Thomas Gainsborough’s ‘Blue Boy’ Visits London, Vito Schnabel Buys His Chelsea Gallery Space, and More: Morning Links for January 27, 2022

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The Headlines

BIENNIAL BONANZA. The Cape Town, South Africa–based curator and artist Khanyisile Mbongwa has been tapped to organize the next Liverpool Biennial in England, which will open in June of 2023, ARTnews reports. On Wednesday, the Biennale de Lyon in France also announced the artists slated for its September show. “Fragility” is its focus. Across the pond, the Whitney Museum has released a 63-strong roster for its upcoming biennial, which arrives in April. The participants skew older than in past editions, Alex Greenberger notes in a breakdown of the list in ARTnews, and 25 percent were born outside of the United States. Also on the calendar for April is the opening of the Venice Biennale . The lineup for the main show has not yet been revealed.

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HOMECOMING. Thomas Gainsborough’s storied Blue Boy (ca. 1770) painting has gone back on view at the National Gallery in London 100 years after it was last shown there, before being shipped off to California railroad tycoon Henry Edwards Huntington, who had purchased it. (His namesake museum in San Marino, California, loaned it this time.) “It is a remarkably beautiful picture, it’s striking, it’s moving, it’s beautifully painted, it’s enormously sort of romantic,” the gallery’s director, Gabriele Finalditold Reuters. Not everyone is taken with the angelic youth. Guardian critic Jonathan Jones writes that it “makes you wonder if as a nation, when it comes to art and the soul, we have something missing.” Yikes! In Apollo, scholar Juliet Carey has a deep dive on the piece, noting that it is but one of a “whole gang of ‘Vandyke’ boys (and men), which collectively illuminate themes of childhood, adolescence and masculinity, dress and the manufacture and politics of silk and satin.” It will be on view in London through May 15.

The Digest

Dealer Vito Schnabel has paid $9.2 million for the gallery space he had been renting on West 19th Street in Manhattan’s neighborhood. “It’s an incredible space with amazing light,” Schnabel said. “The artists love it and embrace it as well.” [New York Post]

An anonymous collector has put forward funds to help pay for the legal defense of Yulia Tsvetkova, an artist facing criminal charges for posting feminist drawings online, Sophia Kishkovsky reports. [The Art Newspaper]

The estate of the renowned Filipina artist Pacita Abad, who died in 2004, is now represented by New York’s Tina Kim Gallery. A major Abad retrospective is on deck for the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in 2023, as is a solo show at Kim. [ARTnews]

The Royal Institute of British Architects’ International Prize for best new building went to an 80-bed hospital in rural Bangladesh that was designed by Kashef Chowdhury and his firm Urbana, which is based in the capital city of Dhaka. [CNN]

NFT-Y! A granddaughter and great-grandson of Pablo Picasso are selling NFTs of a ceramic piece by the artist, ARTnews reports. “I think it fits within Picasso’s legacies because we are paying tribute to him and his way of working, which was always being creative,” the grandson, DJ Florian Picasso, said. Meanwhile, actor Johnny Depp is selling NFTs of his paintings of friends and people he admires, Page Six reports.

The Kicker

THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS. Artist Charles Ray, a master of meticulous figurative sculptures in milled steel, aluminum, and handmade paper, has four major shows this season, including one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which features an enchanting new cypress piece inspired by the archangel Gabriel. In a profile in the New York Times, Ray told critic Jason Farago that, when he began working with that material in the 2000s, “everyone was using old socks and teddy bears and stuff. All contemporary art smelled like a secondhand thrift store. And I had this beautiful piece that just reeked of Japan.” [NYT]


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