A note from Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean, Guest Editor:
Artists are the gateway to our future. They are agitators and disrupters—constantly challenging us to rethink the world around us and guide us past our limits.
As an artist myself, I am humbled by this process and how its impact can help create new perspectives. I am even more humbled and inspired by the community that surrounds me and how we collectively push this mission together.
The art world, the industry, the market, the movement—however you want to phrase it—is a complex community. All of us are hard at work, shaping what the next 10, 20, 30, 40 years will look like for those in the next generation who dare to be an artist, a curator, a collector, a gallerist, a specialist, a museum director—a visionary.
This issue of ARTnews offers a glimpse into the future by way of visionaries in our communities who continue to look and think forward. I am honored to be a part of it, and I hope it sparks conversation and collaboration while rethinking outdated narratives.
- 21c Museum Hotels
- Christopher Bedford
- Joeonna Bellorado-Samuels
- Doryun Chong
- James Elaine
- rafa esparza
- Pamela J. Joyner
- Bernard Lumpkin
- The New Red Order
- Simon Wang
- Deborah Willis
Deep Dives (to publish online in the weeks to come):
A maker of bewitching videos, cyber-rococo sculptures, and irresistible paintings (with the help of fire), Korakrit Arunanondchai has been on a roll since graduating from Columbia University’s MFA program in 2012, but he’s been in particularly tremendous demand of late, with solo shows just last year at Secession Vienna, Spazio Maiocchi in Milan, and K11 in Hong Kong, plus star turns in the 2018 editions of the Venice Biennale and Whitney Biennial, where he was among the artists who asked to pull their works to protest Warren B. Kanders, the defense manufacturer who subsequently quit the museum’s board. But it is as a serial collaborator and organizer that Arunanondchai stands out from his artist peers. In 2018 he founded a performance and video biennial in Bangkok, Thailand, where he was born, and where he spends time when not working in New York or alighting at exhibitions the world over.
Beyoncé & Jay-Z
Standing at the top of the world allows for no shortage of enticing sightlines, so it says something about both that Beyoncé and Jay-Z turn their eyes so often to art. Beyoncé has it in her blood, as her mother, Tina Knowles Lawson, has come forward as a significant collector and her sister, Solange, has worked at staging music-and-multimedia spectacles and installations at a number of museums. And Jay-Z has been far more than a dabbler going back to the days when he danced with Marina Abramović at Pace Gallery in the video for “Picasso Baby” in 2013. As collectors, the couple focuses on African-American artists both established and emerging—and they buy a lot. (“By a lot, I mean a lot, a lot, a lot,” one dealer familiar with their habits said.) They might rightly be called advocates for Old Masters too, since their music video for the song “Apeshit,” set in the Louvre, helped the Paris institution break attendance records in 2018.
When Gwyneth Paltrow needs art, she doesn’t prowl art fairs. She calls Maria Brito, the self-described “luxury lifestyle consultant” to the stars—or to any prospective client with a disposable quarter million. Since launching her business, Lifestyling, in 2009, Brito has become the purchasing proxy behind a reinvention of the celebrity art collector. Just ask hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, a longtime Brito client. His purchase of a $21 million Kerry James Marshall at Sotheby’s in 2018 preceded a surge of blue-chip buys by the likes of Jay-Z and Kanye.
For the last decade, Adrian Cheng’s K11 Art Foundation has been making moves in the international art world, snagging standouts at Frieze London and sponsoring the Armory Show’s 2014 China Symposium. In his K11 Art Malls, which Cheng, scion of one of Hong Kong’s wealthiest families, calls a “new museum model,” retail shopping on the main floors provides a ready audience for the art displayed in the basement. As of 2018, the foundation has 29 projects in the works, and more in the rearview. “I think the new contemporary Chinese art is reinventing Chinese cultural identity and building up a new Chinese culture,” Cheng told ARTnews.
Under the label that bears his first name, New York’s Telfar Clemens has been pushing the possibilities of the fashion industry for years, acting more like a post-medium contemporary artist than a designer. Best known for his relaxed, wearable, nongendered clothing (the queer creative eschewed binary-minded clothes from the company’s start, in 2005), he has designed the uniforms for the employees of White Castle (where he once hosted runway after-parties), staged shows that have the rollicking energy of performance art (often with music by the art-overlapping DJ Total Freedom). Last week, he invited artists Wu Tsang and boychild to walk in the company’s fashion show in Florence, and in 2018, he created a short film in collaboration with similarly quicksilver talents like actor Ashton Sanders, playwright Jeremy O. Harris, and photographer Petra Collins. It was titled “The World Isn’t Everything”—which, fair enough, but it seems like Clemens could secure world domination if he wanted it.
Though it may occupy a modest space on New York’s Lower East Side (and not even a ground-floor one, at that), Company Gallery was a force at the 2019 Whitney Biennial, with half its roster showing at the exhibition. One of the gallery’s artists, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, won the Whitney Museum’s $100,000 Bucksbaum Prize during the show’s run; another, John Edmonds, went on to have his photography featured in a widely shared New York Times op-ed about arts criticism and race. Neither artist had been well-known before being scooped up by Company. Founded in 2014, Company came from humble beginnings, and is now a destination in the New York scene for its queer-focused programming, representing such artists such as EJ Hill, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, and the late experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer.
Artists like Rob Pruitt bring their work to New York’s Karma bookstore and gallery for sleek, idiosyncratic cover designs. Readers at Karma for Pruitt’s book signing were greeted by the artist—totally nude save for a strategically placed panda doll. Guile and style are the brand at the Karma enterprise, which now consists of a gallery, bookstore, and publisher. The visionary behind the unlikely empire? Forty-year-old graphic designer-turned-gallerist Brendan Dugan. Since Karma’s launch in 2011, it has published books by Jonas Wood and Richard Prince; even the world’s most powerful gallery is a client. Gagosian published books about Dike Blair and Jonas Wood with Dugan. And now Dugan has even begun launching his artists to mainstream fame—Alex Da Corte, who has shown with Karma since the early part of his career, now has solo exhibitions in museums around the world, and Nicolas Party recently got represented by Hauser & Wirth, who will share him with Dugan’s company.
Bronx-raised mixed-media artist Awol Erizku prefers a private life—difficult after being hailed by New York magazine as “the Art World’s New It Boy.” Erizku caught worldwide notice by shooting Beyoncé’s 2017 Insta-breaking pregnancy announcement, but he’d rather discuss the radical work that’s come before, and after. Like his first solo show, which recast canonical portraits with black models—Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring was remixed as Girl with a Bamboo Earring. He’s set a new model for digital age image-making, operating his Instagram like a 9–5 gallery. And unlike contemporary predecessors, he’s reaching for the widest audience possible.
In 2020, one of the international art world’s most closely watched curators takes on one of its most closely watched biennials: Natasha Ginwala will co-organize the Gwangju Biennale, which opens in March in South Korea, with a focus on our increasingly digital future. Ginwala has an impressive track record. She was curatorial adviser for Documenta 14 in 2017 and a member of the artistic team for the Berlin Biennale in 2014. She is currently associate curator at the Gropius Bau museum in Berlin, where she recently oversaw a Bani Abidi survey, and artistic director of the Colomboscope art festival in Sri Lanka, which is now one of that nation’s preeminent arts events. Ginwala has accomplished all this, in addition to projects for the 2015 Venice Biennale, the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and more—and she has yet to turn 40.
Independent curator Candice Hopkins has been instrumental in shedding light on the artistic practices of indigenous artists around the world. She has also changed the ways in which indigenous artists are curated into exhibitions, allowing them to speak on their own terms. She’s brought this approach to major biennials—three editions of SITElines in Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2017’s Documenta 14 in Kassel, Germany, and Athens, and this year’s inaugural Toronto Biennial. She also serves as a role model. As artist Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds recently told ARTnews, “The end game, you hope, is that First Nations women will look at her and say, ‘I want to do that.’ ”