Toronto’s Immersive Van Gogh exhibition and Art News of the Week 29 June – 5 July

Atelier des Lumières Exhibit. Photo: Culturespaces
Atelier des Lumières Exhibit. Photo: Culturespaces

Last Thursday Phillips organized his evening sale of contemporary art and achieved a night of significant results. The Alison Jacques Gallery presents—in collaboration with the Gordon Parks Foundation—a two-part exhibition of works by Gordon Parks. Fred Wilson explains why we can’t take our eyes off the horrible parts of history. In an effort to safely reopen the Immersive Van Gogh exhibition in Toronto, circles have been added on the floor to help visitors walking to keep their distance.

Phillips’ contemporary evening sale

July 3, 2020 – Via

Noël, 1961-1962 by Joan Mitchell. Photo: Courtesy of Phillips

Phillips is a leading art gallery with a presence in the world’s most important cities. Founded by Harry Phillips as an auction house in 1796 in Westminster, London, it is today the destination of international collectors to buy and sell the most important contemporary art, design, and photography of the 20th century. Last Thursday, Phillips organized his evening sale of contemporary art and achieved a night of significant results. Among the highlights were such important names as Joan Mitchell and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Joan Mitchell’s canvas called Noël was the first lot of the evening. Joan Mitchell was an American expressionist painter as well as a printmaker belonging to the “second generation” of abstract expressionism. Noël is an oil on canvas, with explosive colors, dripping fields of paint, and rapid brushstrokes from the early 1960s, from an American collection. The painting had a final price of $11.1m. The historical work arrived on the market after almost three decades in the same collection.

Victor 25448 is a huge work by Jean-Michel Basquiat on paper, with dimensions of 1.80 by 1.80 meters. This work of the New York artist did not perform well with only four offers. But after an initial estimate of $8m, it finally managed to reach $9.25, but without reaching its maximum estimate of $12m.

This sale of one of Basquiat’s works comes after a strong demand for his works on paper, which reached a new record at Sotheby’s auction on June 29, where Basquiat’s Untitled (Head) reached a total sale price of $15.2m. Phillips faced a major challenge in the sale of its two most important lots, as they came on the market just after Sotheby’s sales that supplied the demand for similar works from both Mitchell and Basquiat.


July 1, 2020 – Via

Gordon Parks, Untitled, Nashville, Tennessee (1956). Photo: Courtesy of the Gordon Parks Foundation, NY and Alison Jacques Gallery, London. © The Gordon Parks Foundation.

The Alison Jacques Gallery presents—in collaboration with the Gordon Parks Foundation—a two-part exhibition of works by Gordon Parks (1912-2006). The American photographer, film director, and writer has been recognized for being the first black photojournalist to work for LIFE magazine as well as being the director of the “Harlem’s Red Nights” film.

Parks was a great contemporary artist who left behind an exceptional body of work, documenting the culture and daily life of the United States from the 1940s to the 2000s. Parks had achievements in other areas such as writing with the production of fiction and non-fiction texts. He also directed several feature films, including the well-known 1971 film Shaft.

Gordon Parks was also a humanitarian who had a deep lifelong commitment to social justice. He was born and raised amidst poverty and segregation in Fort Scott, Kansas. From a young age, he developed a deeply personal style of photography with a focus on race relations, poverty, civil rights, and urban life.

This is the first solo exhibition of Parks’ work after twenty-five years without the appearance of his work in the art scene in London. It was originally scheduled to open in March this year, but due to the pandemic the first part opens in July 2020, and the second part will open in September 2020.

GORDON PARKS: PART ONE focuses on two stories called Segregation in the South (1956) and Black Muslims (1963) initially published in Life magazine. Parks’ interest in photography grew out of a desire to create meaningful change, and this period was a critical time in Parks’ career, as the civil rights movement in the United States was being born. His photographs show the marginalized and anonymous families, so far confined and ignored by mainstream American society.

Parks used to spend entire weeks in the places he chose for his photographs. He put great importance on forming relationships with the people he captured with his lens. The artist’s intimate photographs revolutionized conventional representations of those he portrayed. He once said, “I saw that the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all kinds of social evils”.

Fred Wilson, there Is meaning in ugliness

July 2, 2020 – Via

Blackamoor objects on display in “Fred Wilson: Beauty & Ugliness.” Photo: © Art21, Inc. 2014.

Fred Wilson was born in 1954 in the Bronx, New York, where he lives and works. He said that although he studied art, he no longer has the desire to do things with his hands. Wilson creates artifacts found in museum collections, including wall labels, sound, lighting, and unorthodox object pairings.

In an exclusive interview with Art21 filmed in 2014, Wilson explains why we can’t take our eyes off the horrible parts of history. In that interview, Wilson discusses beauty, ugliness, and meaning in relation to his installations at the 2003 Venice Biennale and at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2004.

In Venice, Wilson worked on Blackamoors, sculptures representing black slaves. In an act of provocation and anti-racist action he gathered them together and placed them in the American pavilion. Blackamoors is a style of European art that depicts stylized figures of African men in exotic form. This style is now seen by some as racist and culturally insensitive.

Blackamoor is produced in Venice mainly for the American market. In these handmade decorative figures, most people today would see only ugliness and racism while others manage to appreciate a certain beauty. This act of difference is the key according to Wilson.

In the interview with Art21 Wilson said: “People have to deal with the fact that there is meaning in beauty… there is meaning in ugliness. In a lot of my work, if I can, I try to get that tension out”. Art21 is a non-profit organization and a world leader in presenting thought-provoking content on contemporary art, and a place to learn first-hand from the artists of our time.

Toronto’s Immersive Van Gogh exhibition

July 3, 2020 – Via

A rendering of the Toronto’s “Immersive Van Gogh” exhibit, which includes floor circles that help walk-through visitors maintain distance. Photo: Immersive van Gogh Toronto

In an effort to safely reopen the Immersive Van Gogh exhibition in Toronto, circles were added on the floor to help visitors to keep the proper distance. This experience is sure to be very different from the 2 million visitors at L’Atelier des Lumieres in Paris where this impressive exhibition opened in April 2018.

The immersive show was designed as a walking event. It features digital images projected onto 600,000 cubic feet of interior space and opened on July 1st. The 35-minute light, sound, and motion show can be visited on foot or by car. In addition to the social distancing circles for visitors on foot, from July 3rd visitors can enter and view from their cars too. The place selected for the start of this exhibition has a ramp that allows cars to enter the art space.

The space that belonged to a former printing house of the Toronto Star has been completely transformed into an illuminated gallery showing this Van Gogh Immersive Exhibition. Inside the “Immersive Van Gogh” visitors will be able to walk through cherry blossom forests and sunflower fields.

The digital art experience shows the works of the iconic artist in a unique and mesmerizing way. The 600,000 cubic feet of 5-story space dances with sketches and illuminated paintings. Over 50 projectors shine images across the walls and floor, taking you directly into Van Gogh’s world.

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