A1 News Roundup

"I Left Elated": The Critics React to Jay-Z's Art Debut

"I Left Elated": The Critics React to Jay-Z's Art Debut
New York magazine critic Jerry Saltz duetting with Jay-Z


When a bewildering array of leading contemporary artists converged in Chelsea for the Salon 94-organized performance-art filming of Jay-Z's video for "Picasso Baby"—certainly the first fine-art/hip hop crossover hit—a bug-eyed crew of art critics were in tow, trying to make sense of the spectacle unfolding before them. Their assessments, tipsy with the intoxicating fairy dust of celebrity, range from hedged praise to pronouncements that a new epochal moment in the arts is at hand. Here's a sampling:  

"[The event] featured a carefully curated lineup of some of contemporary art’s biggest names… but it seems safe to say that this won’t be the holy grail (or even the Magna Carta) of music videos." – Benjamin Sutton, Artinfo

"The renowned performance artist Marina Abramović danced with Jay-Z at a New York art gallery this week as part of the rapper's latest video shoot…. Is their embrace of mainstream pop music a symptom of the same disintegration of age boundaries the Rolling Stones enacted at Glastonbury? Surely, this is a truly definitive time in the story of modern culture." – Jonathan Jones, the Guardian

"The shock and peril that once characterized much performance art had been co-opted by a marketing wizard, turned, as the bloggers carped, into a tool of aesthetic predictability…. Here it seems proper to resuscitate both Andy Warhol’s famous observation that “being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art,” and to paraphrase an aphorism often attributed to the actual Picasso: mediocre artists borrow, great artists steal." — Guy Trebay, the New York Times

"Little of Abramović’s—or, for that matter, Texas Senator Wendy Davis’ s—superhuman stamina was on display, as Jay-Z took numerous breaks and drank liberally from a bottle of Fiji Water. The stunt did recall “A Lot of Sorrow,” the National’s six-hour looped performance, organized by the artist Ragnar Kjartansson, of their song “Sorrow” at PS1 earlier this year. And it was also in keeping with the recent trend in rap-art world convergences." – Emma Allen, the New Yorker

"By then, somehow, he'd taken me around my waist, and we were strutting around the room. My hands were ice cold. I was shaking…. The entire time we were together, there was no doubt in my mind that he was controlling me, taking my energy and giving it back, manipulating the space around us. I felt like my internal ship was on fire and useless. I loved it. And him. And this…. I stayed for just about the whole six hours, and all I can say is that I don't think I saw one instance where Jay-Z was not totally there, in the moment, working the energy…. I went in doubting. I left elated." – Jerry Saltz, New York magazine

"If [Kanye] West admired the art world from afar, then Jay-Z put himself smack into the middle of it—becoming, in his Abramovic-like way, a kind of living, breathing performance artist—which is, of course, what he is in a way, anyway."  – Isabel Wilkinson, Daily Beast


Must Love Cats —Rhona Lieberman explains why her feline-fanatical "Cat Show," currently at White Columns, uses "art as a conduit for rescue." (T Mag)

Crossing the Border — An exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London reveals in detail why Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera aren't the only Mexican artists you should know about. (Economist)

Anselm Kiefer to Join LeWitt at Mass MoCA — Major Connecticut collectors Andrew and Christine Hall (who once got in trouble for a Kiefer on their lawn) are lending a selection of major works by the somber German artist to the Massachusetts museum for a 15-year-plus show, joining the institution's 25-year exhibition of Sol LeWitt's wall drawings. (NYT)

Why Are Lena Dunham's Emails Considered Art? — Filmmaker Miranda July opens up about We Think Alone, her buzzy new project in which she has curated the e-mails of Dunham, Kirsten Dunst, and Danh Vo. (Co.Create)

Bill Viola Discusses the "Most Beautiful World" — In honor of his first show in six years, the famed video artist speaks about the importance of water and the mystery surrounding his videos. (Economist)

Charles Saatchi's Very Dark Side — The megacollector largely responsible for the fame of YBAs like Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin has divorced his wife Nigella Lawson after she refused to defend his reputation after photos of him with his hands wrapped menacingly around her neck surfaced in the tabloids. (LAT)

Move Over, Marina Abramovic — Asif Kapadia has taped musician and actor Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) being force-fed as a protest against the Obama administration's treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. (New Yorker)

The Guggenheim's Online Doppelganger — It may not have a rotunda designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, but the Googleheim might be worth something, too. (Yahoo)

Cuisine as Art — An exhibition about Ferran Adriá's restaurant elBulli at Somerset House provides further proof that the art world still values food as much as when Gordon Matta-Clark opened FOOD in 1971. (Eater)

Pompidou Looks East — The Centre Pompidou will open a temporary exhibition in Saudi Arabia, while closing its traveling show that toured famous artworks around France's provinical regions. (TAN)


Analyzing the Top 200 Collectors List — Artspace's own Rachel Corbett digs into the data in ARTnews's annual international roundup. (Artspace)

Bernie Madoff's Collection Goes to Auction — Sotheby's has agreed to sell Madoff's collection of paintings, posters, and rugs by such artists as Pablo Picasso and Roy Lichtenstein. (Bloomberg)

Drawing Donation in Chicago — Boston collector Dorothy Braude Edinburg has donated 1,000 artworks to the Art Institute of Chicago, including a number of works on paper by Picasso, Matisse, Degas, and Leger. (NYT)

What Gives Art Value? — Red art sells better than other colors, and polka-dots seem to increase value too, according to a new article about branding in the high-end art market. (Quartz)

Painting Goes Dutch — After spending the last few years in U.S. institutions, Amsterdam's newly reopened Rijksmuseum has purchased a $14 million painting of the Conquest of America by Jan Mostaert. (Telegraph)

— IN & OUT —

Ellsworth Kelly, who turned 80 this year, received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama. (Gallerist)

Arte Povera artist Giuseppe Penone's sculptures of trees with stones will come to Madison Square Park in the fall. (Artinfo)

The brilliant post-post-modern troublemakers at DIS magazine have partnered with Serpentine curator Hans Ulrich Obrist's 89plus (which brings recognition to artists born after 1989) to create DIScrit 89plus, a grant-giving entity that will celebrate artists "Younger Than Rhianna." (Gallerist)

The deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum has named Jennifer Gross as its new chief curator and deputy director for curatorial affairs, hiring her away from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. (Art in America

The Brooklyn Museum will open its own fine-dining destination this fall with a new restaurant by Boerum Hill chef Saul Bolton. (NYT)

A stunning lineup of Los Angeles museum directors including MOCA's Jeffrey Deitch, LACMA's Michael Govan, and the Hammer Museum's Ann Philbin have signed a petition demanding that the Los Angeles Times rehires art reporter Jori Finkel, who they call "the go-to source here for art-world news and analysis." (Gallerist)


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