Monday, September 28, 2009

SWANN GALLERIES | African-American Fine Art | Auction | 10.08.09

At Auction: Thursday, October 8th at 2:30 pm

Swann Galleries

Exhibition Hours:

Fri. Oct. 2: 10 - 6
Sat. Oct. 3: 10 - 4
Mon. Oct. 5: 10 - 6
Tue. Oct. 6: 10 - 6
Wed. Oct. 7: 10 - 6
Thu. Oct. 8: 10 - noon

Nigel Freeman, Director
African-American Fine Art
Swann Auction Galleries
212-254-4710 ext. 33

Swann Galleries Inc. 104 East 25th Street New York NY 10010

tel 212-254-4710 • fax 212-979-1017


Images credits, clockwise from left:
Barkley L. Hendricks - Lot 78
Norman Lewis - Lot 33
James VanDerZee- Lot 13

2009 McArthur Grants Genuises includes mixed-media artist Mark Bradford and others...

This year’s winners of MacArthur fellowships include, from left, Mark Bradford, a mixed-media artist; the writer Edwidge Danticat; and Theodore Zoli, a bridge engineer.

Published: September 21, 2009

A papermaker dedicated to preserving traditional Western and Japanese techniques; a scientist developing theories of global climate change; and a journalist who helps uncover details of unsolved murders from the civil rights era are among the 24 recipients of the $500,000 “genius awards,” to be announced on Tuesday by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

While many of the fellows are known mostly among their peers, others — especially those in the arts — have won renown. They include Edwidge Danticat, a 40-year-old writer who has won critical acclaim with her depictions of Haitian immigrants in works like the novel “The Farming of Bones” and the memoir “Brother, I’m Dying.”

“It felt incredibly, wonderfully surreal,” Ms. Danticat said in a telephone interview from Miami. “What artists crave and need most is time. It will definitely buy some time. It’s wonderful to have a sense of security, especially in these economic times.”

This year’s MacArthur fellows range in age from 32 to 69 and are evenly divided between men and women. As in years past, most live on the East or West Coasts, but a photojournalist is based in Turkey and an infectious-disease physician in Sudan. All will receive $100,000 a year for five years, no strings attached. Since the inception of the program in 1981 and including this year’s fellows, 805 people ranging in age from 18 to 82 at the time of their selections have been named.

Besides Ms. Danticat, other winners in the arts who have received public recognition are the documentary maker James Longley, 37, who explores Middle East conflicts with portraits of communities under stress; Deborah Eisenberg, 63, a short-story writer; Mark Bradford, 47, a mixed-media artist; Camille Utterback, 39, a pioneer of interactive art installations; Heather McHugh, 61, a poet known for her syntactical twists; Rackstraw Downes, 69, a realist painter of urban landscapes; and Lynsey Addario, 35, the Turkey-based photojournalist whose work in war-torn countries has appeared in The New York Times and National Geographic.

Another journalist fellow, Jerry Mitchell, an investigative reporter at The Clarion-Ledger newspaper in Jackson, Miss., who focuses on cold-case murders from the civil rights era, said he would use the money to help write a book on the subject. “I never in all my life expected this,” Mr. Mitchell, 50, said of his award.

While all the fellows are accomplished, the MacArthur grants are distinctive because they reward the expectation of future achievement, said Robert Gallucci, who became president of the MacArthur Foundation this summer. “We’re looking for you to continue in a creative way, without anyone looking over your shoulder,” he said.

Daniel J. Socolow, the director of the fellows program, noted that while about half the fellows are technically in the sciences, their work often touches on other areas. “We focus on the work, not the field,” he said.

As examples, Mr. Socolow cited L. Mahadevan, 44, an applied mathematician at Harvard who investigates behaviors like how flags flutter and how skin wrinkles, and Theodore Zoli, 43, a bridge engineer who works to protect transportation infrastructure in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. Timothy Barrett, 59, a papermaker at the University of Iowa who studies the impact of books on society, also has a résumé that is hard to categorize.

“For a lot of us, walking between the boundaries of disciplines and a bit off the beaten path, it’s good to get a confirmation that people think highly of your work,” said John A. Rogers, 42, a professor of material science and engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Rogers invents electronic devices that, according to the MacArthur citation, “lay the foundation for a revolution in manufacture of industrial, consumer and biocompatible technologies.”

Beth Shapiro, 33, an evolutionary biologist at Pennsylvania State University, called the MacArthur “a great opportunity to follow some research avenues that might be too risky for traditional funding sources.” Dr. Shapiro examines fossils, dirt samples, biostatistics and other clues to reconstruct what happens to certain species.

The multidisciplinary approach can be seen in the work of two fellows with law degrees, Elyn Saks, 53, and Rebecca Onie, 32. Ms. Saks, a law professor at the University of Southern California, has written of her own mental illness and fights for the rights of the mentally ill. Ms. Onie was a sophomore at Harvard when she founded Project Health, a clinic-based program that addresses the connection between poverty and ill health.

“The award is probably most significant because it ties in so powerfully with the current health care debate and conversation,” Ms. Onie said. “This gives us a platform to participate in that conversation.”

Other winners in the sciences were Maneesh Agrawala, 37, of the University of California, Berkeley, who studies how design principles can improve the effectiveness of computers’ visual displays; Esther Duflo, 36, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who analyzes the forces of poverty in South Asia and Africa; Lin He, 35, a molecular biologist, also at Berkeley, who researches cancer treatments; Peter Huybers, 35, a climate scientist at Harvard; Richard Prum, 48, an ornithologist at Yale who draws on developmental biology to examine questions about birds; Jill Seaman, 57, an infectious-disease physician working to treat infections in remote, war-torn areas; Daniel Sigman, 40, a Princeton biogeochemist investigating the ocean’s fertility and the earth’s climate; and Mary Tinetti, 58, a geriatric physician at Yale studying risk factors that contribute to fatal falls.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Spanierman Gallery to Showcase "Danny Simmons-From There to Here"

East Hampton, NY - Spanierman Gallery, LLC at East Hampton is pleased to announce the opening on October 8, 2009 of the exhibition, Danny Simmons: From There to Here, featuring abstract, radiantly gestural paintings created by the artist over the course of fifteen years, in which he has sought to reveal a spiritual presence beyond that of the art object’s physical properties. Drawing inspiration and motivation from the African contemporary and indigenous art and other tribal examples that he has collected over the course of many years (his collection numbers close to 2,000 items), he is motivated by a desire to think about spirituality and to seek a way to access, channel, and touch it through the creative process. Simmons views a painting as similar to a message in a bottle or a spiritual emanation that when sent out into the world encompasses a realm of experience and a life of its own beyond that of its creator.

A self-taught artist, Simmons evolved his work through studying all of the major art-historical movements. Eventually he developed a strong interest in Surrealism, encompassing the work of Miró, Dalí, and André Breton, in particular. A turning point for Simmons was his discovery of the art of the Cuban artist Wilfredo Lam (1902-1982), whose paintings combining modernist styles with those of the indigenous arts of the Americas, were admired by and exhibited in the late 1930s alongside those of his friend Picasso. Simmons was drawn to Lam’s expression of a humanism transcending the individual and to his effort to liberate the African heritage in Cuba from cultural subjugation through a conveyance of its spiritual basis. Another important influence for Simmons has been the art of the contemporary African-born painter Ouattara, who blends African and Western subjects through physically diverse materials and totemic, mythic imagery, expressing the way that personal identity today is hybrid in nature, bringing together experiences of colonial and postcolonial history.

Danny Simmons - Beyond Heaven’s Gate, 2008 Oil on canvas 36 x 36 inchesDeveloping from these sources, Simmons’s earlier paintings often incorporated figurative elements and specifically referenced such work as the bark paintings of the Pygmy people of the Ituri Forest of the Congo and Kente textiles from Ghana and Sudan. Gradually he developed his own visual language, using line, color and form as conduits for capturing the spiritualized essence of this work and making it his own. Rising at 5 a. m. to paint, Simmons works surrounded by silence, letting his canvases speak and evolve with their own rhythms and voices. A color is usually the starting point for Simmons. Mixing paint from powdered pigments, he will bind layers together and build up surfaces and then often peel or scrape them away, so that his method, as in a divination ritual, conveys us beyond the realm of the physical. With their dense textures, in which writhing color has a kinetic force that seems self-generated and glistening presences hover within palpable atmospheres, Simmons’s paintings function as objects of power and mystery. While there are resonances here of Picasso, Pollock, and Surrealism, Simmons pulls together disparate threads to come up with new and original results.

Simmons is the older brother of the hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons and the rapper Joseph “Reverend Run” Simmons. He is the cofounder of the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, which provides disadvantaged youth with access to the arts and education and promotes a diverse group of emerging artists. Simmons was also recently appointed chairman of the New York State Council on the Arts. In 2002 Simmons and his brother Russell established “Def Poetry Jam,” introducing poetry to mainstream television in a long-running series on HBO in which original poems are spoken along with performances by well-known actors and musicians. An author himself Simmons has published a novel, Three Days as the Crow Flies (2004), consisting of a fictional account of the New York art scene in the 1980s, and a book of poetry, I dreamed my people were calling but couldn’t find my way home (2007). This March, Simmons’s collection of African art along with his own paintings will be shown at Queensborough Community College in Bayside, New York, and will be the subject of a book entitled House of the Spirit accompanying the exhibition.

This is Simmons’s first exhibition at Spanierman Gallery, LLC at East Hampton.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Southern Folk Art: Atlanta-based artist Corey Barksdale paints mural....

Willie Cole and Hank Willis Thomas Explore Amistad Center's Extensive Collection of Art

HARTFORD, CT.- A new collaborative exhibition featuring the works of Willie Cole and Hank Willis Thomas, entitled Digging Deeper, will open this fall at The Amistad Center for Art & Culture at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art . Both Cole and Thomas were invited to explore The Amistad Center’s extensive collection of art, artifacts, and archives which document the African American experience and respond with new works inspired by this rich source material. The show will also include additional objects from The Amistad Center’s collection to highlight the common threads between historical characterizations of race and present-day conceptions of African American culture. Digging Deeper is on view from September 19, 2009 through April 4, 2010.

Cole and Thomas are both known for their transformation and reinterpretation of identifiable objects into works of art, many of which reference race and socio-cultural issues. Cole is best known for his use of irons and ironing boards to create images of slave ships and African masks. His work often references his family’s history as domestic workers and their roots in Africa. For Digging Deeper, he created several new pieces including a video piece entitled Remembering Mammy, which references the place of the mammy figure in historic and contemporary culture.

Willie Cole's "Made in the Philippines" ( Note : Not on Exhibition )Willie Cole was born in New Jersey and lives and works there today. He attended the Boston University School of Fine Arts, the School of Visual Arts in New York (from which he received his B.F.A. in 1976), and the Art Students League in New York. He has won numerous awards and grants and has exhibited his art throughout the United States. His work can be found in numerous public collections, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Thomas recently gained notoriety for his photographic works, which provide commentary on branding and consumer culture and often re-appropriate advertisements and other instantly recognizable symbols to suggest the exploitation and commoditization of African American culture. Thomas’ work for Digging Deeper includes a large scale mixed media installation entitled Greetings from the Sunny South,which is a house-like structure that incorporates more than 500 post cards from The Amistad Center's collection. The post cards depict stereotypical imagery as well as personal photographs that were adapted to post card form.

Willis Thomas' works often comment on branding and the commodification of African American culture. Best known for his photographs, Willis Thomas works in a wide range of media including film and site specific installations. He often combines historical illustrations, portraiture, and product design with references to consumer culture. The resulting works at times evoke a wry humor or a withering critique. In 2002 Willis Thomas gained wide recognition for a series called B®anded, a group of images created by digitally adding a scarred "Nike" logo to the chest and head of an African American male model. In this series, Willis Thomas highlights the complicated role of African American males in the production and consumption of their own images in the marketplace. More generally this provocative series of photographs focuses on consumer branding within America's commodity-obsessed culture, and the extent to which advertisers target racial groups and exploit the black male body for marketing and product promotion. Similar to the works of Andy Warhol and other appropriation artists of the 1980s, Willis Thomas alludes to the psychological repercussions of these representations and how these characterizations shape and define the public's perceptions about race and class.

The artists also created two cabinets of curiosity inspired by pieces from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art – where The Amistad Center is housed. One cabinet, titled “Curious objects from the demise of a peculiar institution,” holds objects from The Amistad Center’s collection including advertisements, product packages, and other objects of ephemera that seem immediately offensive to today’s viewers, but were once readily accepted by society. The other cabinet, called “Curious objects from the now yet to be understood,” includes objects contributed by both Cole and Thomas that are unproblematic today, but may be questioned by future generations. Visit :

Source: AKN

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lift Every Voice and Paint at Birmingham Museum of Art

New Gallery Reflects African-American Experience and Identity

The first installation, Lift Every Voice: African-American Art from the Permanent Collection, presents paintings, prints, sculpture, and photographs spanning a period of 140 years. Works by Benny Andrews, Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks, Radcliffe Bailey, and Kerry James Marshall, among other artists, will be on display through January 3, 2010. Although the works in the gallery will be diverse in media and subject matter, all will reflect aspects of African-American experience and identity.

The earliest work in this first exhibition is a painting created in 1865 by Robert Scott Duncanson, titled A Dream of Italy. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, and considered a master of the romantic landscape, Duncanson painted in the style of the Hudson River School. He traveled to Europe in the tradition of 19th-century American landscape painters and overcame enormous obstacles as an African-American. A circa 1912 painting by the renowned Henry Ossawa Tanner reflects his visit to North Africa, and photographs by James Van Der Zee and Prentice H. Polk document black life in New York and Alabama in the early decades of the 20th century.

Religion and the church are subjects explored in an early Romare Bearden painting and a photograph by Gordon Parks. Works by Benny Andrews, Bob Thompson, and Radcliffe Bailey refer to music in the black experience. Other aspects of experience and identity are the subjects of work by Emma Amos, Lorna Simpson, Kerry James Marshall, David Driskell, Willie Cole, and Lillian Blades.

Jacob Lawrence’s Builders No. 1 (1971) will also be shown in the first installation. The Museum brought one of the first tours of the combined Phillips Gallery (Washington, DC) and Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY) collections of Lawrence’s Migration Series, a moving interpretation of the journey of African-Americans from the South to the North during the early 20th century, to Birmingham.

Contemporary works in the gallery include Willie Cole’s G. E. Mask and Scarification, with its modern day references to the marks of slavery, and Emma Amos’s Measuring Measuring and Lorna Simpson’s Tense, which address racism and cultural standards of beauty.

Photo credit:
"Ornette" by Bob Thompson (American (1937-1966), oil on canvas. Museum purchase with funds provided by the Junior Patrons of the Birmingham Museum of Art.



Become a
Charter Member
of the Museum!

Join Now

Dear Friend,

On behalf of the Smithsonian Institution, I am very happy to announce the launch of the Charter Membership Program for the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Today I am honored to invite you to formally join as a Charter Member to help build the Smithsonian Institution’s next great Museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

When you become a Charter Member of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, you too will make an indelible mark on our nation’s landscape by helping to create this new and long overdue Museum.

An event like this only happens once in a lifetime. It is a rare opportunity for you to become part of the Museum from the very beginning. When you join your name will be formally entered into the Museum’s prestigious Honor Roll of Charter Members.

The Honor Roll will be prominently displayed at the Museum for you and your family to see when you visit. Even if you are not able to visit in person, you will still be able to view your name online on the Museum’s website.

That’s why I urge you to use any of the links in this letter to contribute $25 or more today, and become a Charter Member of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Charter Membership is a very special honor! As a member, you will receive the following:

  • For your gift of $25, you receive a membership card valid for a 10% discount at all Smithsonian Stores and online, our Museum newsletter, a one-year subscription to the quarterly magazine American Legacy, and e-mail updates about Museum events, programs, and exhibitions.

  • For your gift of $40, you also receive a beautiful Certificate of Appreciation suitable for framing that recognizes your participation as a Charter Member.

  • For your gift of $100, you also receive the double CD Every Tone a Testimony, a fascinating aural history of African Americans in words, music and poetry.

  • For your gift of $250, you also receive the book Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits.

If you are able to give $1,000 or more, I will be delighted to welcome you as a member of the Director’s Circle, a special group of leaders who are rewarded with invitations to exclusive events, behind the scenes exhibition tours, and a copy of the beautiful book The Scurlock Studio and Black Washington: Picturing the Promise, documenting 90 years of African American life in the Nation’s Capital.

Our challenge now is to raise the money we need to build this powerful addition to the American cultural landscape. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2012 with the opening in 2015.

We need a total of $500 million to build the Museum. Congress has committed to provide half that amount to ensure this important initiative moves forward. And, that means we need to raise an additional $250 million in private donations from friends like you.

With your support as a Charter Member, we will ensure that the stories — the voices, if you will — of African Americans from the earliest days to the present are recorded and preserved for all time.

Together, you and I will create a wonderful new place for all Americans that, at long last, explores, celebrates and recognizes the experiences and contributions African Americans have made in shaping our national character and culture. Thank you!

All the best,

Lonnie G. Bunch


Again, thank you so much for your interest and support. Please take a moment right now to join as a Charter Member and place your name where it rightly belongs, on our Honor Roll of Charter Members.

Emory Douglas: Black Panther

An Exhibition Curated by Sam Durant for the New Museum

Some of Emory Douglas’s images are nearly forty years old, but they are still as powerful as when Douglas first created them. They are dangerous pictures, and they were meant to change the world.

Emory Douglas was the Revolutionary Artist of the Black Panther Party and subsequently became its Minister of Culture, part of the national leadership. He created the overall design of the Black Panther, the Party’s weekly newspaper, and oversaw its layout and production until the Black Panthers disbanded in 1979–80. Throughout the ’60s and ’70s, Douglas made countless artworks, illustrations, and cartoons, which were reproduced in the paper and distributed as prints, posters, cards, and even sculptures. All of them utilized a straightforward graphic style and a vocabulary of images that would become synonymous with the Party and the issues it fought for.

“Emory Douglas: Black Panther” includes a wide variety of Douglas’s work done while a member of the Black Panther Party. Curated by the Los Angeles artist Sam Durant, whose work often deals with political and cultural subjects in American history, the show includes approximately 165 posters, newspapers, and prints dating from 1967–76. Durant met Emory Douglas in 2002 and began working on a book of Douglas’s work, which resulted in a monograph published in 2007. Two years later Durant curated “Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, which serves as a model for the exhibition at the New Museum.

Emory Douglas to Collaborate with Teens on Commissioned Community Mural in Harlem

In conjunction with the exhibition “Emory Douglas: Black Panther,” the New Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and Groundswell, a community organization, will co-produce a new mural to be installed on 122nd Street and Third Avenue in Harlem, New York City. The mural, titled What We Want, What We Believe, will be a permanent public artwork— and Douglas’s first in New York City. The mural team will consist of up to fifteen teens involved with the New Museum’s G: Class student program and the Studio Museum, the majority of whom will be employed by the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, through the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). Douglas will work with the youth for two weeks, teaching the history of the larger Black Power Movement, conducting master print-making workshops, and leading discussions with youth participants. Over a period of two months, artist educators from the New Museum, the Studio Museum, and Groundswell will provide youth with tutorials on the social and political history that gave rise to the Black Panther Party and the Movement, as well as the history of printmaking and mural painting. A dedication of the finished mural is anticipated in early September 2009.

Download the press release

The presentation of “Emory Douglas: Black Panther” at the New Museum is organized by Laura Hoptman, Kraus Family Senior Curator, with Amy Mackie, Curatorial Assistant.

All images © 2009 Emory Douglas / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

For more information about Emory Douglas’s recent work please contact Station 4 at

Source: New Museum