June 2018

Pinpoint a figure staring directly out at you in an early Renaissance painting and chances are it’s a surreptitious self-portrait, slipped into a crowded scene. It took time for artists to feel comfortable devoting entire canvases to their own likenesses, and longer for masters such as Rembrandt van Rijn to return to self-portraiture over and over. But with the invention of photography in 1839, things changed. Artists could quickly and cheaply craft self-images that were divorced from their work, playing with their personas without wielding paintbrushes or chisels.

Now showing at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington, D.C. is the latest installment of the museum’s ongoing Women to Watch Series. Heavy Metal includes over 50 works from 20 contemporary artists, covering the huge breadth of techniques, materials, and artworks that encompass contemporary metal work. Seeking to defy the conventional association with metal work as a male-dominated art form, the exhibition shows all that woman are accomplishing in this diverse range of materials.

June 27th was another record-breaking evening in the art auction world. Bidding was fierce at Phillips’ 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in London, which made 41% more than last year. One of the top achieving works, Francis Bacon’s Interior of a room (1935), was a highlight of the sale, going for $3,748,158.

A powerful new exhibition at New York’s Sean Kelly Gallery, Ravelled Threads brings together work by ten African artists utilizing fabric in different ways. Cloth has cultural and spiritual significance throughout Africa, with a long history of use in storytelling, historical record keeping, political activism, and cultural expression.

At an exhibition opening this week, the Broad Museum of Art celebrates some of its latest acquisitions. Having only opened in 2015, the Broad has a collection of more than 2,000 contemporary works, including some of the most prominent artists working today. A Journey That Wasn't groups together 50 works representing 20 artists in the permanent collection, several of which are being displayed in the museum for the first time.

An exhibition that defies patriarchal modes of looking, Multiply, Identify, Her is currently on view at the International Center of Photography. Curated by Marina Chao, who was inspired by late photographer and Chicana feminist Laura Aguilar, the exhibition assembles portrait, photo collage, and video among other digital media.

Considered a prime example of Monet’s skill and power, La Gare Saint-Lazare, vue extérieure sold for an impressive $32 million. Completed over a three month period of intense creativity in 1877, La Gare is one of a series of 12 paintings depicting the oldest railway station in France. Monet’s bold brush strokes capture the bustling energy of the Parisian train station and the vibrant power of the steam engine forging towards the platform. Of the 12 Gare paintings, 9 are in public institutions and 3 are in private hands.

Opening at Friedman Benda this week, the London-based artist Jonathan Trayte invites you into an alternate universe of bizarre but friendly furnishings. In his first US solo exhibition, Fruiting Habits, Trayte creates a world of his own, filled with idiosyncratic functional objects with multiple uses. With a background in fine arts as well as in food service and as a foundry worker, Trayte brings a sense of humor and a playful interest in texture to this collection. Objects range from tables and chairs to beds, lamps, and poofs, each with their own unique personality and charm.

Now at the Seattle Art Museum, Double Exposure juxtaposes the work of iconic early American photographer Edward S. Curtis with contemporary Indigenous artists Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector and Will Wilson. Double Exposure contrasts Curtis’s haunting photos of a world he believed would soon be lost with current artistic expressions of Indigenous culture that’s very much alive.

Paul Kasmin Gallery is opening a summer group show this week fit for the solstice. On June 21st, SEED debuts. As its title implies, themes of fertility, the body, sexuality, and the natural world abound. Curated by Yvonne Force, the 29 artists in the show work with variations of these themes in a range of media and styles.