RETROSPECTIVE is a digest of the latest news and happenings related to art by and about people of African descent. In the latter half of June 2016, the highlights include auction news and acquisitions, and numerous appointments and awards. Johnson Publishing sold its flagship magazines. The Smithsonian’s forthcoming African American museum reached its fundraising goal. And new exhibition openings included Blackness in Expression, and solo shows featuring John Akomfrah, Simone Leigh, and Xaviera Simmons.


NINA CHANEL ABNEY Nina Chanel Abney - Potato, Potata - 2015- PAFA
NINA CHANEL ABNEY’s “Potato, Potata,” 2015 (acrylic and spray-paint diptych), was recently purchased by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA). | Courtesy of PAFA.



JEAN MICHEL BASQUIAT - Pork 1981Johnson Publishing sold Ebony and Jet magazines to Texas firm for an undisclosed amount.

> “Pork,” 1981 painting (right) executed by Jean-Michel Basquiat on a wood door was the top lot at Chrisitie’s London auction, selling for $6.8 million.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture surpassed its goal to raise $270 million in private donatons.

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) acquired new works for its permanent collections by artists including Nina Chanel Abney, Hale A. Woodruff, and 2016 PAFA graduate Jonathan Lyndon Chase.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is focused on building its collection of African and African American art.

New York City Parks Department reversed its decision and allows artist Aaron Bell to finish his ‘problematic’ noose sculpture in Riverside Park.

A replica of Nigeria’s Makoko Floating School collapsed in a storm at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Studio Museum in Harlem announced new inHarlem initiative, a series of artistic projects and partnerships in the surrounding community.

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London announced its exhibitor list.



Ben Patterson, a composer and musician who was a pioneer in experimental art and a founder of the Fluxus movement, died at 82.


meg onli - ica philadelphia - photo by constance mensh
Meg Onli, who founded the website Black Visual Archive, was named assistant curator at ICA Philadelphia. | Photo by Constance Mensh via ICA Philadelphia



Meg Onli (above) was appointed assistant curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (ICA Philadelphia).

Mickalene Thomas was appointed to the board of the Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York.

Didier William was appointed MFA chair at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA).

Derek Conrad Murray was appointed to the editorial board of the Art Journal, which is published by the College Art Association (CAA).

Arnold Kemp was named graduate dean at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).

Maxwell Anderson was announced as the new president of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation in Atlanta.



New York architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, a husband-and-wife team, were selected to design Obama presidential library in Chicago.

The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation named 10 artists as activists fellows for 2016, including Titus Kaphar, Paul Rucker, El Sawyer, Shontina Vernon, and the collectives Echoes of Incarceration, The Graduates, and Los Angeles Poverty Department.

Adjaye Associates was chosen to design Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art.

After winning a student competition, 18-year-old Cliffannie Forrester‘s dream came true when her painting went on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby was announced the winner of the Prix Canson 2016.

Atlanta Contemporary Art Center announced Larry Walker is the recipient of the 2016 Nexus Award.

University of Chicago awarded artist Kerry James Marshall the 2016 Rosenberger Medal.

> Kelli Morgan (right) was named first recipient of diversity curatorial fellowship at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA).

The Foundation for Contemporary Art honored filmmaker and visual artist Cauleen Smith with its first Ellsworth Kelly Award.


Duro Olowu - Thelma Golden - Camden Arts Centre
Husband and wife, Duro Olowu and Thelma Golden made a rare public appearance together for a conversation to introduce his new exhibition “Making & Unmaking” at the Camden Arts Centre in London. | Photo by Mark Blower via Camden Arts Cente



Thelma Golden, director of the Studio Museum in Harlem Director, conducted a public conversation with her husband, designer Duro Olowu, about his new exhibition in London.

Simone Leigh‘s new solo exhibition “The Waiting Room” opened at the New Museum in New York.

“Blackness in Abstraction” a group exhibition curated by Adrienne Edwards, opened at Pace Gallery in New York.

After opening at Mark Bradford’s Art + Practice in Los Angeles, John Outterbridge‘s “Rag Man” exhibitions traveled to the Aspen Art Museum in Aspen, Colo.

Two exhibitions featuring the work of Ronald Lockett opened at the American Folk Art Museum in New York.

In New York, “Coded,” multidisciplinary artist Xaviera Simmons‘s exhibition of works in a range of mediums, including a “movement-based performance,” opened at the Kitchen.

British artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah‘s first major exhibition in the United States opened at Lisson Gallery in New York.

Curotor Adrienne Edwards spoke to photographer Carrie Mae Weems about her new book “Kitchen Table Series” at the Strand Bookstore in New York.


rsz_1eldzier_cortor_in_his_studio_-_aaa_corteldz_44174RECOMMENDED READING

The New York Times published “Celebrating Black Culture With a Careful Eye,” an insightful conversation between Sandra Stevenson, picture editor of the Times, and Sarah Lewis, a Harvard scholar who guest edited a special, historic issue of Aperture magazine titled “Vision and Justice” that is devoted to photography documenting the black experience.

< As a part of its Oral History Project documenting the life stories of New York City’s African American artists, BOMB magazine published an interview with Eldzier Cortor (left), who died last November.

As Jack Daniel’s marks its 150th anniversary, the New York Times reported the Tennessee distillery is embracing its history and a hidden ingredient in its whiskey—help from a slave.

Describing his design as “radically inventive,” Vogue magazine profiled architect David Adjaye.

The New York Times revealed that the words of President Obama’s father, uncovered in letters and other documents at the Schomburg Center, are still waiting to be read by his son.

After the legendary street fashion photographer Bill Cunningham died, writing in the New Yorker, Hilton Als distilled his interest in women and African American culture, particularly gay black men, noting that he “saw us all.” CT


ABOVE IMAGE: Eldzier Cortor in his studio in 1995. | Photographer unknown via Smithsonian Archives of American Art

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