You may remember that when the Nigerian-British artist’s rendition of the Madonna was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum in 1999, following uneventful showings in Europe, all hell broke loose (as it were). Now the piece is back in New York, attracting no particular controversy. Alastair Sooke considers what’s changed over the past 15 years.
“This is yet one more powerful reason why museums should not be in the business of showing private collections that haven’t been given to them. The Museum of African Art would have a great deal more freedom to distance itself from Cosby if it owned or were certain to own the art rather than having it on loan.”
“More and more artworks define and dictate the time their audience must give them. Too many videos are made like feature films, with a start and finish, and the clear message that you need to watch the whole thing to understand it. Performances too can be like plays, with a defined start and end. This is so wrong – like those weird old photos of 1960s audiences primly watching happenings.”
“In Baltimore last week, scientist-conservators told how analyzing great works with devices only physicists and chemists could love — synchrotron radiation sources, ultraviolet-induced fluorescence, high resolution, and XRF multispectrography — lifts the mysteries off some paintings and can produce stories worthy of novels.”
“A team from Harvard and the MIT Media Lab realised that light could be used to restore the appearance of the lost colours without touching the canvas. The idea was to illuminate each mural with a pattern of light that would project the missing aspects of the lost colours onto the original canvases, returning them to their original hues without disturbing the paintings’ textures.”
“What most of us consider the front of the Music Center, along Grand Avenue, architect Welton Becket actually imagined as a secondary, less glamorous entrance. And what Becket designed as the public gateway to its plaza, along Hope Street, we think of as the back-of-house: as the spot for valet drop-offs and little more.” Christopher Hawthorne explains why – and how all this may change before too long.
“Flexibility is life, but lately I keep thinking that the art world has gotten a lot less flexible, and the freedom that I’ve always thought of as completely foundational – freedom to let our freak flags fly and express ourselves, even bizarrely – has constricted considerably. … Or maybe it’s me. Because, to be fair, a lot of this tempestuousness has been happening around moi.”