Gallery 1957 Opens Second Space in Accra, Ghana

Installation view of “The First Day of the Yam Custom: 1817,” curated by Koyo Kouoh, at Gallery 1957’s new exhibition space in Galleria Mall.

Gallery 1957 announced today that it is expanding its activities and has opened a second space in Accra, the capital of Ghana. The nearly 2,400-square-foot exhibition and project space is located in Galleria Mall. It was inaugurated with a solo exhibition by British Ghanaian artist Godfried Donkor, “The First Day of the Yam Custom: 1817.” Curated by Koyo Kouoh, the show will run until October 30.

“The new space allows for larger-scale presentations by the gallery’s expanding roster of West African artists,” Gallery 1957 said in a statement. Upcoming exhibitions include a collaborative project between artist Paa Joe and performance artist Elisabeth Efua Sutherland, which will kickoff on November 21, coinciding with Paa Joe’s seventieth birthday.

Founded by Marwan Zakhem, Gallery 1957, which was named after the year Ghana gained independence, opened its first space at the Kempinski Hotel in 2016. Since then it has presented a program of exhibitions, installations, and performances that aim to expand conversations around contemporary art in West Africa.


November 19, 2017

Flawless Sabrina (1939–2017)

Diane Arbus, Photo of Flawless Miss Sabrina at Home, 1968.

Activist, actress, drag legend, and psychic Flawless Sabrina, also known as Jack Doroshow, “flew away to be with her angels” on November 18, according to artist Zackary Drucker. Sabrina was seventy-eight years old when she died.

She was a central figure of the New York queer community. From 1959 to 1969, Sabrina organized a series of drag pageants throughout the United States. Frank Simon’s documentary, The Queen (1968), captures her in the midst of one of these events, handling broken hearts and explosive tempers with the grace and aplomb of the chicest mother superior.

And indeed, Sabrina was a superior Mother—a hard-earned honorific—as she was a guide and mentor to countless queer youths for decades, including Drucker. The artist, along with Rhys Ernst, had her in their 2012 film She Gone Rogue, which was featured at the Whitney Biennial in 2014. Drucker and Ernst also arranged for Sabrina to give tarot readings from her Upper East Side sanctuary for the exhibition. (And Drucker, along with writer Diana Tourjée, helped cofound the Flawless Sabrina Archive, a source that “will be used to incite intergenerational discourse for the benefit of current movements in the arts and politics,” as the Flawless Sabrina website states.)

Sabrina was famous for many things, perhaps most of all her generosity, good humor, and warmth. Artforum’s Rhonda Lieberman paid her a visit during the biennial for a tarot reading. In a Diary entry for, Lieberman said: “It was a lovefest as soon as I was ushered in by her attentive (thirtysomething?) boyfriend Curtis, who was heating up lunch, and within two minutes I wanted Sabrina to adopt me. ‘You’re a child!’ She held out her arms for a hug—and I loved the reading already—and the beneficent lighting. She sported the aforementioned psychedelic leggings, layered shirts, a metallic streak of gold on her scarf, and a fedora over her un-bewigged head. She looked frail, feisty, and focused. It was clear this was a warm person determined to leave me feeling good about myself: I'll take it!”

November 19, 2017

Azzedine Alaïa (1935–2017)

Azzedine Alaïa. Photo: Alexandre Guirkinger.

The fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa has died, according to a report from Vanessa Friedman in the New York Times, based on an announcement from the French Federation of Haute Couture and Fashion. Born in 1940 in Tunisia and raised on a wheat farm outside the city of Tunis, Alaïa was first exposed to art and design by a midwife that helped many members of his family give birth and who later registered him at the School of Fine Arts in Tunis, the designer said, “against my father’s will.”

Around the same time, he found a job in a small dress shop and met two wealthy girls whose cousin wore Christian Dior and Balmain dresses; it was through her that he found work with a dressmaker who made copies of Balmain clothing. A friend of the cousin served as the connection that eventually led Alaïa to Paris in 1957, where he worked for Christian Dior. After opening his own maison in 1979, Alaïa introduced his first ready-to-wear collection in 1980. His signature, tightly clung leather and knits earned him the moniker “king of cling.” The label’s designs were highly sought after throughout the 1980s and continue to be so to this day.

In 2007, Compagnie Financière Richemont bought a majority stake in the business, which allowed it to expand at its own pace. His label returned to the haute couture calender this past July, after a six year absence. Alaïa also worked in other realms off the fashion calender though, creating work for the ballet and operas and also putting on art exhibitions since 2004 in the space that houses his showroom. The designer’s own work was the subject of an exhibition at the Musée Galliera in 2013, which Christina Catherine Martinez wrote a Critics’ Pick on for

November 17, 2017

LGBT Archive to Open in Paris

Still from Robin Campillo’s 120 Beats per Minute, 2017.

In 2020, Paris’s city council intends to open an LGBT archive. It will chronicle queer culture in France from the 1960s until today. Recent acclaim for Robin Campillo’s film 120 Beats per Minute, which dramatizes the importance of the French AIDS activist group Act Up in the 1990s, has given new incentive to create the collection. Earlier this year, the work won the Grand Prix at Cannes.

Former mayor Bertrand Delanoë had attempted to open an archive twenty years ago, but it failed after disputes with LGBT organizations. Anne Sansom of the Art Newspaper reports that Bruno Julliard, who works as the deputy mayor of Paris in charge of culture, said: “The film's critical and public success has enabled us to accelerate the process, which has dragged on for fifteen years.”

Preparation is still in a preliminary stage, but the city plans to collect materials such as magazines and posters and have an exhibition space that will be accessible to researchers. The archive will also serve as a community gathering space with several meeting rooms. Additionally, Julliard mentioned that there is potential to partner with museums or other art institutions, to highlight the work of queer artists.

November 17, 2017

Lia Gangitano Awarded Bard College Prize for Curatorial Excellence

Lia Gangitano. Photo: Domenica Bucalo

Lia Gangitano is the winner of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College’s 2018 Audrey Irmas Award for Curatorial Excellence. The annual $25,000 prize is granted to “individuals who have defined new thinking, bold vision, and dedicated service to the field of exhibition practice.” Previous beneficiaries of the award include Marcia Tucker, Alanna Heiss, Okwui Enwezor, Thelma Golden, Lucy Lippard, Helen Molesworth, and Hans Ulrich Obrist.

Gangitano founded Participant Inc., a New York arts nonprofit through which she has organized exhibitions by Kathe Burkhart, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, and Virgil Marti, in 2001. She has also worked as a curatorial advisor at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City and as curator at the now defunct Manhattan gallery Waxing Thread. Gangitano serves on the boards of Dirty Looks and Primary Information, and teaches in the curatorial studies program at Bard.

Tom Eccles, executive director of CCS at Bard, said that Gangitano was awarded in part for being “a curatorial pioneer presenting artists and artwork that have often been marginalized.”

November 17, 2017

Memphis College of Art to Close Its Doors after Eighty-One Years

The Memphis College of Art.

The Memphis College of Art announced that it will permanently shut its doors in 2020. According to Shelby Black at Hyperallergic, it would take a $30 million donation in support of the institution’s endowment in order to save the school. Established in 1936, the college cited declining admissions and increasing debt as the reason for the closure.

MCA Interim President Laura Hines also believes the university’s lack of digital and design programming may have contributed to the decrease in applications. However, Hines is optimistic the arts scene in Memphis will rebound: “One can hope that something new and different will rise that will sustain the visual arts after the college’s closure.”

For the next three years, MCA plans to fund operations by selling its real estate holdings. The fate of its building, located in Overton Park, is uncertain. Alumni of MCA include Valerie Jaudon, Emily Jacir, and Blake Nelson Boy.

November 17, 2017

Cuauhtémoc Medina Named Chief Curator of 2018 Shanghai Biennale

Cuauhtémoc Medina.

The Shanghai Biennale has appointed Cuauhtémoc Medina, the chief curator of Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporanea in Mexico City, as the chief curator of its twelfth edition, opening at the state-run contemporary art institution the Power Station, on November 10, 2018. The exhibition also announced that Shi Hanato will be the biennial’s chief coordinator, and He Huanhuan will be its head of administrative affairs.

Previously, Medina curated the ninth iteration of Manifesta in Genk, Belgium, in 2012; served as curator of Teresa Margolles’s presentation for the Mexican Pavilion at the Fifty-Third Venice Biennale in 2009; and, was the first associate curator of Tate Modern’s Latin American collection from 2002 to 2008. He has been a member of the Institute of Aesthetic Research of the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City since 1992, and became chief curator of UNAM’s University Museum of Contemporary Art in March 2013.

“Biennales are large-scale exhibitions that, beyond offering a certain perspective on the potential of art and culture today, inscribe a city and an event as a provisory and symbolic artistic world center,” Medina said in a statement. “That Shanghai hosts an exhibition of that kind is most appropriate for it provides a clear image of the current decentering of our cultural narratives and the significance that China and Asia have in the cultural and economic circuits of today.”


November 17, 2017

Clark Ashton and Michi Meko Win Fifth Artadia Atlanta Awards

Clark Ashton’s GOD Will Smack YOU DOWN, 2015, and Michi Meko’s The Antique Blacks, 2016. Photo: Artadia

Artadia has announced that Clark Ashton and Michi Meko are the winners of the 2017 Atlanta Artadia Awards. They will each receive a $10,000 unrestricted prize. This is Artadia’s fifth year celebrating artists who live in the greater Atlanta area.

“Both choices for this year’s Artadia awards in Atlanta support individuals who concern themselves with object-making, commentary, and the idiosyncrasies and cracks between the art world and the real world,” juror Teresa Bramlette Reeves, director of curatorial affairs at the Zuckerman Museum of Art in Georgia, said.

Artadia is a national non-profit organization that works to advance careers of visual artists by providing unrestricted, merit-based awards. Since 1999, Artadia has awarded over $3 million to more than three hundred artists in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.

November 17, 2017

Sotheby’s $310.2 Million Postwar and Contemporary Art Sale Led by Francis Bacon Triptych

Francis Bacon, Three Studies of George Dyer, 1966. Photo: Sotheby’s

The Postwar and Contemporary Art Evening Sale at Sotheby’s on Thursday night raised $310.2 million, selling all but three of its seventy-two lots. With a 95.8 percent sell-through rate, the auction’s results landed between its low estimate of $250.4 million and its high estimate of $343.4 million.

The star of the night was a Francis Bacon triptych, Three Studies of George Dyer, 1966, which sold for $36.8 million, followed by Andy Warhol’s Mao, 1972, which sailed over its low estimate of $30 million, securing $32.4 million. Other highlights include Lynette Yiadom Boakye’s The Hours Behind You, 2011, which set a new record for the artist after it sold for $1.58 million, nearly four times its high estimate; Roy Lichtenstein’s Female Head, 1977, which netted $24.5 million; and a Laura Owens work, which shattered her previous auction record of $336,500, securing $1.75 million. The piece will be loaned to the Whiney Museum of American Art in New York for its current retrospective on the artist.

In an unconventional move, not unlike Christie’s decision to include an old-master work in its contemporary art evening sale on Wednesday—the rare Leonardo da Vinci painting that brought in $450.3 million, setting a new record for the highest amount ever paid for an artwork—the auction house included what it called “another great Italian export:” a racecar. The 2001 Ferrari was driven by Michael Schumacher who won the Monaco Grand Prix that same year. The car fetched $7.5 million, $2 million more than its estimate.

November 17, 2017

Phillips 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale Totals $113.9 Million

Peter Doig, Red House, 1995–96. Photo: Phillips

While the Phillips 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale may not have had a shot at beating Christie’s record-smashing $785.9 million haul Wednesday night—which it owed to a rare Leonardo da Vinci painting that sold for $450.3 million—the auction netted a solid $113.8 million, surpassing last year’s total of $111.2 million.

With a 96 percent sell through rate, the Thursday night sale started strong with Pablo Picasso’s work on paper Portrait de femme endormie III, 1946, sparking a bidding war that ended with the work selling for $9.3 million, nearly nine times its estimate.

Peter Doig’s Red House, 1995–96, led the sale, selling for $21.2 million, which was within its estimate of $18 million to $22 million. The collector who consigned the work had previously bought the piece at Christie’s London in October 2008 for only $3.17 million.