As Vincent van Gogh’s beautiful painting of Irises takes center stage at the Metropolitan Museum, art with a political edge dominates this week’s selection of Positive Art News For The Week. Read about major cultural changes at the Venice Biennale, get a glimpse into public art in Tehran, find out what the activist group Guerrilla Girls is doing in NYC, learn about an art community that questions the status quo, and more.
Van Gogh’s Flower Paintings at The Met
I never need a reason to view the artwork by one of my favorite artists Vincent van Gogh. But, when I recently received the press invitation to attend “Van Gogh: Irises and Roses” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art I literally got goosebumps. The exuberant bouquets of spring flowers that punctuate this time of year and Van Gogh’s work in Provence are reunited at the Met through August 16, 2015. The exhibition brings together for the first time the quartet of flower paintings that Van Gogh made on the eve of his departure from the asylum at Saint-Rémy. In these paintings, he sought to share a “calm, unremitting ardor” to his “last stroke of the brush.” Learn more.
A Political Edge at The Venice Biennale
The Venice Biennale, one of the major contemporary art festivals of the year, has opened with Nigerian curator Okwui Enwezor — the first African to ever curate this event. The official theme for its 56th edition is “All the World’s Futures”. Enwezor sets the tone for how that is interpreted by centering his own show around “Das Kapital”, Karl Marx’s dissection of capitalism’s origins and dynamics. This year the Biennale will have the longest run ever — just over six months — in order for it to overlap the Expo 2015 world fair, held in Milan.
Go Guerrilla Girls!
In 1985, the Feminist Activist group Guerrilla Girls formed in response to the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition “An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture.” They demonstrated against the museum for having chosen only 13 female artists among its 169 artists shown. Thirty years later, the Guerrilla Girls have a pop-up exhibition through Mary 17, 2015 at the Abrons Arts Center, NYC. They are handing out stickers “art-shaming billionaire collectors, galleries, and museums.”
The Guerrilla Girls recently announced: “Things have improved for women and artists of color over the last thirty years, but let’s face it, the celebrity-obsessed art market and the galleries and museums that fuel it, really SUCK! White guys still get most of the big money, and for sure the biggest opportunities.”
An Art School That Challenges Status Quo
The School of Making Thinking (SMT) is a unique combination of “an artist/thinker residency program, an experimental college, and a nomadic investigation in intentional living.” Located in the Catskills on a 10-acre farm in upstate New York, its mission is “to create a unique environment where participants are able to develop a creative practice that challenges disciplinary conventions of art-making, thinking and living.” They pose such questions as “How does art deepen thought and provoke questioning? How is thinking enacted through creative mediums? And how can an environment be structured (or resist structuring) in such a way that these questions can not only be asked, but be lived as well?” Learn more.
Works of Art in Tehran Replace Billboard Ads
Dr. Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf, mayor of Tehran has replaced all of the city’s 1,500 billboards that provide a source of income from advertisements, with copies of iconic works of both Western and Iranian art. The sudden and recent project was organized by the Organization of Beautification of Tehran, a municipal coalition created to improve appearance of parks and public areas. Imagine, rising above the streets of Iran, viewing such images as Rembrandt’s paintings, photos by Henri Cartier-Bresson, and a reproduction of Munch’s The Scream.
Top 200 Collectors
Artnetnews compiled its Top 200 Collectors. Find out who the major players are and what they choose to collect — from Robbie Antonio’s current obsession of commissioning a series of portraits of himself to the eclectic collection of Peter Benedek that includes Milton Avery, Alice Neel and David Hockney… Also on the list are Debra and Leon Black, who in 2012 purchased one of four existing versions of Edvard Munch’s The Scream for $119.9 million. And, did you know, David Chau and his wife, Kelly Ying, from Shanghai, spend around $1.5 million annually on art acquisitions? See what they and other art collectors spend their fortunes on. Read more.