“Everything is awesome!” Or so goes The Lego Movie’s slogan, but Ai Weiwei is finding that’s not quite the case. In September, the Chinese artist was told that the toy company couldn’t fill his bulk order for plastic bricks—intended for use on a series of portraits of political dissidents to be exhibited at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne—because “they cannot approve the use of Legos for political works.” Characterizing the corporation’s actions as “an act of censorship and discrimination,” he noted on Instagram this week that “a British firm formally announced that it will open a new Legoland in Shanghai as one of the many deals of the U.K.-China ‘Golden Era.’” But fear not: Ai will likely have all the Legos he’ll need. Thanks to the hashtag #legosforweiwei, the artist has been inundated with messages from supporters wanting to donate Legos to his cause.
- Mark Bradford, known for multimedia works that combine painting and collage, has been commissioned to create his most massive work yet, for the Hirshorn Museum’s Inner Circles gallery. The first artwork to fill the space in its entirety, the site-specific “circular fresco” could represent a power move by director Melissa Chiu, who has been criticized for her not-so-site-specific plans to hold the DC museum’s annual gala in New York. This site-specificity, as well as its identity as a fresco, also lends a new level of complexity to Carolina Miranda’s comment that Bradford’s works “channel urban landscapes that have been constructed and obliterated, only to be constructed and obliterated again.”
- “I was committed to helping make this film happen in any way I could,” says Addis Ababa–born artist Julie Mehretu of selling her art to finance and produce the film Difret, which tells the the true story of a 14-year-old Ethiopian girl who fights the tradition of marriage-by-abduction. Mehretu describes the film’s creative team as being among the new African modernists, who have greatly inspired her own work. The artist has since been passionately helping the film reach the widest possible audience, a mission in line with her desire to participate directly in political action.
- In his millennial work, Frank Stella’s signature, vibrant color palate takes a new turn. “His solo show at Bernard Jacobson is an example of the artist’s masterful ability to continuously challenge the medium of painting,” writes Jeppe Ugelvig. Ideas about both the past and perhaps the future lead to one of these works’ greatest successes–that they seem to defy being situated temporally. Ulvig notes that many of the works recall the past. Several are named after famous Turkish archeological sites, and themselves “resemble excavation sites, with what looks like unusual artifacts half-embeddedd into silvery slabs like remnants of past civilizations uncovered from the soil.” Simultaneously, Ulvig says that the works are “prophetic at times, recalling the scrolling aesthetics of Tumblr, for example, but pre-dating the platform’s rise to popularity by nearly a decade.”
- “The days of museums hoarding information are over.” Now more than ever, “an audience-focused fusion of programming and communications” is a popular solution to balancing the numerous roles of museums, from preservation to research to public events. This trend represents a shift from the “monastery” to the “public square” model for museums, as described by Vasif Kortun, director of research and programs at SALT. This shift is leading the museums of today to more closely resemble “spaces for ideas” than “temples of knowledge,” like the museums of the past.
- For his first major installation since his wife Jeanne-Claude’s death in 2009, Christo will place “200,000 floatable cubes covered in glittering, dahlia-yellow fabric fashioned from tightly woven nylon” on the surface of Italy’s Lake Iseo for 16 days next June. Visitors will be able to walk on The Floating Piers, which the artist says promises to “be very sexy, a bit like walking on a water bed.”