— THE BIG STORY —
Has there ever been a better, stronger, more exciting crop of Turner Prize nominees than this year's selection? Well, perhaps in 1995, with Damien Hirst, Mona Hatoum, Mark Wallinger (who eventually won in 2007), and Callum Innes… but still! The four British-ish artists whom the Tate placed in contest for the latest edition of the U.K.'s top art honor is a stellar bunch: ephemeral "dancing economist" Tino Sehgal, mordant humorist David Shrigley, imaginary-portrait-painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, and installation-art filmmaker Laure Prouvost. Let's take a look at the agonists.
Having generated extraordinary publicity, controversy, and both institutional and critical acclaim for his participatory performance pieces, Tino Sehgal is widely considered the clear front-runner this year. The 36-year-old London-based German artist's "constructed situations"—involving performers who sing, dance, converse, or otherwise destabilizingly interact with viewers—can cast astonishing spells on both intimate scale (Kiss, 2007) and in the art world's biggest arenas (Tate Modern's Turbine Hall in 2012 and the Guggenheim's entire rotunda in 2010). His enigmatically anti-market stance, refusing to allow documentation of his work or a paper trail of any sales transactions, invests him with an extra layer of intrigue.
The "wild card" of the bunch—as jury chair and Tate Britain director Penelope Curtis put it—is David Shrigley, whose hugely popular, accessible, and cheekily crowd-pleasing work places him in strong upsetter contention for the prize. The Glasgow-based artist, at 44 the oldest nominee this year, is defiantly anti-serious in his drawings and gag sculptures, which has made some fustier art-world types skeptical of his importance. But this (steadily shrinking) opposition misses that Shirgley's humor targets with uncanny aim the deepest, scariest issues going, from the ambition-mocking inevitability of death to the search for truth and significance in an unknowable cosmos. The smart money may be on him.
The 35-year-old artist Laure Prouvost, meanwhile, continues in the genre-remixing tradition of last year's headline-grabbing upstart, Spartacus Chetwynd, with unkempt yet visually stunning installations that she builds around films that she creates. Bridging film, theater, and installation in a way that adds a new meaning to "mise-en-scene," the Lille-born London artist won the 2011 Max Mara art prize and is praised by the Turner Prize committee for her "surprising and unpredictable work." Though not a likely victor—in addition to the tough competition, her work fits a rough category occupied by both Chetwynd and 2010 winner Susan Philipsz—her nomination assures that we'll be seeing much more of her innovative art.
Lastly, the biggest breakout star of the four is almost guaranteed to be Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, a 35-year-old London artist of Ghanaian descent whose ravishing paintings pull off the rare magic trick of making that ancient medium conceptually thrilling. How does she do it? By creating "portraits" of nonexistent black characters that she places in familiarly recognizable stock settings—ranging from African-inflected group scenes to fashion shoots to traditional above-the-mantlepiece paintings—she seduces viewers into "understanding" the figures that her canvases portray by mentally placing them received contexts, which raises the question of what those contexts are and how we process them. Add to this her wonderful painterly technique, which recalls the prestige portraits of 19th-century art, and Yiadom-Boakye looks poised to be this year's winner no matter who takes home the prize. – Andrew M. Goldstein
— QUOTE OF THE WEEK —
"One has to make a decisions whether one wants to be a comet or a star.... A comet blazes brightly as it quickly flies across the heavens—but then it burns out and disappears. A star's light is softer than that of the comet, but it twinkles forever. It's extremely rare for an older artist's market and career to behave like a comet. The question is—can they solidify into a star?"
— MUST READ —
Cooper Union Is No Longer Free — After a year and a half of deliberation by the board and fierce protests by its artist alumni, teachers, and students, the historically free East Village art school will begin charging $20,000 tuition in fall 2014, though incoming students "with the greatest need" will still be able to attend without paying, and others will have their fee decided by a sliding scale. (NYT)
"I Wanted to Show People What We Are Losing" — Photographer Sebastião Salgado in an interview about his upcoming book Genesis, which chronicles his extraordinary project he and his wife undertook in Brazil to replant a wide swath of the rainforest. (NYT)
Warhols for Ca$h — As the Warhol Foundation begins to transistion away from the authentication business, they've begun to sell off their collection of works by the acclaimed Pop artist, an effort that continues this Thursday as the organization has partnered with Fab.com to host a two-week-long sale of a hand-picked selection of 55 rare and vintage Warhol posters. (Hyperallergic)
Ellsworth Kelly's (Birthday) Party Dress — To mark the great man's 90th birthday, coming up on May 31st, the art advisor Sharon Coplan Hurowitz convinced Kelly to work with Calvin Klein designer Francisco Costa to remake a lost 1952 dress that was based on the artist's painting Red Yellow Blue White—and it's now headed for the Met's Costume Institute. (NYT)
And the Pulitzer Goes To... — Phillip Kennicott, the Washington Post journalist who pens the paper's column on art and architecture, has been awarded this year's Pulitzer award for criticism based on his articles on the Kevin Roche exhibition at the National Building Museum, photography at the Corocoran Gallery, and representations of the first family in contemporary images, stating that he was "especially happy to win at a time when arts criticism is not doing well." (Washington Post)
Helly Nahmad Pleads Not Guilty — The young blue-chip dealer and billionaire art family scion will be going to trial alongside nearly three dozen others named in a mafia-run gambling scandal, with Nahmad's lawyer saying, "We do not believe that Mr. Nahmad has knowingly violated the law…. We anticipate that he will be fully exonerated.” (NYT)
Family Portraits Go Head-to-Head — The candidates for this year's BP Portrait Award, one of the United Kingdom's most popular art prizes, have been narrowed down to two artists from the almost 2,000 submitted entries, as John Devane and Suzanne du Toit, both of whom submitted paintings of their family members, vie for the £30,000 first prize. (Guardian)
Maybe He Should've Offered Them a Donut? — Artist Kenny Scharf, who recently opened his show "Kolors" at Paul Kasmin Gallery in Chelsea, was arrested in Williamsburg last Friday night for spray-painting a wall with one of his trademark snake graffiti images, a misdemeanor act that caused Scharf to spend "20 hours in 2 Brooklyn jails," despite the artist's immediate admission of guilt, when he told the police officers that arrested him, "This is art. I did it. I'm sorry." (Gallerist)
The Barnes Tries to Price Out the Riff Raff — In addition to extending its free admission hours to cover entire Saturdays, the popular Barnes Collection, which is approaching the one year anniversary of its controversial move to its new home in Center City Philadelphia, has also decided to raise admission prices from $18 to $22, perhaps in part to get new visitors to take museum-going more seriously, as CEO Derek Gillman stating that the museum has seen "many more people not familiar...with what is proper behavior" and "more trangressions of people touching things and getting too close." (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Art Basel Unlimited Grows in Size — The Unlimted Sector of the upcoming Art Basel fair in June, which is devoted to showcasing large-scale artworks, has increased in both size and scope as a 2,500 square meter extension has been added to the section's already large exhibition space, allowing it to show 79 projects, an increase of more than a dozen from last year's iteration, including works by Theaster Gates, Rob Pruitt, Sean Scully, and Ai Weiwei. (Artinfo)
China Meets Miami Beach — As part of the always raucous Art Basel Miami Beach fair in December, notable Miami collectors Don and Mera Rubell have announced that they will be presenting an exhibition of Chinese art by artists like Ai Weiwei and Zhang Huan, as well as others whose work they've been collecting over the past decade. (Bloomberg)
Rothko Gets Museum in Native Land — Color Field painter Marcus Rothkovitz, better known as Mark Rothko, will have a museum dedicated to his work in his home country of Latvia, where he was born in 1903, to serve as both a historical commemoration and, as the late painter's son Christopher Rothko states, "a center for living art that will help promote visual art in the region." (La Presse)
Famous Manet Meets Titian Inspiration — In the "How Did It Take So Long for This To Happen" story of the week, Edouard Manet's beloved "Olympia," which spawned an incredible amount of public controversy when it was first displayed at the 1865 Paris Salon, will be placed side-by-side with Titian's "Venus of Urbino," the painting that helped inspire it as part of the "Manet. Return to Venice" exhibition at the Doge's Palace in Venice. (La Presse)
— ART MARKET —
International Art Market Drops — European and American auction sales stayed strong in the early part of this year, but the global art market suffered an overall 7-percent dip in the first quarter of 2013 due to plummeting sales in China, which brought down the average. (Forbes)
Mid-Career Artists Get Nod —Rozalia Jovanovic highlights the new trend of collecting older, "rediscovered" artists like Llyn Foulks, Mary Corse, and Sturtevant, whose work has withstood the test of time compared to their trendier, younger counterparts. (ARTINFO)
Mixed Reviews at New Istanbul Fair — Reports from exhibitors and collectors at the new All Arts Istanbul fair revealed a bit of puzzlement at the combination of traditional Turkish crafts and classical artworks, which sold well overall, and edgier contemporary art. (TAN)
Qatar Sets Auction Record— Doha set a new record for a contemporary art auction in the Middle East with Sotheby's $15.2 million sale on Thursday, led by an aluminum and plexiglass Donald Judd sculpture that went for $3.5 million. (GalleristNY)
Dallas Hits Its Stride —The Dallas Art Fair continued making a name for the Texas art scene at its fifth-annual edition, which brought 83 exhibitors and coincided with citywide events at the Nasher Sculpture Centre, the Power Station, and Dallas Contemporary. (The Economist)
Folk Art Liquidation — Julia Halperin reports that the debt-addled American Folk Art Museum will auction more than 200 works from its collection late this year or in early 2014 at Sotheby's — a choice that drew complaints from rival auction house Christie's. (TAN)
— IN & OUT —
Seventeen-year-old Kendall Jenner—the youngest of the famous Kardashian klan—showed off some sophistication last week, dropping by Hollywood's Guy Hepner Gallery for the opening of a photography show by Russell James. (HuffPo)
Recent Documenta curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev has been appointed as the Edith Kreeger Wolf Distinguished Visiting Professor in Northwestern's department of art theory and practice, where she will be teaching three consecutive fall semesters and offering critiques. (Press Release)