The British Museum Reopens and the Art News of the Week 24 – 30 August

Visitors in the British Museum’s Egyptian galleries on Thursday. Photo: Tom Jamieson for The New York Times.
Visitors in the British Museum’s Egyptian galleries on Thursday. Photo: Tom Jamieson for The New York Times.

Bansky had started an initiative with a rescue boat that will transport refugees from North Africa, crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. This week Vanity Fair unveiled its cover for its September issue of a portrait of Breonna Taylor painted by Amy Sherald. The Corita Art Center in Los Angeles is leading a campaign to save the old Los Angeles studio from demolition. The British Museum in London was closed for 163 days because of the coronavirus pandemic. But last Thursday it became the last major museum in Europe to reopen its doors to visitors.

Banksy last work, a Boat Carrying Refugees Across Mediterranean Sea

August 28, 2020 – Via artnews.com

The Louise Michel vessel. Photo: AP PHOTO/SANTI PALACES

This week it became public knowledge that Bansky, the well-known English street artist with a great reach to the mass public, had started a noble initiative. It is about a rescue boat that will transport refugees from North Africa, crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. In recent months Bansky has been involved in various political issues such as the refugee crisis and systemic racism. His work has again been focused on this initiative to get involved in the refugee issue with the help of a rescue vote.

The boat bearing the name of Louise Michel, a 19th-century French anarchist, was carrying 89 people yesterday and looking for a port in Europe where it could take them. This boat used to belong to the French government and left the Spanish port of Barruina on August 18th. The boat is manned by ten European activists and has the word “Rescue” written on the side. It is painted in white, pink, and has a Bansky painting of a girl holding a heart-shaped Lifebuoy.

“I don’t see sea rescue as a humanitarian action, but as part of an anti-fascist fight. Banksy won’t pretend that he knows better than us how to run a ship, and we won’t pretend to be artists,” said Pia Klemp, ship captain, animal and human rights activist and author from Germany. She has worked as a captain for NGO boats and is participating in this initiative with the English artist.

Banksy wrote in an email to Klemp last year: “Hello Pia, I’ve read about your story in the papers. You sound like a badass. I am an artist from the UK and I’ve made some work about the migrant crisis, obviously, I can’t keep the money. Could you use it to buy a new boat or something? Please let me know. Well done. Banksy”.

Amy Sherald Painted Breonna Taylor for the Cover of Vanity Fair’s

Taylor Dafoe, August 24, 2020 – Via artnet.com

The cover of Vanity Fair’s September 2020 issue. Photo: Courtesy of Vanity Fair.

This week Vanity Fair unveiled its cover for its September issue. The cover features a portrait of an elegant Breonna Taylor painted by Amy Sherald. In a Vanity Fair interview with Sherald, she said: “She sees you seeing her. The hand on the hip is not passive, her gaze is not passive. She looks strong! I wanted this image to stand as a piece of inspiration to keep fighting for justice for her. When I look at the dress, it kind of reminds me of Lady Justice”.

Amy Sherald (1973) is an American artist known for her portrait paintings. Her style is framed within the genre of American historical realist art. Her works tell stories about the African American tradition. The September issue of Vanity Fair’s has an Amy painting on its cover. In this work, the African American artist has made a portrait of Breonna Taylor. A 26-year-old African-American woman dead while she was in her home by the shots of the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) officers on March 13, 2020.

Tamika Palmer is Breonna Taylor’s mother and she told Vanity Fair that Shortly after midnight on March 13, strangers shot and killed Breonna Taylor in her own home. The strangers claimed to be investigating a drug case but didn’t found drugs in Breonna Taylor’s house and left her incident report almost blank.

Sherald said that the details in this portrait were carefully considered and that she employed a woman with similar physical features for the making of it. This is her second commission after the portrait she made of the former First Lady Michelle Obama. Sherald revealed some important aspects of Taylor’s portrait. The color of Taylor’s dress in the image is related to Taylor’s birthstone, the necklace with a golden cross represents her faith, and on her left hand is the wedding ring with which her fiancé, Kenneth Walker, planned to propose to her.

Campaign launched to preserve Corita Kent’s studio as historical landmark

August 27, 2020 – Via artforum.com

Corita Kent – A man you can lean on, 1966. Photo: Copyright © 2020—Corita Art Center.

The Corita Art Center in Los Angeles is conducting a campaign to save the old Los Angeles studio from demolition. It once belonged to the late artist Corita Kent (1918-1986). The initiative is under the direction of Nellie Scott, director of this Art Center. The site is scheduled to be demolished to make room for a parking lot.

Corita Kent was a Catholic nun, artist, designer, and educator, known as Sister Mary Corita Kent. She was one of the teachers at Immaculate Heart College. Corita became known in the California art scene for her pop screen prints and her works were related to issues like social justice and Christianity. It has been said that her work, done between 1961 and 1968, foreshadowed the later work of Andy Warhol. During those years she was also a nun of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a Roman Catholic organization that she had joined at the age of 18.

The Corita Art Center in Los Angeles, located at 5518 Franklin Avenue, was where she produced most of her work as her name became increasingly known in the art scene of the time. She reached important milestones such as being named Woman of the Year by the “Los Angeles Times” in 1966, was on the cover of Newsweek in 1967, and finally left the church in 1968.

Kent was awarded the American Institute of Graphic Arts Medal in 2016 posthumously. The city of Los Angeles declared in 2018 her birthday on November 20 as Corita Kent Day. Now the Corita Art Center is calling on interested parties to act before representatives of the District to have this building reviewed by the Office of Historic Resources and the Cultural Heritage Commission to save this valuable contemporary art heritage.

The British Museum Reopens to a World That Has Changed

Aug. 27, 2020 – Via nytimes.com

The Parthenon Marbles on display at the British Museum. Photo: Tom Jamieson for The New York Times.

The British Museum in London was closed for 163 days because of the coronavirus pandemic. But last Thursday it became the last major museum in Europe to reopen its doors to visitors. Within this iconic London building, hand disinfection, one-way tours, limited visitor groups and the wearing of masks have become commonplace, as in all such institutions during these pandemic times. But these are not the only novelties presented by the reopening of the British Museum.

During its closure, the organization of the museum was very busy modifying several exhibitions to clarify their links with slavery and colonialism. The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests around the world “altered everyone’s consciousness,” said Hartwig Fischer, the museum’s director, in an interview. That’s why the museum made two major changes for the reopening.

The first of the changes made was to move the bust of Hans Sloane from a prominent gallery plinth to a display case. Sloane was a physician and collector of curiosities whose collections formed the basis of the museum when it was founded in 1753, but he was also a slave owner. Since the change, Sloane’s bust is in a display case with objects related to Britain’s involvement in the slave trade.

The second of these changes was the creation of a guided tour of the museum called “Collecting and Empire”, with plaques explaining how certain objects came to be in the museum. The plaques indicate that most items were purchased or donated to the museum and not stolen. “Our task is to elucidate the history of this institution and the history of every object in it”. Mr. Fischer said of the alterations.

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