What We Learned This Week
David Shrigley’s Exhibition of Giant Inflatable Swan-Things has gone up at Spiritmuseum in Stockholm, Sweden, showing twelve strange, smiling characters inspired in part by the artist’s Fourth Plinth thumb sculpture, Really Good. But what goes up, must come down: the “swans” are only shown in their true forms for four minutes, before slowly deflating for another eight minutes into sadder, crumpled versions of their former selves. The idea for the inflatable swans was born when Shrigley was asked to show the seven-metre high Really Good at a Japanese museum. This proved tricky logistically, so he came up with the idea of using inflatable art instead.
Jenny Saville’s 1992 nude self-portrait Propped sold for £9.5 million at Sotheby’s London last Friday, setting the record for the most ever paid at auction for the work of a living female artist. The painting was shown at the Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Gallery show at London’s Royal Academy in 1997, and was just sold as part of The History of Now: The Collection of David Teiger twenty-five-lot sale. The work was bought by an anonymous telephone bidder represented by Helena Newman, Sotheby’s worldwide head of impressionist and modern art.
Performance artist and experimental filmmaker Vaginal Davis has won the $10,000 Queer Art Prize for Sustained Achievement. Davis’s work explores themes around genderqueer, black, latino and gay identity; and the organization awarded the prize in recognition of her “punk works” from the 1970s, eighties and nineties, praising how she “disrupts hetero and homonormativity”. Elegance Bratton, Rafa Esparza, Keyon Gaskin and Xandra Ibarra have been announced as the finalists for the Queer Art Award for recent work.
Ahead of this week’s Mental Health Day (10 October), artist Stuart Semple backed a campaign to offer an hour of free therapy to 1,000 people. The pledge is part of the 1000 Hrs for 1000 People campaign from therapy organization Timewith. “One of the biggest barriers people face in getting the help they need is the stigma of going to therapy in the first place, particularly in the UK,” said Semple, an ambassador for the charity Mind. “Talking therapies were one of the most powerful ingredients in my own recovery from the panic disorder I struggled with for decades. Hopefully, the 1000 hours will encourage people to take the first step and get the support they need.”
David Lynch has worked with speaker brand Bang & Olufson, which has launched a new collection of speakers bearing images from the the silver-haired multidisciplinary artist’s 1970s War Between the Shapes series of works on paper. Any fan of Lynch will understand his profound appreciation of sound, whether in his films or his own musical output, so the collaboration is perhaps little surprise; and it follows Lynch’s limited edition wrapping of the Beoplay A9 speakers last year. The speakers are to be on show at MoMA Design Store in Soho, New York, as part of a pop-up inspired by imagery from Lynch’s films. Watch out for any ant-ridden severed ears.
Quote of the Week
“Deep in our hearts we all know we’re going to die one day and that the universe is complete darkness. We come to all of this only by chance, through some kind of miracle beyond our knowledge, connected to people that we call our families and relatives.”
—Ai Weiwei speaks to us about memory, danger, exile and refuge
Exhibition of the Week
Coinciding with Shanghai Art Week, the K11 Art Foundation and Chi K11 art museum in Shanghai are showing Mumbling Mud, an exhibition of work by German artist Katharina Grosse, who is interviewed in the current issue of Elephant. The show spans five “zones” in the 1,500 square metre museum, each containing a large-scale installation produced almost completely on site. “The amorphous, multicoloured forms and shapes sprayed across varying structures and draping cloths installed at the five zones may create an experience of wandering on the peripheries of the familiar,” says the gallery, “inviting rumination into the quintessential strangeness of a metropolis that is ever-changing and impossible to be delineated in simple contours.” The show runs from 5 November until 24 February.
Instagram Account of the Week
In this beautifully neat, cream and black feed, graphic designer Rokas Sutkaitis presents a selection of previously unpublished trademarks designed in the USSR.