Yayoi Kusama Is Bringing Her Famous Dots To Skateboarding

 

Yayoi Kusama’s notorious dots are instantly recognizable. And now, you’ll be able to spot them on the streets instead of just inside museums, as the exalted artist is doing her own polka-dotted skateboards. MoMA has tapped her to create a series of 500 limited edition boards featuring renditions of her famous work, “DOTS OBSESSSION (2018),” exclusively available through their online design store.

 

 

Courtesy of MoMA Design Store

 

Born in Japan in 1929, Kusama made a name for herself in the early 1950s for her abstract paintings of those polka dots. After moving to the United States in 1957, she began creating her now infamous “Infinity Rooms” (currently on exhibit at The Cleveland Museum of Art) and staging offbeat happenings around New York City. Since 1977, she’s lived in the Seiwa Hospital for the Mentally Ill just outside of Tokyo, where she continues to paint regularly.

 

‘Phalli’s Field’ Infinity Room; photo by Eikoh Hosoe, courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York  

 

In recent years, other artists have also lent their works to the skateboarding community, including Barbara Kruger, who teamed up with iconic skate shop and streetwear brand Supreme to create a series of “Don’t Be A Jerk” skateboards and skate ramps in 2017. But Kusama’s project will be her first (and potentially only) skateboard related ever – and they are all actually hand-painted by her. Originally, the boards were made from samples based on digital renderings of Kusama’s art work. But when they were shipped to the artist for final approval, she decided to paint over each one of them meticulously.

The skateboards will come in four different styles: two white boards with red dots (one large, one small), and two yellow boards with black dots (also in small and large sizes). Though the MoMA Design Store has not yet listed an official date for the drop, once they are available, we know they’ll sell out quickly. After all, if there are two types of people who like exclusives, it is definitely art collectors and skaters.

 

‘In Infinity’ by Kim Hansen, courtesy of Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

 

Must See Art: Tom Wesselmann at Gagosian Beverly Hills

‘Still Life #29,’ 1963, Oil and printed paper collaged on canvas, 9′ x 12′, ©Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

 

This Thursday, Gagosian Beverly Hills will be launching a solo exhibition of rare works by Pop Art notable Tom Wesselmann. Wesselmann: 1963-1983 will feature seven pieces created by the artist, none of which have ever been shown on the West Coast. On view until August, the exhibition will showcase the commercial billboards Wesselmann began painting in 1962.

 

‘Still Life #61,’ 1976, Oil on shaped canvas in 4 parts, 8’8.5″ x 32’7″ x 6’7″, ©Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

 

Born in Cincinnati in 1931, Wesselmann was an influential figure in the Pop Art world, with his massive paintings that recontextualized images from popular culture, like the Volkswagen Beetle seen in ‘Still Life #29.’

“I used what was around me, so my culture was what I used,” he once said about his work.

Part of ‘The Standing Still Lifes’ series, the seven works in Wesselmann: 1963-1983 were a highlight in the artist’s long career. Comprised of multiple canvases shaped like the objects they depict and mounted on both the wall and the ground, the pieces are three-dimensional scenescapes that pull you into their world. Known primarily for his work that showcases the female figure, these paintings incorporate everyday objects in exaggerated sizes, exploring sexuality and surrealism in an emotional and experimental way.

 

‘Still Life with Blue Jar and Smoking Cigarette,’ 1981, Oil on shaped canvas in 4 parts, 9′ x 18’5″ x 5’6″, ©Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

 

“Wesselmann is an artist well known for his forthright and original standpoint on sexuality,” explains Jason Ysenburg, Director at Gagosian, “but that is only a part of his story. In the ‘Still Lifes,’ ‘Standing Still Lifes’ and ‘Bedroom Paintings,’ we are offered a glimpse into an enchanted world where scale, content and the juxtaposition of materials and images is surprising and innovative,” he continues. “What transpires are a group of paintings where sexuality is often implied rather than overtly expressed.”

Since his death in 2004, Wesselmann’s work has become only more sought after, and has been included in multiple exhibitions at The Whitney and MoMA. This latest exhibition follows another recent showcase, Tom Wesselmann: Standing Still Lifes at Gagosian in New York.

 

Wesselmann: 1963-1983 is on view from July 12 to August 24 at Gagosian Beverly Hills.

 

Photos: ‘Still Life #29’ by Jeffrey Sturges; ‘Still Life #61’ & ‘Still Life with Blue Jar and Smoking Cigarette’ by Rob McKeever; all courtesy the Estate of Tom Wesselmann and Gagosian

Must See: ‘AfriCOBRA: Now’ at Kravets Wehby Gallery in Chelsea

‘Spirit Sister,’ Nelson Stevens

 

In 1968, The Black Power Movement was at the height of its influence. Fighting for equality with a militant belief in self-sufficiency and acceptance, the movement encouraged radical thought and action for the Black community across the world. That same year, five members of the group came together to start their own movement: AfriCOBRA, or the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists, with the goal of using art to, well, change the world.

A new exhibition, AfriCOBRA: Now, at Kravets Wehby Gallery in Manhattan, brings together art from the group to showcase the work from these subversive artists who, until now, have been relatively unsung. Featuring pieces by its founding members and many others, including Kevin Cole, Adger Owens, Wadsworth Jarrell and Renee Stout, the exhibit shines a light on art from an era — and a group – in which nothing was more powerful than self-love. Through painting and sculpture, these AfriCOBRA artists celebrated African culture and examined their experiences as Black artists in an ever-changing culture. With AfriCOBRA:Now, their voices are finally being heard.

Preview some of our favorite pieces from the exhibit, below.

 

‘AfriCOBRA: Now’ is on view at Kravets Wehby Gallery, 521 West 21st Street, now until August 16.

 

Photos courtesy of Kravets Wehby Gallery, New York.

Ai Weiwei Teams Up with eBay and Public Art Fund on Exclusive Sale for World Refugee Day

 

Radical Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has teamed up with New York non-profit Public Art Fund and eBay to launch an exclusive sale of his work in honor of World Refugee Day. From his recent Good Fences Make Good Neighbors exhibition in New York City, the artist has selected six remarkable portraits of global refugees that will be sold exclusively through eBay, starting today. With all profits going to charity, the limited edition prints are selling for $750 each, and will be available until June 27 (or until they sell out).

Originally launched in October 2017, Ai Weiwei’s Good Fences Make Good Neighbors was inspired by the current immigration crisis, made all the more pertinent by this week’s news showcasing the way minors have been separated from their parents, and kept in horrible conditions at different United States border crossings.

The exhibition featured 300 portraits taken by the artist at 40 different global refugee camps, and were hung as banners on lampposts throughout New York City. The six images selected by Ai WeiWei and the Public Art Fund for sale on eBay, include a portrait of feminist activist Emma Goldman and current refugees photographed at the Shariya Camp in Iraq.

 

 

Ai Weiwei has long been an outspoken social activist who uses various mediums, including photography, installation, sculpture and film, to make subversive statements about politics and the current climate. Public Art Fund is a New York City non-profit “dedicated to providing free access to the most important art of our time” by “bringing dynamic contemporary art to the broadest possible audiences.” Through public art exhibitions, like Ai Weiwei’s Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, the organization examines the ways in which we interact and appreciate art.

 

In honor of World Refugee day, the two have partnered with eBay for Charity, a special program on the international e-commerce giant that allows sellers to donate all funds to charities of their choice. Following the company’s recent collaboration with Warren Buffet, which raised over $3M for disenfranchised communities in San Francisco, the Ai Weiwei sale will support the International Rescue Committee (IRC), which offers health, safety, education and economic aid to communities that have been destroyed by conflict, and USA for UNHCR, a Washington D.C. non-profit that protects and helps refugees who have been displaced by violence or persecution.

 

Every June 20 is World Refugee Day, a day to support, honor and raise awareness for the millions of refugees across this globe — and this year, it couldn’t have come at a better time. To celebrate (and get an amazing piece of art in the process), buy your limited edition Ai Weiwei portrait, here.

 

Photos courtesy Public Art Fund, NY

10 Must-See Artists at Frieze New York 2018

Kapwani Kiwanga, ‘Pink-Blue,’ 2017, photo courtesy of Frieze

 

It’s the first week of May which, of course, means The Met Gala. But it also means the New York edition of the annual Frieze art fair. Opening tomorrow, the high-profile art schmooze will bring together work from over 1,000 established and emerging talents, on view through May 6.

And because we at BlackBook are always here to tell you what to do, we’ve put together a list of the 10 must-see artists at Frieze New York 2018.

 

Imran Qureshi at Nature Morte

 

‘This Leprous Brightness,’ 2011, photo courtesy of Nature Morte
Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi employs various mediums, including painting, installation art and video, to explore the political climate of the Middle East. Juxtaposing violent splatters with precise strokes, he invokes a sort of controlled chaos that reflects his feelings towards his country’s current state.

 

Isa Genzken at Hauser & Wirth

 

‘Untitled,’ 2012, photo courtesy of Hauser & Wirth
Sculptor and installation artist Isa Genzken has worked for over 40 years. Using a variety of materials, including wood, concrete and textiles, the Berlin-based artist explores consumerism and the relationships between high and low brow.

 

Ana Mazzei at Galeria Jaqueline Martins

 

‘Garden,’ 2017, photo courtesy of Galeria Jaqueline Martins
Brazilian artist Ana Mazzei creates minimalist sculpture installations that explore perception and the limits of reality. Often working with painted linen, the 38-year-old builds subtle yet powerful scenescapes inspired by philosophers Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal.

 

Jordan Nassar at Anat Ebgi

 

‘The sun like you is covered with flowers,’ 2017, photo courtesy of the artist
New York artist Jordan Nassar creates hand-embroidered pieces inspired by traditional Palestinian works. Using bold colors and a highly skilled technical practice, he explores the intersections of identity, technology, language and craft.

 

Jordan Wolfson at David Zwirner

 

Still from ‘Riverboat Song,’ 2017-18, photo courtesy of David Zwirner
Multimedia artist Jordan Wolfson uses photography, film, installation and sculpture to create cutting social commentary on violence and entertainment. With his own animated characters, the New York City-born Wolfson creates subversive narrative pieces that join appropriated images and found objects with his original work.

 

Farhad Moshiri at The Third Line

 

‘Top of the World,’ 2011, photo courtesy of The Third Line
Artist Farhad Moshiri uses Pop Art paintings to explore the relationship between his Iranian heritage and the customs he adopted growing up in a Western culture. Using vivid colors and unorthodox materials (like the plastic pearls in the work above), he juxtaposes traditional techniques with images of popular culture.

 

Artur Lescher at Nara Roesler

 

‘Inabsência,’ 2012, photo courtesy of Nara Roesler
Sculptor Artur Lescher creates large-scale pieces that are both artfully designed and architecturally sound. Through a wide range of materials, the Brazilian artist crafts modern masterpieces that challenge perception and form.

 

Judith Bernstein at Paul Kasmin

 

‘Money Shot – Green,’ 2016, photo courtesy of Paul Kasmin
Artist Judith Bernstein has had an extensive career drawing dicks. Mixing pop art with phalluses, the New York-based painter creates colorful canvases that are both overtly political and unapologetically feminist.

 

Rosemary Laing at Galerie Lelong

 

‘Rose of Australia,’ 2017, photo courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co., New York
Australian photographer Rosemary Laing creates conceptual and surrealist images that capture her subjects without digital enhancement. Photographing staged scenes, the photographer often explores the political, social and cultural trends in her native Australia.

 

Kapwani Kiwanga curated by Adrienne Edwards for the Frieze Artist Award

 

‘The Sun Never Sets,’ 2017, courtesy of Frieze
The winner of this year’s Frieze Artist Award, Kapwani Kiwanga is a Canadian installation artist whose work often examines colonialism and its impact on contemporary identity. At this year’s fair, she will debut an open-air installation that “explores freedom of movement and architectures of exclusion,” titled ‘Shady.’

 

So, if you don’t already have your tickets, you can buy them here.

 

Watch the Trailer for the New McQueen Documentary Premiering at TriBeCa This Weekend

 

When it comes to fashion, there’s only ever been one Alexander McQueen. His edgy, avant-garde looks and radical runway presentations throughout the ’90s and early-to-mid-’00s constantly pushed boundaries and reinvented shapes, catapulting the volatile young designer to infamy and accolades.

When he took his own life in 2010 at just 40-years-old, the fashion world was devastated by the loss of such an inimitable genius. And McQueen, the new documentary by Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui, will at last give genuine insight into his life and creative process.

 

 

Born in London, the designer graduated from Central Saint Martins before taking over the position of head designer at Givenchy and launching his eponymous brand. By the time he was in his thirties, he had won the “British Designer of the Year” award four different times. Beyond his innovative design approach, McQueen completely redefined fashion – and the fashion show – as we’d come to understand it. Whether he was recreating a shipwreck (S/S ’03), using models in a game of human chess (S/S ’05), or programming robots to spray-paint supermodel Shalom Harlow at the end of the runway (S/S ’99), he never saw fashion as just a way to make pretty clothes (though his designs were definitely so). For Alexander McQueen, everything was art.

In the film, Bonhôte and Ettedgui capture this through archival footage, never-before-seen photographs and interviews with the designer’s closest friends and family. Premiering this weekend at TriBeCa Film Festival, McQueen paints a powerful portrait of one of his generation’s most influential artists.

Watch the trailer, below.

 

 

Photos courtesy of ‘McQueen;’ Buy tickets here.

 

‘Boom For Real’ Chronicles Basquiat’s Life as a Homeless NYC Teen (Watch)

Photo by Alexis Adler

 

Everyone knows the name Jean-Michel Basquiat. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, he became one of the world’s most influential artists, responsible for revolutionizing the New York art scene by popularizing street art and promoting a radical, political message. But before his paintings were selling for $110,000,00 at auction, Basquiat was living as a homeless teen in NYC’s East Village.

A new documentary, Boom For Real, explores this pivotal time in the artist’s life, which undoubtedly impacted his work and career. From the prevalence of drugs, crime and violence that he witnessed (in the documentary, director Sara Driver shows how his famous tag “SAMO” came from Basquiat seeing the “same ‘ol shit”), to his experiences with class struggle, these themes were at the center of the artist’s work until his untimely death in 1988. While most of the other films about the painter, like Tamra Davis’ 2010 Radiant Child documentary, touch on Basquiat’s career and the effect he’s had on contemporary art, Boom For Real sheds light on his life before fame, and how those experiences shaped him as an artist.

In theaters May 11. Watch the trailer, below.

 

 

alexa BlackBook: IKEA Fever

 

IKEA has long been a staple for both bargain hunters and streamline-design lovers. Now, fashion kings like Virgil Abloh (just named Louis Vuitton’s new menswear designer) are repurposing the store’s iconic blue-and-yellow logo on inventive streetwear. 
 In honor of the Swedish fever, we asked three creatives for their takes on Ikea’s iconic “Frakta” bag.

 

Brooklyn garden whiz Brook Klausing recycled his “Frakta” bag as a pretty planter.

 

Brook Klausing, a garden designer and owner of Brooklyn’s Brook Landscape, elected to use his “Frakta” bag as a flower planter, putting his own spin on eco-upscaling. “We drew inspiration from fast fashion and fast furniture to create our own version: fast foliage,” he tells Alexa.

 

LA artist Neil Raitt adorned the trusty tote with his own palm print.

 

Los Angeles-based artist Neil Raitt (who points to Bob Ross’ kitschy 1980s TV program “The Joy of Painting” as an inspiration for his repetitive landscapes — on exhibit at LA’s Anat Ebgi gallery and this year’s NYC Armory Show) also took a crack at the big blue bag. He inlaid a palm-tree print, which he originally created in 2016 for an exhibition at Mon Chéri gallery in Brussels, to create a portable piece of art.

“When you look at an Ikea bag, with its blue plastic and yellow lettering, it’s immediately recognizable,” he says. “So, I wanted to bring in something equally accessible, like a palm tree.”

 

Interior designer Ryan Korban stitched a kitschy pillow — complete with Ikea trim.

 

And finally, New York-based interior designer Ryan Korban (who’s created eye-catching spaces for all manner of high-end fashion labels, including Alexander Wang’s NYC flagship and Balenciaga stores across the globe) dreamed up a DIY Ikea throw pillow. It’s the perfect spot to rest your head after putting together all that furniture.

 

Photos by Lizzy Snaps Sullivan; Tamara Beckwith; Courtesy of Neil Raitt and Anat Ebgi.

 

Lexus Debuts Their New UX Luxury Compact Crossover with Bold Art Installation in NYC

 

On any given night in New York City there are probably a million events happening, only a few of which are actually cool. So, you know if we’re going to actually leave the house, it has to be worth it — and on Tuesday night, it was.

To kick off the annual New York International Auto Show, Lexus threw a banger, and debuted their new UX compact luxury crossover. And you know, because all the best parties also include a really great collab, the brand teamed up with NYC non-profit RxArt to premiere a custom urban-landscape art installation by artist Daniel Heidkamp, which will later be placed in a New York City Pediatric Cancer Center. The piece was a life-size Manhattan skyline in bold neon Pop Art colors — the perfect backdrop for Lexus’  chic new ride.

 

 

Of course, they also gave us tote bags. But don’t worry, you can get one, too — we don’t want you to feel left out. It’s not as great as the Lexus UX, which is not only the brand’s first luxury compact crossover, but also introduces an “all new platform built for exceptional handling, an ultra-efficient powertrain and innovative luxury features,” made for young, cool, city-slickers just like you. And hey, if the L train’s going to close next year, what better option is there?

The Lexus UX (in hybrid and gas models) arrives in December 2018.

Photos by Daniel Byrne