Quick study

Tomm El-Saieh, Walking Razor, 2017–2018. Photo: Courtesy the artist and CENTRAL FINE, Miami Beach.

Stories about painting in the news include: the return of a stolen Degas, why portrait painting is making a comeback, and the Russian intrigue in Ghent.  Also, some reviews are out for “Songs for Sabotage,” the New Museum’s 2018 Triennial.

In the  NYTimes, Holland Cotter says the curators of the 2018 Triennial  play it safe, presenting an assortment of art-fair-ready pieces and lots of painting. “Where the last triennial situated itself in the digital present and future, this one is emphatically analog: oil painting, ceramics and weaving are among the preferred media. With just a handful of videos, a few installations, no live performance, and nothing interactive — not a keyboard in sight — the show has a pre-internet, objects-only 1980s vibe, an interesting throwback, considering that all the artists, as well as curators (Gary Carrion-Murayari and Francesca Altamura of New Museum, and Alex Gartenfeld, founding deputy director of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami) are in their 20s or 30s.” Read more.

In New York Magazine, Jerry Saltz calls BS, suggesting that the curators could have given some local artists a break: “[T]enured and professional curators and academics ignoring the emergencies and needs of artists in their backyards (95 percent of whom could use a break) and instead traveling the world to troubled hot spots like concerned anchormen and anchorwomen to bring back ‘interventions’ and art that supposedly ‘sabotages’ things. At some point, of course, this kind of engagement would be exciting to discover in the insular, well-off bubble of the art world. But by now this international style is an expected, depressing, safe, self-congratulatory tautology that keeps people employed in the ‘the flow of capital through global networks’ while patting participants on the back for being engaged with ‘corrective methodologies.’ I call it being strung out on privileged bullshit. What out there is actually being corrected by this work?” Read more.

Note that visitors can sign up for free forty-five minute, docent-led tours at the New Museum on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday at 12:30 pm; Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at 12:30 p. & 3 pm.


Edgar Degas, Les Choristes (The Chorus), pastel, 13 inches wide.

According to BBC News, an Edgar Degas painting that was stolen from Marseille’s Musée Cantini in 2009 has been found on a bus near Paris. The French culture minister, Françoise Nyssen, said authorities discovered it in the luggage compartment when the bus was stopped at a gas station. Read more.


Jordan Casteel, Yvonne and James, 2017, oil on canvas. Photo: Jason Wyche, courtesy the artist and Casey Kaplan, New York

In T Magazine, Duhsko Petrovich wrote about the resurgence of portrait painting.  Why, he asked, is portraiture returning now?

For one, there is an institutional urgency to speak to a more diverse audience with painting that depicts the black community, the Asian-American experience, the Latino face, to attract the various people who had been excluded from the museum by remaking the history of figurative painting, this time with color. Not that the trend toward realist portraits is exclusive to artists of color. It is evident in the rococo renderings of Sam McKinniss, who paints pop culture figures — Prince, Lorde, Flipper — like hallowed aristocrats. It was clear in a series of self-portraits by Justin Vivian Bond — who is best known for experimental cabaret performances — that were displayed at the New Museum last fall, and seemed to casually but definitively announce Bond’s identity as a trans artist.

And there is another reason for figurative paintings’ resurgence as well: We live in a time in which reality is almost daily warped in ways that were unimaginable even 18 months ago. We have swiftly entered an era where the very notion of truth, or facts, is considered fungible. As we reassess the various power structures that landed us here, it is stabilizing and reassuring to look at the work of an artist who is clearly in control of her craft, who is able to depict a reality that is material and grounded in recognition — of seeing, in the Facebook age, a painting that looks like who it is meant to.

Read more.


The Trump Organization in Panama isn’t the only company having lease and eviction issues. According to NY Post Peter M. Brant, publisher of ArtNews and Art in America is having trouble with the landlord at 110 Greene Street. “We’re exclusively told that the staff at Brant Publications — his business that owns the legendary Interview magazine, as well as a set of art titles — were booted from their swank Soho offices this week because the landlords haven’t been getting their checks from Brant.” Read more.


A Mountainscape ascribed to Roerich in the Ghent show, Copyright Dieleghem Foundation (via WideWalls)

According to ArtForum, Russian intrigue continues in Ghent: “A panel that was formed to investigate a number of allegedly fake Russian avant-garde works in the exhibition “From Bosch to Tuymans: A Vital Story” at the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent in Belgium—including pieces by artists such as Kazimir Malevich and Wassily Kandinsky that were on loan from the Dieleghem Foundation, a nonprofit founded by the Brussels-based Russian businessman and art collector Igor Toporovski—was dissolved only hours after meeting, reports Simon Hewitt of the Art Newspaper. One day later, the city of Ghent returned the artworks and announced that the loan had been canceled.” Read more.


The soul-sucking social media swamp: WIRED has an expose about Facebook ad auctions and how the company decides which organizations (and political candidates) get ad space. “Rather than simply reward that ad position to the highest bidder, Facebook uses a complex model that considers both the dollar value of each bid as well as how good a piece of clickbait (or view-bait, or comment-bait) the corresponding ad is. If Facebook’s model thinks your ad is 10 times more likely to engage a user than another company’s ad, then your effective bid at auction is considered 10 times higher than a company willing to pay the same dollar amount.” So that explains Trump’s dominance on Facebook during the campaign. Truth never mattered. Read more.

Related posts:
Web world: The New Museum’s 2015 Triennial
Report: “Command-Z” at Improvised Showboat
The Portrait Tradition
Presidents’ Day video: The unveiling of the official Obama portraits

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