Pacific Standard Time
Art produced in California hasn’t exactly been central to art history. New York has tended to dominate that role. In 2012 the Getty Foundation changed that by launching Pacific Standard Time, an initiative that funded research on and exhibitions about art from Southern California, and has since thrown light on the boundary-pushing contributions of the women at the Woman’s Building in the 1960s, the performance art collective Asco, photographer Laura Aguilar, and the Light and Space artists. The second iteration of PST in 2017 focused on Latin American and Latinx artists in the city’s diverse arts scene. The upcoming edition, slated to open in 2024, will look at art’s connections to the sciences. As one museum director put it, PST asks, “Where is art taking us now?”
KAWS may be a market darling, but he hasn’t yet been the subject of an exhibition at a major American institution. That will change in 2021 when the Brooklyn Museum puts on a survey of his work. The person spearheading that show is Brooklyn Museum director Anne Pasternak. Her term leading the Brooklyn Museum has not been without controversy—activists have alleged that the institution was wrong to hire a white woman for an African art position, and some have said that the museum is out of touch with its immediate community. But no one can deny that Pasternak, who became director in 2015, has brought crowds to a museum that once faced financial tumult and declining attendance.
Hong Kong–based entrepreneur Kevin Poon made his mark on the fashion world with his streetwear brand CLOT, which has led to collaborations in the music world. He helped coordinate the 2013 music festival Blohk Party in Hong Kong, which included performances by Pharrell Williams, Pusha T, and Steve Aoki, and he played a role in bringing Kanye West to Hong Kong in 2006 for a leg of his “Touch the Sky” tour. Poon maintains a collection of art that features pieces by Jose Parla, Daniel Arsham, and Sterling Ruby; and he was an early advocate of KAWS: he assisted in organizing a solo exhibition in 2012 titled “The Nature of Need” at Galerie Perrotin’s Hong Kong space.
Nadia & Rajeeb Samdani
and Samdani Art Foundation
In 2021 collectors Nadia and Rajeeb Samdani will open Srihatta–Samdani Art Centre and Sculpture Park, a 100-acre space for their holdings in Sylhet, Bangladesh. The venue will become one of the country’s most important art spaces—and it is but one of many contributions that the Samdanis have made to Bangladesh over the years; the couple has appeared on the ARTnews Top 200 Collectors list each year since 2015. Since 2012, the Samdanis and their foundation have hosted the biennial Dhaka Art Summit, which convenes a veritable who’s who of major South Asian artists, curators, and academics. Their influence is felt abroad as well—works from their collection appeared in Documenta 14 in 2017, and they sit on Tate’s South Asian committee, Art Dubai’s advisory council, and the Harvard University South Asia Institute’s arts advisory council.
The words “sensitive,” “caring,” and “ethical” do not often get trotted out in tribute to directors of institutions, but Jay Sanders (regarding whom more than a few fellow leaders in his sphere use these adjectives) is cut from a mold fashioned at a time when the New York art scene was invested in different aspirations in terms of impact and scale. Artists Space, a modest but historically consequential alternative space founded in downtown Manhattan in the 1970s, lucked out in 2017 when it hired him as director, having wooed him away from the Whitney Museum, where he was the first performance curator. The fruits of his labor are now ready for picking as the exhibition-and-performance space’s momentous two-story, 8,000-square-foot home welcomes visitors to what promises to be a new nexus in the once-again thriving neighborhood of Tribeca. Sanders’s full-time post at the Whitney had come out of the performance-minded 2012 Whitney Biennial that he curated with Elisabeth Sussman. And his list of credits touches on such hip and heady enterprises as Greene Naftali gallery and projects for nonprofits like White Columns and Anthology Film Archives.
In 2018 Antwaun Sargent noticed a Juergen Teller photoshoot of Rihanna that looked a lot like work by Mickalene Thomas. “THIS IS A BAD COPY OF MICKALENE THOMAS’ ART,” he wrote on Twitter, and with a single post, he ignited widespread controversy. It was an example of the work that has made Sargent one of today’s most closely watched critics, with more than 60,000 Instagram followers and articles in a spread of publications, from the New Yorker to ARTnews. A crucial figure in both the art and fashion worlds, he advocates frequently for emerging black talent, and this past October, he put out his first book, The New Black Vanguard, a survey of fashion photography by young black artists.
As director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami since 2015, Franklin Sirmans has helped craft an exhibition program that is vigorously international, with a heavy emphasis on the Caribbean and Central and South America, areas that have historically gotten short shrift in U.S. museums. As artistic director of Prospect 3 in New Orleans in 2014, he delivered a triennial that was at once adventurous and approachable, and won widespread acclaim. Other curatorial efforts have run the gamut from a deep dive on the intersections of soccer (2014’s “Fútbol: The Beautiful Game” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where he headed the contemporary art department) to a 2015 retrospective for the sculptor Noah Purifoy at LACMA. He is one of the few black curators leading a major American museum, and his career is just getting started.
Studio Museum in Harlem Residency Program
If you’re a young artist of African or Latinx descent, there’s perhaps no better honor to receive than a spot in the Studio Museum in Harlem’s artist residency program, which acts as a launchpad for many of today’s emerging talents. It’s been around for a while—Kerry James Marshall participated in the 1980s, but the New York museum’s residency program remains so ahead of the curve that it can take up to five years to notice how important it has been for an artist. Consider the 2015–16 class, for example—Jordan Casteel is now one of America’s most sought-after portraitists, Jibade-Khalil Huffman appeared on a recent ARTnews list of Los Angeles artists to watch, and EJ Hill won a $25,000 award for his participation in the Hammer Museum’s 2018 Made in L.A. exhibition, one of America’s top biennials.
One of the most closely watched emerging gallerists in downtown Manhattan, Jasmin Tsou has built her multigenerational powerhouse of a gallery in a little more than seven years, showing artists like the veteran Chicago sculptor Diane Simpson and the mid-career Richmond, California–based painter Marlon Mullen, both of whom were tapped for the 2019 Whitney Biennial. An alum of the galleries Maccarone and Kimmerich, where she served in junior roles, she recently added a trifecta of critically lauded artists—Elaine Cameron-Weir, Issy Wood, and Sam McKinniss—to a roster already stacked with live-wire painter Jamian Juliano-Villani and Doreen Garner, whose unflinching sculptures about violence against the black body were the talk of Art Basel in Switzerland in 2018. In an art market that’s been tough on the middle tier, many gallerists on the Lower East Side and in Chinatown have shuttered in the past few years. Tsou seems only to be gaining momentum.
After slinking up from the underground with a moody mix of electronic music and R&B, the Weeknd—born in Toronto in 1990 as Abel Makkonen Tesfaye—kept slinking and slinking until he became a star. His work moved from formative spots in hip indie playlists to the top of the charts, and during his rise he’s worked with an eclectic array of collaborators including Daft Punk and Drake, to name just two. It turns out the Weeknd has also been collecting art. In Los Angeles, where he lives, he has amassed multifaceted holdings by an appropriately mixed cast of artists including the likes of Julie Mehretu, Danny Fox, Joyce Pensato, and—as evidenced by a life-size golden sculpture in his home—Hajime Sorayama (the Japanese artist known for sexy robots and fantastical visions of other kinds).
Those who thought being commissioned to paint a paradigm-shifting presidential portrait of Barack Obama couldn’t be topped may have stopped in their tracks when Kehinde Wiley unveiled his latest big-time move this fall: a public sculpture in New York’s Times Square. The so-called Crossroads of the World was temporarily home to Rumors of War, a 27-foot-high takedown of wrong-minded Confederate statuary (man, horse, heroic pose) with a young black figure in place of what might otherwise have been a general fighting on the wrong side of history. With the work now moving to take up permanent residence in its commissioned home on a street outside the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Wiley has more time for his many extracurricular activities—like shopping for suits and Black Rock Senegal, a live/work space he recently opened to host artist residencies in Dakar.
How exactly did one of the world’s top auction houses get in the business of dealing in skateboards and sneakers? You have Noah Wunsch to thank for that. Wunsch has been with Sotheby’s for the past three years, but only recently took over as global head of e-commerce and, in that short time, has already mounted two of the most buzzed-about online auctions of the year: the sale of 248 Supreme skateboard decks for $800,000 and a pair of Nikes from 1972 that brought in a record-breaking $437,500. Wunsch told ARTnews that he wanted to push the house into “brand innovation”—diving into up-and-coming collecting categories that might soon be on par with blue-chip contemporary art. He hinted at a major collaboration in the realm of fashion that will be announced in early 2020 but stopped short of providing further details per NDAs in effect at press time. Whatever it is, it promises to make waves.
The current cavalcade of superior figurative painting by black artists counts high among its ranks Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, born in London in 1977 and now a distinguished citizen of that borderless, boundaryless interzone known as the art world. Early breakout moves for her include an attention-grabbing solo exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2010 and a long list of showings with high-profile enterprises since (Venice Biennale, Serpentine Galleries, Sharjah Biennial, Carnegie International, Okwui Enwezor’s Haus der Kunst). Yiadom-Boakye’s devotion to writing stories and poems has also put her in position to venture into other worlds—in 2017, when she had a show at the New Museum in New York, she was profiled in the New Yorker by the novelist Zadie Smith, and her latest laurel is a solo show at the Yale Center for British Art as part of a series curated by the writer and critic Hilton Als, which opened last fall.