DAK’ART is winding down after a month of exhibitions and events. Artforum has a dispatch from the oldest biennial in Africa. The U.S. contingent included artists Simone Leigh (shown above, second from right) and Julie Mehretu; Johnetta B. Cole of the Smithsonian’s African Art Museum; and Newark Museum curator Christa Clarke. According to the report, a healthy mix of emerging and established artists are represented: “If you want to see what’s going on in African art, Dak’Art was the place to be.” The 11th edition of Dak’Art runs from May 9 to June 8, 2014 in Dakar, Senegal.
YAM COLLECTIVE has commented at length on its withdrawal from the Whitney Biennial. In an extensive phone interview with Ben Davis of artnet News, the 38-member group explains that the action wasn’t over the racially controversial work of one artist as reported. Their entire participation, members say, was a protest about “institutionalized systemic white supremacy” at the Whitney specifically and in the art world in general.
BLACK ABSTRACT PAINTERS have always struggled to be recognized and understood. “The contributions of African American artists to the inventions of abstract painting have historically been overlooked,” and fraught with questions about how or why it should reflect their race, according to ARTnews. A report by Hilarie M. Sheets features comments from Valerie Cassel Oliver, senior curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, where she recently organized the exhibition “Black in the Abstract,” and considers the work of artists including Sam Gilliam, Jennie C. Jones, Norman Lewis, James Little, Odili Donald Odita, Howardena Pindell (shown at left), Alma Thomas and Jack Whitten.
AFRICAN AMERICAN ART AUCTIONS are in season. John Toomy Gallery in Oak Park, Ill., held an inaugural sale of works by African American artists in the second session of its 20th Century Art & Design Auction on Sunday, June 1. The auction featured more than 120 works (lots 477 to 604, approx.). Notable artists included Richmond Barthe, Romare Bearden, Margaret Burroughs, Allan Rohan Crite, Sam Gilliam, Rashid Johnson, Hughie Lee-Smith and Bob Thompson. Works by Beauford Delaney, Aaron Douglas, Jacob Lawrence, Charles Ethan Porter and Norman Lewis were among the top lots. View the online catalog and auction results. Next week, Swann Auction Galleries will hold its latest African-American fine art auction in New York. “The Shape of Things to Come” features art from the 1960s and 70s on June 10.
NEW YORK WATER TANKS are getting a creative facelift with a message this summer. About 100 of the rooftop fixtures throughout the five boroughs will serve as canvases to artists and designers including Derrick Adams, Mark Bradford, Meleko Mokgosi, Odili Odita and Carrie Mae Weems. ARTnews reports on The Water Tank Project, a public art initiative intended to raise awareness about water consumption. Watch a video that explains the goal of the project and how it came about. CT
IMAGES: TOP, At left, Dak’Art curators Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi and Abdelkader Damani with curator Nilva Luz. At right:, Dak’Art curator Elise Atangana with artists Simone Leigh and David Lawson. Photo by Cathryn Drake via ARTnews; AT LEFT, Howardena Pindell, “Untitled #18 (detail),” 1977. © Howardena Pindell/Courtesy Garth Greenan Gallery, New York via ARTnews.