RETROSPECTIVE is a review of the latest news and happenings related to visual art by and about people of African descent, with the occasional nod to cultural matters. This week, highlights include news from Frieze London and the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair; sales of African and African American art at auctions in New York, Beverly Hills, and London; a hometown honor for Nicholas Hlobo; and the announcement of the first major Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition in the UK, set to open next September. Plus, new exhibition openings featuring Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Whitfield Lovell, and Jacob Lawrence. And author Gloria Naylor died.


henry taylor - walking with vito
Henry Taylor’s “Walking with Vito” set an artist record at Christie’s in London Oct. 6.



Considering rezoning permissions, the local Chanhassen City Council voted to delay the Oct. 6 opening of Prince‘s Paisley Park Museum citing a need to study its effect on parking, traffic, public and pedestrian safety.

The fourth edition of the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London (Oct. 6-9) is three times the size of its inaugural fair, featuring more than 130 artists and 40 galleries, including 16 based on the African continent.

At this week’s Frieze London fair Oct. 6-9), the Contemporary Art Society Frieze announced the acquisition of two video works by John Akomfrah and Kader Attia for Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art.

After teachers started a petition in September, the University of Ghana in Accra plans to remove a statue of Ghandi due to derogatory comments he made about black Africans when he visited South African in the late 1800s at age 24.

The Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University received $10 million from Glenn H. Hutchins (who founded and endowed the center in 2013) for a new study examining inequality in Boston’s poorest neighborhoods.

The Financial Times visited with art collector Pamela Joyner, a loyal patron of several African American artists who has a penchant for abstraction.



Author Gloria Naylor, 66, died of heart failure near her home in the Virgin Islands. She who won a National Book Award for her debut novel “The Women of Brewster Place.”

Boubacar Koné, 74, a Senegalese anthropologist and museum founder/curator died in Los Angeles. According to Contemporary &, Koné co-founded the Musée Boribana in Dakar and the Pounder-Koné Art Space in Los Angeles with his wife, actress C.C.H. Pounder.


JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT, “Hannibal” 1982 (acrylic, oilstick and paper collage on canvas mounted on tied wooden supports), topped Sotheby’s recent London auction selling for more than $10.5 million (including fees). | via Sotheby’s



Sotheby’s held its contemporary art evening auction in London and “Hannibal” (1982) by Jean-Michel Basquiat (above), a collage painting mounted on tied wood supports, led the sale, yielding $10,565,000 (including fees), twice the high estimate.

Swann Auction Galleries held its sale of African-American Fine Art this week and the top lot was “Block Island,” a 1975 abstract painting by Norman Lewis ($245,000, including fees), followed by Sam Gilliam‘s “What Did You In London Town?” ($173,000, including fees), which graced the cover of the auction catalog. Among the records achieved, “Untitled (African Rhythm, Our Heritage)” by Wadsworth Jarrell sold for $97,500 (including fees), a high mark at auction for the artist.

cks-12245-10072016mSix artist records emerged at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale in London, including a high value for “Walking with Vito,” a 2008 painting (top of page) by Los Angeles-based Henry Taylor, which sold for $173,990 including fees. Taylor currently has a solo exhibition at Blum & Poe in Los Angeles.

Glenn Ligon‘s work covered the Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale catalog (at right). The work, “Come Out Study #19,” was executed in 2015 and brought $185,500 (including fees). It was one of six lots sold to benefit the 50th anniversary of the Camden Arts Centre, where Ligon had his first public exhibition in London. MORE INFO here and here.

In London, Bonhams “Africa Now” auction of contemporary African art—featuring works by El Anatsui, Aboudia Abdoulaye Diarrassouba, Monsengwo Kejwamfi “Moke,” Sokari Douglas Camp, Chéri Samba, Peju Alatise, and Robin Rhode—had a dismal sell through rate with only 17 of 60 lots finding buyers. Four of the works sold were by celebrated white South African artist William Kentridge, including the top lot a 1988 drawing titled “Reservoir” that sold for $64,729 (including fees).

A 1972 collage on panel work by Benny Andrews was a late addition to a recent sale at Carlyle Auctions in Beverly Hills and sold to a phone bidder from the East Coast for $7,500 including fees.



Johannesburg-based Nicholas Hlobo was announced as the first recipient of the VILLA Extraordinary Award for Sculpture, the honor recognizes exceptional achievement in sculpture by a South African artist.


Lonnie Bunch and Ta-Nehisi Coates in conversation. | Video by Atlantic Live



The Barbican Centre in London announced it is presenting the first major UK exhibition of Jean-Michel Basquiat next September.

“Portals,” Los Angeles-based Njideka Akunyili Crosby‘s first solo exhibition in Europe, opened at Victoria Miro Gallery in London this week.

A pair of new exhibitions opened at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., Whitfield Lovell: The Kin Series and Related Works” and “People on the Move: Beauty and Struggle in Jacob Lawrence‘s Migration Series.”

Lonnie Bunch, director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture participated in Atlantic magazine’s Washington Ideas Festival in a conversation (video above) with writer Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Coinciding with the 1:54 and Frieze art fairs, galleries and institutions around London are presenting exhibitions featuring black artists.

Organized by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Festival Albertine, a five-day event hosted by Albertine Books, the French Embassy’s bookshop in New York, announced its programming will feature a wide range of cultural arbiters, including Thelma Golden, director of the Studio Museum in Harlem; artist Kehinde Wiley; curator Thomas Lax; scholar Jelani Cobb; authors Jacqueline Woodson, Claudia Rankine, and Darryl Pinckney; and David Simon, the creator of “The Wire.



Coinciding with the exhibition “Whitfield Lovell: The Kin Series and Related Works” exhibition at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., the artist’s latest catalog was published this week. “Whitfield Lovell: Kin” features his images of anonymous African Americans paired with objects that reflect their experiences, and contributions by Irving Sandler, Sarah Lewis, and Elsa Smithgall.

Harper’s Bazaar India set a cultural benchmark featuring two transgender models (Tracy Africa Norman and Geena Rocero) on covers for its October issue, part of a nine model study on diversity that included Tyra Banks.

Focusing on Afro-Brazilian perspectives, the September issue of Contemporary& explored the work of Lucia Nhamo, Dalton Paula, and Helen Sebidi; considered the work of three artist collectives; and reported on the artists, curators, and researchers affiliated with the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo who traveled to Ghana to learn more about Brazil’s slave history.



Complete with audio and amazing images, the New York Times published a paid content feature on South African Esther Mahlangu, the Ndebele artist recently taught a private art class at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

&maybetheywontkillyou: Army veteran Akira Thompson, 32, earned a master’s degree from UC Santa Cruz’s games and playable media program and created a game that simulates the experiences of black people walking down the street, dealing micro-agressions and encounters with police.

During Paris Fashion Week, the New York Times visited the quirky studio of Christian Louboutin, the French designer known for his red-bottom shoes.

PBS’s NewsHour reported on Patrick Eug‎éne, an East New York painter whose work confronts the ‘brutal’ force of gentrification. CT


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