“Souvenir II” (1997) by Kerry James Marshall

The following review of the past week or so presents a snapshot of the latest news in African American art and related black culture:
Seattle Gallerist Mariane Ibrahim is Headed to Chicago

After operating her eponymous gallery in Seattle for seven years, Mariane Ibrahim has decided to move the business to Chicago, Art News reports. A regular presence on the art fair circuit, Ibrahim focuses primarily on African contemporary art and has represented the work of ruby onyinyechi amanze, Ayana V. Jackson, Zohra Opoku, and Lina Iris Viktor, among others.

Kerry James Marshall Painting on Temporary Display in Detroit

The latest “Guest of Honor” at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is “Souvenir II” by Kerry James Marshall. The painting references the civil rights-era assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr. On loan from the Addison Gallery of American Art in Boston, “Souvenir II” (top of page) is on view in DIA’s contemporary galleries through August 2019.

Prada Seeks Counsel From Theaster Gates After Pulling Racist Products

Artist Theaster Gates and filmmaker Ava DuVernay have been named co-chairs of a Diversity and Inclusion Council formed by Prada. After public outcry over “Pradamalia” charms featuring monkeys with big red lips Prada was selling at its boutiques for $550, the luxury designer pulled the products, said it “abhors racist imagery,” and vowed to address diversity within the company, hence the diversity council. The Prada Foundation in Milan has hosted two solo exhibitions with Gates “True Value” (2016) and “Black Image Corporation” (2018-19). Prada also collaborated with the Chicago-based artist on a special installation at Prada Mode Miami during Art Basel Miami Beach in December 2018. The latter two projects focused on positive black images sourced from vintage Ebony and Jet magazines.

Obama Portraits Have Pilgrimage Effect

Kim Sajet, director of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, writes in The Atlantic that viewing the official portraits of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have engendered a pilgrimage effect. For many, visiting the museum to see the paintings has amounted to paying homage to the transformational figures. Since the portraits were unveiled a year ago, attendance and museum shop sales have tripled.

“Viewing these paintings (the Obama portraits) was turning into a form of secular pilgrimage, and the museum was becoming even more popular as a communal gathering place.”
— Kim Sajet, Director, National Portrait Gallery

Dawoud Bey and Zadie Smith Win ICP Awards

The International Center of Photography announced its annual Infinity Awards and 2019 recipients include photographer Dawoud Bey (Art) and writer Zadie Smith (Critical Writing and Research), who was recognized for an essay about the work of photographer Deana Lawson. The awards are being presented April 2 at a fundraising gala in New York City.

Gordon Parks Foundation Names 2019 Fellows

Guadalupe Rosales and Hank Willis Thomas have been selected for 2019 fellowships at The Gordon Parks Foundation. The opportunity includes a $20,000 award an exhibition at the foundation in Pleasantville, N.Y.

Zimbabwe Announces Venice Biennale Artists

Despite political and economic challenges at home, Zimbabwe is moving forward with the opportunity to showcase its leading artistic talent on the world stage. A group of artists will represent Zimbabwe at the 2019 Venice Biennale, including Cosmos Shiridzinomwa and Georgina Maxim. Additional artists are expected to be confirmed. The presentation is commissioned by Doreen Sibanda, executive director of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, with Raphael Chikukwa serving as curator, assisted by Valerie Sithole.

Angola is Skipping Venice Biennale

Angola has declined to participate in the 2019 Venice Biennale, citing budget issues and restructured priorities in its cultural sector. In 2013, Angola participated for the first time in the international art exhibition and the African nation’s pavilion won the Golden Lion award.

Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung Named Artistic Director of Sonsbeek 2020

Sonsbeek 2020, an international exhibition in Arnhem, The Netherlands, appointed Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung artistic director. Cameroon-born Ndikung founded SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin, an art space, performance platform, and hub for gathering. He also held curatorial roles at documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel and the 2018 Dak’Art Biennale in Senegal. Sonsbeek now takes place every four years and the forthcoming 12th edition runs June 5-Sept. 13, 2020.

Bonaventure Soh Bejeng “Ndikung often takes a surprising approach to curating, incorporating sound, performative and discursive frames into his projects. What makes his work special, is that he does not approach an exhibition scientifically, but much more as poetry and rhyme.”
— Charles Esche, Sonsbeek Selection Committee

NYFA Honoring Artist Sanford Biggers

The New York Foundation of the Arts named three new hall of fame inductees including Sanford Biggers, a New York-based conceptual artist who works in a variety of mediums. The annual benefit celebration is April 11 in New York City.

Andres Serrano Bought Trump Wedding Cake

New York artist Andres Serrano paid $1,880 for a mini chocolate truffle wedding cake at a Boston auction. More than 13-years-old, the confection was given as a favor to about 350 guests when the now U.S. President married Melania Trump (née Knauss) in 2005. Serrano photographed Trump in 2003, but hasn’t revealed his plans for the cake. Known for his provocative images, the artist’s Torture series is currently on view at Stills Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, UK.

David Adjaye Calls for Black British Museum

British architect David Adjaye says the UK needs a museum that celebrates black culture in Britain. In an interview with the BBC about the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., which he designed, Adjaye is asked if the UK should have a similar institution. He says, “I think that it is long overdue and I think there should be a commission to understand this.”

Free Lyfts to Black Museums

Lyft is celebrating Black History Month by offering free rides during February to black museums and cultural sites throughout the United States. CT


TOP IMAGE: KERRY JAMES MARSHALL, “Souvenir II,” 1997 (acrylic, collage, and glitter on unstretched canvas banner). | Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy


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