FROM THE DAK’ART BIENNIAL in Senegal, to the 1:54 art fair in London and Prospect.3 in New Orleans, 2014 was brimming with compelling exhibitions, innovative projects and well-deserved honors. Kara Walker’s sugar sphinx installation in Brooklyn was perhaps the most thought-provoking and buzzed about exhibition of the year; Chris Ofili’s “Night and Day” survey at the New Museum in New York was probably the most-anticipated. Mark Bradford, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Kerry James Marshall, Carrie Mae Weems and many emerging artists and internationally recognized curators, also made great strides in the past year. Meanwhile, ongoing news surrounding U.S. police killing unarmed Black men and youth inspired artistic responses around the world. Inaugurating an annual review of the Year in Black Art, Culture Type highlights a selection of noteworthy moments from 2014.
FILM | Directed by Thomas Allen Harris, “Through a Lens Darkly: Black photographers and an Emergence of a People” premieres at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 17. Based on “Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers, 1840 to the Present,” a 2000 book by Deborah Willis, who co-produced the film, the documentary features Lyle Ashton Harris, Glenn Ligon, Lorna Simpson, Hank Willis Thomas, and Carrie Mae Weems, among many others.
LIVES | Cartoonist Morrie Turner, 90, the creator of “Wee Pals” who was the first African American comic strip artist to have his work widely syndicated in mainstream newspapers died of complications from kidney disease Jan. 25 in Sacramento.
EXHIBITION | “Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist,” the first retrospective of the Chicago-based Achibald Motley’s paintings in two decades, opens Jan. 30 at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.
CARRIE MAE WEEMS > | After being named a MacArthur fellow last year, Carrie Mae Weems follows up with a banner year rife with accomplishments and accolades in 2014. “Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video” opens at the Guggenheim Museum in New York on Jan. 24, the first solo exhibition featuring a black female artist since the museum’s founding in 1939. In addition, her work is featured on the cover of Modern Painters magazine and is on view at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Pippy Houldsworth in London (her first solo exhibition at a UK commercial gallery), and Prospect.3 in New Orleans. Meanwhile, the Syracuse, N.Y.-based artist collects honors from BET, the Lucie Foundation and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
LIVES | Interdisciplinary conceptual artist, musician and educator Terry Adkins (1953-2014) dies suddenly of heart failure on Feb. 7. The founder of Lone Wolf Recital Corps and a professor of fine arts at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, 60-year-old Adkins is represented by Salon 94. In a statement announcing his death, the gallery says Adkins was an “intrepid and accomplished artist…who approached his life and work with enormous spirit, audacity, humor, and indefatigable intellect…[His] influence will be felt by younger artists for years to come.”
APPOINTMENT | The Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University announces the appointment of Alejandro de la Fuente, a professor who serves as director of the Afro-Latin American Research Institute at the center, as the new editor of Transition magazine on Feb. 19. Described as “the longest running Pan-African cultural magazine in history,” Transition is co-published by Henry Louis Gates Jr., Kwame Anthony Appiah and Wole Soyinka three times a year.
AWARD/HONOR | On Feb. 20, the High Museum of Art Atlanta announces New York City-based multidisciplinary artist Lyle Ashton Harris is the recipient of the 2014 David C. Driskell Prize. The honor, which includes a $25,000 cash award, is presented May 2.
From “Witness: Art and Civi Rights in the Sixties”: BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS, “Lawdy Mama,” 1969 (oil and gold leaf on canvas). | The Studio Museum in Harlem, Gift of Stuart Liebman, in memory of Joseph B. Liebman, 83.25. © Barkley L. Hendricks. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
EXHIBITION | “Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties” opens at the Brooklyn Museum on March 7 and brings together the work of 66 artists (including Barkley L. Hendricks, above) from diverse backgrounds who were compelled to create by groundbreaking events that were transforming the nation.
APPOINTMENT | On March 13, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announces Sandra Jackson-Dumont will join the Met as chairman of education in May. She has been serving as deputy director for education and public programs and adjunct curator for modern and contemporary art at the Seattle Art Museum.
< APPOINTMENT | Darby English joins the Museum of Modern Art as a consulting curator in the department of painting and sculpture. The March 17 announcement notes that while maintaining his post as director of the Research and Academic Program at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass., English will draw on his expertise in works by black artists to help strengthen and diversify MoMA’s collection.
APPOINTMENT | Weeksville Heritage Center in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, announces Tia Powell Harris will become its new director beginning March 17. Harris previously served as director of artistic affairs at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C.
ACQUISITION | On March 26, the National Gallery of Art acquires “May Flowers,” a 2002 photograph by Carrie Mae Weems. The image from her May Days Long Forgotten series depicts three girls dressed in their Sunday best, lounging in the grass and is the first work by Weems to enter the Washington, D.C., museum’s collection.
EXHIBITION | Offering a refreshing approach to presenting “outsider” art that doesn’t deem it as “other,” “When the Stars Begin to Fall: Imagination and the American South” opens on March 27 at the Studio Museum in Harlem and considers work by self-taught artists alongside contemporary, formally trained practitioners—35 in all—who share an interest in the U.S. South.
REPRESENTATION | Luhring Augustine announces on March 28 that jazz composer and pianist Jason Moran, a frequent collaborator with visual artists who is redefining the notion of multidisciplinary art, is joining its Chelsea, N.Y., gallery.
REPRESENTATION | Jack Shainman Gallery announces representation of Titus Kaphar, whose works “interact with the history of art by appropriating its styles and mediums.” Based in New York and New Haven, Conn., Kaphar’s The Jerome Project is currently on view at the Studio Museum in Harlem and he will mount a solo exhibition at Jack Shainman on Jan. 15, 2015.
AWARD/HONOR | On April 23, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences announces it new members including artists El Anatsui, Kerry James Marshall and Carrie Mae Weems (all three are represented by Jack Shainman Gallery) and inducts the 2014 class in October.
NEWS | David Hammons makes list of Top 10 most expensive living American artists published by artnet News on April 30, thanks to his “Untitled” basketball hoop with a frosted glass backboard, lights and chandelier crystals. Produced in 2000, it sold for more than $8 million at Phillips contemporary auction in November 2013.
Commissioned by Creative Time, Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety” was on view at the old Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, from May 10 to July 6.
KARA WALKER | Already one of the most highly regarded artists working today, Kara Walker forges into new territory, conceiving “A Subtlety,” her first-ever major sculpture and public art project. Installed in the old Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn, the much-talked-about monumental sugar sphinx draws more than 130,000 visitors; inspires praise, countless opinions and selfies, and a porcelain pitcher; earns her recognition from Wall Street Journal Magazine as its 2014 Art Innovator and a spot on Foreign Policy magazine’s list of leading 2014 Global Thinkers; and is currently being explored in “Afterword,” an exhibition at Sikkema Jenkins Gallery in New York. Walker also curates “Ruffneck Constructivists,” a group exhibition at the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia in 2014.
EXHIBITION | “Black Eye,” a group show that explores the shifting dynamics of race and identity over the past two decades, opens May 3 featuring 26 Black contemporary artists, a who’s who among two generations—Sanford Biggers, Nick Cave, David Hammons, Deanna Lawson, Simone Leigh, Steve McQueen, Toyin Odutola, Gary Simmons, Xaviera Simmons, Hank Willis Thomas, Kehinde Wiley and Nari Ward, among others.
NEWS > | Artnet News publishes list of most expensive women artists and New York-based Julie Mehretu (at right) ranks No. 5, earning the spot when her 2001 work “Retopistics: A Renegade Excavation” sold for $4.6 million at Christie’s New Yok in 2013.
EXHIBITION | Curated by Elise Atangana, Abdelkader Damani and Smooth Ugochukwu Nzewi, Dak’Art 2014, the Dakar, Senegal-based biennial opens May 9.
EXHIBITION | “A Subtlety,” Kara Walker‘s monumental sphinx-like sugar-cover sculpture opens May 10 at the old Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The full title of the public art installation explains Walker’s intent: “the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.”
APPOINTMENT | On May 12, The Museum of Modern Art announces the appointment of Thomas J. Lax, who is serving as assistant curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, as associate Curator in the Department of Media and Performance Art.
AUCTION | An untitled 1989 work by Martin Puryear, composed of red cedar and pine, sells at Christie’s New York on May 13 for more than $1.8 million (including fees), more than twice the estimate and a record for the artist.
< NEWS | On May 13, Yams Collective, a group of 38 artists formally known as HowDoYouSayYaminAfrican, withdraws from the 2014 Whitney Biennial largely in objection to what it views as racial exploitation in the work of Joe Scanlan, another biennial artist, who for years has presented himself as Donelle Woolford, a Black female performance artist. He developed the persona and her work and hires Black artists Jennifer Kidwell and Abigail Ramsay to portray her.
AUCTION | “Afrodizzia,” a 1996 mixed-media painting by British-born artist Chris Ofili garners more than $1.5 million at Sotheby’s New York on May 14, a record for the artist despite falling below the estimated sell price. In the fall, the painting appears in “Night and Day,” Ofili’s exhibition at the New Museum.
AUCTION | Ghanaian-born, Nigeria based artist El Anatsui achieves an auction record on May 15, when his 1996 work “Paths to the Okro Farm,” an elegant sculptural textile composed of found aluminum and copper wire, sells for more than $1.4 million (including fees) at Sotheby’s New York.
NEWS | Jack Shainman, the Chelsea-based gallery opens a new location in Kinderhook, N.Y. housed in an old 30,000-square-foot former high school. An exhibition of new and old works by Nick Cave and a live performance featuring his signature Soundsuits serve as the centerpiece of the May 17 opening celebration.
PERFORMANCE | Jazz Pianist Jason Moran and Theaster Gates collaborate on “Looks of a Lot,” a musical work performed at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on May 30. The innovative, multidisciplinary presentation features new blues compositions by Moran accompanied by “reimagined stage elements” made by Gates.
KERRY JAMES MARSHALL | Chicago-based artist Kerry James Marshall solidifies his global presence 2014. “Kerry James Marshall: Painting and Other Stuff,” the first comprehensive survey of his practice, is on view in Antwerp, Madrid, Copenhagen and Barcelona (and includes a catalog); “Look See,” his first exhibition with David Zwirner Gallery, his representative in London, opens; and he receives the Wolfgang Hahn Prize for contemporary art from the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany. Stateside, Marshall is honored by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, one of his paintings sells for a record $1 million, and he participates in Prospect.3 New Orleans.
AWARD/HONOR | On June 13, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation announces 30 artists—Leslie Hewitt, Steffani Jemison, Simone Leigh, Steve Locke, Jacolby Satterwhite amd Shinique Smith, among them—who are recipients of its 2013 biennial award, which includes a $20,000 prize.
EXHIBITION | “Ellen Gallagher: Dont Axe Me,” the first major New York museum exhibition of work by American artist Ellen Gallagher, who divides her time between Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and New York, opens at the New Museum June 19.
APPOINTMENT | On June 29, Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (GIBCA) and Röda Sten Konsthall announce the appointment of Elvira Dyangani Ose, Curator International Art at the Tate Modern, as curator of the eighth edition of GIBCA in 2015.
EXHIBITION | Opening June 27, “Eldzier Cortor: Theme and Variations” showcases a donation of prints and prints-making materials Eldzier Cortor recently gave to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. The gift of 53 objects includes “original plates, test proofs, and examples from several series of prints, dating from the 1950s through 2000.”
AUCTION | On July 1 at Christie’s London, “Afrosheen,” a 2009 painting by Hurvin Anderson (above) sells for more than $2.2 million (including fees), nearly four times the estimate and a record for the British artist.
ACQUISITION | The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University announces major gifts of American art on July 24, significantly expanding its collection with 26 works by Jacob Lawrence and a painting by his wife Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence. In a release, Stanford notes that the university holds the largest collection of Lawrence works on the West Coast.
NEWS | On Aug. 4, Art Everywhere, a collaborations between five U.S. museums and the billboard industry, begins displaying 58 works of art across America (chosen by the public among 100 suggestions from the museums), including four by Romare Bearden, William H. Johnson, Archibald Motley and Charles White.
AWARD/HONOR > | The MacDowell Colony, the nation’s first artist residency program awards its 2014 medal to Los Angeles-based assemblage and installation artist Betye Saar (at right) on Aug. 10.
LIVES | Earl Colloway, 87, longtime arts editor and columnist at the Chicago Defender, dies Aug. 20, after being hospitalized for a few weeks.
CONVENING | After an initial gathering in 2013, Theaster Gates convenes a second Black Artists Retreat in Chicago (Aug. 21-23), an inter-generational dialogue exploring Black cultural production and opportunities for collaboration via research, advocacy, criticism and exhibition, and curates “Retreat,” a complementary show at Valerie Carberry Gallery and Richard Gray Gallery.
AWARD/HONOR | On Aug. 25, the Studio Museum in Harlem announces its new class of artists in residence: Sadie Barnette (Oakland, Calif.), Lauren Halsey (Los Angeles) and Eric Mack (Columbia, Md.). During their 2014-15 tenure, the artists will enjoy free studio space above the museum, a $20,000 fellowship and a $1,000 stipend for materials.
APPOINTMENT | The Studio Museum in Harlem announces on Aug. 25 that Amanda Hunt is joining its curatorial team as assistant curator. A curator at LAXART in Los Angeles, the Philadelphia native will fill a coveted post left vacant when Thomas J. Lax, who was appointed associate curator at the Museum of Modern Art in May.
The back cover of LaToya Ruby Frazier’s new book “The Notion of Family,” features a detail of her 2008 image “Shadow (from the Momme Portrait series),” in which she practically hides in shadow of her mother.
LATOYA RUBY FRAZIER | 2014 is transformational year for photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier. It begins with “Born by the River,” her Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize solo exhibition at the Seattle Museum of Art and concludes with the publication of her first book, “The Notion of Family” with the Aperture Foundation. In between, she earns a Guna S. Mundheim Visual Arts Fellowship in Berlin, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a United States Artists Fellowship; exhibits at the 11th Nicaraguan Visual Arts Biennial in Managua; and accepts an appointment as assistant professor of photography position at School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
EXHIBITION > | Opening Sept. 3, New York University’s Grey Art Gallery presents “Ernest Cole: Photographer,” the first solo museum exhibition of the late South African photographer Ernest Cole (at right), whose groundbreaking work documented apartheid.
FILM | “An Economy of Grace,” a new documentary chronicling Kehinde Wiley‘s first foray into feminine portraiture begins airing Sept. 5 on PBS. On Oct. 20, it is shortlisted for possible nomination for an Oscar in the Documentary Short category.
LIVES | Detroit artist Gilda Snowden, 60, dies of heart failure on Sept. 9. After teaching at Wayne State University, for the last 31 years Snowden was a professor of fine arts at the College of Creative Studies where, for a time, she served as chair of the department.
AWARD/HONOR | The Root 100 2014 list of African American influencers 45 years and younger is published Sept. 10 and includes artists Theaster Gates (No. 71) and Mickalene Thomas (No. 96).
NEWS | The D.C. Commission on the Art and Humanities announces it will remove “The New Migration,” by Abigail DeVille after the community complains that the storefront installation in Anacostia, which is part of a citywide exhibition, looks like junk. DeVille of Bronx, N.Y., an artist in residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, says the work is inspired by Jacob Lawrence’s Migration series and that it comments on gentrification in the Washington neighborhood.
NEWS | Enduring a circuitous 60-year journey, the ashes of Alain Locke (1885-1954)—an avid supporter of artists who was considered the dean of the Harlem Renaissance—are buried at Congressional Cemetery on Capitol Hill on Sept. 13, after being stored in Howard University’s archives for two decades.
< ACQUISITION | The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., acquires “Goodnight Irene,” by Charles White (at left). The 1952 oil painting depicting blues musician Lead Belly was once owned by Harry Belafonte.
NEWS | David Kordansky (artists include Sam Gilliam and Rashid Johnson) moves his Los Angeles gallery from Culver City to a 20,000 square foot space on South La Brea Avenue, where his inaugural exhibition, Johnson’s “Islands,” opens Sept. 13
NEWS | Dismayed that there were no images of African Americans at the historic Government House in Annapolis, Md., Gov. Martin O’Malley commissions and, on Sept. 15, unveils a portrait of Maryland-born Frederick Douglass painted by Simmie Knox.
AWARD/HONOR | On Sept. 17, the MacArthur Foundation announces its 2014 class of fellows and Rick Lowe, founder of Project Row Houses in Houston, is among the 21 “geniuses” selected for the coveted honor which includes a $625,000 stipend paid over five years. Lowe, who describes his work as “social sculpture,” revitalized a mostly African American neighborhood by transforming 22 shot gun houses with paint and programming.
EXHIBITION | The David Driskell Center at the University of Maryland mounts the first comprehensive retrospective of work by legendary printmaker Robert Blackburn on Sept. 18. “Robert Blackburn: Passages features” features more than 100 works—90 by Blackburn and a selection of prints he produced for his contemporaries including Charles Alston, Will Barnet, Romare Bearden, Grace Hartigan and Robin Holder.
EXHIBITION | “Jack Whitten: Five Decades of Painting,” the Queens, N.Y.-based artist’s first retrospective, opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego in La Jolla Sept. 20. The exhibition features about 60 canvasses by Jack Whitten from the past half century.
PUBLIC ART | On Sept. 27, as part of its 250th anniversary celebration, Brown University dedicates a slave memorial by sculptor Martin Puryear that recognizes the university’s “connection to the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the work of Africans and African-Americans, enslaved and free, who helped build our university, Rhode Island, and the nation.”
AWARD/HONOR | Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research presents 2014 W.E.B. Du Bois Medals to eight honorees including architect David Adjaye and artist/filmmaker Steve McQueen at Sept. 30 ceremony.
Mark Bradford’s connections with major cultural institutions have paved the way for him to make a groundbreaking contribution to his community. | Photo courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
MARK BRADFORD | Venturing beyond the creative thrust of his Los Angeles-based practice and embracing his power as a major figure in the art world, Mark Bradford launches Art + Practice, a groundbreaking community project, and joins the boards of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University in 2014. After a spring show at White Cube São Paulo, his exhibition “Sea Monsters” is on view throughout the fall at the Rose and Bradford is honored at the annual gala of the Hammer Museum, his partner in Art + Practice. The six-building creative campus near his Leimert Park Studio integrates museum-grade exhibitions, artist residencies, lectures and art-focused programming for local foster care youth with a new location of Eso Won Books, the historic black-owned bookstore.
AUCTION | Swann Auction Galleries Oct. 6 African American Fine Art sale features 60 works from the collection of the late Richard A. Long (1927-2013), the storied Atlanta-based, scholar and cultural historian. Read interview
AWARD/HONOR | On Oct. 7, Seattle Art Museum announces Brenna Youngblood is the recipient of the 2015 Gwendolyn Knight | Jacob Lawrence Prize. The biennial honor includes a $10,000 award and a solo exhibition at SAM.
< AWARD/HONOR | In Grand Rapids, Mich., ArtPrize announces winners of its sixth annual competition on Oct. 10, with “The Haircraft Project” (at left) by Richmond, Va.-based Sonya Clark sharing the top juried prize. Artist Leonardo Drew serves on the ArtPrize jury and Dave MacKenzie’s “Breathe” is a finalist in the installation category.
AWARD/HONOR | On Oct. 13, United States Artists announces 34 fellows for 2014 who work in a range of artistic disciplines, including visual art (Willie Birch, Wangechi Mutu, Leslie Hewitt), photography (LaToya Ruby Frazier) and craft (Darryl Montana), and will each receive $50,000.
ART FAIR | Featuring 27 galleries, the second edition of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair opens Oct. 15 at Somerset House in London.
EXHIBITION | “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: Artists Respond,” a direct response to the Michael Brown killing organized by the Alliance of Black Gallery owners opens in and around St. Louis on Oct. 17 at 14 venues.
EXHIBITION | A pair of exhibitions showcasing the work of Ghanaian-born artist El Anatsui, who lives and works in Nigeria, is on view simultaneously in New York City, downtown at Jack Shainman Gallery (“Trains of Thought,” Oct. 18-Nov. 15) and uptown at Mnuchin Gallery (Oct. 28-Dec. 13).
GALLERY | The Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art opens on Oct. 21. Part of Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, the gallery is designed by architect David Adjaye.
TELEVISION > | Season 7 of Art21 on PBS premieres Oct. 24 with a segment featuring Leonardo Drew (at right) who makes mesmerizing sculptural objects with new materials—primarily wood—which he transforms using processes of decay, oxidation, weathering.
EXHIBITION | British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye co-curates with Maolíosa Boyle, “Civil Rights: We have it in our power to begin the world over again” at Void in Derry, Northern Ireland. Inspired by a quote from political activist and theorist Thomas Paine and featuring work by highly regarded American artists Radcliffe Bailey, Mark Bradford, Ellen Gallagher, Glenn Ligon, Kerry James Marshall, Adam Pendelton, Lorna Simpson, Hank Willis Thomas, Kara Walker, and examples from the Black Panther Collection, the exhibition opens on Oct. 25.
From Prospect.3: TAVARES STRACHAN, “You belong here,” 2014. The work, a” 100-foot long and 22-foot high neon sculpture on a 120ft barge, is a message to a city that embodies the idea of withstanding the inhospitable and endurance, and encourages the viewers to examine themselves in relation to space.”
EXHIBITION | Prospect 3: Notes for Now, the international triennial opens Oct. 25 in New Orleans. Under the artistic direction of Franklin Sirmans, the three-month citywide exhibition features 58 artists, including Terry Adkins, Jean Michel-Basquiat, Lonnie Holley, Hew Locke, Kerry James Marshall, Tamkea Norris, Ebony G. Patterson, Gary Simmons, Tavares Strachan (who created the neon work above), Alma Thomas and Carrie Mae Weems, on view at 18 venues.
AWARD/HONOR | The Studio Museum in Harlem announces its 2014 Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize will go to San Francisco-based photographer and multidisciplinary artist Samuel Levi Jones on Oct. 27. The $50,000 award recognizes an “emerging conceptual artist working with the legacy of historical documentary sources.”
EXHIBITION | “Night and Day,” British artist Chris Ofili‘s first major solo museum exhibition in the United States opens at the New Museum in New York on Oct. 29. Surveying his entire career, the presentation includes more than 30 paintings, numerous drawings and several sculptures.
AWARD/HONOR | On Oct. 29, the Office for Contemporary Art Norway announces Camille Norment will represent Norway at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. Born in Silver Spring, Md., Norment lives and works in Oslo, where her multidisciplinary practice includes sound, installation, light sculptures, drawing, performance and video.
From “Conversations”: ROBERT COLESCOTT, “Death of a Mulatto Woman,” 1991 (acrylic on canvas). | Collection of Camille O. and William H. Cosby Jr., Photo by Frank Stewart, Courtesy Smithsonian National Museum of African Art
COSBY EXHIBITION | For the first time in nearly half a century of collecting, Bill and Camille Cosby agree to show their trove of 19th and 20th century art, choosing the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art. Teaming up with Johnetta B. Cole, the museum’s director with whom they have previously collaborated as generous patrons of Spelman College, where Cole served as president for a decade, the Cosbys loan 62 pieces for “Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue.” Already scrutinized for promoting high-profile collectors and their privately held collection, the exhibition opens Nov. 9 and is immediately further undermined by association when decades-old allegations resurface with about two dozen women accusing Mr. Cosby of sexual assault, accusations that go largely unanswered by the comedian. Read museum statement. Presenting one-of-a-kind works including commissions by Elizabeth Catlett (a sculpture representing the Cosby family) and Faith Ringgold (a birthday quilt from Camille to Bill), the exhibition features important examples by African American aritsts Robert S. Duncanson, Joshua Johnston, Richmond Barthe, Edward Mitchell Bannister, Henry O. Tanner, Aaron Douglas, Archibald Motley, Palmer Hayden, William H. Johnson, Charles White, Romare Bearden, Alma Thomas, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Eldzier Cortor, Robert Colescott (above), Whitfield Lovell, Kehinde Wiley, Lorna Simpson and Kori Newkirk, among others.
AUCTION | Glenn Ligon achieves a career record at Sotheby’s New York Nov. 11 contemporary art auction when his “Untitled (I Was Somebody),” sells for more than $3.9 million, well over twice the estimate. The white on white text painting, executed with oilstick, graphite and gesso on panel, was originally painted in 1990 and enhanced in 2003.
< EXHIBITION | Paying homage to Ebony and Jet magazines—cultural barometers, vital news resources and bibles of aspirational imagery in the African American community for more than half a century—the Studio Museum in Harlem mounts “Speaking of People: Ebony, Jet and Contemporary Art” on Nov. 13. Described as the first exhibition devoted to the material, it features work by 16 artists (including Jeremy Okai Davis, at left) responding to the content and symbolism of the Johnson publications.
EXHIBITION | In 1956, Gordon Parks traveled to Shady Grove, Ala., where he spent time photographing the members of an ordinary African American family. He published a color portfolio of the images documenting the indignities of the Jim Crow South in Life magazine. Opening on Nov. 15, the High Museum’s presentation of “Gordon Parks: Segregation Story” features the entire series of more than 40 images on view for the first time.
LIVES | Artist Annie Lee, 79, whose paintings captured everyday moments in African American life with a particular focus on experiences of women, died Nov. 24 in Henderson, Nev.
AWARD/HONOR | On Nov. 25, the Smithsonian American Art Museum awards Njideka Akunyili Crosby the 2014 James Dicke Contemporary Artist Prize for her mixed-media paintings which it describes as “among the most visually, conceptually and technically exciting work being made today.” She was selected for $50,000 prize from among a dozen other nominees named in August, including Theaster Gates, Dave McKenzie, Julie Mehretu and Mickalene Thomas.
REPRESENTATION | Victoria Miro Gallery in London announces its representation of Nigerian-born Njideka Akunyili Crosby, who lives and works in Los Angeles, on Nov. 25, the same day the artist wins the Smithsonian’s James Dicke Prize.
ART FAIR | While the work of a selection of highly regarded black artists is featured at Art Basel Miami Beach (Dec. 3-5), where Hank Willis Thomas‘s “Raise Up” is on view at Goodman Gallery of Johannesburg, an unprecedented number of black art exhibitions and events are held around the city at satellite venues.
NEWS | In the wake of the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, nationwide protests against police killing unarmed Black men and youth reach Miami Dec. 5, shutting down I-95 and blocking traffic in Midtown and Wynwood during Art Basel Miami Beach.
NEWS | Los Angeles-based Kadir Nelson, known for his award-winning children’s book illustrations, paints two images of basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain for stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service Dec. 5 (above right).
EXHIBITION | On the eve of Chicago artist Richard Hunt‘s 80th birthday, “Richard Hunt: Sixty Years of Sculpture” featuring works from 1954 to 2014, opens at the Chicago Cultural Center on Dec. 6.
< NEWS | Time magazine commissions Titus Kaphar to paint the Ferguson Protesters, who are shortlisted for its Person of the Year issue, and on Dec. 10 announces the Ebola Fighters as the choice for 2014.
TALK | One of the most compelling art panels of the year, Thelma Golden, Hilton Als and Huey Copeland gather Dec. 12 to discuss “Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art” and reflect on the perception of black men and the state of the art world two decades since the Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition opened in November 1994. View original brochure.
EXHIBITION | After a grand jury fails to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo in the choking death of Eric Garner, Smack Mellon, a nonprofit art space in Dumbo, Brooklyn, issues an open call to artists Dec. 18, asking for submissions that address the “continued failure of the United States to protect its black citizens from police discrimination and violence.” The chosen art work will be featured in an exhibition titled “RESPOND” planned for January 2015.
APPOINTMENT | On Dec. 18, Hammer Museum names Hamza Walker, director of Education and associate
curator for the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, co-curator of “Made in L.A. 2016.” Walker will organize the third edition of the Los Angeles biennial (June to September 2016) with Hammer Museum Curator Aram Moshayedi.
APPOINTMENT | Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago announces four new trustees Dec. 22, including David Hartt, the first artist to serve on its board.
FILM | Rising art stars Bradford Young (cinematographer, whose work was featured in Black Radical Brooklyn exhibition over the summer) and Jason Moran (composer, who collaborates with visual artists and joined Luhring Augustine this year) add the much-anticipated “Selma” to their resumes. Directed by Ava DuVernay, the feature film dramatizes Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., and opens in select cities Dec. 25 (everywhere Jan. 9). CT