OpinionWeekend

Required Reading

The Illuminator and the Guerrilla Girls appear to have joined forces for a Saturday night projection on the new Whitney Museum (via @illuminator99)
The Illuminator and the Guerrilla Girls joined forces for a Saturday night projection on the new Whitney Museum. (via @illuminator99)

This week, Instagram’s impact on art collecting, Chicago’s missing Keith Haring, 50 buildings in 50 cities, privilege at art museums, the largest object in the universe, and more.

 Artsy has conducted a survey of how Instagram impacts art collectors (though there’s no mention of the sample size and methodology). Some extraordinary claims include:

  • … an incredible 51.5% have purchased works from artists they originally discovered through Instagram …
  • … 87% of collectors surveyed check Instagram more than twice a day and 55% open the app 5 or more times a day …
  • More than half (64%) told us that the majority of the accounts they follow are art related.
  • Around 61% of collectors consistently look at an artist’s hashtag (Ex. #DeanLevin or #PetraCortright) before buying—and 42% do so often.
  • Almost one third (31%) of the collectors have purchased specific works they discovered on Instagram.
  • …majority of collectors (73%) believe that Instagram makes the art market more transparent…
  • 51% of those surveyed believed that it promoted art flipping.

 The Guardian has been publishing a fantastic series on the history of 50 cities around the world, using a building to offer insight into the history of the place. Some of the chosen structures are:

 25 years after artist Keith Haring collaborated with Chicago Public Schools students on a large-scale mural, the school system says it can’t find part of the work:

According to an e-mail Zucker received from an official in CPS’s Department of Arts Education in March, only 11 of the mural’s 61 eight-foot-by-eight-foot sections could be accounted for, not including the Midway portion. The official was apologetic, but said CPS couldn’t be held responsible for the rest. It wasn’t until the Reader submitted a Freedom of Information Act request seeking CPS records and internal communications regarding the Haring work that more of the mural materialized. The day before we went to press, CPS media relations chief Bill McCaffrey reported that, after several weeks of information gathering, he was able to locate 54 of the mural sections plus one eight-foot-by-four-foot panel — though he could not provide records that confirm their whereabouts. The remainder of the mural, as far as CPS can say, is gone.

Murals of this size created by Haring’s hand alone could go for $3 million per section, Cortez says. “It’s kind of priceless. It’s rare,” says Gruen, who adds that appraising collaborative works of this sort is tricky.

For Zucker, news of the missing mural parts resonates on a more personal level. “I devoted two years of my life to this,” he says. “It’s very disturbing for me.”

 Artist William Powhida explores how New York’s major museums, galleries, and university programs still overwhelming favor the privileged:

I’m still not sure what Greater New York would have looked like if the curators had sel ected a majority of artists without representation. The reality shattered any illusions I had about some division between institutional and market selectivity. They looked the same. What was most notable about the museum’s “exhaustive” curatorial efforts was the fact that they amounted to offering up a few new artists for the market system. Thinking back, the curatorial message today might read: “The best art is the most familiar art because the market is so smart. We are redundant!”

It was an illuminating moment for me, and coincided with my decision to fold my art criticism into my studio work. One of my first lists was a fictional drawing based on some of my clumsy notes fr om Greater New York. I ended up poking fun at a rather monstrous painting by Dana Schutz, who had done exceedingly well after graduating fr om the Columbia MFA programme into the Venice Biennale.

For me, any pretence of separation between the market and the museum had vanished. It was apparent that the two systems were completely enmeshed, one conferring selective curatorial value on artists’ work, with the other offering an opportunity for artists (and the market) to earn money in a way that US museums cannot provide.

 Is there a work by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan buried at the old Whitney Museum building?

The work — what is left of a sculpture by the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan — rested on a dolly by the elevators. The sculpture was fabricated in 2000 and intentionally destroyed four years later, for the Whitney Biennial, its boxed-up remains interred in the museum’s old building, uptown. Only the curator Chrissie Iles, Cattelan, and a few art handlers had witnessed it being buried beneath the second floor; the critic Jerry Saltz, in the Village Voice, referred to its “alleged burial.” What sat on the dolly didn’t look like much: a concrete block, about the size of an air-conditioner, inside of which the art work’s remnants were purportedly sealed.

 Photographer Lisa Krantz documented Hector Garcia Jr.’s struggle with obesity. At nearly 600 pounds, his life was far from typical:

Hector Garcia Jr. and Lupita Mendoza share ice cream cones at Marble Slab in December 2011. Hector met Mendoza, who lives in Alabama, on Facebook through a mutual friend and got together for coffee and ice cream when she visited San Antonio. “I never developed social graces. I never learned to meet people because I didn’t want to get hurt. And of course for girls or women, I was setting myself up for rejection and I knew it. So I just didn’t do it,” Hector said of his lack of romantic relationships. (via Medium)
Hector Garcia Jr. and Lupita Mendoza share ice cream cones at Marble Slab in December 2011. Hector met Mendoza, who lives in Alabama, on Facebook through a mutual friend and got together for coffee and ice cream when she visited San Antonio. “I never developed social graces. I never learned to meet people because I didn’t want to get hurt. And of course for girls or women, I was setting myself up for rejection and I knew it. So I just didn’t do it,” Hector said of his lack of romantic relationships. (via Medium)

 Behold, the largest “object” ever discovered:

Astronomers have discovered a curious empty section of space which is missing around 10,000 galaxies.

The ‘supervoid’, which is 1.8 billion light-years across, is the largest known structure ever discovered in the universe but scientists are baffled about what it is and why it is so barren.

supervoid-2_3274419b

 What is the role of museums in social justice? The Smithsonian Magazine spoke to Lonnie Bunch, the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, about the topic:

Lonnie Bunch: I love the fact that museums are now realizing they have a social aspect to it. To me it’s always been social justice. And so I’m just pleased to see that I’m no longer a voice in the wilderness.

Smithsonian: Eyes are starting to open and we’re getting there. At the symposium museums were characterized as safe spaces, even sacred spaces. Do you feel museums should play that role, or is that outside of the mission statement?

LB: I think that my museum, what all museums, need to recognize that they have to ask themselves, how are they of value? How are they of value in the traditional sense; preserving artifacts, making history and culture accessible, inspiring new generations? That’s crucially important. But to me the real question is how does a museum make its community, its region, its country better? And while not every museum has the same answer, it seems to me that museums ought to be, and they are seen as trusted places. So if we’re trusted, then we ought to be trusted to be part of the most important conversations that can occur, and that is about fairness, about justice, about making America better.

 A look at some recent books about the stunningly beautiful “lost” kingdoms of Southeast Asia:

If the scale and breadth of this extraordinary cultural diffusion is not as well known as it should be, that is perhaps partly because of a tendency to perceive and study this process as two separate disciplines, each the preserve of a different group of scholars. The many Buddhist monuments scattered around Afghanistan and the Taklamakan desert in northwest China, through which Xuanzang passed, for example, are usually viewed today as the first step in the story of the spread of Buddhism from India through Asia, or else as an episode in the history of the “Silk Road,” a term coined in the nineteenth century by the Prussian geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen to describe the trading routes linking China with the Mediterranean West. Conversely, the spread of Indian and especially Hindu culture, literature, and religion southeastward to Burma, Thailand, Sumatra, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Java, and the Malay Peninsula tends to be studied as part of the story of the adoption throughout Indo-China of the Sanskrit language and literary culture.

 So good (some background):

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Required Reading is published every Sunday morning ET, and is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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