts, nonprofit in Miami, Fla. Oolite’s mission is to “support artists and advance the knowledge and practice of contemporary visual arts” through exhibitions, residencies, public programs, education, and outreach. | More


PUBLIC ART | CBS Sunday Morning talked with artist Hank Willis Thomas about the concept and process of producing The Embrace, his bronze monument to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and Coretta Scott King in advance of its Jan. 13 unveiling in Boston. Heavily promoted and widely celebrated, the symbolic intentions of the sculpture were lost on many who did not like, understand, or appreciate the work. | Video by CBS


PUBLIC ART | Jan. 13: “The Embrace” by artist Hank Willis Thomas, monumental tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., and Coretta Scott King, unveiled in Boston Common. Standing 20-feet-tall, 40-feet-wide, bronze sculpture elicits praise, vitriol, and phallic memes, prompting rare public discussion about public art, hero depiction, and representations of Black history. Subsequently, art critic Sebastian Smee publishes thoughtful assessment of sculpture and curator and art historian Adrienne L. Childs offers context and insight about work and response. | More

REPRESENTATION | Jan. 13: Debut of Hank Willis Thomas‘s King sculpture in Boston coincides with new representation with Pace Gallery. Mega-gallery with international footprint working with Thomas after merging with Kayne Griffin in Los Angeles, gallery that represented artist for years. | ARTnews

Jan. 13: Artist Alexis McGrigg (left) now represented by Almine Rech in Europe and Asia. McGrigg’s work explores notions of Blackness, which “manifests itself in three forms: figurative abstraction, the notion of spirituality and its relationship to Being, and celestial & metaphysical space.” She lives and works in Jackson, Miss. “Alex McGrigg: In The Beloved,” second solo show with Almine Rech runs Jan. 19-Feb. 25 in Brussels. | More

AUCTIONS | Jan. 15: Christie’s announces it’s handling estate of André Leon Talley (1948-2022), who became first Black creative director at American Vogue in 1988. Expansive collection of art, photography, caftans, shoes, Louis Vuitton luggage, and memorabilia being sold via online (Jan. 27-Feb. 16) and live (Feb 15) auctions benefitting two Black churches central to fashion luminary’s life—Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem and Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, N.C. | More

AWARDS & HONORS > | Jan. 18: Recognizing efforts to advance social justice through arts, Gordon Parks Foundation announces artists Jammie Holmes (right) and José Parlá are 2023 Fellows in Art, and Melanee C. Harvey, associate professor of art history at Howard University, is 2023 Genevieve Young Fellow in Writing. Each receives $25,000 in project support and will be honored at annual Gordon Parks Foundation Awards Dinner on May 23 in New York City. | More

REPRESENTATION | Jan. 19: Mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth announces co-representation of Winfred Rembert Estate in collaboration with Fort Gansevoort. Winfred Rembert‘s first exhibition with Hauser & Wirth opens Feb. 23 in New York. | More
APPOINTMENTS | Jan. 24: Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) selects Asma Naeem as next director. Hired as chief curator in 2018, she had been serving as interim co-director. Naeem grew up in Baltimore and was lawyer before earning Ph.D., in art history. Previously, she was curator at Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., where she co-curated “UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light, Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar” (2018). Naeem is first person of color to lead BMA. She starts Feb. 1. | New York Times

AWARDS & HONORS | Jan. 24: United States Artists names 2023 USA Fellows, honoring 45 artists across 10 disciplines with unrestricted $50,000 cash awards. Recipients include Natalie Ball, Thaddeus Mosley, and Christine Sun Kim (Visual Arts); Bryan C. Lee Jr. Krystal C. Mack, and Deanna Van Buren (Architecture & Design); Syd Carpenter, Winne Owens-Hart, and Bukola Koiki (Craft); Loira Limbal (Film); and Brenton Jordan (Traditional Arts), among others. | More


AWARDS & HONORS | From left, British artist John Akomfrah and Canadian artist Kapwani Kiwanga will present solo shows at 60th Venice Biennale in 2024. | Photos: © Jack Hems, Bertille Chéret


AWARDS & HONORS | Jan. 24: British Council announces John Akomfrah (above left) is representing United Kingdom at 60th Venice Biennale in 2024 (April 20-Nov. 24). Appointment of associate curator who will work with Akomfrah on exhibition is pending. | More

APPOINTMENTS | Jan. 25: National Geographic Society names Azu Nwagbogu National Geographic Explorer at Large. Visionary figure in African art world, Nigerian curator helped establish LagosPhoto photography festival in 2010 and served as director of Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, from 2018-19. | More

AWARDS & HONORS | Jan. 26: National Gallery of Canada announces Kapwani Kiwanga (above right) will represent Canada at 60th Venice Biennale in 2024. Presentation will be curated by Canadian curator Gaëtane Verna, who recently became executive director of Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio. | More

AWARDS & HONORS | Jan. 30: Artist Ebony G. Patterson wins 2023 David C. Driskell Prize. She will be honored at 18th annual Driskell Prize Gala on April 28 hosted by High Museum of Art in Atlanta and receive $50,000 award. | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

BIENNIALS | Jan. 30: Desert X announces 11 international artists participating in fourth edition of site-specific exhibition across Coachella Valley in California (March 4-May 7, 2023), including Torkwase Dyson and Tschabalala Self. | More


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