This show coincided with prospects of a rapprochement between Cuba and the United States, and mixed-signals politics played a role in the event itself. When it opened in June, the Cuban-born artist Tania Bruguera was under the equivalent of house arrest in Havana for trying to do a performance piece that invited people to speak freely at an open microphone in Revolution Square. During the Biennial itself, another Cuban-born artist, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, working with a group of her American students, quietly presented Cubans with a similar opportunity to express themselves by writing in notebooks on questions about current events, including whether art could contribute to cross-cultural conversations. The focused and passionate responses of the writers said yes. There was no government interference.
Christopher Rothko doesn’t look much like his father, the painter Mark Rothko, who took his own life when his son was 6. The father was rotund and jowly, with a high bald pate and a world-weary demeanor (at least inthe best-known portraits.) The son, now 52, is lean and reedy, with a head of just-graying hair and a ready smile.
Ai Weiwei has finally unveiled his hotly anticipated Letgo Room (2015), made with Lego blocks donated from all over the world, and it turns out the piece celebrates Australian political activists, including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
One of the most loyal visitors to the Frank Stella show at the Whitney Museum of American Art is Frank Stella. The 79-year-old painter estimates he stops by the galleries two or three times a week, occasionally chiming in to correct assumptions about his work, posing for pictures with fans or observing strangers from under the brim of his orange baseball cap.
At a 1961 exhibition in Rome, the public was so disturbed by the sensuous physicality of the paintings of Alberto Burri (1915-1995) that the Department of Public Health was called in to make sure it was safe. What disturbed viewers in the 1950s and 1960s was Burri’s rough assemblage on canvas of what must have seemed like trash—burlap sacks, paint that appeared to be cracking up and deteriorating in front of your eyes, melted plastic over slashed and torn canvas. It didn’t look like art at all. Emily Braun, curator of “Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting,” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum through Jan. 6, 2016, writes in the catalog that “From his early exhibitions Burri was labeled the artist of wounds” because of the “actual gashes and tears right in the fabric of the picture.”
Inside the rain-battered tents of last week’s Art Basel Miami Beach art fair, there were bears made from feathers, a painting made from shoes and shoelaces, and a stabbing incident involving an X-Acto knife that was not a performance piece. Among these and other, expected curiosities were two architectural prototypes: an aluminum and steel dining pavilion designed by Zaha Hadid with Patrik Schumacher, which sprouted like a kind of Martian flower over a molded timber table and chairs, and a 350-square-foot white box sheathed in laminated plywood designed by Gluckman Tang as an art pavilion. (It would certainly make an appropriate container to house one’s art fair purchases once home.)
The architecture and design collective Assemble was awarded the Turner Prize, Britain’s leading contemporary art award, on Monday. The group was nominated for a project in which it refurbished derelict Victorian-era houses with the help of residents in a working-class neighborhood in Liverpool.
To escape the crush of the Art Basel art fair, which ended Sunday, and visit Martin Z. Margulies at his voluminous warehouse and exhibition space for art in the Wynwood Arts District is to realize that this collector was there before it all began. Before his Twomblys were trading for more than $70 million at auction. Before the Arte Povera pieces he started buying years ago became chic. Before the market got red-hot and art became an asset class.
Almost two years ago, when the Hallen für Neue Kunst, a pioneering contemporary art museum in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, closed after a decade of legal strife, nearly two dozen works by the 85-year-old minimalist painter Robert Rymanneeded to find their way back home to New York City. The paintings, which, like his other pieces, feature tonal variations of the color white on surfaces from unprimed canvases to fiberglass panels, had been installed since the early ’80s in the converted factory, where each 15,000-square-foot floor was dedicated to just a few artists, including other 20th-century icons like Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre and Robert Mangold. Ryman’s sons Cordy, 43, and Ethan, 51, soon flew to Switzerland to “repatriate Dad’s paintings.”
The rap on the annual contemporary art fair here is that much of the art has already been presold and most of the collectors come only for the parties. Veterans of Art Basel Miami Beach say there is plenty of fun to be had — it’s hard to keep track of the dozens of events on offer, including seated gallery dinners and liquor promotions. But there is also serious art-buying to be done and many dealers say they have their best results here. “It’s my favorite fair and normally it’s the most successful,” the dealer Paul Kasmin said. “I don’t think I’ve ever presold anything.”