Weekly Roundup

Ellen Gallagher, "bling bling", 2001. Rubber, paper and enamel on linen, 96" x 120." The Eli Broad Family Foundation, Santa Monica, CA. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York. Photo: Tom Powel.

This week Art21 artists illustrate NASA’s history, depict child’s play, map the Black Atlantic, render galaxies in glass, leave their mark on the last decade, and reflect on our future:

  • Opening January 29 at Tate Liverpool, Afro Modern: Journeys through the Black Atlantic is the first major exhibition in the UK to trace the impact of Black Atlantic culture on Modernism. Works by Ellen Gallagher (Season 3), Kara Walker (Season 2), Chris Ofili, Walker Evans, Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, and others show visual and cultural hybridity in modern and contemporary art that has “arisen from journeys made by people of Black African descent.” Inspired by Paul Gilroy’s landmark book The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (1993), the seven chapters of the exhibition run from early avant-garde movements such as the Harlem Renaissance to current debates around Post-Black art. Afro Modern will close on April 25.
  • Through March 7, work by William Wegman (Season 1) is on view at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center in the exhibition NASA | ART: 50 Years of Exploration. Organized by the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (in cooperation with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration), the exhibition explores NASA’s history and pioneering legacy and the impact their achievements have had on American artists. NASA | ART includes more than 70 paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures and other forms. “Scientists, astronauts, and artists have one important quality in common,” said Smithsonian co-curator Bert Ulrich. “All share the inclination to explore, whether by means of scientific investigation, a mission to the moon, or a paint brush…After all, art is often an important byproduct of any great era of history, including the space age.” 
  • Dutch wax fabrics, Victorian dress, decorative arts, and child’s play merge in the Yinka Shonibare MBE (Season 5) installation Mother and Father Worked Hard So I Can Play, now on view at the Saint Louis Art Museum. Child-sized, headless figures dressed in Shonibare’s signature costumes are installed throughout the museum’s period rooms with the idea of hide-and-go-seek, or treasure hunt in mind. The artist transforms these spaces into a series of “multi-layered tableaux” that collapse time and challenge histories. The figures, who play marbles, jump rope, perform cartwheels and more, are presented as youth who have benefited from the hard work of their ancestors. However, the origins of these ancestors are rendered unclear. Mother and Father (which debuted at the Brooklyn Museum in 2009) continues through March 14.
  • Design Boom has posted preliminary sketches of the new stained glass window for The Museum at Eldridge Street, designed by Kiki Smith (Season 2) and architect Deborah Gans. The window depicts “a galaxy of golden stars against an undulating blue firmament that recalls the painted murals already on the interior.”

In year-end and decade roundups:

  • Linda Yablonsky of New York Times Magazine thought 2009 a “lackluster” year for art with the exception of 10 exhibitions or events. The first on her list was Stop, Repair, Prepare by Season 4 artists Allora & Calzadilla (which Yablonsky admits to seeing six times).
  • And in a bit of shameless self promotion, our documentary television series Art:21-Art in the Twenty First Century made The Daily Loaf’s list of the top 10 phenomena in visual art since the year 2000!