Latest News in Black Art features regular updates of news and developments in the world of art and related culture

Atlanta-based artist and musician Lonnie Holley is now represented by Blum & Poe. | Photo


Artist and musician, Lonnie Holley has joined Blum & Poe gallery, which has locations in Los Angeles, New York, and Tokyo. The news was announced May 7. Born in Jim Crow-era Birmingham, Ala., Holley has lived and worked in Atlanta since 2010. The artist describes his practice as “improvisational creativity.” He makes assemblage sculpture, narrative works composed of found objects and materials imbued with history and artistic and cultural metaphor. The works reflect the hardship and challenges of his upbringing and visualize the Black experience, documenting people, places, and events. His practice also spans painting, drawing, and sandstone carvings. Holley expresses himself through performance, sound, and poetry, too. The announcement of his representation coincides with a major profile in The New York Times and two new solo exhibitions in the Hamptons. Parrish Art Museum in Watermill is presenting “Everything That’s Not White: Lonnie Holley at the Elaine de Kooning House” and “Lonnie Holley: Tangled Up in de Kooning’s Fence” is on view at South Etna Montauk.


Washington, D.C., artist Nekisha Durrett is now represented by Caitlin Berry Fine Art of Arlington, Va. The gallery announced the news May 6. Expressing herself through public art, social practice, installation, murals, painting, sculpture and design, Durrett’s works “bring forward histories that objects, places, and words embody, but are not often celebrated.” A finalist in the National Portrait Gallery’s 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, Durrett has collaborated on projects with For Freedoms and Hank Willis Thomas. “Magnolia,” her series memorializing women murdered by law enforcement, was presented earlier this year at Cody Gallery at Marymount University.


IMAGE: At right, Nekisha Durrett. | Photo by Farah Skeiky


The Terra Foundation for American Art is awarding nearly $2.5 million in grants to 35 museums and organizations, including the Chicago’s Rebuild Foundation and South Side Community Art Center (for “Love is Universal,” an exhibition about the contributions of Black LGBTQ artists to modern and contemporary art); Tougaloo College Art Collection in Jackson, Miss.; El Museo del Barrio in New York; and Cheekwood Estate & Gardens in Nashville, Tenn., for new scholarship on life and work of artist William Edmondson. Cheekwood’s 22 Edmondson sculptures represent the largest public collection of his work. The grants are part of a new two-year initiative, Re-envisioning Permanent Collections: An Initiative for US Museums.


TURNER PRIZE SHORTLIST: London-based artist collective Black Obsidian Sound System (B.O.S.S.) at Somerset House in 2019. | Photo courtesy B.O.S.S.

Awards & Honors

In London, Tate announced the shortlist for the 2021 Turner Prize on May 7. For the first time, the five artists are all collectives, including Black Obsidian Sound System (B.O.S.S.), a London-based group working across art, sound and radical activism formed by and for Queer, Trans and Intersex Black and People of Color. Members of the jury included Zoé Whitley, director of Chisenhale Gallery. On May 11, B.O.S.S. issued a statement on Instagram criticizing Tate’s treatment of staff and lack of support for Black female artists. The collective said in part: “The urgency with which we have been asked to participate, perform and deliver demonstrates the extractive and exploitative practice in prize culture, and more widely across the industry—one where Black, brown, working class, disabled, queer bodies are desirable, quickly dispensable, but never sustainably cared for.” | The Art Newspaper


The Association of Art Museum Curators announced its 2021 Curatorial Awards for Excellence. Given the circumstances with COVID-19 over the past year, this cycle recognized digital projects. The following are among the six honorees:

  • Online Exhibition: FEAR TOUCH POLICE from the Swiss Institute, by curator and artist Sable Elyse Smith;
  • Online Programming, Series Across Multiple Institutions: Engine for Art Democracy and Justice: Living in Common in the Precarious South(s), a partnership between Vanderbilt University (Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons and Marina Fokidis), Fisk University (Jamaal Sheats), Frist Art Museum (Mark Scala), and Millions of Conversations;
  • Online Resource Development (tie): Latinx Collections Portal from the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Curated by Ariana Curtis, with Emily Houf and Douglas Remley;
  • Online Resource Development (tie): Louis H. Draper Archive Portal from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Curated by Sarah Eckhardt, with Sandra Sellars and Courtney Tkacz


Los Angeles-based collector Gordon W. Bailey donated 50 works by African American and Native American artists to the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, Miss. The gift includes works by Leroy Almon, David Butler, Richard Dial, Thornton Dial, Minnie Evans, Clementine Hunter, Sulton Rogers, and Purvis Young, among others. A forthcoming exhibition, “Changing Tides: Gifts from Gordon W. Bailey” opening July 12, will showcase the new acquisitions.


New issues of Art in America and Sculpture magazines feature cover art by Qualeasha Wood and Sanford Biggers, respectively.


African Voices magazine will be housed in the Spelman College Archives. The acquisition was announced May 3. Founded in 1992, the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based print publication covers Black art, literature and culture. The archives will include issues from 1993 to present, along with organizational records, videos, and digital photographs, and documents and materials from the Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series produced by African Voices.


The May/June edition of Art in America is a special New Talent Issue guest edited by Antwaun Sargent with cover art by Detroit-based Qualeasha Wood.


A marble “Chimera” figure by New York artist Sanford Biggers covers the May/June 2021 edition of Sculpture magazine, which is published by the International Sculpture Center in Hamilton, N.J. Inside the issue, highlights include a conversation with Biggers, feature on artist Shinique Smith, and exhibition reviews of Theaster Gates and Kapwani Kiwanga.


New Haven, Conn.-based artist Winfred Rembert (1945-2021), who painted on tooled leather, died on March 31 at age 75 . The New Yorker magazine is reflecting on Rembert’s experiences. He grew up picking cotton in Cuthberg, Ga., and eventually got involved in the Civil Rights Movement. “Chasing Me to My Grave: An Artist’s Memoir of the Jim Crow South,” a book about his life, as told to Erin I. Kelly, is forthcoming in August. Part of Rembert’s story (“An Artist on How He Survived the Chain Gang”) was published May 3. | The New Yorker

More News

The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., laid off the entire staff of its retail operations, more than two dozen employees who work in the museum’s gift shops. Going forward, Event Network, a contractor that manages retail services for nearly 90 museums and cultural institutions nationwide, will staff the positions. | Hyperallergic


An informal public art campaign, envisioned by comedian Elsa Eli Waithe in collaboration with Ada Reso and Maria Robles, is bringing awareness to New Yorkers about the slave holders in their midst. The friends designed stickers documenting the history of prominent families—including the Leffertses, Boerums, Nostrands and Stuyvesants—that enslaved Black people. Thus far, they have distributed about 1,000 in the Brooklyn streets, subway stations, and neighborhoods that have long honored them by name. | The New York Times


Platform6, a virtual platform created in honor of Okwui Enwezor (1963-2019), explores Documenta11, the exhibition he curated in 2002. Launched by documenta archiv on April 29, the dynamic and evolving online project catalogs essays, texts, videos, and photos from the exhibition; features new contributions by artists and curators who collaborated with Enwezor; and provides “a place for animated discussion about Documenta11 and the current relevance of its discourses.” CT


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