Arts & Culture

The Art Stories You Should Read this Month

Our top picks of stories from our friends at Art & Object.

By Sekka

With many of the art events put on hold in the recent past as a result of the pandemic,  art enthusiasts are looking forward to indulging in physical art events this year.

Our partners, Art & Object, have recently published insightful stories about artists, art institutions and events that are taking place in 2022, and we share our top five picks with you.

Art & Object is a fine art news website that brings readers the latest art news and most important art stories. Its mission is to inform collectors and drive the conversation about art. Founded in 2017, it is based in Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

1.The Late Abstractionist Alice Trumbull Mason & Her Unique Style

Dark Pressure, 1963 (cropped). Image: Alice Trumbull Mason via Art & Object.

In a notable revival, the life and career of the late dedicated abstractionist Alice Trumbull Mason has been guided into light through a focused exhibition of sixteen Shutter Paintings at Joan Washburn Gallery and a richly revealing book published by Rizzoli with clearly presented contributions by Mason’s daughter, the late painter Emily Mason, as well as by critics, scholars and art historians.

Rendering abstract paintings into unexpected architectural wonders, Mason notably employed strong diagonals that appear to struggle to support adjacent structures. It would be difficult not to sense a corresponding sense of imbalance in her emotional status. 

Her uncompromising style, refuting gestural Abstract Expressionism, was quite unlike anybody else’s. Though her paintings evoke, in many ways, the clarity of geometric abstractionists, the color relations and elegant forms of the modernists, but more than anything, her Shutter Paintings are slyly active, featuring narrow apertures. The stripes appear to expand and contract, generating a sense of motion and even sexuality as triangles merge. Looking at Mason’s paintings of the 1960s, we note, above all, that everything is a little bit different from the other paintings being done, albeit clearly in communication with the modernist lingo. Read more.

2. Marjorie Welish Asks, ‘Can Art Think?’

Marjorie Welish, The High Valley, 1984. Image: Marjorie Welish via Art & Object.

What sparks an artist? More to the point, what sparks Marjorie Welish? Clearly, it is she who ignites the multitude of sparks in diagrams and constructions, drawings and plans, paintings and prints, essays and poetry—and lots of opinions, sharp as well as round-edged and generous.

She ponders such mind-boggling questions as ‘Can art think?’ And answers, ‘Yes, if it is mindful of principles. Yes, to the extent that formalism—that is, of composing with lines and planes, surfaces and volumes—can expand its compositional field by integrating structures from disciplines other than art.’

This artist/art critic has been wrestling with these ideas throughout her multifaceted career and has brought them into the present, where the look of the digital world holds sway alongside the slower, analog one.

Her work is in the collections of the British Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and she has been awarded fellowships and grants from such organisations as the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and Trust for Mutual Understanding, as well as a Fulbright Senior Specialist Fellowship to teach at the University of Frankfurt. Read more.

3. Is Realist Art Still Relevant?

A master of realism, versatile Daniel Sprick paints landscapes, as well as still-life works, portraits and the human figure. Image: Daniel Sprick via Art &  Object.

Since the Classical era of Plato and Aristotle, the Greek word mimesis has described the artist’s attempt to reproduce reality. In the twenty-first century, the reality is that Realism continues to matter to the art world.

Daniel Sprick, a renowned realist based in Denver, will open his exhibit of interiors on Feb. 11, 2022, at Gerald Peters Gallery in New York City. In a telephone interview, Sprick spoke about the value of representational art.

‘If we’re talking about realism in terms of visual representation, the work is accurate and well-crafted based on academic traditions of drawing and skill,’ Sprick said. ‘I love to do it and to look at really good-quality realism works by other artists. realism can be fulfilling and spiritual, a transcendent beauty that is heightened experience.’

Sprick shared an illustrative anecdote about overhearing a snippet of conversation between a couple leaving a museum: ‘They were walking out of an exhibit of incomprehensible, conceptual stuff, within earshot. The man said to the woman, “I know that guy was a genius, but sometimes I want to know it’s good artwork just by looking at it.” realism is self-evident and needs no explanation.’

Sprick believes realism remains not only relevant, but also flourishing in the twenty-first century.

‘There’s no sign of loss of interest among artists with sincerity who want to be challenged,’ Sprick said. ‘I don’t think realism is ever going away. There’s a groundswell of young people finding training outside universities, in ateliers, in private studios, with somebody who has gained academic skill and teaches others.’ Read more.

4. Fabiola Jean-Louis & The Met’s ‘Before Yesterday We Could Fly’

Fabiola Jean-Louis (Haitian, born 1978). Detail view of Justice of Ezili, 2021. Paper, gold, Swarovski crystals, lapis lazuli, labradorite, brass, ink and resin. Image: Courtesy of the artist, commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2021, via Art & Object.

The first female Haitian artist to exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fabiola Jean-Louis was commissioned to create a piece for its groundbreaking current exhibition, Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room, inspired by nineteenth-century Seneca Village—the first free Black community in New York—and classic folktales of Blacks who flew to freedom. The exhibition celebrates the art, history and creativity of the African diaspora, bringing together a multi-disciplinary collection, combining pieces from the Met’s vast collection with newly commissioned work.

Encompassing the past, present and future, the exhibition creates an Afrofuturistic example of a Seneca Villager’s home, if the Village had not been destroyed to build Central Park, a first step in remediating the harm caused by past erasures and destructions of African American history and culture. Read more. 

5. At Museo Ninfeo Visitors Walk Through Ruins of Luxury Roman Garden

Museo Ninfeo. Photo by Christopher Siwicki via Art & Object.

Roman ruins are not normally found in the buildings of insurance companies. Yet in the Rome headquarters of Enpam—the National Insurance and Assistance Body for Doctors and Dentists—visitors descend below ground to the remains of an ancient luxury garden complex.

Opened to the public in November 2021 and located on Piazza Vittorio just south of Rome’s main railway station, the archaeological site and new museum, ‘Museo Ninfeo,’ is the result of almost twenty years of work, the complexities of which involved constructing a carpark below the excavation and a multi-story building above it. It is an excellent example of how the sensitive preservation of archaeological remains in their original location and modern urban development are not mutually exclusive.

The displays of the Museo Ninfeo are incorporated into the archaeological area, meaning that visitors view objects found at the site as they walk over and through the ancient structures. The museum tells the history of this specific part of Rome from the fourth century BC, when it was still located outside of the Republican-era city, through to the ninth century AD, when it was largely abandoned after the end of antiquity. Read more. 

The views of the authors and writers who contribute to Sekka, and the views of the interviewees who are featured in Sekka, do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sekka, its parent company, its owners, employees and affiliates.