ART news

27 Jan. 2023

High fashion brand Zadig & Voltaire is under fire for a promotional video featuring a flaming fountain after social media users said it bore a striking resemblance to a work by artist Julian Charrière.

The video was first posted to Z&V’s Instagram on January 19 to promote its Women’s Fall-Winter 2023 show for Paris Fashion Week. In the video, a fountain’s three rings are lit with orange flames that consume the background. The fountain was featured in two more promotional videos posted to the account, as of Friday. 

Users quickly compared the video to the 2019 work And Beneath It All Flows Liquid Fire by Julian Charrière, a French-Swiss artist represented by Sean Kelly Gallery. Charrière, a participant in the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017, created a looping color film of a two-ringed fountain consumed in slow-motion flames against a black backdrop. The work has been exhibited in France, Switzerland, and New York, among other locations, and was featured in the most recent Art Basel Miami Beach.

In both Charrière’s artwork and the video posted by Zadig & Voltaire, the sound of a crackling fire is audible.

A still from Julian Charrière’s, ‘And Beneath It All Flows Liquid Fire’, 2019.

“I have never been contacted by this brand and must clearly state I have not given any permission,” Charrière said in a statement on Instagram. “I only discovered this campaign a few days ago, when people reached out to me about it and started tagging me.”

“As of now there is no resolution on this matter and it seems that the company started deleting every comment mentioning my name under any of their posts and reels,” he continued, and shared a video of the original artwork. His post currently has more than 2,000 likes and has been shared by prominent art professionals such as artist Olafur Eliasson. 

A representative for Sean Kelly Gallery told ARTnews that “Julian Charrière did not participate or give permission for his work to be used in this manner.”

Zadig & Voltaire has not responded to ARTnews‘s request for comment. 

The brand’s runway show was held Friday evening at Poush, a trendy exhibition and studio space in the Paris suburb of Aubervilliers dedicated to emerging artists. 

27 Jan. 2023

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Keep those fingers clean: Pick up a tortillon or a blending stump to blend, soften, and smudge your creative marks. Made of paper that is compacted and shaped into a pencil-like design, these handheld implements look similar but are used for different effects, most commonly with dry media such as charcoal, graphite, and pastel. A tortillon is hollow, features one pointed end, and is shorter, lighter, and less smooth than a blending stump; it is ideal for applications requiring precision, and it can create interesting textures. A blending stump is a solid tool that’s pointed at both ends and ideal for smooth blending; it can be cleaned and sharpened with sandpaper. Blending stumps usually have a number on them indicating their thickness, with #1 being the slimmest and #8 the chunkiest. Explore the characteristics of both with our favorite products, below.

Pro Art Blending Paper Stumps
Perhaps it’s the paper type or a particular manufacturing technique, but for some reason, blending stumps from Taiwan are considered by many artists to be the best around. These are constructed of gray felt paper that is soft but tightly wound to create a dense and firm stump. The tips remain sharp and resist bending even with a decent amount of pressure. You can, of course, use these with dry media, but they also perform well with oilier materials like hard pastels and even a fluid medium like Gamsol or wet watercolor pencils. They are sold in a medium size (in packs of three) or a large size (in two-packs)

Jack Richeson Blending Tortillon Stumps, Package of 5
This option provides blending stumps in five sizes, making it a great basic set to cover most needs. Also made of a soft gray felt paper, these are solid stumps that stand up to many uses. Their tips resist crumbling even when used with acrylic, watercolor, or oil paint, but they are easy to sharpen with a sanding block. Richeson’s product is a close second to Pro Art’s stump

Artist’s Loft Blending Stumps & Tortillons

This option offers blending stumps and tortillons in one convenient package. You get a diverse assortment of tools: four stumps in four sizes and six tortillons in three sizes. The variety means you’ll be able to blend out larger areas. The stumps have very smooth tips to prevent scratchiness on the paper, and each tool maintains its structure well unless you are extremely heavy-handed.

Creative Mark Jumbo Rice Paper Blending Stump
Looking for a jumbo stump? Creative Mark makes a one-inch-wide stump that’s ideal for blending large areas. Made of soft rice paper coiled into a solid spire and suitable for all dry media, this stump won’t burnish your paper’s surface. It can be cleaned by sanding it lightly.

Buy: Creative Mark Artist Jumbo Rice Paper Blending Stump – Drawing Tool to Blend Dry Media Including Pastels, Charcoal, Graphite, Conte or Chalk – Travel Friendly $11.99

Caran d’Ache Blending Stump
Caran d’Ache’s blending stump is pretty pricey for a handheld tool made of paper, but these little tools are the most dense on the market and will last you a very long time. Their tips are well rounded to form a very smooth point of contact for precise and consistent blending, and they retain their shape for quite a while. When the tips do need refreshing, you can do it with sandpaper or simply use a regular pencil sharpener. In other words, this is a stump you can keep returning to while spending little time on maintenance.

27 Jan. 2023

In an open letter to the Tate’s board of trustees, a controversial politician in the United Kingdom denounced Tate Britain’s decision to invite a drag queen to perform to a children’s group next month.

Conservative party life peer Emma Nicholson described the planned February 11 appearance by Aida H Dee, the self-proclaimed “Storytime Drag Queen” and alias of Sab Samuel, as both “propaganda” and “nonsense on stilts.”

In honor of LGBTQ history month in the U.K., Dee was set to perform as a member of Drag Queen Story Hour UK, a group that organizes reading sessions by drag queens for children aged between three and 11 years old.

Tate describes Dee on its website as an “ADHD, neurodivergent, queer hero of literature” and “the first drag artist in Europe to read stories to children in a nursery.”

In her letter, however, Nicholson paints a different picture, equating drag queens with “murderers, paedophiles, terrorists, furries and other fetishists.”

She signed the letter as chair of the parliamentary lobbying group Children and Women First, which advocates for children and women with a focus on gender and trans issues.

The letter comes just as a petition, written by the group Art Not Propaganda and signed by more than 3,500 people, began circulating. The petition demands Tate stop imposing “gender ideology” on children and claims that, as a state-funded institution, Tate is accountable to the public. A similar petition was launched on, but was cited as discriminatory and removed by the website the same day.

This is not the first time Dee has faced backlash. A recent tour of 70 U.K. libraries by Dee last summer drew heckling from anti-LGBTQ protestors who accused the performer of “grooming” children.

In an interview with PinkNews, Dee blamed the Tory government for the “queer hate that’s running rampant in the UK.”

Nicholson also came under scrutiny for mocking and misgendering trans model and activist Munroe Bergdorf, who she accused of soliciting teenagers, in 2020.

“We do not programme artists in order to promote particular points of view, nor to reconcile differing points of view,” a Tate spokesperson said in a statement. “Our galleries offer a broad programme and visitors have the freedom to choose which aspects of it they engage with.”

27 Jan. 2023

Every Lunar New Year, several postal service companies around the world release stamps commemorating characters from the Chinese zodiac calendar. However, this year’s designs by the nearly-100-year-old artist Huang Yongyu for the China Post received especially harsh reviews online, with users hurling terms like “horrific,” “evil,” and “scary” at it.

The China Post printed two designs by Huang to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The one titled “The Rabbit Sending Blessings” depicts of a bright blue rabbit, with bright red glowing eyes and pale, human-like hands, holding a pen and a letter. The second, titled “Endless Cycle for Vitality,” depicts three rabbits running in a circle.

A press release from the China Post said Huang produced his images “in a natural, witty and dynamic style,” with the image of the blue rabbit meant to convey “the meaning that Chinese people will work together to draw a grand ‘blueprint’ of China in the coming year.”

After a Weibo blogger posted the image of Huang’s blue rabbit in comparison to designs from Hong Kong and Macau, many responses said it wasn’t cute at all, inspiring fear more than good fortune for the year ahead.

“This blue rabbit is designed to be horrific, like a demon possessed,” one poster said. Another person said, “It is too evil to appreciate.”

Prior to this year’s stamp designs, Huang had a long and successful career as a contemporary artist and author. His work includes woodblock prints, ink-wash paintings, sculpture, poetry, autobiographical novels, and two other zodiac stamp designs, from 1980 and 2016.

Despite never attending art school or formally studying literature, Huang became a professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, the leading art school in China, at the age of 28. He eventually became the head of the printmaking department.

Huang now lives and works in Beijing and his work is held in the collections at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

Even with the negative comments in response to this year’s design, Huang’s bright blue rabbit stamp was an instant hit, drawing long queues at post offices and selling out online. It could also be incredibly lucrative for collectors in the future. In 2017, one of the 1980 Year of the Monkey stamps designed by Huang was sold at auction for a record price of 2.01 million yuan (almost US$300,000), according to the South China Morning Post.

27 Jan. 2023

Two weeks ago, in the New York Times, Scott Reyburn made the pronouncement that “the art market, like pretty much everything else in our culture, has become all about the here and now”—a nod to how contemporary artists have overtaken the once-fashionable Old Masters on the auction block. Sotheby’s Old Masters sales this week did little to counter that statement, bringing in a modest $74.5 million (or $89.5 million with fees) this week.

But their sales did include a few surprises, including a new public auction record for Bronzino, a successful haul for an Anthony Van Dyck painting that had been discovered in a farm shed, and works by female Old Masters that over-performed.

Below, a look at five works that sold in the sales.

27 Jan. 2023

In a tomb near Cairo, archaeologists have uncovered what some believe to be the oldest, most complete mummy ever to have been discovered in Egypt, the Guardian reports.

The remains were found among a group of tombs dating to the 5th and 6th century BCE, at the bottom of a 49-foot shaft near the Step Pyramid at Saqqara. Experts say the mummy, which was in a limestone sarcophagus that has been sealed with mortar, could be 4,300 years old.

“This mummy may be the oldest and most complete mummy found in Egypt to date,” said Zahi Hawass, one of Egypt’s former ministers of antiquities.

The mummy belonged to a man named Hekashepes, according to the Guardian, and was not the only one found in the tombs. One tomb that was decorated with scenes of daily life belonged to a priest and supervisor of nobles named Khnumdjedef, who served under last pharaoh of the 5th dynasty, Unas.

Another housed the remains of a man called Meri, who was described as the “keeper of the secrets and assistant to the great leader of the palace.”

Should any of these discoveries be displayed in a British museum in the future, it’s possible that visitors will not see the word “mummy” in the description. At least three U.K. institutions recently decided to use the phrase “mummified remains of” or “mummified person” in leu of the word “mummy,” in order to “encourage visitors to think of the individual.”

27 Jan. 2023

Walter Ulloa, a collector of Latinx art who had built a major media company focused on reaching Spanish-language countries, died on December 31, 2022, at his home in the L.A. neighborhood of Pacific Palisades. He was 74, and the cause of death was sudden heart failure.  

His death was confirmed by his company, Entravision Communications, on January 3, and first reported by NBC News and Billboard. In a statement, Entravision, which Ulloa cofounded in 1996, said, “Since founding Entravision more than 25 years ago, Walter has been an exceptional leader who transformed the company from a traditional multi-linear Spanish-language company that currently owns and operates approximately 100 domestic television and radio stations, to a global digital media powerhouse with a footprint that today reaches across more than 40 countries.”  

Born in 1948, Ulloa grew up in the 1950s and ’60s in Brawley, California, east of San Diego and north of Calexico in the Imperial Valley. An important agricultural region then and now, Brawley at the time was a segregated city. His father, also named Walter, was the first Mexican American to be a certified public accountant in California, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.

Though Ulloa initially pursued a career in law, working briefly in the L.A. district attorney’s office after graduating from Loyola Law School in 1975, his passion since childhood was always radio, whether rock ‘n’ roll and the blues or the news. “[Radio] was the first feeling of his wanting to raise his voice,” Ulloa’s widow, Alexandra Seros, told the L.A. Times.

After getting his start at the Spanish-language KMEX-TV channel, a Univision affiliate, as a writer who ultimately rose to news director, Ulloa set out on his own, with a mission to correct the inequity and discriminations he had long-witnessed in society—and the media industry—against Spanish-speaking communities in this country. He founded Entravision with the purchase of one Spanish-language TV station in the Coachella Valley; he grew it into a network of over 100 stations—in both TV and radio, his favored medium—across the country. The company is the largest operator of Univision affiliates in the country, and it went public in 2000.

And, while he was supporting access for the Latinx and Spanish-speaking communities through his media company, Ulloa was also a fierce support of Latinx art and culture. He served on several boards, including the Los Angeles Music Center, La Plaza de la Cultura y Artes, the Latino Theater Company, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., which he was appointed to by President Barack Obama.

A prodigious collector of Chicanx and Mexican art, his holdings included works by Gronk, Patssi Valdez, John Valadez, Vincent Valdez, Camille Rose Garcia, and George Yepes, as well as Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Francisco Toledo, Graciela Iturbide, and Francisco Corzas. He was also a founding donor to the Cheech in Riverside, California.

“There’s still this bias towards Chicano art,” Seros told the L.A. Times. “Like, why aren’t more Chicano artists at the Whitney? And Walter felt it. He didn’t have a chip on his shoulder, but he wanted to break through it.”

27 Jan. 2023

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The Headlines

ARCHIVE FEVER. The New York Public Library has purchased the literary archives of Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne, the New York Times reports. The material from the late couple runs a formidable 240 feet, and include drafts, photos, research materials, personal records, and letters, including one that Didion wrote in 1957, at the age of 22, to her family, informing them that a “little black dress” had been “a smashing success.” Speaking of Didion, a 2005 photograph of her by Brigitte Lacombe is included in the show of portraits of artists that curator Helen Molesworth has organized at the International Center of Photography in New York. The Guardian has a selection of images from the exhibition, whose other contributors are Tacita Dean and Catherine Opie (one unforgettable picture: a topless Lawrence Weiner).

CRYSTAL BALLS. What awaits us in 2023? Ocula asked a variety of art luminaries to make predictions about this new year, and artist Trevor Paglen responded with a particularly dark vision involving A.I. “The ability to generate specifically tailored text, images, and other media forms nearly instantaneously will not only decimate cultural workers, but dramatically accelerate the algorithmically-supercharged fracturing of a shared reality,” he wrote, in part. Meanwhile, in the New York TimesGeorge Gurley asked various notables to name “the things we do today that will seem embarrassing or otherwise regrettable to our future selves.” Many replies were fairly predictable—eating meat, pets in strollers—but not artist Jamian Juliano-Villani’s. “Beanies and workwear,” she said. “Because no one’s working. And no one’s that cold.”

The Digest

At start of the war in Ukraine, Russian mega-collector Roman Abramovich positioned himself as a possible peace broker, but his efforts have faltered, and his vast fortune is facing serious legal pressure internationally. [The Wall Street Journal]

Walter Ulloa, the trailblazing media executive who was an important patron of Latinx culture, has died at 74. Ulloa was a longtime art collector and supported the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture, which opened in Riverside, California, last year. [Los Angeles Times]

The Chatsworth House Trust, which is responsible for that art-rich house in the Derbyshire Dales of England, has a new director: Jane Marriot. She has been director of the Harewood House Trust for the past six years, and was previously director of the Royal Academy Trust (the youngest woman to hold the role) and director of development at the Royal Academy of Arts[Destination Chesterfield]

The opening of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles is still two years away, but the Ma Yansong–designed building, which will have 300,000 square feet and cost a cool $1 billion, is already a sight to behold. Photojournalist Allen J. Schaben has published fairly mesmerizing images of its current state. [LAT]

Artist Kenneth Tam has been making work about the Chinese migrant workers who helped build the U.S. railroad system in the 19th century. It is now on view at Ballroom Marfa in that Texas town, and Zachary Small gave Tam the profile treatment. [The New York Times]

The Kicker

REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST. Architectural Digest paid a visit to the two-bedroom New York apartment where actor Michael Imperioli (The SopranosThe White Lotus) lives with his wife, interior designer Victoria Imperioli , and it is a stunner, filled with art. Some of it dates back centuries, but none of it is from after the 1930s. “I like modern art, but I don’t like living with it,” Michael Imperioli said. “I like being transported to another time, in a way, in the home.” [Architectural Digest]

26 Jan. 2023

ProPublica’s “Repatriation Project” has revealed that several museums and universities across the U.S. hold the remains of Indigenous people in their permanent collections three decades after a U.S. law was passed requiring their return.

The project, conducted jointly with NBC News, includes a public database cataloging an estimated 100,000 Native American remains that are held in collections spanning museums, universities, and government agencies.

The investigation examines an apparent lull in national repatriation efforts after the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) was passed in 1990. The legal move forced museums in the U.S. backed with government funding to review their collections for Indigenous remains and initiate their returns.

The investigation found that some museums have utilized a legal loophole in the NAGPRA act that allows requests for items labeled by museum officials as “culturally unidentifiable” to be indefinitely stalled.

News of the project’s findings came a few months after the U.S. Interior Department released proposed changes to the 1990 legislation following a years-long consultation effort with more than 600 U.S. tribes. The proposal, issued in October 2022, is focused on shifting the 30-year-old standard by asking museums to defer to tribal representatives when it comes to the significance of unidentified materials that are the subject of return requests.

Some institutions have responded to the investigation’s findings. New York State Museum has said it is currently in talks with Indigenous tribe representative in New York to carry out its returns under NAGPRA. The Brooklyn Museum said it holds two remains that are potentially of Native American heritage, but that they are culturally unidentified, according to a report by Hyperallergic. The American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan reportedly holds the largest number of Native American remains in New York, with 3,500 sets of remains in their collection.

Universities have responded as well. Stanford, which reportedly holds 36 Native American remains, contested ProPublica’s presentation of the data on the number of returns they’ve made since the 1990 legislation. The university pointed out that the ProPublica report does not account for the number of remains that were returned outside of the NAGPRA purview. Stanford, which oversees an anthropological lab that housed the remains, says it returned more than 1,000 remains prior to 1990.

The project’s findings come as calls for the decolonization of Western institutions have increased in recent years. Along with that trend has come a renewed focus on institutions that hold human remains.

The Pitts River Museum in Oxford, England, for example, holds a large collection of ethnographic materials, and has recently removed human remains from display. Since 2020, it has been disclosing obligations to Indigenous communities in public texts. Other advocates have called for university museums to deaccession holdings of the remains of enslaved people.

26 Jan. 2023

Residents of Washington Heights are up in arms after New York City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) painted over the murals and graffiti that decorated the 191st Street Subway tunnel in an attempt to tidy up the pedestrian throughway, ABC7 reported Monday.

Members of the community and their city representative had complained about the condition of the tunnel, which is poorly lit and attracts more than its share of drug users and unhoused people looking for shelter. However, the artwork that lined the tunnel was a source of pride for the neighborhood.

“What happened here is just a slap in the face to the community,” Washington Heights resident Luiggy Gomez told Gothamist“They erased history.” 

The murals were part of a 2015 DOT-sponsored beautification project that saw five local artists decorate the 1000-foot-long tunnel with geometric shapes, luxuriant jungle scenes and affirmations, including a work by New York graffiti legend Fernando “Cope2” Carlo Jr.’s Art Is Life, which encouraged pedestrians to “Follow Your Dreams”.

While the original murals were quickly covered with contributions from local graffiti artists, the tunnel and the art that decorated it quickly became a cultural landmark and was featured in Lin Manuel Miranda’s film In The Heights.

Nira E. Leyva-Gutiérrez, executive director of the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, which co-sponsored the 2015 project with the DOT, issued a joint statement with New York City Council member Carmen De La Rosa decrying the DOT’s lack of transparency and community engagement during the renovation project. 

The DOT quickly responded with a statement of their own, assuring the community that they “value the importance of public art” and will soon issue a Request for Proposals “that will engage local artists, jump-starting a process that will allow us to transform the 191st St tunnel.”

In addition to the DOT’s planned “transformation” of the tunnel, DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez told New York’s NBC4 that the city has “allocated $25 million that we’ll be investing in the infrastructure of this tunnel in the next two years.”