IN MANY WAYS, 2018 was a watershed year for black artists. Overdue recognition of art by African American artists and black artists from throughout the world, continued to grow among collectors, curators, critics, scholars, and gallery owners. There were many indicators of the ever-expanding institutional and market interest.
European attention on African American artists rose. In the United States, major museums dedicated prime gallery space to huge exhibitions. Retrospectives of Charles White (1918-1979), Adrian Piper, and Howardena Pindell traveled the country in 2018. Presenting stunning self portraits by South African photographer Zanele Muholi, “Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness” made its U.S. debut at the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, where an earlier exhibition, “Deborah Roberts: The Evolution of Mimi,” raised the profile of Roberts, whose figurative collages explore race, beauty, girlhood, vulnerability and power.
Mid-career, Roberts came into her own in 2018. As did Simone Leigh. Known for her ceramic works, Leigh won the Guggenheim’s $100,000 Hugo Boss Prize. She was the first black artist to do so. Hamilton, Canada-born Kapwani Kiwanga was also the first black artist to win the National Gallery of Canada’s Sobey Art Award, which includes 100,000 Canadian dollars. Then, Titus Kaphar is named a MacArthur “genius” fellow, an honor that includes a $625,000 grant.
Several artists joined the rosters of so-called mega galleries in 2018, including Amy Sherald and Charles Gaines at Hauser & Wirth, Njideka Akunyili Crosby and the estate of Roy DeCarava at David Zwirner, and Theaster Gates at Gagosian.
Meanwhile, amid the escalating demand, more and more works by black artists showed up at the top auction houses. While the works continue to be undervalued, prices are rising. In 2018, two lots reached the eight-figure mark—a historic first for a living black artist. Mark Bradford’s “Helter Skelter II” (2007) sold for nearly $12 million (including fees) in March, and then “Past Times” by Kerry James Marshall rocketed up to $21.1 million in May. (Neither artist benefitted directly from the record sales.)
On a variety of fronts, Marshall was the artist who dominated 2018. The following review presents key highlights of the year in black art.
JACK WHITTEN (1939-2018) | New York-based abstract artist Jack Whitten dies Jan. 20 at age 78. An intellectual and inventive painter, Whitten was motivated by experimentation and subject matter. Posthumously, over the course of 2018, his ideas and innovative work remained at the fore through exhibitions and publications. Art21 produced a video about “Quantum Wall, VIII (For Arshile Gorky, My First Love In Painting),” the last painting Whitten worked on. The painting was displayed at Hauser & Wirth New York in March. “Odyssey: Jack Whitten Sculpture, 1963-2017,” the first-ever exhibition of his sculptures, opened at the Baltimore Museum of Art in April and traveled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in September. Presented at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles in June, “Jack Whitten: Self Portrait With Satellites” was the artist’s first solo exhibition in the city in nearly 30 years. In July, the catalog accompanying his Odyssey exhibition was published in tandem with “Jack Whitten: Notes from the Woodshed,” an invaluable documentation of the artist’s perspectives and practice through studio notes he kept from 1962 to 2017. Meanwhile, two paintings by Whitten are featured in the groundbreaking exhibition “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power.” | Image: Jack Whitten in his studio, Photo by Katherine McMahon. © Jack Whitten, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth
< MAGAZINE | A photographic self-portrait by New York artist Kia LaBeija covers the January issue of Artforum. LaBeija describes her practice as exploring “her personal narrative and the relationship between space, trauma, and the female body.
FASHION | Jan. 7: For her Autumn/Winter 2018 men’s collection runway show in London, Wales Bonner shows garments made with fabric referencing Jacob Lawrence paintings.
BOOK | Jan. 8: A second printing of “Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool” is published. The volume documents the 2008 traveling survey that brought renewed attention to Barkley L. Hendricks (1945-2017), the artist and photographer whose powerful portraits date from the 1960s and 70s. The out-of-print first edition fetches hundreds of dollars.
LIVES | Jan. 8: Museum of Modern Art curator Kynaston McShine (1935-2018) dies at the age of 82. As his New York Times obituary cites, McShine “held a highly visible curatorial position when the ranks of art museum curators in the United States were almost entirely white.” (Below right: Photo by Marc Ohrem-Leclef, Museum of Modern Art)
LIVES | Jan. 9: Philadelphia-based curator, art critic, and artist A.M. Weaver (1954-2018) dies on Jan. 9. She recently curated the exhibition “Gardens of the Mind: Echoes of the Feminine View” (Oct. 6, 2017-Jan. 16, 2018), featuring artists Barbara Bullock, Martha Jackson Jarvis, E.J. Montgomery, Joiri Minaya and Glynnis Reed, at the African American Museum in Philadelphia.
EXHIBITION | Jan. 10: After announcing its representation of the estate of Terry Adkins (1953–2014) at the end of the last year, Lévy Gorvy gallery presents “Terry Adkins: The Smooth, The Cut, The Assembled,” its first exhibition dedicated to the conceptual artist and composer, curated by Los Angeles artist Charles Gaines, a close friend and collaborator of Adkins.
ACQUISITION | Jan. 10: Through a gift/purchase arrangement, the Philadelphia Museum of Art acquires 24 works of art from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation in Atlanta. The works are by African American artists from the U.S. South, including Thornton Dial, Ronald Lockett, and Lonnie Holley, and Quilters from Gee’s Bend, Ala. In the months to come, additional museums announce similar acquisition arrangements.
EXHIBITION | Jan. 14: Photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier presents her first solo exhibition with Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in Harlem. Her most expansive presentation in New York, the show features three of her most recognized bodies of work—”Flint is Family,” “The Notion of Family,” and “A Pilgrimage to Noah Purifoy’s Desert Art Museum.”
NEWS | Jan. 15: The Studio Museum in Harlem closes to the public in anticipation of its new building being constructed on its current West 125th Street site, where it is expected to re-open in 2021.
FILM | Jan. 20-25: A collaboration between Dime Davis (who writes for the Showtime series “The Chi”) and Elle Lorraine, the short film “Wild Wild West: A Beautiful Rant by Mark Bradford” screens at Sundance. | Video by LACMA
AWARD/HONOR | Jan. 16: United States Artists announces 2018 Fellows chosen to receive unrestricted awards of $50,000, including visual artists Abigail DeVille, Vanessa German, Pepón Osorio, Ebony G. Patterson, Dread Scott, and Cauleen Smith.
EXHIBITION | Jan. 20: The first museum retrospective of Jeff Donaldson (1932-2004), a co-founder of the artist collective AfriCOBRA, who served as chair of the art department at Howard University, opens at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, N.Y. “Jeff Donaldson: Dig” spans the artist’s four-decade career and features paintings, prints, and mixed media works, some being shown publicly for the first time, along with AfriCOBRA memorabilia and posters.
GRANTS | Jan. 23: The Foundation for Contemporary Art in New York announces recipients of 2018 grants ($40,000) across a range of disciplines. Visual artists include EJ Hill, Simone Leigh, and Dave McKenzie, and writer Fred Moten receives the Roy Lichtenstein Award. The foundation was established half a century ago by John Cage and Jasper Johns. Glenn Ligon is a director of the foundation.
REPRESENTATION > | Jan. 24: Alexander Gray Associates announces its representation of painter Frank Bowling whose practice is “defined by an integration of autobiography and postcolonial geopolitics into abstract compositions.” (Photo by James Proctor)
REPORT | Jan. 24: The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) releases a series of case studies on museum diversity. To better understand how to address issues of equity, inclusion, and outreach, Ithaka S+R, a research and strategic guidance service, partnered with AAMD and the Mellon Foundation, and examined the practices of 20 museums where people of color are relatively well represented as educators, curators, conservators, and in museum leadership.
APPOINTMENT | Jan. 25: The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., announces the appointment of Allison Glenn as assistant curator for contemporary art. She comes to the museum from Prospect New Orleans.
AWARD/HONOR | Jan. 25: The College Art Association announces recipients of its 2018 awards for distinction which will be presented at the organization’s annual convention in Los Angeles (Feb. 21). The honorees include Pepón Osorio (Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement), Firelei Báez (Artist Award for Distinguished Body of Work), Kellie Jones (inaugural Award for Excellence in Diversity), and Lowery Stokes Sims (inaugural Distinguished Feminist Award-Scholar).
EXHIBITION | Jan. 25: Organized by the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art and curated by Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, “Deborah Roberts: The Evolution of Mimi” features more than 50 collages, paintings, and hand-painted serigraphs by Austin, Texas-based Deborah Roberts whose work explores girlhood, body image, vulnerability, and black female identity.
DESIGN | Jan. 25: Design of the Year goes to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, according to the Beazley Designs of the Year awards, administered by the Design Museum in London. Architect David Adjaye, the lead designer, is lauded for his vision, which was realized in partnership with three other architecture firms—Davis Brody Bond, The Freelon Group and SmithGroupJJR.
EXHIBITION | Feb. 13: Co-organized by curators Mark Godfrey and Zoé Whitley at the Tate Modern in London, “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” makes its U.S. debut, opening at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. On Sept. 14, the groundbreaking exhibition travels to the Brooklyn Museum where it is presented for the first time in a city where many of the participating artists were based and their work was produced. A month earlier, in August, news comes that the tour has been extended and “Soul of a Nation” will be on view at The Broad in Los Angeles in March 2019. | Images: From left, Elizabeth Catlett, “Black Unity,” 1968 (mahogany wood, 51.4 x 57.2 x 31.8). Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Ark.; and Barkley L. Hendricks, “Blood (Donald Formey),” 1975 (oil and acrylic on canvas, 72 x 50.5 inches). Courtesy of Dr. Kenneth Montague, The Wedge Collection, Toronto. © Estate of Barkley L. Hendricks. Courtesy of the artist’s estate and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo by Jonathan Dorado, Brooklyn Museum
ACQUISITION | On Feb. 1, the Knoxville Museum of Art announces the purchase of 12 works by Beauford Delaney (1901-1979) who was born in Knoxville, Tenn. The acquisition includes paintings, drawings, and a self-portrait.
EXHIBITION | Feb. 1: “Portraits of Who We Are” opens at the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland, College Park. The show offers are rare presentation of more than 40 self-portraits by African American artists. Drawn from the center’s collection and loans from artists, museums, and private collectors, the exhibition features self-portraits by contemporary and historic artists, including Aaron Douglas, David Driskell, Palmer Hayden, Barkley L. Hendricks, Malvin Gray Johnson, William H. Johnson, Hughie Lee-Smith, Betye Saar, Henry O. Tanner, Mickalene Thomas, and Carrie Mae Weems.
NEWS | Feb. 5: Project Row Houses in Houston marks 25th anniversary since it was “founded with a mission to be the catalyst for the transformation of community through the celebration of art and African American history and culture.”
APPOINTMENT > | Feb. 7: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a major funder of the arts and humanities, names Elizabeth Alexander president. The writer, poet, and scholar is serving as director of the Ford Foundation’s journalism and arts and culture initiatives when the appointment is announced. (Photo courtesy Mellon Foundation)
LIVES | Feb. 14: Lerone Bennett Jr., ranking editor at Ebony magazine where his half-century tenure spanned the Civil Rights Movement to the presidency of Barack Obama, dies at age 89. Bennett began his journalism career at the Atlanta Daily World, then worked at Jet magazine for a year before joining Ebony in the mid-1950s.
ACQUISITION | Feb. 14: Jimmy Iovine and Liberty Ross donate “150 Portrait Tone,” by Mark Bradford to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The monumental work features excerpts from the Facebook video made by Diamond Reynolds during the 2016 police shooting that killed her boyfriend Philando Castile.
NEWS | Feb. 12: The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery unveils portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama. The first black President and First Lady continue their groundbreaking support of the arts by choosing African American artists for the official commissions, a first for such portraits at the Smithsonian museum. Painted by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively, the contemporary images of the Obamas spark a wide range of opinions about their symbolism, likeness, and artistic success. | Photo © 2018 Pete Souza, Courtesy National Portrait Gallery)
APPOINTMENT | Feb. 14: Photographer, curator, and author Deborah Willis is appointed to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Board of Commissioners on Feb. 14. Willis, chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, is also on the Scholarly Advisory Committee of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
EXHIBITION | Feb. 15: “Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas” opens at the Seattle Art Museum. Spanning three generations, Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, and Mickalene Thomas are recognized for their singular and assertive representations of black figures.
AWARD/HONOR | Feb. 15: Kapwani Kiwanga is selected as the first recipient of the Frieze Artist Award and will present an outdoor installation “exploring freedom of movement and architectures of exclusion” at Frieze New York in May. Inaugurated to showcase the work of emerging artists, the 2018 award is overseen by curator Adrienne Edwards.
AWARD/HONOR | Feb. 16: The Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations names Solange Artist of the Year. The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter whose latest album, “A Seat at the Table,” topped charts, will be honored at a March 3 ceremony.
LIVES > | Feb. 18: Peggy Cooper Cafrtiz (1947-2018), the Washington, D.C., arts patron who co-founded the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and published “Fired Up! Ready to Go! Finding Beauty, Demanding Equity: An African American Life in Art. The Collections of Peggy Cooper Cafritz,” dies. She was 70. (Photo courtesy George Washington University)
AWARD/HONOR | Feb. 20: International Center of Photography announces recipients of 2018 Infinity Awards in a variety of categories, including Samuel Fasso (Art), Alexandra Bell (Applied), Maurice Berger (Critical Writing & Research), for his Race Stories column for the Lens section of the New York Times. The winners are honored at an April 9 gala.
NEWS | Feb. 21: Perez Art Museum Miami raises $500,000 to support the PAMM Fund for African American Art and announces a new acquisition—a painting by Tschabalala Self, a 2018 Artist-in-Residence at Studio Museum in Harlem.
APPOINTMENT | Feb. 22: Adrienne Edwards is named curator of performance at the Whitney Museum of American Art. At the time of the announcement, she is a curator at Performa and a curator at-large at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
EXHIBITION | Feb. 23: Faith Ringgold‘s first solo exhibition in Europe opens in London at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery featuring a selection of paintings from her American People Series (1963-67).
TRIENNIAL | Feb. 23-25: Kara Walker presents “Katastwóf Karavan” on the banks of the Mississippi River at Prospect.4 on the closing weekend of the New Orleans triennial. Delayed by production, budget, and shipping issues, the “pioneer-style” wagon features racially charged plantation scenes—silhouettes executed in water-cut steel—and a steam-powered calliope that plays black protest songs. Walker created the public art installation in collaboration with steam-power enthusiast Kenneth Griffard and jazz composer Jason Moran, who performed live with the installation. | Photo © Ari Marcopoulos by via Prospect New Orleans
EXHIBITION | Feb. 23: For decades, New Orleans-based photographers Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick have been documenting the experiences of black men held at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, where the prison farm was established on cotton and sugarcane plantations. Featuring images dating from 1980-2013, “Slavery, the Prison Industrial Complex: Photographs by Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick” opens at the Frist Art Museum in Nashville and later travels to Art + Practice in Los Angeles.
EXHIBITION | Feb. 23: Presenting more than 200 dolls hand made between the 1840s and 1940s, “Black Dolls: The Deborah Neff Collection” debuts outside the United States, opening at La Maison Rouge in Paris.
EXHIBITION | Feb. 24: Co-curated by Naomi Beckwith and Valerie Cassel Oliver, “Howardena Pindell: What Remains to be Seen” opens at MCA Chicago. The first major survey of New York-based Howardena Pindell‘s 50-year career will travel to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond and Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.
ART FAIR | Feb. 24-25: 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair holds inaugural edition in Marrakech, Morocco. With existing editions in London and Brooklyn, N.Y., it’s the franchise’s first fair on the continent of Africa.
AMY SHERALD | Artist Amy Sherald joins mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth on March 20, one month after her portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama is unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery. 2018 is a pivotal year for Baltimore-based Sherald, who paints imaginative portraits of ordinary African Americans. She also wins the David C. Driskell Prize, joins the board of the Baltimore Museum of Art, installs a mural outside Parkway Theater in Baltimore, and has exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis, her first solo museum show, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. | Images: From left, Amy Sherald, Photo by Justin T. Gellerson; AMY SHERALD, “All the unforgotten bliss (The early bird),” 2017 (oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches). © Amy Sherald, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth
< AUCTION | March 8: Mark Bradford‘s “Helter Skelter I” (2007) painting sells for $10.4 million (nearly $12 million including fees) at Phillips London, at the time, the highest-ever auction price for work by living African American artist. (Detail of Mark Bradford, “Helter Skelter I,” 2007)
ART FAIR: March 8-11: The Armory Show in New York features a number of solo presentations, including Sanford Biggers at David Castillo Gallery, Emma Amos at Ryan Lee Gallery, Seydou Keita at Galerie Nathalie Obadia, and Simphiwe Ndzube at Nicodim Gallery. MCA Chicago senior curator Naomi Beckwith chairs the inaugural Curatorial Leadership Summit convening more than 75 fellow curators. Featuring works by artists Igshaan Adams and Cinga Samson, Blank Projects of Cape Town wins the Presents Booth Prize, which was juried by Beckwith and collector Pamela Joyner, among others.
APPOINTMENT | March 13: The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art makes two hires to staff a three-year African American Collecting Initiative supported by a $575,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. Erin J. Gilbert is named curator of African-American manuscripts and Rayna Andrews will serve as an archivist.
EXHIBITION | March 24: “Henry Taylor: Here and There” the Los Angeles painter Henry Taylor‘s first exhibition in Japan opens at Blum & Poe Tokyo. The show features a new series of works he made during his recent travels to Lisbon, Tangiers, Accra, Antiparos, Paris, Guadalajara, and Havana.
FASHION | March 26: Luxury label Louis Vuitton names Virgil Abloh artistic director of menswear. The founder and creative director of Off-White, the haute streetwear brand is a longtime collaborator with Kanye West. Abloh, 37, won International Designer of the Year at the GQ Men of the Year Awards in 2017. He is Louis Vuitton’s first black artistic director.
APPOINTMENT | March 26: The hiring of Kristen Windmuller-Luna as curator of African art at the Brooklyn Museum prompts outcries because she is not black. After more than a week, in an open letter, Anne Pasternak, director of the Brooklyn Museum, issues a response to the public objections.
ADRIAN PIPER | March 31: New York City-born, Berlin-based Adrian Piper’s long-awaited retrospective opens at the Museum of Modern Art. “Adrian Piper: A Synthesis of Intuitions, 1965–2016” is the largest-ever exhibition devoted to a living artist at the museum. The most comprehensive survey of Piper’s work to date, the exhibition features more than 290 works by the conceptual pioneer. In October, a slightly smaller version of the show travels to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. The museum partners with the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA) where the artist’s large-scale, mixed-media installation “What It’s Like, What It Is #3,” is presented. In the meantime, Piper receives the 2018 Käthe-Kollwitz Prize, which includes a fall presentation at the Academy of Arts in Berlin. | Image: Adrian Piper, “Everything #2.8,” 2003 (photocopied photograph on graph paper, sanded with sandpaper, overprinted with inkjet text, 8.5″ x 11″ (21.6 x 27.9 cm). Private Collection. © Adrian Piper Research Archive Foundation Berlin
APPOINTMENT > | April 1: Pamela Joyner begins her term as chair of the Tate Americas Foundation. The philanthropist and collector has been a trustee of the foundation since 2015. (Photo courtesy Tate Americas.)
APPOINTMENT | April 4: Theaster Gates accepts a three-year appointment at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. The Chicago-based artist is the institution’s first distinguished visiting artist and director of artist initiatives at the Colby Museum of Art’s new Lunder Institute for American Art. Gates speaks at the 2018 commencement and his tenure will conclude with a major exhibition in 2021 featuring new works created during his time on campus.
AUCTION | April 5: Swann Auction Galleries African-American Fine Art sale tops $4.5 million (including fees), a company record for a single auction—not just for a sale in its African-American art department, but for the entire auction house over the course of its more than 75-year history.
AWARDS/HONORS | April 5: The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announces 173 fellowships. Recipients include Todd Gray (Fine Arts), Hank Willis Thomas (Photography), and Teju Cole (General Nonfiction). See full list of 2018 fellows
EXHIBITION | April 6: The Columbus Museum in Columbus, Ga., and Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Va., announce a major retrospective of Alma Thomas. Planned for 2020-2021, the exhibition is “designed to explore the arc of Thomas’s artistic practice and range of creative expression throughout her life.”
NEWS | April 6: Artist Kehinde Wiley signs deal with Brillstein Entertainment Partners in Los Angeles. The Hollywood talent agency will handle licensing his paintings for use on screen, identify opportunities to direct and produce films, option books, and develop original material and collaborate with screenwriters.
SYMPOSIUM | April 6-8: Annual James A. Porter Colloquium at Howard University in Washington, D.C., focuses on abstraction, specifically “form, philosophy, and innovation.” Participants include George R N’Namdi, founder of N’Namdi Center For Contemporary Art in Detroit; Melissa Messina, curator of the Mildred Thompson Legacy Project; and Romi Crawford of the School of Art Institute of Chicago, among many others. Artist Torkwase Dyson gives a keynote lecture and Los Angeles artist Fred Eversley receives a lifetime achievement award.
ACQUISITION > | April 8: The Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Ky., announces the acquisition of a rare self-portrait by Bob Thompson (1937-1966), who was born and raised in Louisville. ( Bob Thompson, “Self-Portrait in the Studio,” 1966)
APPOINTMENT | April 9: Zoé Whitley is named curator of the British Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale. A solo show by artist Cathy Wilkes will be presented. Whitley is curator of international art at the Tate Modern in London.
ACQUISITIONS | April 13: Trustees at the Baltimore Museum of Art approves nine acquisitions of contemporary art, including works by artists Mark Bradford, Zanele Muholi, John T. Scott, and Jack Whitten. At the same time, the board announces the deaccession of seven works by Andy Warhol (2), Kenneth Noland (2), Jules Olitski, Franz Kline, and Robert Rauschenberg. Christopher Bedford, the museum’s director, says in order to strengthen the collection, the museum “must undergo a continuous process of reviewing its collection and identifying areas for growth and refinement with the goal of building a collection that is more relevant to the community it serves.” The museum announces additional acquisitions in June and four more in December made possible by funds from the deaccessioned works.
PERFORMANCE | April 13: Singer/songwriter and artist Solange debuts “Metatronia (Metatron’s Cube)” at the Hammer Museum and discusses the performance work with curator Erin Christovale. Exploring the relationship between movement and architecture, the performance involves about 50 dancers interacting with a large, white minimalist open-cube structure sited on a green expanse.
AWARD/HONOR > | April 16: London-based multidisciplinary artist Helen Cammock wins Max Mara Art Prize for Women. The biannual prize supports UK-based artists and includes a six-month residency in Italy to create a new body of work which will be presented in a 2019 solo exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery in London that will travel to Collezione Maramotti in Reggio Emilia, Italy. (Photo courtesy Whitechapel Gallery)
AWARD/HONOR | April 18: The American Academy of Arts and Sciences announces 213 new members elected in 25 categories. The class of 2018 includes President Barack Obama, Thelma Golden, David Driskell, and Richard Powell, among many others. Founded in 1780, the American Academy champions, scholarship, knowledge sharing, and civil discourse and regularly convenes leaders from a variety of disciplines to address critical challenges facing the nation and world.
APPOINTMENT | April 19: The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., hires its first chief diversity officer. Makeba Clay will lead the museum’s “inclusion strategy” with a focus on diversification throughout the institution, including staff hiring, board appointments, and exhibitions, programs, and partnerships.
AWARD/HONOR | April 20: Kehinde Wiley, who painted President Barack Obama’s official portrait for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, makes the Time 100 list for 2018.
AWARD/HONOR | April 24: Skowhegan, the summer artist residency program in rural Maine, honors Betye Saar with a Medal for Sculpture at its annual awards dinner in New York City. Alison Saar presents the award to her mother. Chris Ofili presents the Medal for Painting to Peter Doig and Whitfield Lovell co-presents the Skowhegan Governors’ Award for Outstanding Service to Artists to the program’s former executive director Barbara Lapcek (1984-1996). The awards dinner is co-chaired by artist Nari Ward.
NEWS | April 26: The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration open to the public in Montgomery, Ala. Established by the Equal Justice Initiative and built on the site of a former slave warehouse, the complementary institutions are “dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence.” WATCH dedication video
EXHIBITION | April 26: Curated by Adrienne Edwards, composer and jazz pianist Jason Moran‘s first-ever museum exhibition opens at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
AWARD/HONOR | April 26: ArtTable, which is “dedicated to advancing the leadership of women in the visual arts,” holds annual benefit and award event. The ceremony honors gallerist Marian Goodman, who is introduced by artist Julie Mehretu, who is represented by Goodman’s gallery; and Naima J. Keith, deputy director of the California African American Museum in Los Angeles, who is introduced by curator Christine Y. Kim. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, the former director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, delivers the keynote address.
ACQUISITION | April 27: Royal Museums Greenwich acquires “Ship of Fools” (2017), the first work by Kehinde Wiley to enter a public collection in the United Kingdom. The painting was featured in “In Search of the Miraculous” a recent exhibition of new maritime painting by Wiley presented at Stephen Friedman Gallery in London.
KERRY JAMES MARSHALL | May 16: The monumental painting “Past Times” (1997) by Kerry James Marshall soars to $21.1 million (including fees) at Sotheby’s New York, setting an artist record. It’s a historic moment. Chicago-based Marshall assumes the mantle as most expensive living African American artist. Music mogul Sean “Puffy” Combs is later revealed as the buyer of masterwork, which was originally purchased by the Chicago convention center authority for $25,000 more than two decades ago. Marshall continues to dominate the discourse throughout the year, with his work and reluctant comments when more headlines accompany the sale of the study for “Past Times” and the attempted auctioning of “Knowledge and Wonder,” a mural the city of Chicago commissioned the artist to paint for a local library in 1995. Meanwhile, solo exhibitions open at the Rennie Museum in Vancouver (June), Cleveland Museum of Art (June), and David Zwirner London (October), where three of his new paintings reference auction sales and prices. A new installment of Marshall’s “Rythm Mastr” (1999–ongoing) comic series is featured at the Carnegie International (Oct. 13, 2018–March 25, 2019), where he first debuted the strip nearly 20 years ago. In addition, he contributes essays to new retrospective catalogs for Charles White and Bill Traylor. In November, London-based Art Review magazine declares Marshall the second most powerful person in the art world. | Image: Kerry James Marshall, “Past Times,” 1997 (acrylic and collage on unstretched canvas). Courtesy Sotheby’s
AWARD/HONOR | May 2: Artist and Emeritus Professor Barkley L. Hendricks (1945-2017) receives the inaugural President’s Award for Creative Impact from Connecticut College. The newly established award recognizes “a record of significant innovation, achievement and influence.”
ART FAIR > | May 3-6: A series of artist projects is presented at Frieze New York on Randall’s Island. Titled “Assembly,” the Live program is curated by Adrienne Edwards and features performances and installations inspired by collectivity. Participating artists include Adam Pendleton, Renée Green, Dave McKenzie, and Hank Willis Thomas. (Adam Pendleton, “Black Dada Flag (Black Lives Matter).” | Courtesy the artist and Pace Gallery via NYC Parks)
AWARD/HONOR | May 6: Recipients of the Association of Art Museum Curators 2018 Awards for Excellence are announced. Among those recognized are curators at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art for “Visionary: Viewpoints on Africa’s Arts” (exhibition award); E. Carmen Ramos, deputy chief curator and curator of Latino Art, for the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s “Down These Mean Streets: Community and Place in Urban Photography” (exhibition); and Anne Monahan, an independent scholar and curator, for “’Working My Thought More Perfectly’: Horace Pippin’s The Lady of the Lake,” published in the Metropolitan Museum Journal (article/essay).
NEWS | May 7: The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University and Los Angeles County Museum of Art join forces to establish the LACMA-ASU Master’s Fellowship in Art History, which combines academic training and real-world work experience. The three-year program is designed to “advance the careers of a new generation of curators, directors and other museum professionals who are committed to disrupting and diversifying the field.”
< ACQUISITION | May 8: The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG) and the National Museum of African American History and Culture jointly acquire a portrait of Henrietta Lacks (1920-1951) by Kadir Nelson. Lacks died at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore at the young age of 31. She never gave her consent, but in the waning months before her death her cells were harvested and for more than half a century have enabled university labs and biotech companies to make revolutionary advancements in medical science. (Kadir Nelson, “Henrietta Lacks (HeLa): The Mother of Modern Medicine,” 2017. | Collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and National Museum of African American History and Culture)
GRANTS | May 8: The Black Art Futures Fund announces its inaugural round of grants. The collective of emerging philanthropists awarded $15,000 among four groups “working to enhance the future of Black arts & culture”—the Center for Afrofuturist Studies in Iowa City, Iowa; I, Too Arts Collective in New York; Cumbe: Center for African and Diaspora Dance in Brooklyn; and The Watering Hole in Columbia, S.C.
FILM | May 11: The Jean-Michel Basquiat documentary, “Boom For Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat” debuts in theaters.
LIVES | May 12: South African photographer Sam Nzima dies at age 83. A photograph he took of a dying 13-year-old student activist more than 40 years ago turned the world’s attention to the brutal violence that accompanied apartheid rule. On June 16, 1976, police opened fire on young anti-apartheid protestors during an uprising in Soweto. Hector Pieterson was shot and Nzima photographed him lying in the arms of a fellow student, distraught as he carried him away with the victim’s sister at his side. The image was among Time magazine’s 100 most influential images of all time.
NEWS | May 15: The remaining art from the Corcoran Gallery of Art is distributed. More than 10,750 works are given away. Nearly all of it goes to 22 institutions in Washington, D.C. The Corcoran Board of Trustees describes the action as one of the largest distributions of free art in U.S. history. The bulk of the holdings (nearly 9,000 works) are offered to the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center. Howard University, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and several Smithsonian museums, including the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), National Museum of African Art, and Anacostia Community Museum, are also among the recipients.
< AUCTION | May 16-17: Creating Space, a special two-day sale at Sotheby’s New York raises $20.2 million benefitting the new Studio Museum in Harlem building, forthcoming in 2021. The works for sale were donated by 42 artists who stepped up to support the museum. The auctions yield 24 new artist records for artists including Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Titus Kaphar, Lorna Simpson, Gary Simmons, Kehinde Wiley, and also Toyin Ojih Odutola and Jordan Casteel, who make their auction debuts. (Gary Simmons, “Goodby Love,” 2017)
AWARD/HONOR | May 17: Filmmaker Arthur Jafa and choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili are among the five mid-career artists who win 2018 Herb Alpert Awards. Administered by California Institute of the Arts, the prize provides $75,000 to recipients “at a time when work is often poised to go in exciting or even radical new directions.”
AWARD/HONOR | May 18: The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s 2018 National Design Award winners are announced. Ford Foundation President Darren Walker is slated for the Director’s Award and Gail Anderson is recognized for Lifetime Achievement. Anderson is creative director at Visual Arts Press, the in-house design studio for the School of Visual Arts in New York where she has taught design for more than 25 years. She is also a partner at Anderson Newton Design. The recipients will be honored at an October gala.
APPOINTMENT > | May 21: For the first time, two curators are appointed to organize Prospect New Orleans. Naima Keith, deputy director and chief curator of the California African American Museum (CAAM) in Los Angeles, and independent curator Diana Nawi will co-organize Prospect.5, which opens in fall 2020. (Photo by Akos Major)
NEWS | May 22: In Harlem, a prominently displayed mural paying tribute to African American cultural figures has been restored. “The Spirit of Harlem,” a colorful mosaic work by Louis Delsarte was commissioned by North Fork Bank in 2005 and installed at the corner of 125th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard on the exterior wall of the bank. Last November, the new occupant, Footaction, which is owned by Foot Locker, took over the space and put up a black brick facade covering the mural. After vociferous objections from the neighborhood, the company agreed to restore the mural.
APPOINTMENT | May 22: Mary Margaret Pettway, a third-generation quilter from Gee’s Bend, Ala., was appointed chair of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation. Pettway has been a trustee of the foundation since 2017, and will serve as chair from 2018 to 2020.
NEWS | May 23: The D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education accuses eight families of residency fraud for enrolling their children in Duke Ellington School of the Arts, without paying the tuition required for students who live outside the District of Columbia. Ellington, the prestigious public arts school co-founded by the late philanthropist and art collector Peggy Cooper Cafritz (1947-2018), is free to District residents.
AWARD/HONOR | May 23: Artist and curator Tiona Nekkia McClodden was awarded the 2018-19 Keith Haring Fellowship in Art and Activism, an annual opportunity for recipients to teach and conduct research at the Center for Curatorial Studies and the Human Rights Project at Bard College.
NEWS | May 26: Seven trustees, including Chance the Rapper and his father Ken Bennett, resign from the board of the DuSable Museum of African American History, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. Board chair Joyce Johnson-Miller, and vice chairs Kimberly McCullough-Starks and Eric Whitaker, are also among those who have stepped down. The resignations represent one-third of the 21-member board. Artist Theaster Gates and former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun, are among those who remain.
ACQUISITIONS | May 29: Following a series of feminist art exhibitions, the Brooklyn Museum announces 96 acquisitions by mostly female artists, including works by Emma Amos, Beverly Buchanan (1940-2015), Nona Faustine, Betye Saar, Dread Scott, and Adejoke Tugbiyele.
AWARD/HONOR | May-June: Visual artists including Dawoud Bey, Glenn Ligon, Joyce J. Scott, and Carrie Mae Weems, among others, receive honorary degrees and speak at commencements around the nation sharing their experiences and imparting career and life wisdom on 2018 graduates, the next generation of creatives.
EXHIBITION | June 8: “Charles White: A Retrospective,” the first major survey of Charles White‘s work in more than three decades, opens at the Art Institute of Chicago. A master painter, draftsman, and printer, White’s powerful images document history and depict African Americans with dignity, strength, and beauty.” The survey travels to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and will also be on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. | Image: Charles White, “General Moses (Harriet Tubman),” 1965 (ink on paper, 47 × 68 inches / 119.4 × 172.7 cm). Private collection. © The Charles White Archives. Photo courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries
NEWS > | June 1: Okwui Enwezor steps down from his role as artistic director of the Hans der Kunst Museum in Munich, due to health reasons. He had been leading the German institution since 2011. He later gives an extensive interview to Spiegel about his tenure and also speaks to The Art Newspaper. (Photo by Joerg Koch, Getty-Images)
EXHIBITION | June 3: Co-curated by Erin Christovale and Anne Ellegood, “Made in L.A.” opens at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. Highlights include artist EJ Hill standing on a podium throughout the duration of the biennial in the name of “excellence, resilience, victory,” and artist Lauren Halsey winning the $100,000 Mohn Award. (Below left, Detail of EJ Hill, “Excellentia, Mollitia, Victoria,” 2018, installation and durational performance, Made in L.A. 2018. | Photo by Brian Forrest, Hammer Museum)
REPORT | June 4: The 2015 murder of nine African American parishioners inside a Charleston, S.C., church, prompted a nationwide movement to remove Confederate monuments and related symbols from public spaces. Despite the controversy, enthusiasm, news coverage, and some government action that resulted from the effort, less than 10 percent have been removed, according to The Southern Poverty Law Center. The center updates its 2016 report, Whose Heritage? A Report on Public Symbols of the Confederacy, and finds that only 110 Confederate symbols have been removed and 1,728 remain standing.
NEWS | June 4: The Obsidian Collection is partnering with Google to make digital, searchable versions of America’s historic black newspapers including the Chicago Defender, Baltimore Afro-American, and others, available for free. Eight features and a selection of images from the Defender archives are already online on the Google Arts & Culture platform.
EXHIBITION | June 5: Curated by British artist Yinka Shonibare, “Talisman In The Age Of Difference” opens at Stephen Friedman in London. The group show features nearly 50 acclaimed artists spanning generations from Africa, Britain, and the United states who “value art as a talisman: a vehicle for change.”
NEWS | June 5: The Brodsky Center, a collaborative paper and printmaking center, based at Rutgers University, is moving to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). Established in 1986, the center has completed more than 300 editions with a range of artists including Emma Amos, Chakaia Booker, Sonia Boyce, David Driskell, Melvin Edwards, Hew Locke, Nell Painter, Faith Ringgold, Mickalene Thomas, Fred Wilson, and Barkley L. Hendricks, a PAFA alum. The center has focused on supporting women and artists of color, in particular. Sondra Perry is currently an artist-in-residence at the center.
REPRESENTATION > | June 6: Susan Inglett Gallery announces its representation of New York-based artist Maren Hassinger. For more than 40 years, Hassinger “has explored relationships between the industrial and natural worlds in a practice that is both meditative and critical,” expressing herself through abstract compositions, installations, performance, photography and video. (Photo courtesy Susan Inglett Gallery)
PUBLIC ART | June 6: The New York State legislature approves a bill paving the way for David Hammons to develop a permanent public art installation that will float in the Hudson River near the Whitney Museum of American Art. Hammons is collaborating with the museum on the grand sculptural work titled “Day’s End.”
AWARD/HONOR | June 7: Los Angeles-based artist Henry Taylor receives the 2018 Robert De Niro Sr. Prize. The $25,000 award “recognizes a mid-career American artist for significant and innovative contributions to the field of painting.” The inaugural De Niro Prize went to Stanley Whitney in 2011.
NEWS | June 8: The Worchester Art Museum quietly introduces new exhibition labels with descriptions that note the biographies of portrait subjects, including any details about slave ownership or how they directly benefitted from slavery, because it felt “almost unethical to allow the early American gallery to frame history with an uneven narrative that effaced people of color.” The local public radio station reports on the new labels introduced last fall. | Video by WBUR
REPRESENTATION | June 8: David Zwirner gallery announces its representation of the estate of photographer Roy DeCarava (1919-2009). Through DeCarava’s lens, images of modern life in New York City were defined by light and shadow. (Roy DeCarava, “Arnette,” 1953. | © The Estate of Roy DeCarava 2018)
PUBLIC ART | June 8: Boston plans a world-class memorial to Martin Luther King Jr., and Coretta Scott King, who met in the city and have formative ties to the community. Barbara Chase-Riboud, Hank Willis Thomas, Yinka Shonibare, and David Adjaye in collaboration with Adam Pendleton are among the five teams participating in the final round of consideration to design the project.
EXHIBITION | June 9: Sam Gilliam‘s first retrospective exhibition in a European museum opens. “The Music of Color: Sam Gilliam, 1967-1973” is devoted to a particularly creative and innovative seven-year period when the artist first produced the Beveled-Edge and Drape paintings for which he is most recognized.
APPOINTMENT | June 12: The David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park, which has been led by Executive Director Curlee Raven Holton since 2014, is bringing on David R. Brigham, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, to serve as senior advisor to the executive director.
NEWS | June 12: After an 11-year tenure, President and CEO Juanita Moore announces her retirement from the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. She is departing July 1. Board member George Hamilton will helm the museum on an interim basis while the institution conducts a nationwide search for her replacement.
MUSIC | June 16: In the midst of their On the Run II tour, Beyoncé and Jay-Z release a new video for “Apeshit,” their latest song in which they take over the Louvre and are shown stunting and styling through the galleries of the Paris museum. The single is from the Carter’s nine-track collaborative album project titled “Everything is Love.” With more than 148 million views and counting, the wildly popular video results in a special tour offered by the Louvre and helps draw a record number of visitors to the museum in 2018. | Video by The Carters
ACQUISITION | June 17: The Cleveland Museum of Art announces the purchase of “Sandy and Her Husband” by Emma Amos. Acquired directly from the artist, the 1973 painting was featured in “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85,” the 2017 exhibition organized by the Brooklyn Museum.
AWARD/HONOR | June 19: The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland announces Sondra Perry is the inaugural winner of the Toby Prize. Established by collector Toby Devan Lewis, the award includes $25,000 toward a new commission and $25,000 cash. Based in Perth Amboy, N.J., Perry is recognized for your innovative video installations.
NEWS | June 19: After four artists—Adam Pendleton, Julie Mehretu, Rashid Johnson, and Ellen Gallagher—saved the childhood home of Nina Simone from destruction by buying it in 2017, the Tryon, N.C., site is named a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
NEWS | June 19: William Pickard announces $2.1 million in gifts to Detroit institutions. The chairman and founder of GAA Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management is donating $1 million each to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Motown Museum, in addition to giving $100,000 to the Wayne County Community College District.
AWARD/HONOR | June 21: The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art announces Kara Walker is receiving the 2018 Contemporary Vision Award. She will be honored at an Oct. 3 dinner at the museum.
NEWS | June 21: The city of Kassel, Germany, votes in favor of purchasing Nigerian-born American artist Olu Oguibe‘s monument to refugees. The obelisk erected in a prominent town square won the Arnold Bode Prize at last year’s Documenta 14. At issue is whether the acquisition is an effort to take ownership of the work and remove it from the current site. (Months later it is removed.)
LIVES > | June 25: South African photographer David Goldblatt dies June 25 in Johannesburg. He was 87. Writing about his life and work, The Washington Post says he “cast a sensitive and penetrating light on both sides of the country’s racial divide during the apartheid era.” (David Goldblatt, “Patience Poni visiting her parents…,” 1972. | Courtesy the artist and Goodman Gallery)
APPOINTMENT | June 28: Trevor Schoonmaker is elevated to deputy director of curatorial affairs at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. He joined the museum as founding curator of contemporary art in 2005 and his curatorial vision has shaped the museum’s contemporary art exhibition and acquisition program, from the beginning emphasizing diverse and emerging artists, and artists historically underrepresented and overlooked by mainstream institutions—a great many of them African American.
EXHIBITION | June 28: “Michael Jackson: On the Wall” (June 28-Oct. 21, 2018) opens the National Portrait Gallery in London. The exhibition explores how the world-renowned performer influenced more than 40 contemporary artists, including Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Emma Amos, David Hammons, Lyle Ashton Harris, Rashid Johnson, Isaac Julien, Glenn Ligon, Lorraine O’Grady, and Kehinde Wiley.
NEWS | June 29: The facilities department at Northeastern University sends a letter to the African-American Master Artists-in-Residence Program, telling the artist collective known as AAMARP which is affiliated with the university, that it must vacate its space due to building code violations and “safety and security concerns.” (The deadline to vacate is later extended beyond Dec. 31.)
TRIENNIAL | July 14: The inaugural edition of Front International, the Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art opens. Highlights include “The American Library,” Yinka Shonibare‘s installation of 6,000 books wrapped in African wax cloth fabric at the Cleveland Public Library; “Night Coming Tenderly, Black,” photographs by Dawoud Bey that reimagine the local landscape of the Underground Railroad on view at St. John’s Episcopal Church; and an exhibition of works on paper by Kerry James Marshall presented at the Cleveland Museum of Art. | Image: Yinka Shonibare MBE, “The American Library,” 2018, Installation view at Cleveland Public Library. © Yinka Shonibare MBE, Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York and Front International
APPOINTMENT > | July 1: Dr. Monroe E. Harris Jr. is elected the new president of the board of trustees for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond, Va. In its announcement, VMFA explicitly notes that Monroe is the first African American to hold the position in the museum’s 82-year history. A Richmond-based oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Monroe has served on the VMFA board for five years and has also been active on the boards of other local cultural institutions. (Photo courtesy VMFA)
ART FAIR | July 1: Dubbed West Africa’s premier international art fair, Art X Lagos announces the recipient of its 2018 Art X Prize is Bolatito Aderemi-Ibitola. The prize, recognizing an emerging Nigerian artist, includes project support, networking and mentoring, and a solo booth presentation at the Nov. 2-4 fair.
NEWS | July 6: The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced the formation of a new $25 million African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. The goal of the multiyear initiative is to shine a light on “the largely overlooked contributions of African Americans by protecting and restoring African American historic sites and uncovering hidden stories of African Americans connected to historic sites across the nation.”
APPOINTMENT | July 13: The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) names Ndubuisi C. Ezeluomba curator of African art. Originally from Benin City, Nigeria, Ezeluomba joins NOMA after serving as the Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Research Specialist in African Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
NEWS | July 17: The Archives of American Art announces the papers of Washington, D.C.-based artist Alma Thomas (1891-1978) have been fully digitized. The Archives soon announce the digitization of additional materials, including the papers of artist Sam Gilliam, the records of the Committee for the Simon Rodia Towers in Watts, and a 2012 oral history interview with artist Howardena Pindell.
EVENT | July 20-22: Envisioned by Amani Olu, a marketing and business consultant who works with arts organizations, the inaugural edition of Detroit Art Week features the work of more than 100 artists through a series of programs, including tours, site visits, and talks at various venues throughout the city. “Rhythm, Repetition, and Vocab,” an exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts that pays tribute to local artists Carole Harris and Allie McGhee, is a major highlight.
NEWS | July 22: Paris Vogue commissioned Juergen Teller to photograph Rihanna for its December/January 2018 issue. The resulting cover shot and interior images blatantly appropriate the work of Mickalene Thomas. The offense, which is abuzz on Twitter, apparently received no notable public scrutiny for more than six months. Read more here and here.
GRANTS | July 23: Advancing Black Arts Pittsburgh awards $229,000 in grants for residency programs, operational funds for cultural institutions, and to support individual artists in Pittsburgh. The grants were made possible through a partnership between The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowment.
LIVES | July 25: Since 1851, the New York Times has been publishing obituaries of people who have made important contributions to society. The vast majority of the subjects have been white men. The newspaper’s Overlooked project seeks to tell the stories of countless figures who have been ignored over the past nearly 170 years—women and people of color, in particular. Edmonia Lewis, the first black sculptor to achieve international recognition, is the latest to be featured.
AWARD/HONOR | Aug. 15: Madison Square Park Conservancy and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announce Martin Puryear will represent the United States at the 2019 Venice Biennale (May 11-Nov. 24, 2019). The sculptor is presenting a solo exhibition in the U.S. Pavilion, commissioned by the Conservancy and curated by Brooke Kamin Rapaport, deputy director and senior curator at the Conservancy. Over the past half century, Puryear has produced modernist abstract works defined by experimentation with scale, form and materials. Inspired by nature, his striking sculptures draw on a range of cultures, histories, and motifs. Puryear, who is based in the Hudson Valley region of New York, collaborated previously with the Conservancy on the commission of his monumental sculpture “Big Bling,” which was installed in Madison Square Park in 2016. He is the fourth African American artist to represent the United States at the international exhibition, following Robert Colescott (1997), Fred Wilson (2003), and Mark Bradford (2017). | Image: Installation view of “Big Bling,” Photo by Victoria L. Valentine
APPOINTMENT | Aug. 2: Steven Nelson of UCLA and Duke University’s Richard J. Powell are among the scholars selected for 2018–2019 academic year appointments at the National Gallery of Art’s Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA). The new class of fellows includes Adrienne Childs, whose scholarship focuses on “Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition”; Jennifer Van Horn, who is exploring “Resisting the Art of Enslavement: Slavery and American Art, 1720–1890”; and Julie L. McGee, who is researching “Sam Middleton: An American Artist in Holland, a Transnational Existence.”
GRANTS | Aug. 2: Borealis Philanthropy launches the Racial Equity in Philanthropy Fund, which is designed to diversify the nonprofit field where less than 20 percent of leaders are people of color. With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Ford Foundation, the first round of grants—$14 million over three years—are issued to 19 “philanthropy-serving
organizations committed to advancing racial equity within the sector and beyond.”
AWARD/HONOR | Aug. 3: Rashid Johnson is the Aspen Art Museum’s 2018 Aspen Award for Art Honoree. Johnson gives a talk on Aug. 2, was presented with the award at the museum’s annual ArtCrush summer benefit following evening, and will present a solo show at the museum in summer 2019. (Above right, Photo courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth)
APPOINTMENT | Aug. 8: Larry Ossei-Mensah is named senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD). An independent curator who has organized countless exhibitions with a broad slate of contemporary artists, Ossei-Mensah is a co-founder of Artnoir. (Photo by Andrew Boyle)
EVENT | Aug. 8-11: Association of Africa American Museums gathers in Hampton, Va., for 40th anniversary conference. Speakers included Thelma Golden of the Studio Museum in Harlem and panel topics such as the underrepresentation of black men in the museum field.
APPOINTMENT | Aug. 9: The Studio Museum in Harlem names Legacy Russell associate curator, exhibitions. A writer and curator whose work focuses on gender, performance, and new media, she most recently served as European gallery relations lead at Artsy. (Photo courtesy Studio Museum in Harlem)
NEWS | Aug. 12: The Cleveland Museum of Art announces its first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion plan, which is designed to “ensure that the institution better reflects the demographics of the region that it serves and is positioned to connect with a larger, more diverse local, national and international community.” Read the plan here.
REPRESENTATION | Aug. 13: Los Angeles-based conceptual artist Charles Gaines joins Hauser & Wirth gallery. Gaines is primarily known for his photographs, drawings, and works on paper and acrylic glass. Employing system-based methodologies, he generally works in series, exploring language, aesthetics, politics, and music.
APPOINTMENT | Aug. 15: Akili Tommasino joins the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) Boston as associate curator for modern and contemporary art, a newly created position. Tommasino has been a curatorial assistant at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) since 2014. His tenure begins Oct. 15.
APPOINTMENT | Aug. 15: Bahia Ramos is the new director of arts at the Wallace Foundation in New York, N.Y. Ramos says she is thrilled to join the foundation and “continue its important work in helping our grantees meet the needs of changing audiences, and to ensure that the arts remain accessible to our youth.”
AWARD/HONOR | Aug. 16: The deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum awards the Rappaport Prize to Titus Kaphar. The prize recognizes “a contemporary artist with strong connections to New England and a proven record of achievement.” As a part of the honor, Kaphar, who splits his time between New York and Connecticut, delivers a public lecture on Oct. 30 at the deCordova in Lincoln, Mass.
SPORTS | Aug. 27-Sept. 9: African American art is on display at the 50th U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. Michael Rosenfeld Gallery curated the President’s Suite, a court side duplex at Arthur Ashe Stadium that hosts VIPs throughout the championship tournament. Works by nearly 20 artists
including Richmond Barthé, Romare Bearden, John Biggers, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Beauford Delaney, Norman Lewis, Betye Saar, Alma Thomas, and William T. Williams are on view.
PUBLIC ART | Aug. 24: A new work by Karyn Olivier featuring a Frederick Douglass quote is installed in the dome at Memorial Hall at the University of Kentucky to counter a 1934 mural in the same space that depicts the state’s history with images of black slaves crouched in a field and a Native American man wielding a tomahawk.
MAGAZINE > | Aug. 27: Kadir Nelson‘s illustration paying tribute to Aretha Franklin graces the cover of The New Yorker Magazine. Inspired by the style and a specific work by artist Charles White (1918-1979), Nelson delivers the portrait to the magazine hours after the Queen of Soul’s death.
APPOINTMENT | Aug. 28: The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Mo., announces the appointment of Jade Powers as assistant curator. Powers previously served as 2017–2018 Romare Bearden Graduate Museum Fellow at the Saint Louis Art Museum.
APPOINTMENT | Aug. 29: N’Goné Fall is named general commissioner of the Season Africa 2020. A grand undertaking initiated by French President Emmanuel Macron, Season Africa 2020 is “an invitation to look, learn and understand the world from an African perspective” and will occur over six months beginning June 2020 in metropolitan France and its territories. Senegalese-born Fall is a scholar, art magazine editor, and cultural policy consultant, who has curated exhibitions in Africa, Europe, and the United States.
MICKALENE THOMAS | Sept. 14: “Mickalene Thomas: I Can’t See You Without Me” opens at the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University in Columbus. Featuring Mickalene Thomas’s celebrated rhinestoned embellished paintings, as well as collages, sculptures, and immersive installations, the exhibition “explores her vibrant and resonant dialogue with authorship, identity, desire, and the historically charged relationship between artist and muse.” Earlier in the year, her work is presented in “Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas” and “Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs and tête-à-tête.” Later in 2018, “Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires,” her first large-scale solo exhibition in Canada, opens at Art Gallery Ontario in Toronto. On the photography front, Thomas is honored by the International Center of Photography, and she photographs Cardi B for W magazine, film director Berry Jenkins for the New York Times, and fellow artist Carrie Mae Weems for “T,” the Times style magazine. | Image: Mickalene Thomas, “Raquel Reclining Wearing Purple Jumpsuit,” 2016 (rhinestones, glitter, flock, acrylic and oil on wood panel, 96 x 144 inches). Rachel and Jean-Pierre Lehmann Collection. © Mickalene Thomas, Artist Rights Society (ARS) New York
< BOOK | Sept. 1: “Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness,” the long-awaited monograph from South African photographer Zanele Muholi, is published and features more than 90 stunning self portraits. (The publication is followed by the U.S. debut of the exhibition at the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art.)
EXHIBITION | Sept. 6-9: Curated by South African-born independent curator Gabi Ngcobo, the Berlin Biennale opens featuring 46 artists, including Firelei Báez, Simone Leigh, Oscar Murillo, Gabisile Nkosi, Okwui Okpokwasili, Thierry Oussou, Sondra Perry, Mildred Thompson (1936-2003), and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. About half the participating artists are of African descent.
EXHIBITION | SEPT. 7: “Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow,” opens at The New-York Historical Society, the exhibition is part of a major initiative at the institution dedicated to exploring race through the lens of freedom, equality, and civil rights in America that coincides with the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 14th amendment.
FASHION | Sept. 8: Founded by designer Kerby Jean-Raymond, Pyer Moss stages art-inspired runway show at Weeksville Heritage Center, a historic black site in Brooklyn. Featuring men’s and women’s ready to wear, the spring/summer 2019 runway looks include collaborations with artist Derrick Adams.
LIVES | Sept. 10: Warrington Colescott, the artist, renowned printmaker and longtime professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, dies at age 97. The Milwaukee Art Museum holds the largest collection of his work and presented “Warrington Colescott: Cabaret, Comedy & Satire” in 2010, a retrospective exploring 60 years of his print production. He was the brother of artist Robert Colescott (1925-2009). Read obituary here.
BOOK | Sept. 10: Bound in a beautiful plum silk cover, “Deana Lawson: An Aperture Monograph” is published, featuring 40 full-page photographs, an essay by Zadie Smith and an interview with photographer Deana Lawson conducted by Arthur Jafa.
EXHIBITION | Sept. 14: Mnuchin Gallery in New York City presents “Ed Clark: A Survey,” the first overview of Ed Clark‘s career presented in New York since the Studio Museum mounted a retrospective in 1980. Recognized as the first artist to use a shaped canvas, the exhibition features Clark’s expressive abstract paintings and works on paper dating from 1962-2013.
LIVES | Sept. 15: The New York Times publishes an obituary for Ruby Washington, 66, the first black female staff photographer at the Times, who died of cancer. Washington covered a broad range, including breaking news, crime, and the arts, about which she was passionate. According to the Times, Washington started “in the mid-1970s, working in the back copy department. Soon enough, she moved to the lab and, later, staff.” The Times does not state what year she joined the newspaper, when she was promoted to staff photographer, or the date she died. She retired in 2014. Described as intensely private, she won awards but didn’t attend the galas to pick them up.
NEWS > | Sept. 17: Artist lauren woods refuses to open her exhibition at the University Art Museum (UAM) at California State University, Long Beach. She instead puts it on hold. The show, “American Monument,” is an interactive sound installation about police brutality that features a series of turntables that play audio sourced from specific incidents of police violence and police killings. She takes the action in the wake of Kimberli Meyer, the director of the museum with whom she worked closely on the exhibition, being unceremoniously fired days before. (lauren woods with “American Monument” installation. | Photo by Monica Nouwens, Courtesy University Art Museum, CSU Long Beach)
AWARD/HONOR | Sept. 18: Choreographer and visual artist Ralph Lemon “whose work leaps across disciplinary boundaries to test conventions of dance and theater” receives $250,000 Heinz Award.
EXHIBITION | Sept. 18: British artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen announces plans to photograph all of London’s “Year 3” students (which is equivalent to second grade in the United States when children are 7 and 8-years old). The ambitious project will document 115,000 students at 2,410 schools in group class photographs for display around London and at Tate Britain in conjunction with a survey of McQueen’s work opening at the Tate Britain February 2020.
DESIGN | Sept. 18: Architect David Adjaye is tapped to design a new building for the Princeton University Art Museum. According to the university’s announcement, the museum is envisioned as a “dramatically enlarged space for the exhibition and study of the museum’s encyclopedic collections, special exhibitions and art conservation, as well as object-study classrooms and office space for the 100-person museum staff.”
< BOOK | Sept. 18: “Dawoud Bey: Seeing Deeply,” a mammoth retrospective volume is published. Documenting more than 40 years, the book presents Chicago-based photographer Dawoud Bey‘s various bodies of work dating from the mid-1970s to 2016.
LIVES | Sept. 19: Arthur Mitchell, the trailblazing choreographer and New York City Ballet dancer who founded the Dance Theater of Harlem dies at age 84. An exhibition exploring his life and career was on view at the Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University early in 2018.
GRANTS | Sept. 20: A grant from the Walton Family Foundation positions Spelman College to become an incubator for African American curators. With Spelman as the lead institution, the five-year, $5.4 million grant inaugurates the Atlanta University Center Collective for the Study of Art History and Curatorial Studies.
EXHIBITION | Sept. 22: Mark Bradford brings “Tomorrow is Another Day,” his 2017 Venice Biennale exhibition stateside, where it opens at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
APPOINTMENT | Sept. 23: Celebrated for his hand-carved fantasy coffins, Ghanaian artist Joseph Ashong, known as Pae Joe, begins month-long residency at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
AWARD/HONOR | Sept. 24: British artist Hurvin Anderson is awarded the first commission in a 10-year initiative established by the UK’s Government Art Collection. For the next decade, through the TenTen Commission, a British artist will be selected to create an original, limited-edition print for display in diplomatic buildings around the world.
EXHIBITION > | Sept. 23: A 10-year survey, “Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush” is Nina Chanel Abney‘s first-ever solo museum exhibition and also her first museum show in Los Angeles, is presented jointly by the California African American Museum and the Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles. (Nina Chanel Abney, “Untitled (FUCK T*E *OP),” 2014. | Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion. © Nina Chanel Abney)
AWARD/HONOR | Sept. 25: Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem receives 2018 J. Paul Getty Medal from the Getty Trust. The annual award honors “extraordinary contributions to the practice, understanding and support of the arts.”
THEATER | Sept. 25: Producers announce a Broadway musical about the life of Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) is in development, with Jon Batiste, the bandleader and musical director of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, serving as composer. The team has the cooperation of the Basquiat Estate and has secured rights to the artist’s artwork and access to his archives.
NEWS | Sept. 25: The Getty Research Institute announces the acquisition of artist Betye Saar‘s archives and the investment of $5 million in a major African American Art History Initiative focused on collecting the archives of
artists and curators, conducting oral histories, instituting research fellowships, and partnering with museum and universities. (Below left, Betye Saar, 1970. | Photo by Bob Nakamura, Courtesy the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles)
ART FAIR | Sept. 25: After four years in Brooklyn, the New York edition of the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair announces it is relocating to Manhattan. In 2019, 1-54 New York will be presented May 2-5 at Industria, a large photo studio and event space in the West Village, a couple of blocks from the Whitney Museum of American Art. Touria El Glaoui, the fair’s founder and director, said participating galleries felt being in Brooklyn made 1-54 feel like a “fringe fair” and they wanted to be closer to collectors. She said, “We need to be in the middle of things.”
NEWS | Sept. 25: In response to negative Twitter comments about the National Museum of African American History (NMAAHC) having a white curator in charge of its hip hop collection, a role she has held at the Smithsonian for more than a dozen years, even before NMAAHC was in development, the Smithsonian museum issues a statement emphasizing her “deep commitment,” explaining she is part of a larger curatorial team focused on music, and stating its dedication to diversity.
EXHIBITION | Sept. 28: “Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor” opens at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. The retrospective is billed as the first survey of an artist born into slavery, and the most comprehensive exploration of Bill Traylor’s work to date.
EXHIBITION | Sept. 29: Curated by artist Gerald Williams, “AFRICOBRA 50” opens at Kavi Gupta gallery in Chicago. The exhibition commemorates the 50th anniversary of the founding AfriCOBRA, the artist collective the promoted black uplift and positive images of black people, and features works by the five founding members—Williams, Wadsworth Jarrell, Jae Jarrell, Jeff Donaldson, and Barbara Jones-Hogu—and a selection of their peers whose work reflects similar aesthetics and messages. (Carolyn Lawrence, “Uphold Your Men, 1971)
NEWS | Sept. 30: A group of local artists steps up and raises funds for a headstone for Robert S. Duncanson (1821-1872) who is buried in an unmarked grave. The painter, who was active in the mid-19th century and is considered the first African American artist to gain widespread and international recognition, was laid to rest at Historic Woodland Cemetery about 40 miles south of Detroit. Duncanson is in a family plot, but he has no marker.
EXHIBITION | Oct. 24: Curated by Denise Murrell, “Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today” opens at The Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University. The exhibition “explores the changing modes of representation of the black figure as central to the development of modern art.” Focusing on the new scholarship Murrell brings to the fore, the show receives raves reviews from the New York Times, The New Yorker, and beyond. Jason Rosenfeld wrote in The Brooklyn Rail: “The show is singular in illuminating fully, and with an intellectual mindset perhaps only possible in a university museum, an aspect of Realist and Impressionist art that has been glossed over, while pulling its theme effectively and thrillingly into the present.” An expanded version of the show titled “Le Modèle noir, de Géricault à Matisse” will be presented at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, March 26-July 14, 2019. | Image: Frédéric Bazille, “Young Woman with Peonies,” 1870 (oil on canvas, 23 5/8 x 29 1/2 inches). Courtesy the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
< AWARD/HONOR | Oct. 4: Artist Titus Kaphar is among 25 creatives named 2018 MacArthur Fellows. His paintings reference Classic and Renaissance-style portraiture and at the same time recast accepted narratives. Fellows receive $625,000 awards—commonly called “genius” grants—paid over five years, to be used at their discretion. (Photo courtesy John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)
BIENNIAL | Oct. 4-7: Cincinnati-based FotoFocus Biennial announces more than 140 participating artists including Derrick Adams, Renée Cox, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Lyle Ashton Harris, Isaac Julien, Deana Lawson, Zanele Muholi, Xaviera Simmons, Bayete Ross Smith, Mickalene Thomas, and Carrie Mae Weems. Dozens of curators and educators are also collaborating on 2018 programming across more than 70 museums and galleries in Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, and Dayton and Columbus, Ohio.
NEWS | Oct. 9: The Studio Museum in Harlem and Duke Ellington School of the Arts receive a historic bequest from collector Peggy Cooper Cafritz (1947-2018) who died in February. More than 400 works are going to the Studio Museum and Duke Ellington is receiving more than 250. The institutions described the donation as the largest-ever gift of contemporary art by artists of African descent.
< BOOK | Oct. 9: “Henry Taylor: ,” the first major monograph of Los Angeles painter Henry Taylor, is published. The hefty volume features more than 200 full-color images of his portraits, a conversation with Taylor conducted by fellow Los Angeles artist Charles Gaines, and essays by Sarah Lewis, Zadie Smith, and Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah.
PUBLIC ART | Oct. 10: Co-founded by Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, For Freedoms announces the artists and locations for 150 billboards for its 50 State Initiative, a public art campaign designed to encourage discourse and participation in the November midterm elections.
APPOINTMENT | Oct. 10: New Jersey’s Newark Museum names Linda Harrison director and CEO. Harrison has served as director and chief executive of the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco since 2013.
AWARD/HONOR | Oct. 11: The Hutchins Center at Harvard University holds ceremony for recipients of the 2018 W.E.B. Du Bois Medal. The eight honorees include artist Kehinde Wiley; art collector and philanthropist Pamela Joyner; and Bryan Stevenson, the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative who established the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice (known as the Lynching Memorial) in Montgomery, Ala., along with Colin Kapernick and Dave Chappelle.
EXHIBITION > | Oct. 12: Organized by guest curator Jeffreen M. Hayes, “Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman” opens at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Jacksonville, Fla. The show is described as “the first to reassess Harlem Renaissance artist Augusta Savage’s contributions to art and cultural history in light of 21st-century attention to the concept of the artist-activist” and features nearly 80 works by Savage and artists spanning two generations that she directly influenced. (Augusta Savage at work on “The Harp,” 1935-1945. | Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture)
NEWS | Oct. 12: The art of Mark Bradford is incorporated in the British royal wedding of Princess Eugenie of York and her new husband Jack Brooksbank at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. The green-blue fabric based on one of his abstract paintings titled “Here” is used on sashes for the young bridesmaids and cummerbunds for the page boys in the wedding party. The work is also featured on the last page of the program for the ceremony. Eugenie is a director at Hauser & Wirth in London. The gallery represents Los Angeles-based Bradford. See images here, here, here, and here.
EXHIBITION | Oct. 13: The 57th edition of the Carnegie International opens at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh with participating artists including El Anatsui, Leslie Hewitt, Kerry James Marshall, Thaddeus Mosley, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, and Tavares Strachan. Curators select British painter Yiadom-Boakye to receive the Carnegie Prize, the biennial-style exhibition’s top honor.
NEWS | Oct. 16: 75 years ago today the Barnett Aden Gallery opened at 127 Randolph Place NW, in Washington, D.C. Co-founded in 1943 by Alonzo Aden, who served as curator of the Howard University Gallery of Art, and James V. Herring, who established the university’s department of art, the space was among the first black-owned art galleries in the nation. On Dec. 13, the DC Public Library hosts a conversation with art historian David Driskell, who was on staff and also exhibited his work there the gallery, to mark the milestone.
< NEWS | Oct. 18: The Studio Museum in Harlem launches its 50th anniversary year with its annual gala. The celebration raises an unprecedented $3.9 million. The museum also documents the historic milestone with the fall/winter edition of Studio Magazine, which includes interviews with four previous leaders of the museum.
AWARD/HONOR | Oct. 18: Diedrick Brackens receives the Studio Museum in Harlem’s 2018 Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize. The Los Angeles-based textile artist is recognized for his tapestries and innovative weaving techniques. The annual prize includes $50,000.
AWARD/HONOR | Oct. 18: Simone Leigh wins the Guggenheim’s 2018 Hugo Boss Prize. Best known for her ceramic works, Leigh’s practice examines black female subjectivity, black feminist discourse, and the history of labor and resistance. The prize includes $100,000 and a solo exhibition at the New York City museum scheduled for April 2019.
EXHIBITION | Oct. 20: Featuring more than six decades of work, “Richard Hunt: Synthesis” opens at the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens. Presenting a rare look at the full arc of Richard Hunt‘s practice, the exhibition features sculptures and works on paper that focus on several formative periods.
MAGAZINE | Oct. 21: The New York Times recognizes the greatness of Carrie Mae Weems. Photographed by Mickalene Thomas, Weems is one of six people featured in “T” magazine’s 2018 Greats issue. The magazine declares Weems “perhaps our best contemporary photographer” and explores the breadth of her career, her many bodies of work, and the ways in which she “rewrote the rules on image making.”
NEWS | Oct. 24: The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art announces a $5 million gift from the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation to support the digitization of collections from historically underrepresented artists, including African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and women. The gift is among the largest received by the Archives in its history.
FILM | Oct. 24-27: Organized by the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), the first-ever Smithsonian African American Film Festival opens with a mix of screenings, conversations, and master classes. The festival showcases historic films and contemporary works by filmmakers and artists including Kevin Jerome Everson, Ja’Tovia Gary, Betye Saar, Cauleen Smith, and Bradford Young.
AWARD/HONOR | Oct. 30: Hilton Als wins the City College of New York’s Langston Hughes Medal. A Pulitzer Prize-winning cultural critic at The New Yorker, Als curated “Alice Neel: Uptown” at David Zwirner (New York City) and Victoria Miro (London) galleries and authored the exhibition catalog.
NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY | David Zwirner announces its representation of Njideka Akunyili Crosby on Nov. 9. The news caps a busy year. The Los Angeles-based, Nigeria-born artist has public art installations on view in London on the Hayward Gallery Billboard and at the Brixton tube station, as part of the Art on the Underground program. In Los Angeles, a mural by Akunyili Crosby graces the facade of the Museum of Contemporary Art on Grand Avenue. In May, she donated “Bush Babies” (2017) to the Sotheby’s New York auction benefitting the Studio Museum in Harlem. The non-figurative painting set her latest auction record, selling for nearly $3.4 million (including fees), with all the proceeds going to a fund for the museum’s new building. In September, a Wall Street Journal report chronicles her meteoric rise. Solo exhibitions open at the National Portrait Gallery in London in November and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in Texas in December. | Image: Njideka Akunyili Crosby, 2016, Photo © Brigitte Sire
FASHION | Nov. 5: Designer Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss wins the top prize at the 2018 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund awards. Recognizing the best emerging designers in American fashion, the recognition includes $400,000.
NEWS | Nov. 8: Accused of censorship, the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities backtracks on recently added grant language requiring
recipients to refrain from producing work that could be considered lewd, offensive, or political or risk forfeiting their grant funds.
EXHIBITION > | Nov. 9: Pérez Art Museum Miami presents a solo exhibition of Ebony G. Patterson. The museum calls “Ebony G. Patterson: …while the dew is still on the roses…” the “most significant presentation of the artist’s work to date.” Jamaican-born Patterson is showing 13 works dating from 2012 to the present in an immersive garden environment. . (Ebony G. Patterson, “Dead Tree in a Forest…,” 2013. | Courtesy the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery)
NEWS | Nov. 9: Professors Kellie Jones (Columbia University) and Steven Nelson (UCLA) are collaborating as co-editors on a new series of publications at Duke University Press. Visual Arts of Africa and its Diasporas will focus on “pathbreaking approaches to studying the multifaceted and multi-located arts and architecture produced by peoples of African descent around the world.”
AWARD/HONOR | Nov. 9: John Akomfrah is selected as the 2018 artist for ICA Boston’s Watershed. The Ghanaian-born filmmaker lives and works in London. Akomfrah is presenting “Purple,” a video installation about the implications of climate change, for the first time in the United States (May 26-Sept. 2, 2019).
AWARD/HONOR | Nov. 12: New Jersey artist Sondra Perry wins the biennial Nam June Paik Award for artists working with video and computer-based media from Kunststiftung NRW, the arts foundation. She accepted the $28,000 award at the Westfälischer Kunstverein in Münster, Germany.
REPORT | Nov. 12: A new report requested by French President Emmanuel Macron outlines proposals for repatriating African cultural objects. The report by scholars Bénédicte Savoy of France and Felwine Sarr of Senegal,
recommends “that objects that were removed and sent to mainland France without the consent of their countries of origin be permanently returned—if the country of origin asks for them.”
FILM | Nov. 13: ‘While Yet I Live,” Maris Currans’s documentary about the women quilters in Gee’s Bend, Ala., is featured in the New York Times Op-Docs series.
AWARD/HONOR > | Nov. 14: Kapwani Kiwanga wins the National Gallery of Canada’s 2018 Sobey Art Award which includes a $100,000 prize. She is the first black artist to receive the award since it was established in 2002 recognizing the latest developments in Canadian contemporary art. (Photo by Bertille-Chérot)
AUCTION | Nov. 14: Crushing a decade-old auction record, “The Businessmen,” a 1947 painting by Jacob Lawrence ((1917-2000) soars to $6.1 million (including fees) at Sotheby’s New York. The new benchmark places Lawrence among the most expensive African American artists in history.
AWARD/HONOR | Nov. 14: Jeffrey C. Stewart wins National Book Award for biography of Alain Locke (1885-1954), the Howard University scholar and champion of visual artists who is regarded as the dean of the Harlem Renaissance.
ACQUISITION | Nov. 16: The Smithonian’s American Art Museum and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden jointly acquire “Love is the Message, The Message is Death,” Arthur Jafa‘s 7.5-minute, single-channel video, a seminal work that reflects the African American experience and the state of race and politics.
EXHIBITION | Nov. 20: The American Federation of Arts (AFA) announces the launch of “Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem,” a national touring exhibition scheduled for six venues. Opening in January 2019 at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, the exhibition will feature more than 100 artworks by a broad selection by black artists from the museum’s collection.
NEWS | Nov. 20: A new postage stamp paying tribute to “sexy, sexy soul singer” Marvin Gaye (1939-1984) is forthcoming in 2019 from the U.S. Postal Service. Part of the Music Icons series, Gaye’s image is illustrated by Kadir Nelson.
PUBLIC ART | Nov. 23: Concern is raised about a deteriorating 1930s-era Richmond Barthé (1901-1989) public art work in Brooklyn. More than seven decades later, the weather-worn work is in disrepair and, as first reported by AM New York, Michele Bogart, a professor and former vice president of what is now the city’s Public Design Commission, is championing support for its restoration. In the wake media publicity surrounding the neglect, Swann Auction Galleries steps forward to fund an assessment to determine the costs of repair.
REPRESENTATION | Nov. 28: Theaster Gates, the Chicago-based cross-disciplinary artist and urban visionary, has joined Gagosian gallery.
< PUBLIC ART | Nov. 28: The newly improved 145th Street subway station opens in Harlem with a suite of public art installations by Derek Fordjour. His “Parade” series features mosaic images that pay tribute to the neighborhoods historic pageantry and processions that have activated the streets since the early 20th century. (Detail of Derek Fordjour, “Parade” (2018), 145th Street subway station. | Courtesy MTA Arts & Design)
FILM | Nov. 28: Rashid Johnson‘s feature film adaptation of the Richard Wright novel “Native Son” is selected for the 2019 Sundance Film Festival (Jan. 24-Feb. 3, 2019). Marking its world premiere, the film is entered in the Dramatic Competition and slated to be screened on day one of the festival. A visual artist who works in a variety of mediums, Johnson is making his directorial debut with “Native Son.”
LIVES | Nov. 29: Pioneering industrial designer Charles Harrison dies Nov. 29, in Santa Clarita, Calif. He was 87. Over the course of his career, he improved the designs of hundreds of products, including the 3-D View-Master. When he retired in 1993, he was chief product designer for Sears, Roebuck & Company.
PUBLIC ART | Nov. 30: Shirley Chisholm, the trailblazing politician who was the first black woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and first black candidate to seek a major party nomination for President, is getting a statue. New York has surprisingly few public monuments dedicated to women so Chirlane McCray, the city’s first lady, launched the She Built NYC initiative to correct the record. The first commission will honor Chisholm with a monument in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park scheduled to debut in 2020.
DERRICK ADAMS | Brooklyn-based multidisplinary artist Derrick Adams is active throughout the 2018, staging a variety of exhibitions, installations, and projects. Opening in January at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, “Derrick Adams: Sanctuary” is inspired by The Negro Motorist Green Book. “Derrick Adams: Transmission” opens at the Museum of Contemporary Denver in June. On the fashion front, he collaborated with Pyer Moss designer Kerby Jean-Raymond and installs “Fashion Show,” a mural at the Fashion Outlets of Chicago that pays homage to late designer Patrick Kelly. In September, Adams is honored by Pratt, his alma mater, and in December, he presents “America’s Playground” at the Faena Festival, an installation on the beach during Miami Art Week. | Image: Installation view of Derrick Adams, “America’s Playground,” 2018 (mixed media installation, painted metal, plastic, wood, rubber, grass and nylon), Photo by Kris Tamburello, Courtesy of Faena Art
NEWS | Dec. 3: Spacecraft manufacturer SpaceX launches a rocket into space from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Hawthorne, Calif., carrying a sculpture by Tavares Strachan. The artist’s project is an homage to Robert H. Lawrence Jr., the first African American astronaut selected for any national space program. Lawrence died in 1967 during pilot training and never made it to space. In collaboration with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Strachan created Enoch, a 24-caract gold canopic jar (similar to an urn) featuring a bust of Lawrence and sent the work into space to honor his pioneering legacy and highlight his under-recognized story. (WATCH the launch, coverage begins at 5:00, final prep at 16:50, countdown and lift-off at 19:40.)
GRANTS | Dec. 3: Creative Capital and the Andy Warhol Foundation announce recipients of the 2018 Arts Writers Grants. The program awards $725,000 to 21 writers, grants ranging from $15,000 to $50,000 in four categories—articles, blogs, books and short-form writing. Recipients include Ashley Hunt for an article about The Political Economy of the Prison in Contemporary Art Exhibitions; Essence Harden and Olivia K. Young for a blog called Speculative: Black Art Practices of the West; Malik Gaines for a book titled “Future Ruins: The Art of Abstractive Democracy”; and Claire Tancons for a book titled “Roadworks: Processional Performance in the New Millennium.”
AWARD/HONOR | Dec. 4: The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures receives the 2018 Sotheby’s Prize, a $250,000 award to support “Regeneration: Black Cinema 1900-1970.” The Los Angeles museum is opening in late 2019 and soon after in fall 2020 is mounting the exhibition billed as the first-ever to present “a research-driven, in-depth look at Black participation in American filmmaking.” (Above right, Poster for Oscar Micheaux’s “The Exile” (1931). | Courtesy Margaret Herrick Library, Edward Mapp Collection)
< MAGAZINE | Dec. 4: Covering a range of categories and disciplines, Atlanta Magazine’s annual Best of Atlanta list, includes artist Fahamu Pecou (Best Painter) and director of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art Andrea Barnwell Brownlee (Best Curator), among the city’s best of 2018. (Photos by Bryan Meltz; and Via Spelman College Museum of Fine Art)
GRANTS | Dec. 4: With the help of a 2018 Bank of America Art Conservation Project grant, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts announces plans to conserve, stabilize and digitize 146 photographs by African American photographers Louis Draper, Anthony Barboza, Adger Cowans, Roy DeCarava, Beuford Smith, Ming Smith and Shawn Walker. The images are from the museum’s Kamoinge Workshop collection, which it describes as the most complete of its kind. From 1973-80, Kamoinge members published their work in four volumes of the Black Photographers Annual. VMFA has been presenting examples from the publications in a series of exhibitions. The latest is on view through May 12, 2019.
PROJECT > | Dec. 4-6: During Art Basel Miami Beach Prada transforms the Freehand Miami hotel into Prada Mode Miami and artist Theaster Gates takes over the pop-up, members-only club with a site-specific installation
inspired by his “Black Image Corporation” exhibition on view at the Prada
Foundation in Miami. In addition to displaying large-scale murals and framed vintage photographs of stylish black women plucked from the
archives of Ebony and Jet magazines throughout the hotel, Gates performs live in the space on the final evening with his band Black Monks of Mississippi and DJ Peter Adjaye (architect David Adaye’s brother) is also featured. (Photo by Tyler Mitchell via Prada)
AUCTION | Dec. 5: Artist Theaster Gates and architect David Adjaye collaborate with musician and activist Bono, who is organizing his third (RED) auction. The artist and architect co-curate the sale to benefit the fight against AIDS. Artists and designers, including Gates and Adjaye, donate 35 lots. The auction yields artist records for Gates, Hank Willis Thomas, and others, and raises more than $5.5 million (including fees) which, later matched by Bill Gates, nets out at $10.5 million.
ART FAIR | Dec. 6-9: Coinciding with Art Basel Miami Beach and Miami Art Week, the 2018 edition of Art of Black Miami marks fifth year with expanded programming, exhibitions, projects, and discussions, including the Art Africa Miami Fair.
PUBLIC ART | Dec. 11: The initial renderings are released for Destination Crenshaw, a public art experience envisioned as a celebration of black Los Angeles. Perkins + Will is designing the project dubbed an “outdoor museum.” Stretching more than a mile along Crenshaw Boulevard at the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the streetscape installation will feature rotating artworks.
GRANTS | Dec. 11: Anonymous Was a Woman grants are awarded to 10 women artists including Deborah Roberts, Heather Hart, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, and Michèle Stephenson. The unrestricted awards of $25,000 go to women artists who are more than 40 years old.
AWARD/HONOR | Dec. 18: The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announces Pittsburgh artist Vanessa L. German is the winner of the 2018 Don Tyson Prize. The $200,000 biannual prize recognizes an individual artist or organization for exceptional achievement in American art. CT
LIVES | Titled “The Lives They Lived 2018,” the Dec. 30 edition of The New York Times Magazine is dedicated to significant figures who died over the past year, and features commissioned portraits by several renowned artists. Among them, Toyin Ojih Odutola‘s image of Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin (1942-2018) graces the cover of the issue (left), and Deborah Roberts‘s portrait of Linda Brown (1943-2018), the desegregation trailblazer whose name is attached to the Brown v. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court case, is featured inside.
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