PHOTO | BRUT: Collection Bruno Decharme & Compagnie Opens at The American Folk Art Museum, New York City, June 16, 2020–October 18, 2020

PHOTO | BRUT: Collection Bruno Decharme & Compagnie, at the American Folk Art Museum in New York City. presents the first international survey of self-taught photography. Gathering works dating from 1870 to the present by artists from various countries, the exhibition reveals the critical potential of this still relatively unexplored segment of the research on art brut. It includes four hundred works by more than forty artists (notably, Morton Bartlett, Lee Godie, Norma Oliver, Miroslav Tichý, and Marcel Bascoulard) with projections of never-before-printed images by Eugene Von Bruenchenhein and the Instagram transformations of Ichio Sugino. It also gathers assemblages made of photographs by Felipe Jesus Consalvos, Kasuo Handa, and Steve Ashby, and works relying heavily on the photographic process by Henry Darger and Leopold Strobl. This exhibition shines light on the innovative practices in the field of photography, offering fresh insight into the medium. The works have been selected from the exceptional collection of Bruno Decharme, as well as from the American Folk Art Museum, public institutions, and private collections.

Steve Ashby (1904–1980, Delaplane, VA); untitled; n.d.; wood, magazine clipping, fabric, paint, plastic, and metal; 10 1/2 x 11 1/2 x 5 in.; Collection of Robert A. Roth. Photo by John Faier.
Henry Darger (1892–1973, Chicago, IL); untitled (“These Little Children. . .”); mid-twentieth century; hand-tinted photograph and ink on cardboard; 7 x 9 in.; © Kiyoko Lerner; Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York, gift of Kiyoko Lerner, 2003.7.60. Photo by Gavin Ashworth.

This exhibition is co-produced by the American Folk Art Museum, abcd, and Les Rencontres d’Arles. It is curated by Valérie Rousseau, PhD, senior curator & curator of self-taught art and art brut, and Bruno Decharme, in collaboration with Paula Aisemberg, Barbara Safarova, and Sam Stourdzé.

Morton Bartlett (1909, Chicago, IL–1992, Boston, MA); untitled (Girl Reading); c. 1955; 35mm transparency; © The Bartlett Project, LLC; Barry Sloane Collection, Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of the Bartlett Project, LLC.

A 320-page catalog (printed in English and French, 2019), published by Flammarion in collaboration with the American Folk Art Museum and abcd, is available at the Museum Shop. It includes contributions by the exhibition curators Bruno Decharme, Valérie Rousseau, Barbara Safarova, and Sam Stourdzé, and renowned specialists Michel Thévoz and Brian Wallis, among others.

Lee Godie (1908, Chicago, IL–1994, Plato Center, IL), untitled (“Lee at 6 am Chicago”), around 1980, silver print (photo booth), 5 x 3 3/4 in., Collection John and Teenuh Foster. Photo courtesy of John and Teenuh Foster.

This exhibition is supported in part by the David Davies and Jack Weeden Fund for Exhibitions, the Stacy C. Hollander Fund for Exhibitions, William Talbott Hillman Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the Council for Self-Taught Art.

Art News: Christie’s Global Auction Channel Sales Total £3.9 Billion (US$5.0 Billion) In 2019

This past week, Christie’s announced auction channel sales of £3.9 billion (US$5 billion) for 2019.

Key highlights for the year included:

  • A new top price for any living artist at auction, achieved with Jeff Koon’s Rabbit, which realized US$91,075,000 at Christie’s New York in May 2019.
  • Numerous record prices in 2019, including top prices for artworks and objects sold in London (David Hockney, Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott, for £37,661,248/US$49,521,696), Hong Kong (Sanyu, Five Nudes, for HK$303,984,992/US$38,848,420) and Geneva (Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime ref. 6300A for ONLY WATCH for CHF31,000,000/US$31,244,094). In Paris Nicolas de Staël’s Parc des Princes realized €20,000,000/US$22,254,368, and set a record for the artist and was the top price for any lot sold at Christie’s Paris this year.
  • Christie’s remained the auction house of choice for major private and estate collections, achieving the top three results for named collections in 2019 with Masterpieces from the Collection of S.I. Newhouse, The Robert B. and Beatrice C. Mayer Family Collection, and Maharajas and Mughal Magnificence.
  • Strong results were also achieved for the collections of notable collectors David Gilmour, Drue Heinz, the Irving Collection, James and Marilynn Alsdorf, Terry Allen Kramer, Eileen and I.M. Pei, Richard L. Weisman, George Michael, the Clarke Collection, Ron and Diane Disney Miller, the Matthys-Colle Collection, works from the UniCredit Group, Jeremy Lancaster, and masterpieces from a Rothschild Collection.

A Celebration of George Michael

The year opened with news that The George Michael Collection was to be sold in London. Highlights were exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Shanghai before a special multi-media exhibition at King Street drew thousands of fans to celebrate the singer’s life, his music and the art he lived with.

The collection spoke volumes about a man who touched millions, due to the autobiographical nature of many of the works and because it revealed the extent to which George Michael had supported YBA artists such as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.

Numerous artists’ auction records were set across the live auction and the online sale, but perhaps the most poignant came with Commissioned Portrait Untitled (George) by Michael Craig-Martin, the man who taught many of the YBAs at Goldsmiths in London. The wall-mounted LCD sold for £175,000 in the online sale, contributing to a collection total of £11,328,125.

The money raised from the sale will extend the philanthropic legacy built by George Michael during his lifetime.

The Golden Light of The Setting Sun

Paul Signac (1863-1935), Le Port au soleil couchant, Opus 236 (Saint-Tropez), 1892. Sold for £19,501,250 on 27 February 2019 in London

On a chilly night in London, Paul Signac’s pointillist masterpiece of a summer sunset over the port of Saint-Tropez struck a chord with collectors. Painted in May 1892, the work eclipsed Signac’s record price at auction, which had been set at Christie’s in 2007.

Christie’s Global President Jussi Pylkkänen described the painting as ‘one of the last great Signacs in private hands’, a billing that befitted the price it achieved: £19.5 million (including premium).

Fit for Royal Feet

An important Safavid ‘polonaise’ carpet. Sold for £3,724,750 on 2 May 2019 in London

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to walk on gold? In May Christie’s offered a Safavid rug woven with silver- and gold-wrapped thread, which sold for £3,724,750 — almost seven times its low estimate.

It was one of two polonaise carpets being auctioned that day, both of which were handmade in the royal ateliers of 17th-century Isfahan in Iran and presented to the future King of Poland. He in turn gifted them both to the Arch-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Empire, and they spent the following 300 years in the Weissenstein Palace in Germany

The exceptional price they achieved was largely due to their brilliant condition, which, said specialist Louise Broadhurst, was the result of being hung rather than walked on. The other carpet, which realised £3,895,000, is soon to be exhibited at the Houston Museum of Fine Art.

The Fruit of Cézanne’s Labours

Paul Cézanne’s Bouilloire et fruits, 1888-90. Sold for $59,295,000 on 13 May 2019 at Christie’s in New York

Paul Cézanne’s Bouilloire et fruits, 1888-90. Sold for $59,295,000 on 13 May 2019 in New York

According to Alex Rotter, Chairman of the Post-War & Contemporary Art department in New York, the 11 masterpieces from the collection of S.I. Newhouse, the late American publishing magnate and one of the great art collectors of his age, represented ‘one of the most sought-after groupings of art in private hands’.

Works were spread across two auctions: the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale and the Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale. The star lot of the former proved to be Cézanne’s still life, Bouilloire et fruits, a mature work painted in Aix-en-Provence.

Bidding opened at $30 million and rose swiftly before it was eventually captured by a telephone bidder. The £59,295,000 paid came close to passing the record figure for a work by Cézanne at auction.

Just 48 hours later, in the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, another work from Newhouse’s collection would break a very significant record indeed.

An African Spirit Mask

A Songye Kifwebe mask. Sold for $4,215,000 on 14 May 2019 at Christie’s in New York

The Walschot-Schoffel Kifwebe mask. Sold for $4,215,000 on 14 May 2019 in New York

But first came the auction of this mesmerising Kifwebe masterpiece. Worn over the face and accessorised with raffia-palm beards, Kifwebe masks have been used for hundred of years by the Songye people of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Before the auction, Christie’s specialist Susan Kloman explained that the mask’s patina, built up over years of handling, suggests it was once of great importance. On the day of the sale the mask, which would have been used to summon spirits, achieved $4,215,000, setting a new world record for any Songye artwork.

The Ultimate Modern Icon

Jeff Koons, Rabbit, executed in 1986. Sold for $91,075,000 on 15 May 2019 in New York

Jeff Koons, Rabbit, executed in 1986. Sold for $91,075,000 on 15 May 2019 in New York

Dumbstruck,’ was the word used by the Museum of Modern Art’s late curator Kirk Varnedoe to describe his first encounter with Rabbit by Jeff Koons in 1986.

Standing at just over three feet high, and made from polished stainless steel, the sculpture seems to be a mass of contradictions — solid, weightless, sensual, inert. It was instantly embraced by artists and critics, drawing comparisons with Brancusi’s perfect forms.

I couldn’t get my head around its simple beauty at first,’ recalled Damien Hirst. ‘I was stunned. The bunny knocked my socks off.

Rabbit was offered in New York, the ultimate prize in the sale of masterpieces from the collection of S.I. Newhouse. Bidding started at $40 million and quickly rose to $60 million, with the work finally selling for $91,075,000. It was the top price achieved at Christie’s in 2019, and set a new world auction record for a work by a living artist.

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Darren Bader’s Edible Exhibition To Open At The Whitney On January 15

From January 15 to February 17, 2020, the Whitney’s eighth floor gallery will be the site of fruits, vegetables; fruit and vegetable salad. The exhibition is comprised of an untitled work by Darren Bader from the Whitney’s permanent collection—acquired in 2015 and never before presented at the Museum—featuring a selection of fruits and vegetables presented as sculptures on pedestals. Through this organizing principle, Bader calls attention to the formal properties of the objects’ colors, shapes, lines, and textures.

Image credit: Darren Bader, no title, not dated. Fruits, vegetables; fruit and vegetable salad, dimensions variable. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from Sascha S. Bauer and Eleanor Heyman Propp 2015.108. © Darren Bader. Image courtesy the artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York

At scheduled times throughout the week—Mondays, Wednesdays, and Sundays from 3–6 pm, and Fridays from 7:30–10 pm—museum staff will remove the ripened fruits and vegetables from the pedestals. Rather than disposing of the produce, Bader has instructed that a fruit and vegetable salad should be created. While the gallery sits empty, the washing, slicing, dicing, and chopping of the produce in the Museum’s Studio Cafe kitchen will be captured on video and projected in the gallery for visitors to observe. The fruit and vegetable salad will then be served in the gallery and visitors will be invited to eat it. Museum staff will refresh the artwork with a new selection of produce, and the process will repeat.

Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, remarked, “Rigorous, funny, and strangely uncanny, Bader’s work tests not only what an artwork can be but also what a museum can collect and how we display it. We’re thrilled to show this recent acquisition for the first time, though we recognize it might not taste as good as it looks.

The Whitney Museum of American Art

In fruits, vegetables; fruit and vegetable salad, Bader creates a visual and participatory experience from everyday objects that continues the artist’s ongoing examination of readymade art, as well as his investigation of art as concept, language, and commodity.

fruits, vegetables; fruit and vegetable salad is an opportunity to be nimble in showcasing a work from the Whitney’s collection, and to collaborate with an artist the Museum first showed in the 2014 Biennial. This work’s absurdist yet sincere premise is particularly apropos in our current climate, and I hope viewers will engage through close looking, questioning, and salad-consumption,” said Christie Mitchell, senior curatorial assistant.

Darren Bader (b. 1978, Bridgeport, CT) lives and works in New York. Solo shows of his work held in institutions include (@mined_oud), Madre, Naples, (2017-2018); Meaning and Difference, The Power Station, Dallas (2017); Reading Writing Arithmetic, Radio Athènes–Athens (2015); Where Is a Bicycle’s Vagina (and Other Inquiries) or Around the Samovar, 1857, Oslo (2012); Images, MoMA-PS1, New York (2012). Awarded the Calder Prize in 2013, Bader has taken part in numerous group exhibitions and biennials including the following: 13éme Biennale de Lyon. La vie moderne, Lyon (2015); Under the Clouds: From Paranoia to the Digital Sublime, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto (2015); 2014 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2014); Antigrazioso, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013); Something About a Tree, FLAG Foundation, New York (2013); Empire State, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (2013); Oh, you mean cellophane and all that crap, The Calder Foundation, New York (2012); Greater New York, MoMA-PS1, New York (2010); To Illustrate and Multiply: An Open Book, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2008).

This exhibition is organized by Christie Mitchell, senior curatorial assistant.

The Whitney Museum of American Art is located at 99 Gansevoort Street between Washington and West Streets, New York City. Museum hours are: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10:30 am to 6 pm; Friday from 10:30 am to 10 pm. Closed Tuesday except in July and August. Adults: $25. Full-time students, visitors 65 & over, and visitors with disabilities: $18. Visitors 18 years & under and Whitney members: FREE. Admission is pay-what-you-wish on Fridays, 7–10 pm. For general information, please call (212) 570-3600 or visit

Aubrey Plaza Returns to Host 35th Film Independent Spirit Awards

Film Independent announced that Aubrey Plaza will return to host the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards. The Spirit Awards are the primary fundraiser for Film Independent’s year-round programs, which cultivate the careers of emerging filmmakers and promote diversity in the industry. Nominees were announced by Zazie Beetz (Atlanta, Joker, Deadpool 2) and Natasha Lyonne (Russian Doll, Ad Astra, Orange Is the New Black) on November 21. Best Feature nominees include A Hidden Life, Clemency, The Farewell, Marriage Story and Uncut Gems. The show will be broadcast live exclusively on IFC at 2:00 pm PT / 5:00 pm ET on Saturday, February 8, 2020.

2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards logo (Image provide by Film Independent)

Like all great independent film performances, this one deserves a sequel,” said Host Aubrey Plaza. “The people have spoken. Bow down to your host!

At a time when the world is so bitterly divided and civil discourse is almost impossible, it’s nice we can all agree that Aubrey Plaza is the greatest host in the history of hosting,” said Josh Welsh, Film Independent President. “We are thrilled to have her back. Today is also the last day to join Film Independent as a Member to get access to the nominated films and vote on the winners. Only a fool would not watch the Spirit Awards on IFC on February 8, 2 PM PST / 5 PM EST.”

Aubrey is back! Last year, fear of her signature take on hosting duties kept that other awards show host-less. We are excited to see what she brings to the tent this year,” said IFC Executive Director, Blake Callaway.

Now in its 35th year, the Film Independent Spirit Awards is an annual celebration honoring artist-driven films made with an economy of means by filmmakers whose films embody independence and originality. The Spirit Awards recognizes the achievements of American independent filmmakers and promotes the finest independent films of the year to a wider audience.

Plaza will next be seen starring in Black Bear, a suspenseful meta-drama, opposite Christopher Abbott and Sarah Gadon. The film, which she also produced, will premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. She is currently in production on Lina Roessler’s Best Sellers opposite Michael Caine which is based on an original screenplay that won a 2015 Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting award. Plaza’s other feature film credits include: Ingrid Goes West (which she produced and received a 2018 Film Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature), Jeff Baena’s The Little Hours (also producer), Hal Hartley’s Ned Rifle, Colin Trevorrow’s Safety Not Guaranteed, Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Judd Apatow’s Funny People, among others. On television, she most recently starred in Noah Hawley’s Legion on FX and is well known for her role on NBC’s Parks & Recreation.

This year marks the 35th edition of the awards show that celebrates the best of independent film. Past Spirit Awards hosts have included Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, Kate McKinnon and Kumail Nanjiani, Fred Armisen and Kristen Bell, Patton Oswalt, Andy Samberg, Joel McHale, Sarah Silverman, Samuel L. Jackson, Eddie Izzard, Queen Latifah and John Waters, to name a few. The show, which will be held on the beach in Santa Monica, will be executive produced and directed by Joel Gallen of Tenth Planet Productions for the sixth consecutive year. Shawn Davis returns as producer for his 18th year, Rick Austin returns as producer for his fifth year and Danielle Federico and Andrew Schaff also return as co-producers.

Winners, who are selected by Film Independent Members, will be announced at the Spirit Awards on Saturday, February 8, 2020. The awards ceremony will be held on the beach in Santa Monica, just north of the Santa Monica Pier.

Winners of the Spirit Awards Filmmaker Grants will be announced at the Film Independent Spirit Awards Filmmaker Grant and Nominee Brunch on Saturday, January 4, 2020, at BOA Steakhouse in West Hollywood.

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