Stories

Standing Two Stories Tall, a Hank Willis Thomas Sculpture Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Is Unveiled on Boston Common


In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the city of Boston has unveiled its newest monument, a Hank Willis Thomas sculpture that now sits on the grounds of Boston Common, the nation’s oldest public park.

Titled The Embrace, the bronze statue is a pair of larger-than-life interlocking arms, inspired by a photo of King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, hugging after he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Representing the mutual love and support that made the Kings’ activism possible, it is 40 feet wide and 20 feet tall—about two stories high—and weighs 38,000 pounds.

Cast in 609 pieces from a 3D-printed model at the Walla Walla Foundry in Washington state, the massive work was fabricated, transported across the country, and installed in Boston against all odds.

“This was not supposed to happen—literally, there was a global pandemic in the middle of us trying to do a piece called Embrace,” Thomas said during the opening ceremony for the monument, which has been in the works since 2016. (His design, with MASS Design Group, was selected from 125 proposals.)

Hank Willis Thomas, <em>The Embrace</em> in the new 1965 Freedom Plaza by design firm MASS Design Group at Boston Commons. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Hank Willis Thomas, The Embrace in the new 1965 Freedom Plaza by design firm MASS Design Group at Boston Common. Photo courtesy of the artist.

A leader in the Civil Rights Movement known for his nonviolent activism, civil disobedience, and powerful speechmaking, King was assassinated in April 1968. In recognition of his birthday, January 15 has been celebrated as a federal holiday on the third Monday of every year since 1986. He would have been 94 this year.

But the new memorial also highlights the contributions of Coretta Scott King to the Civil Rights Movement—which she was involved in prior to meeting her husband, and remained a leader of after his untimely death.

The city of Boston is an important part of the Kings’ family history, as they met there as students in 1952, just a year before their marriage. King returned in April 1965, addressing a joint session of the Massachusetts legislature about the importance of segregation. The next day, he gave a speech at a Freedom Rally on Boston Common, after leading some 22,000 activists in a Civil Rights march from nearby Roxbury.

Hank Willis Thomas, <em>The Embrace</em> in the new 1965 Freedom Plaza by design firm MASS Design Group at Boston Commons. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Hank Willis Thomas, The Embrace in the new 1965 Freedom Plaza by design firm MASS Design Group at Boston Common. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“Little did I imagine that such a day was possible when I walked through this same Boston Common as a student 10 years ago,” King told the crowd. “This will go down as one of the greatest days that Boston has ever seen.”

That history was honored today at an over-two-hour event marking the installation of The Embrace, which sits at the center of the new 1965 Freedom Plaza, designed by MASS Design Group. The floor features bronze name plates amid the titles honoring other Civil Rights activists who marched with King, nominated by community members.

The city of Boston hopes the work will become a major tourist attraction akin to the Statue of Liberty, with Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley telling the assembled crown that people will travel from all over the world to pay tribute to the Kings and see the “profound work of art—like their love, a masterpiece.”

Hank Willis Thomas, The Embrace in the new 1965 Freedom Plaza by design firm MASS Design Group at Boston Commons. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Hank Willis Thomas, The Embrace in the new 1965 Freedom Plaza by design firm MASS Design Group at Boston Commons. Photo courtesy of the artist.

The program featured speeches by dignitaries Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey, and former Governor Deval Patrick, as well as Imari Paris Jeffries, executive director of Embrace Boston, the nonprofit that spearheaded the project—he spoke with tears in his eyes, overcome by the moment.

But it was King’s only granddaughter, 14-year-old Yolanda Renee King, who stole the show, speaking after her parents, Martin Luther King III and Arndrea Waters King. Clearly an impressive young orator in the making, Yolanda was unruffled even when the wind nearly blew away the notes of her prepared speech.

And when NBC10 Boston anchor and the event’s master of ceremonies Latoyia Edwards asked the young girl to tell the crowd more about herself, Yolanda spoke off the cuff in impassioned tones about continuing her grandparents’ work striving for justice no matter what, and praised the statue memorializing their legacy.

Hank Willis Thomas, <em>The Embrace</em> in the new 1965 Freedom Plaza by design firm MASS Design Group at Boston Commons. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Hank Willis Thomas, The Embrace in the new 1965 Freedom Plaza by design firm MASS Design Group at Boston Common. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“This is almost like love 360, because this monument is dedicated to their love, and we really need more love in this world,” Yolanda said.

Thomas agreed, embracing—pun intended—Love 360 as an alternative title for the work, which allows viewers to stand inside the arms, as if encircled by a hug. He hopes the monument will be seen a manifestation of the Kings’ love and the power of that emotion. It is also a visible symbol of the Black experience and Black joy, despite generations of struggle faced by the Black community.

“It’s really about the capacity for each of us to be enveloped in love,” Thomas said.

A group show of Hank Willis Thomas’s art collective, For Freedoms, “Let Love Quiet Fear” is on view of Praise Shadows Art Gallery, 313A Harvard Street, Brookline, January 12–February 12, 2023.

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Art Industry News: Here Are the Winning Art Projects for London’s Coveted Fourth Plinth + Other Stories


Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know on this Monday, July 5.

NEED-TO-READ

Trouble at the Norway Biennial – At least seven artists asked to withdraw their work from the Momentum 11 biennial in Moss, Norway, after curator Théo-Mario Coppola was fired just weeks ahead of its June 26 opening. The biennial cites Coppola’s unprofessional behavior as the reason for their dismissal, while the curator blames unfair working conditions and a lack of preparedness to execute installations from a technical perspective. Artists Marinella Senatore and Karol Radziszewski say that their works have been included in the exhibition against their wishes. (The Art Newspaper)

France Is Bringing Creatives to the U.S. – The French government is launching the Villa Albertine, a roving residency program that will give French artists around €20,000 ($23,600) each to work on projects in the U.S. But unlike the nation’s Rome residency, the Villa Medici, the new initiative doesn’t have a dedicated headquarters, which allows participants to stay in different parts of the U.S., or to travel during a one-to-three month residency. The inaugural cohort of artists includes cartoonist Quentin Zuitton, who will draw portraits of teenagers while riding the rails from New York to Los Angeles. (TAN)

The Next Fourth Plinth Artists Have Been Chosen – Artists Samson Kambalu and Teresa Margolles have been chosen to make the next two commissions for the fourth plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square in 2022 and 2024. Kambalu’s sculpture will re-stage a 1914 photograph of Baptist preacher and pan-Africanist John Chilembwe and European missionary John Chorley, and Margolles, who will create the plinth in 2024, has cast the faces of 850 trans people from London and around the world. (Press release)

Controversy Embroils Korea’s Venice Biennale Pick – The Arts Council Korea had narrowed down its choices for the nation’s pavilion at next year’s Venice Biennale to just four artists—until it was revealed that two of the finalists had worked with a member of the selection committee, creating a potential conflict of interest. That judge has been asked to step down, and the now six-member panel will restart the review process to consider all 12 applications. (Korea Times)

ART MARKET

Banksy’s Painting With Critique on Climate-Change Fetches $6M – Banksy’s 2009 hijacked oil painting, Subject to Availability, sold for $6,342,180 at Christie’s last Wednesday. Banksy copied an 1890 painting of Mount Rainer and added his own snarky commentary on climate change to the work, writing: “*Subject to availability for a limited period only.” (Seattle Times)

A $4.42M Copy of the Declaration of Independence Breaks Records – A signer’s copy of the Declaration of Independence that was printed in the 19th century sold for $4.42 million at Freeman’s in Philadelphia. The rare document sold for more than five times its $800,000 upper estimate. (ArtfixDaily)

COMINGS & GOINGS

Sculptor Kenzi Shiokava Dies – The Brazilian-born artist, whose wooden totems inspired by Brazilian and Japanese motifs were included to much acclaim in the 2016 “Made in L.A.” biennial at the Hammer Museum, died last month at the age of 82 from chronic conditions exacerbated by a recent car accident. (Los Angeles Times)

France Returns Painting to Hugo Simon’s Heirs – The French government has returned a Max Pechstein painting to the heirs of its former owner, a Jewish banker who fled to France after the Nazis took power in 1933. The painting was in the collection of the Musée national d’art moderne in Paris. (TAN)

FOR ART’S SAKE

World Wildlife Fund Recruits Artists – The wildlife conservation group is marking its 60th anniversary with a print sale called Art for Your World, hosted by Sotheby’s London and organized by London’s Artwise Curators. The auction, running from October 8 to 15, will feature Tracey Emin, Anish Kapoor, and Jadé Fadojutimi, among others. The initiative hopes to raise awareness of the potential risks to wildlife caused by climate change and rising temperatures, as illustrated in World Wildlife Fund’s recent report, “Feeling the Heat.” (ARTnews)

Futura Beats The North Face in Lawsuit – The clothing retailer North Face is in trouble after using an atom-like logo that street artist Futura says is a copy of his signature design. Futura filed a lawsuit claiming the brand purposefully invoked him in order to suggest an association. The brand denies any copyright infringement, but says it will begin to phase out its use as a gesture of goodwill, adding that it is committed to supporting artists and their communities. (Creative Bloq

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A New Book Looks at the History and Work of Artists Who Died Young. Here Are 8 of Their Stories


In examining the many artists who died before the age of 30, authors Angela Swanson Jones and Vern G. Swanson examine 109 stories in their book Desperately Young: Artists Who Died in Their Twenties (ACC Art Books, 2020). Each is unique, though they do find obvious trends and patterns.

A surprising number (in earlier times of course) fell victim to tuberculosis or other now-curable or preventable diseases. Others (roughly 20) were victims of hazardous travel and unsanitary conditions in Rome during sojourns there (in fact, seven were Prix de Rome winners).

Of course, there is no shortage of cases where drugs and alcohol were a main cause of early death, playing into the trope of the “tortured artist.” One thing that immediately leaps out at the reader is there are far more male artists profiled here than female.

The authors insist that their work is not born out of some sort of “morbid fascination” but instead out of the impulse to imbue their subjects and the art they created with “abiding honour, recognition, and consolation.”

 

Jeanne Hébuterne, age 21
(1889-1920)

Jeanne Hebuterne, <i>Autoportrait (Self Portrait)</i>, (circa 1917). Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd.

Jeanne Hebuterne, Autoportrait (Self Portrait), (circa 1917). Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd.

You may not be familiar with her name, but Jeanne Hebuterne’s face has graced more than 20 canvases in portraits painted by her lover, Amedeo Modigliani. The young artist met Modigliani—a hedonistic enfant terrible of the art world who was 14 years her senior—while she was studying at the Académie Colarossi in Paris, and was immediately swept into his orbit.

Though her later paintings showed some influence of Modigliani, Jeanne had her own distinct style that was more indebted to Matisse and the Fauves. In a self-portrait that was sold at Christie’s Paris in 2018, Jeanne stares frankly from the canvas at the viewer with a challenging gaze, wearing what appears to be a kimono, lending it the feeling of a boudoir portrait. 

With only about 25 paintings to her name, Hebuterne’s story was eclipsed by that of her prolific lover and her life as a mother to his child. In January 1920, Modigliani died of meningitis brought on by his tuberculosis. Less than 48 hours later, Hebuterne, overwhelmed with grief, threw herself from the window of her parents apartment, killing herself and her unborn child. 

Aubrey Vincent Beardsley, age 25
(1872-1898)

Aubrey Beardsley, Illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s Salome; The Climax, (1893), Stephen Calloway. Photo: © Tate.

The British artist Aubrey Beardsley came down with a case of tuberculosis at age seven that would haunt him and prove ultimately fatal, taking his life as it had his father and grandfather before. Beardsley showed immense promise at a young age, inspiring the Pre-Raphaelite artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones to write, “I seldom or never advise anyone to take up art as a profession, but in your case I can do nothing else.”  

Beardsley’s illustrations bore the influence of Japanese woodcuts and earlier illustrators like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, though his work was fully unique and ushered in the period known as the Modern Style, which was the Brit’s answer to Art Nouveau. His work edged toward the erotic as he matured, with a markedly bohemian sensibility that was deemed prurient when viewed in tandem with Oscar Wilde’s work. Beardsley was considered a controversial figure in his generation. 

Toward the end of his short life, the artist embraced religion, converting to Roman Catholicism and renouncing his self-proclaimed “obscene” works. Despite his pleas that publishers Herbert C. Pollitt and Leonard Smithers destroy those images, the works continued to be released into the public sphere, cementing his place in art history. Of Beardsley, the authors of Desperately Young ask, “Had he lived, would he have been as great a Christian artist as he had been a profane one?”

 

Richard Gerstl, age 25
(1883-1908)

Richard Gerstl, Semi-Nude Self-Portrait (1902–04). Courtesy of the Leopold Museum, Vienna.

Richard Gerstl, Semi-Nude Self-Portrait (1902–04). Courtesy of the Leopold Museum, Vienna.

Austrian-born painter Richard Gerstl has one of this time’s more tragic biographies, hitting all of the notes of the classic tortured artist. After befriending the composer Arnold Schoenberg and joining his tight-knit group of creative friends, Gerstl began an affair with Schoenberg’s wife, Mathilde. After the pair were caught in flagrante, Gerstl was excommunicated from the inner circle. 

Suffering from depression and becoming increasingly agitated, Gerstl’s paintings are marked by self-loathing and unhappiness, isolated and spiraling into ever-further depths of despair. On the evening of November 4, as Schoenberg was giving a concert that Gerstl had been excluded from, the disconsolate artist burned his archive of letters and drawings, stripped naked, and hanged himself in front of a mirror, also managing to stab himself savagely in a final dramatic flourish of self-annihilation. 

 

Charlotte Salomon, age 26
(1917-1943)

Charlotte Salomon's <i>Self Portrait</i> (1940). Courtesy Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam © Charlotte Salomon Foundation.

Charlotte Salomon’s Self Portrait (1940). Courtesy Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam © Charlotte Salomon Foundation.

The German artist was born in Berlin in 1917 during World War I and knew no shortage of suffering during her brief life. Her mother committed suicide when she was nine years old. In 1938, following Kristallnacht, her father was sent to a concentration camp for a time. Salomon went to live with her grandparents in Villefranche on the French Riviera.

“Far from being a haven, during her time there she personally witnessed her grandmother committing suicide by jumping from a window, as her mother had done,” according to the book.

Evidence suggests the artist may have been sexually abused by her grandfather. In 1943, she and her husband, whom she had married just a few months earlier, were sent to Auschwitz. Salomon, who was five months pregnant when she arrived at the camp, was murdered in the gas chambers.

Her tragic life has served as inspiration for plays, a novel, a documentary, a film, and even a ballet-opera. She is famous for an autobiographical gouache series of nearly 800 works that mixes fact and fantasy in recounting her family’s story from World War I through the rise of Nazism.

 

Auguste Macke, age 27
(1887-1914) 

August Macke, Four Girls (1913). Photo courtesy of Museum Kunstpalast – Horst Kolberg.

August Macke, Four Girls (1913). Photo courtesy of Museum Kunstpalast – Horst Kolberg.

Though Macke was an important German Expressionist painter, his personality and artwork were notable for his joie de vivre in contrast to the darker tones, style, and subject matter often associated with this movement. In Paris, he immersed himself in the work of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists and the influence of Matisse resulted in a notably brighter palette for Macke.

He was conscripted into the German army in 1914 and was killed in combat in the second month of World War I. Macke’s influence on later avant-garde German painting is, as the book says, “incalculable.”

 

Jean Michel Basquiat, age 27
(1960-1988)

Jean Michel-Basquiat, Untitled (1982). Courtesy of Sotheby's New York.

Jean Michel-Basquiat, Untitled (1982). Courtesy of Sotheby’s New York.

He is arguably the most famous artist profiled in the book and his meteoric rise to fame in the New York art world during the 1980s has been well-documented. Born in Brooklyn, Basquiat was of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent and his rebellious streak saw him take to the streets where he splashed his “SAMO” graffiti tag around prominently before getting noticed by the cognoscenti and given gratis studio space in the gallery of iconic dealer Anina Nosei.

Basquiat was famous in his own short lifetime and even collaborated with fellow art star Andy Warhol. Since his death from a heroin overdose at the age of 27, in April 1988, his work has become ever more popular and sought after. According to the Midnight Publishing Group Price Database, the ten highest works sold at auction each made over $30 million. The highest price ever paid for a Basquiat painting was $110.5 million at Sotheby’s in 2017. Japanese fashion mogul Yusaka Maezawa was the buyer.

 

Egon Schiele, age 28
(1890-1918)

Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Bare Shoulder (1912). Courtesy of the Leopold Museum, Vienna.

Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Bare Shoulder (1912). Courtesy of the Leopold Museum, Vienna.

Schiele played a major role in Austrian Expressionism and began his career as a protege of Gustav Klimt. He was extremely prolific, having created around 3,000 drawings during his lifetime. But the subject matter proved controversial—particularly erotic images of contorted and often sexually explicit nudes. The minors and young prostitutes who frequented his studio didn’t exactly help his reputation either.

In 1912, he was charged with abducting and seducing an underaged girl. The charges were eventually dropped but he was sentenced to 24 days in jail for exhibiting erotic art to children. The judge even burned a drawing in court.

In 1915, he married Edith Harms. She was six months pregnant with their first child, in 1918, when both she and the artist contracted the Spanish flu. They died within days of one another. One of the artist’s last drawings is Edith Schiele on Her Deathbed.

 

Bob Thompson, age 28
(1937-1966)

Bob Thompson, The Golden Ass (1963). Courest of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.

Bob Thompson, The Golden Ass (1963). Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.

The African American painter was influenced by a range of historical styles and types of art, from the baroque to Fauvism to Abstract Expressionism to jazz music. The result was a distinctive style marked by flatly painted, primary colored abstracted figures acting out narratives from mythology and the Bible.

Thompson received accolades during his lifetime, including a solo show at Martha Jackson Gallery in New York in 1963. He won several grants and fellowships that allowed him to take extended trips to Europe.

He battled depression from a young age and often turned to drugs and alcohol as a way of dealing. He died in Rome as a result of a heroin overdose. He was prolific and produced nearly 1,000 paintings during his lifetime, many of which now hang in prestigious private and museum collections.

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An Immersive Mixed-Reality Banksy Extravaganza (a.k.a. Exhibition) Is Coming to New York + Other Stories


Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know on this Tuesday, April 27.

NEED-TO-READ

Malaysian Artist Arrested for Allegedly Insulting the Queen – Artist Fahmi Reza was arrested on April 23 for allegedly insulting the Malaysian queen by creating a Spotify playlist that referenced a mocking comment on her Instagram account. In response to a follower asking if the palace chefs were all vaccinated, the queen’s account asked if the follower was “jealous.” The artist—whose wry playlist included songs with the word “jealousy”—has been released on bail. (Reuters)

A Suitcase Caused an Evacuation of the Metropolitan Museum of Art – A bomb squad and emergency service unit responded to a report on Monday of an “unattended bag” outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue “with some wires [sticking] out.” It turned out to be a false alarm—the suitcase contained only old clothes. (Gothamist)

Banksy Street Art Show Comes to New York – Can’t get a ticket to the Van Gogh Experience? Try the next best thing: an “immersive exhibit” opening in New York this August titled “Banksy Expo: Genius or Vandal?” The show, which will include 80 works alongside a virtual reality experience, has toured through 15 other cities around the world. Its location has not yet been revealed; tickets go on sale on May 4. Banksy is not involved in the show. (Time Out)

Art Collectors Will Advise Leon Black’s Company – Siddhartha Mukherjee, a scientist, art collector, and husband of artist Sarah Sze, was named to the board of Apollo alongside collector Pam Joyner back in January. Now, some are questioning whether the additions were a way for CEO Leon Black to retain his influence ahead of stepping down amid controversy over his ties to Jeffrey Epstein. A rep for Apollo says the new additions “have impeccable credentials and offer significant value to the Apollo board.” (New York Post)

ART MARKET

Armory Show Announces 2021 Exhibitors – The Armory Show in New York will bring together 194 exhibitors at its new venue, the Javits Center, from September 9 through 12. Victoria Miro, Sadie Coles HQ, and Anton Kern Gallery are among those returning; first-time participants include Galeria Millan from São Paulo and Proyectos Ultravioleta from Guatemala City. (ARTnews)

Rare Book Collection Brings in $12.4 Million – A collection of rare books owned by New York philanthropists Elaine and Alexander Rosenberg raked in $12.4 million at Christie’s New York. The sale, which had a 98 percent sell-through rate, included 17 rare illuminated manuscripts and around 200 Medieval- and Renaissance-era books. (ARTnews)

COMINGS & GOINGS

Some Italian Museums Are Reopening – The Palazzo Barberini in Rome and Venice’s La Fenice Opera House are planning to reopen next Monday. Florence’s Uffizi Galleries will open gradually, starting with its gardens, and the archaeological site Pompeii will reopen next Tuesday. (Monopol)

Meg Onli Wins Inaugural Figure Skating Prize – The curator has won the $75,000 inaugural Figure Skating Prize, which honors Black cultural workers advancing racial equity in the arts. Onli is associate curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania. (The Art Newspaper)

FOR ART’S SAKE

How Can the Art World Tackle Climate Change? – In a roundtable moderated by Midnight Publishing Group News’s own Kate Brown, London art dealer Kate MacGarry and Berlin-based dealer Jennifer Chert of Galerie ChertLüdde, two founding members of the growing Gallery Climate Coalition, speak with ecologically-minded art duo Cooking Sections and environmental artist Andreas Greiner about how the art world can transform itself to become more sustainable. (Gallery Weekend Berlin)

The New Clubhouse Icon Is an Artist – The popular audio-only app has a new face: Asian-American artist Drue Kataoka. “I am humbled & moved [sic] to be the first Asian American woman & first visual artist @joinclubhouse ‘icon,’” she said in an Instagram post. Kakoata, whose visage will now appear on the app’s home screen, is the founder of The Art Club, one of Clubhouse’s first and largest art-based clubs, and has been actively raising money for anti-racism campaigns. (Forbes)

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The British Museum Wants to Hire a Curator to Fix Its Biggest Problems (Without Having to Pay Too Much) + Other Stories


Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know on this Wednesday, March 10.

NEED-TO-READ

Meet the Early Investors in NFTs – Who on earth is actually spending tens of thousands of dollars (or more!) on NFT art? ARTnews offers an introduction to some of the cryptocurrency-rich players, including 28-year-old Tim Kang, founder of Cue Music and an Ethereum backer, who fell for digital art in 2016 after buying a work by crypto-artist Pak for $42,720. Alvaro Luken, an ex crypto-miner, was another early adopter. He bought one of artist Beeple’s early drops when editions cost $1 each and later resold it for $700. Now, similar works are going for exponentially more than that. (ARTnews)

EU High Court Says Embedded Images Can Violate Copyright – The European Court of Justice has found that embedding content from copyright holders on third-party websites without permission could be a violation. (Similar cases are underway, but currently undecided, in the United States.) The ruling came as part of a legal battle between the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and a copyright protection organization, VG Bild-Kunst. The upshot: If images are embedded on a website without permission, it could be seen as a violation of copyright, provided that the copyright holder took steps to prevent the reuse by, for example, specifying that they did not want their images to be embedded elsewhere. (Courthouse News, Monopol)

British Museum Seeks Curator for Big Job (and Not Much Money) – The British Museum is hiring an experienced curator to oversee “a comprehensive redisplay of the galleries” as part of the museum’s new master plan. The redisplay intends to “make it easier to understand the connections between different cultures, both ancient and modern,” after the institution came under fire in recent years for misrepresenting the Americas (lumping North and South America together in the same space) and marginalizing its Africa displays (which are located in the basement). The lead curator’s salary is £48,169 (around $66,000) for a 24-month contract. As art critic Jason Farago pointed out on Twitter, “The enduring problem with the British Museum and other London institutions: a curator experienced enough to take on a job as difficult and important as this does not work for £48k.” (The Art Newspaper)

The Rise of the Artist Talent Agency – Artists are increasingly eschewing the traditional gallery model in favor of entertainment-style talent agencies. Hollywood’s Endeavor, Creative Artists Agency, and United Talent Agency have sections for the visual arts—and there is also a growing number of start-ups focused specifically on brand-building for individual artists. These include Southern & Partners, founded by former Blain Southern partner Graham Southern, which has started working with Bill Viola and Elias Sime. (TAN)

ART MARKET

Winston Churchill’s Slippers Fetch More Than $40,000 – The market appetite for all things Winston Churchill shows no sign of abating after a pair of the wartime prime minister’s slippers sold for nearly £40,000 ($55,000) at a UK auction yesterday. The monogrammed slippers from the 1950s hit the block alongside a brandy glass used by Churchill, which raked in £18,300 ($25,000). (Evening Standard)

Cynthia Erivo Will Curate Sotheby’s Sale – The actor and singer, best known for her Tony Award-winning role as Celie Harris in The Color Purple on Broadway (and here at Midnight Publishing Group News HQ, for her fantastic turn in the HBO series The Outsider), will organize Sotheby’s New York’s contemporary curated auction on March 12. Erivo has selected 16 pieces, including a work by Ruth Asawa and Andy Warhol’s portrait of Aretha Franklin. (Barron’s)

COMINGS & GOINGS

Artists Shortlisted for the Preis der Nationalgalerie – Artists Lamin Fofana, Sandra Mujinga, Sung Tieu, and artist duo Calla Henkel and Max Pitegoff have been shortlisted for the prestigious award for artists under 40 in Germany. A selection of their works will go on view at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin from September 16 through February 27, 2022. The winner will be announced on October 7. (Monopol)

Workers at MASS MoCA and Studio in a School Launch Unionization Efforts – The number of art workers launching union efforts just keeps on growing. Staff at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art will vote on joining UAW Local 2110, citing “job insecurity, inequitable conditions, low salaries, and pandemic layoffs.” Meanwhile, artists and staff at New York’s Studio in a School are taking a vote of their own, saying they want more predictability in assignments and transparency in scheduling decisions. (Berkshire Eagle, New York Times)

FOR ART’S SAKE

Top Artists Donate Work to Benefit Food Banks – Blue-chip artists including Lorna Simpson, Louise Lawler, and Rirkrit Tiravanija have donated work to the Artists Support project in New York, which aims to raise funds for local organizations and food banks. Prints are available in exchange for donations of between $3,000 and $35,000 made directly to the artist’s selected charity. (TAN)

Noldor Artist Residency Expands in Ghana – Ghana’s Noldor artist residency has announced a major expansion. Set in a 700-square-meter former pharmaceutical warehouse in Accra, the residency plans to incorporate and repurpose additional industrial spaces. The annual four-week program for contemporary African artists will also add a year-long fellowship aimed at emerging and mid-career artists from Africa and its diaspora. (Press release)

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