Plus, new developments in the Sackler family story, an artist's "campaign for empathy" and a Paris show that looks to tackle the representation of people in colour in French masterpieces. All this and more in our weekly roundup.

What We Learned This Week

Fierce Play, Tate Modern, Saturday 11 August 2018, Tate Photography

Tate Modern has become the UK’s most popular visitor attraction, overtaking the British Museum. The BBC reports that almost 5.9 million people visited the  gallery last year, compared to 5.8 million who went to the British Museum. In third place was the National Gallery, with the Southbank centre ranking as the fifth most visited attraction. Other arts venues in the top ten were the V&A and Somerset House. This is the first time that Tate Modern, which its vast Picasso show last year, has topped the list since it opened in 2000.

More news on the Sackler Family, benefactor to numerous arts institutions— a story we’ve been following closely (our very own deputy ed Louise Benson has discussed the matter on both BBC television and radio news). On Tuesday, one day after Art News reported that the Sackler Trust would  “temporarily pause” giving gifts, the New York Times revealed that the OxyContin producer Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family, members of which own the company, have settled a lawsuit brought against them by the state of Oklahoma over the company’s role in the opioid addiction epidemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans over the past two decades. The family and company paid out $275 million as a result.

Yoko Ono, photo c/o Greg Kadel
Yoko Ono, photo c/o Greg Kadel

Ahead of her Peace is Power retrospective in Leipzig, Germany, Yoko Ono has asked “women of all ages, from all countries of the world” to send “a testament of harm done to you for being a woman” and a photograph of their eyes. The images will form part of the Arising installation, which the artist says will travel around the world after the Leipzig show. Ono has also called out for German artists to participate in her “water event” as part of the show by providing containers as one half of the show; while the artist provides the water as the other half. Peace is Power runs from 4 April-7 July at the Leipzig Museum of Fine Arts.

Jean-Léon Gerome, Slave in Cairo, courtesy Musee D'Orsay
Jean-Léon Gerome, Slave in Cairo, courtesy Musee D’Orsay

A new show about the representation of people of colour in art in Paris has seen French art masterpieces renamed after their black subjects. The show, Black Models: From Gericault to Matisse, at the Musée d’Orsay, presents pieces like Edouard Manet’s Olympia, which depicts a naked prostitute, and has been renamed Laure after the woman who posed as her black maid. Works by Delacroix, Gauguin, Picasso, Bonnard and Cézanne are also in the show, which looks to tackle how people of colour are deputised in French art from 1848, the year of the country’s final abolition of slavery, until the 1950s. The exhibition runs from 26 March – 21 July.

Enni-Kukka Tuomala, Campaign for Empathy logo
Enni-Kukka Tuomala, Campaign for Empathy logo

London-based, Finnish born artist and designer Enni-Kukka Tuomala has launched a “campaign for empathy”, aiming to “bridge the growing distance between communities during Brexit uncertainty.” Tuomala, the summer artist in residence at Bow Arts’ RAW Labs, aims to challenge residents in the local London borough of Newham  to “consider each other’s perspectives to build empathy,” with her arts space base acting as a “community hub”. Part of the campaign will see the artist exploring power structures in the borough through a five-month programme of public events including workshops, consultations, debates and exhibitions; working alongside elected members of the local council, activists, and members of the community. According to Bow Arts, the campaign will “adopt the familiar language of political campaigns, reimagining it in a local, non-political and non-party-affiliated context to engage decision makers and the local community through empathy.”


Quote of the Week

Sharona Eliassaf, Making Ends Meet
Sharona Eliassaf, Making Ends Meet

“When I begin a new painting I like to think of it as if I’m watching a performance in a dysfunctional theatrical play”

Sharona Eliassaf on his paintings of dreamlike cityscapes that explore dual identity


Exhibition of the Week

Florence Henri, Bretagne, 1937
Florence Henri, Bretagne, 1937

Florence Henri: Reflecting Bauhaus, Atlas Gallery, 28 March 18 May 2019

There’s no shortage of Bauhaus-themed exhibitions this year to mark the art school’s centenary; but this one in particular caught our eye. Artist-photographer Florence Henri made worked that combined architectural forms with concerns around gender and identity. Henri’s photographs and paintings will be on show, ranging from those made during her time at the Bauhaus and on her return to her native Paris where she opened a photography studio and school; to paintings created during the 1950s and 60s. László Moholy-Nagy, Henri’s tutor at the Bauhaus, said: “With Florence Henri’s photos, photographic practice enters a new phase, the scope of which would have been unimaginable before today.”


Instagram Account of the Week

Obvious Plant Instagram
Obvious Plant Instagram

Obvious Plant, @obviousplant 

Apologies if you’ve got important things to be doing: once you start scrolling through the Obvious Plant feed, it’s nigh-on impossible to stop. The account is one that makes you double take, presenting hilarious satirical reworkings of popular kids’ toys to make them rather darker as well as new takes on familiar poster designs, groceries and brand marks. There’s a Ken Doll-like “Useless Person”, Meat Soda, a glorious range of “stupid animals” and so, so much more. The project was created by Jeff Wysaski as a Tumblr back in 2015, and earlier this month the funnyman debuted his Museum of Toys popup in LA.


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