The DART Board: 07.24.2019

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday July 24, 2019

The Museum of Modern Art’s announcement this week of a “transformative gift” of African Contemporary Art from collector Jean Pigozzi is reason to celebrate. How Pigozzi, the Italian heir to an automotive fortune who took up photography as a student at Harvard, came to assemble one of the largest—and most comprehensive collections— of sub-Saharan art is a long one; but following is a short story about why this art is uniquely important.

Pigozzi first started collecting African art in 1989, after seeing the exhibition Magiciens de la Terre in Paris. By then, he was involved in investments and had the savvy of an art-world insider to engage the best advisor he could find on this little-known subject.  Since then, with a single-minded vision, dedication, and passion, he assembled his collection with the help of curator André Magnin.

As the story goes, André Magnin “did” Africa (a dangerous place to travel at the time), and presented his finds to the collector, who often had first dibs on Magnin’s treasure. Being the first to take this field of artistic production seriously, Magnin has become the eminence in the field; as an independent curator, he has produced more than ten exhibitions at Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain alone—where, in 2015 I saw his eye-popping show “Beauté Congo 1926-2015”.

In a recent interview for Crash Magazine, Magnin had this to say about why Beauté Congo was such a success:

“I think there are several explanations. First of all, an arrogant Western attitude has long assumed that nothing interesting happened in Sub-Saharan Africa between “classical” art and post-independence contemporary art. This exhibition shows that the exact opposite is the case with more than 300 inventive, meaningful, and beautiful works. …. Few people knew or would have thought that any nation in Sub-Saharan Africa had a 90-year history of modern and contemporary art. 

“The second explanation is that there is now an audience of professionals, admirers, curious onlookers, and a sizable contingent of Africans and people of African heritage who are now proud and almost stunned to discover these powerful, colorful, extravagant, abstract, figurative, and inventive works whose existence they never suspected.

“At each crucial moment in this history, independent and passionate individuals made the effort to ensure these artists could enjoy complete freedom. All these works were made possible by the encouragement and material support offered by international patrons, as well as their efforts to protect artists from the kind of education that may have thwarted their unique artistic practices. The art on display shatters and overthrows so many stereotypes, while introducing us to a surprisingly dynamic cultural treasure trove.” More in Crash

Magnin went on to say that the leadership of institutions such as Fondation Cartier has inspired others, including MoMA, “to improve the visibility of African art”. With the recent announcement from MoMA, we can surely look forward to a flurry of shows on this engaging and less well-known arena of vibrant artistic expression.

On view at Yossi Milo Gallery through August is "African Spirits | Works by Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou, Martina Bacigalupo, Mohamed Bourouissa, Nathalie Boutté, Studio Degbava, Delphine Diallo, Studio Photo Edekpe, Samuel Fosso, Hassan Hajjaj, Pieter Hugo, Seydou Keïta, Oumar Ly, Hamidou Maïga, Kyle Meyer, J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere, Zanele Muholi, Félicien Rodriguez, Roka Studio, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Malick Sidibé, Tijani Àdìgún Sitou, Sanlé Sory.  Info

On view at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art is “I am…Contemporary Women Artists of Africa,” works by 27 artists from the museum’s collection. Info Photos above © Luc Boegly for Fondation Cartier.

Above: © Seydou Keita, Young Couple, 1949-1952; currently on view at Yossi Milo Gallery.

This Week in New York


Ilustrating Batman.Society of Illustrators, 128 West 63rd Street, NY, NY Info

Latin American Foto Festival: Fabiola Ferrero | Blurred in Despair,through August 18.Bronx Documentary Center, 614 Courtlandt Avenue, Bronx, NY Info

Figuring the Floral | artists using flowers in representations of identity; Kate Bae in the Sunroom; Riad Miah on the Sun Porch; Christina Yuna Ko in Wave Hill House; Jia Sung in the Tea Room.Summer exhibitions at Wave Hill, 675 West 252nd Street, Bronx, NY Info

Closing July 26

Tony Smith | Source, Tau, Throwback.Pace, 510 West 25th Street, NY, NY Info

Closing July 27

James Scott [films]; David Hockney [etchings].Anita Rogers Gallery, 15 Greene Street, NY, NY Info

Closing July 28

As If \ Alternative Histories from Then to Now.The Drawing Center, 35 Wooster Street, NY, NY Info

Closing August 4

M.F. Husain | Art and the Nation,mural-sized painting Lightning, created for then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s Congress Party in 1975. Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue, NY, NY Info

Graham Anderson, Gina Beavers, Mathew Cerletty, Gregory Edwards, Anya Kielar, Chason Matthams| L’IM MAGE N.Ashes/Ashes, 56 Eldridge Street, NY, NY Info

Tuesday, July 23

Opening:Hugh Holland | Silver. Skate. Seventies.Benrubi Gallery, 521 West 26th Street, NY, NY. Info 

Wednesday, July 24

Discussion:A Miracle or Misunderstanding: Eight Social Practice Artists

in Conversation with Curator Ana Janevski,  6 pm. The Shelly & Donald Rubin Foundation, The 8th Floor, 17, West 17th Street, NY, NY RSVP

2019 Summer Show |Columbia University’s School of the Arts MFA Visual Arts & Sound Arts,6-9 pm. 1675 Broadway at 52nd Street, NY, NY Info

Opening:Monica Cook | Above and Below,6-8 pm. Urban Glass, 647 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY Info

© Hugh Holland, The Concrete Swell, Viper Bowl, Hollywood, CA, 1976, at Benrubi Gallery

Thursday, July 25

Opening: 2019 Alumni invitational Exhibition,  6-8pmNew York Studio School, 8 West 8th Street, NY, NY Info

Opening:Delerious Cities | the 2019 Summer Open Exhibition,7-8:30 pm Aperture Gallery and Bookstore, 547 West 27th Street, NY, NY Info

Opening:30th Annual International Juried Exhibition, Part I,6-8pm. Viridian Artists, 548 West 28th Street, FL6, NY, NY Info

Opening:Charles Hinman | Chromatic Eclipse,6-8 pm. Westwood Gallery, 262 Bowery, NY, NY Info

Opening:The Fletcher Family | A Lifetime in Surf,6-8pm. Gagosian, 976 Madison Avenue, NY, NY Info

Friday, July 26

Ina Jang, Brea Souders | Go,6-9 pm. Tiger Strikes Asteroid, 1329 Willoughby Avenue, Brooklyn, NY Info

Friday, July 26-Saturday, July 27

Contemporary Art, Education and Social Justice symposium for activists, artists and educators.New Museum, 235 Bowery, NY, NY Info

Drink and Draw | Comic Culture Prime,7-10 pm. Bronx Museum, 1040 Grand Concourse at 165th Street, Bronx, NY Info

Saturday, July 27

Opening: Brian Keith Stephens | Pool Party,6-8 pm. Hugo Galerie, 472 West Broadway, NY, NY Info

Featured Venues, Upcoming Talks, Lectures, and Workshops

Penumbra Foundation,36 East 30th Street, NY, NY Info

The Center for Book Arts,28 West 27th Street, NY, NY Info

School of Visual Arts,various locations. Info

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts,various locations. Info

Socrates Sculpture Park,31-10 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, NY Info Directions

Bronx Museum of the Arts,1040 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY Info


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