Artist John Grazier Dies at 76, London’s Masterpiece Fair Canceled, and More: Morning Links for January 9, 2023

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The Headlines

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ARTIST JOHN GRAZIER, who created subtle, meticulous drawings and paintings of rooms, buildings, and cityscapes that are always devoid of people, died late last month at his home in rural Pennsylvania at the age of 76, the Washington Post reports. Grazier’s works suggest an almost preternaturally careful form of looking, as lights and shadows fall across furniture and architectural details. They radiate a curious melancholy, lonely and yet teeming with unseen life. The artist cut a distinctive path. While he studied at art schools, he never took a degree, he refused to work side jobs in order to focus exclusively on his art, and went through periods of homelessness. Long based in D.C., he sometimes spent under its bridges in the city. “It’s like sleeping on the Appalachian Trail, except it’s next to I-395,” he told the Post in 1990. “But it’s going to get better. I’m going to be rich and famous.” Institutions like the Art Institute of Chicago and Smithsonian American Art Museum today hold his work.

DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN. Supporters of Brazil’s recently defeated president, Jair Bolsonarobroke into the famed modernist government buildings of Brasília on Sunday, the New York Times reports. Hundreds of people were arrested. The extent of the damage they caused in the capital is not yet clear. But even before this weekend’s mayhem, the country’s Oscar Niemeyer–designed presidential palace—and the art in it—was damaged while Bolsonaro occupied it, according to a report by a Brazilian broadcaster picked up by the Guardian. Other artworks it holds are said to be missing. The former leader, who has floated false claims about election fraud, is believed to be in Florida, and was recently spotted at a KFC and a Publix market.

The Digest

This year’s edition of the Masterpiece fair in London has been canceled by its owner, MCH Group (Art Basel’s parent company). The firm cited “escalating costs and a decline in the number of international exhibitors.” Masterpiece’s chief said that “no future editions of Masterpiece in its current format are planned.” [The Art Newspaper]

Inside the Uffizi, a new documentary that looks at the history and treasures of that beloved museum, will be available to stream widely by the end of March, and deals have been inked for it in Italy and China. It was directed by Corinna Belz (who made 2011’s Gerhard Richter Painting) and Enrique Sánchez Lansch[Variety]

A YouTube video that racked up 1.7 million views last week claims that archaeologists recently discovered the tomb of the Egyptian god Osiris. Not so! An expert who watched the 28-minute production (yikes!) piece said, “Nothing accurate here; the videos just string together snippets from tombs and temples all over Egypt.” [The Associated Press]

Why is ancient Roman concrete so durable? A new study proposes that builders of the time developed a method for mixing the material that allows it to repair itself. It’s all a bit technical, but the process essentially involves water seeping into cracks and reacting to its ingredients, filling in the fractures. [The Guardian]

The Spanish architect David Romero and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation have collaborated to make ultra-detailed computer renderings of nine of Wright’s unbuilt projects. They include his plans for a chapel at the University of Oklahoma and The Illinois, his fabled mile-high Chicago tower. [Architectural Digest]

Mastercard has partnered with the blockchain platform Polygon to create a “Web3-focused incubator” for artists. “We see that Web3 holds tremendous promise for artists and creators to create, own and monetize their content,” a Mastercard exec said, “but only if they know how to leverage it.” [TechCrunch]

The Kicker

TRIPLE PLAY. Three giants of the British art world—Phyllida BarlowRachel Whiteread, and Alison Wilding—will open a show next week at Gagosian in Paris, and in the Financial Times, they chatted about the ups and downs of their storied careers. Barlow, for her part, recounted having sculptor Henry Moore as a teacher in the 1960s. “He told me I couldn’t draw!” she said. Apparently, Moore was nice about it, though. “I mean, I’m sure he was right,” Barlow told the paper, “they were probably awful drawings.” Regardless, things have worked out for her over the long run. Struggling art students, take heart! [FT]


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