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How the Universe Taught Wolfgang Tillmans to Make Art
When visitors go to see Wolfgang Tillmans’s new retrospective at the museum of modern art, one of the first things they'll likely notice is that few pictures are presented in a frame. Most are instead pinned or taped directly to the wall; adorning nearly every service on the museum, six floor and arranged, not by rows, but in clusters, kind of like constellations in the night sky. And that's an analogy that the 54 year old artist might himself appreciate given his abiding love of outer space. “Astronomy,” he once said, “was my visual initiation into seeing.”
A cosmological awe pervades To Look Without Fear, as MoMA’s exhibition is called—even though Tillmans’s subject matter is often quite quotidian. More than 300 of the artist's photographs are included spanning his nearly four decade career from his experiments with a photocopier as a student in Germany in the late 1980s and his editorial efforts for Index and I-D magazines in London and New York in the 90’s, to his darkroom abstractions of the early 2000s and beyond.
But Tillmans’s practice has always resisted strict taxonomization, and that’s true here, too; what’s on view is not a series of discrete bodies of work but a kind of diaristic journey through the artist’s life: his friends, his lovers; his work, his play; his experience with loss and living with HIV and his constant consideration of what it means to interpret it all through the technology of photography. No lens-based artist revels in the simple profundity of the medium like him.
On view now through January 1st of next year, To Look Without Fear is a sprawling, years-in-the-making presentation that rightly casts Tillmans among the today’s most important working artists. Ahead of the show’s opening, Artnet News’s Taylor Dafoe sat down with Tillmans at MoMA for a conversation about language, looking back in time, and how staring into the cosmos taught him to appreciate life on earth.
Rick Lowe on How Art Can Solve Real-World Problems
The year was 1990, and artist Rick Lowe had invited a group of high school students into a studio. Standing surrounded by his billboard size paintings, one of the kids made a comment that stopped him in his tracks. Why was Lowe illustrating problems everyone already knew about rather than proposing creative solutions? The moment changed everything. It pushed Lowe to create art outside the studio and sent him on a path to becoming one of the leading figures in an art movement known as social practice.
The term social practice describes art that is created with, and for, communities. Over the past three decades Lowe has done this in a variety of forms, including his most famous work Project Row Houses, a hub for community housing and art-making in Houston's Third Ward. All the while Lowe has maintained a painting practice alongside his socially engaged work, and he won a MacArthur Genius Grant for all of it in 2014.
This month, after a long hiatus from the New York gallery world, he returns with his first solo show of paintings at Gagosian. Artnet News contributor, Sade Ologundudu spoke with Lowe as part of a four part series on Artnet News about artists across generations who work with social practice.
How K-Pop and Connoisseurship Made Seoul a New Art Capital
Last week, the art industry descended on Seoul, South Korea, for the inaugural edition of Frieze art fair’s Asian outpost. It was a major affair, packed with K-pop celebrities and six-figure sales that marked yet another peak for the Korean art scene, which seems to be heading along a neverending upward spiral. Installed next to the stalwart fair Kiaf at the formidable CoEx convention center, and not far away from a smaller satellite fair focused on new media, Kiaf Plus, this first year for this combined trio of fairs was a runaway success story. At Frieze, 110 galleries participated, drawing in the western art world to this major Asian capital city, which is bolstered by a flourishing art community and a ripe art market, and appeal to the Korean collector scene, which is rapidly growing in power.
To color the picture from the ground, our Europe Editor Kate Brown spoke with Seoul-based curator and critic Andy St. Louis—an insider to the art scene who has been based in Seoul for more than ten years. St. Louis is the Seoul desk editor at ArtAsiaPacific, and a contributing editor at ArtReview Asia (and you can also catch his byline on Artnet News). In 2018, he founded Seoul Art Friend, an online platform dedicated to promoting contemporary Korean art, which you can access at seoulartfriend.com or on Instagram and Facebook (at) seoulartfriend. He is currently writing a survey of emerging and mid-career artists which is due to be published in Summer 2023.
Andy and Kate debriefed on the goings-on during South Korea’s major launch into the international art scene and discuss what opportunities and challenges lay ahead as Seoul continues to transform itself into a major art world hub.
Re-Air: Why Art Biennial Superstars Exist in a Parallel Universe
This year was a big one for biennials with the Whitney Biennial in New York, the Venice Biennale in Italy and Documenta in Kassel, Germany as well as many, many more.
Earlier this year, our team at Artnet analyzed hundreds of these exhibitions over the past five years to identify the biggest stars of the biennial circuit.
As we gear up for the fall art season, we thought it would be useful to revisit the episode where national art critic, Ben Davis and Europe editor, Kate brown, discuss the surprising findings.
Re-Air: The Black Art Visionary Who Secretly Built the Morgan Library
We thought we’d revisit an episode we recorded earlier this year about one of the more fascinating and under-known figures in American art history. Her name was Belle da Costa Greene, and she was the vivacious and spectacularly connoisseurial force behind building robber baron J.P. Morgan’s art collection and, now, New York’s Morgan Library. Unusual at the time for being a women in such a powerful role, what is even more unusual is that she was a Black woman—a secret she successfully guarded her entire adult life.To learn Belle da Costa Greene’s story—which is now being made into a major TV series—I spoke to Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray, the authors of The Personal Librarian, a sensational novel about her life.
Re-Air: How the Art World in Ukraine’s Besieged Capital Are Fighting Back
Five months into the conflict, the brutal, horrific war in Ukraine grinds on, with no end in sight. And while Ukrainian men and women are fighting, and dying, on the front lines to defend their homeland, art workers are continuing to do their part to aid the struggle by preserving their nation’s rich heritage and keeping the flame of culture alive.Shortly after the invasion, Artnet News European Editor Kate Brown spoke to two such art workers based in the Kyiv—Vasyl Cherepanyn, the director of the city’s Visual Culture Research Center, and Nikita Kadan, an artist whose work is deeply imbued with his political activism—about what it’s like watching the war unfold on their doorstep, and how they are working to counter the crisis by any means.As the Art Angle team is on break, we are proud to re-air this episode.
Your analysis is childish at best there is literally 0 substance and all fluff. One learns nothing from your podcasts. You should listen to "talk art", “in other words”, “art party” or “the art newspaper" . No one cares about random journalists’ opinions bring on art insiders instead of mindless reporters talking about how bad art fairs are.