Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
A few weeks ago, I tweeted out a response to an email I had received from Pace gallery about their upcoming shows for the fall season in New York, and it read: “Not a trace of wokeness here: Fall Exhibitions at Pace Gallery – Jean Dubuffet, Robert Mangold, Yoshitomo Nara, and Julian Schnabel.”
The tone of that email initially sent to me by Pace was that steadfastly upbeat, essentially, “Look at all the blue-chip artists in our blue-chip stable; won’t you come by and, you know, get a little taste of greatness?” Subsequently, Pace revised its schedule to include Nina Katchadourian — not that I think their addition of a woman artist has anything to do with me or with the view among those sensitive to these concerns that this lineup makes the gallery look oblivious. I’m sure that Katchadourian’s addition was a business decision.
Likely Pace planned these shows more than a year ago, so it may very well be unfair to expect them to upend their program to address the demands of our political moment. But then the moment is relentless. The United States is literally and metaphorically on fire: spontaneous, out of control blazes in the west; organized, protracted protests and demonstrations across the country calling for social justice or, on the other hand, clamor to be allowed to flout public health guidelines and not wear a mask. The chief of the executive branch is actively calling for militias to patrol polling places and indicating that he may not accept the results of the upcoming election if they are not favorable to him. And, a global pandemic has caused the deaths of over 200,000 people here and brought the nation’s economy to its knees. These are rather difficult circumstances to ignore, yet Pace’s program is somewhat echoed by their fellow up-market art boutiques.
David Zwirner’s fall schedule for New York consists of Suzan Frecon, Harold Ancart, Josh Smith (also showing concurrently at their London location) and the perennial Donald Judd. While there is one woman included (which has the whiff, but not the substance of gender parity) she and the other artists are all Anglo-American or White European with nary a trace of weighty political content in the work.
On the other hand, Gagosian gallery is showing Louise Bonnet and Theaster Gates, and according to a recent email, also Titus Kaphar. (Initially there were no dates or location aside from “New York,” now the site lists the West 21st Street outpost and gives dates from October through December, perhaps replacing a Donald Judd’s exhibition that was previously slated to be shown there.) This lineup seems rather more in tune with the times given that they have a (European) woman and ostensibly two Black men in the lineup (with Kaphar as the scribbled-in designated hitter).
Hauser and Wirth are featuring Luchita Hurtado, Jack Whitten, and George Condo, which is, on paper, certainly better than how Pace and Zwirner are dealing with the underrepresentation of artists that have been historically othered. But the picture becomes more complicated when I find that Nathaniel Mary Quinn and Meleko Mokgosi will be shown by Gagosian in London, and Hauser and Wirth are showing Ed Clark and Lorna Simpson in other cities.
I found myself trying to construct an argument that might encompass all these facts and make sense of how premier actors in the art gallery scene might be reading this moment. It’s the tendency for dominant and aloof powers in the art market to turn critics and writers into hierophants who attempt to read the entrails of the various politics and concerns that the galleries ritually disembowel. I slowly realized that these mercenary for-profit entities aren’t likely to respond to political pressure to ante up when it’s their turn at the table in the representation stakes. I am looking in the wrong place if I’m looking at these businesses to help me negotiate this brittle time.
Rather I’ve come to conclude that these purveyors of the visually fashionable (and yes, occasionally meaningful) work of artists aren’t constructed to help us imagine a better system of artist training and art production, display, and collection. These galleries exist to make profit, to make markets, not to make meaning. Though on occasion I love the artists they show, I’ll need to look elsewhere for clues on how to save ourselves.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…