1) Writer and Critic Tom Wolfe Dies at 88
Writer and cultural critic Tom Wolfe passed away this week at the age of 88. Wolfe was known for his works of both fiction and journalism that explored subcultures, trends, and socioeconomic groups in 20th century America. In particular, the writer was known throughout the art world for his 1975 book The Painted World, in which he argued that the state of art criticism at the time was such that the artworks themselves mattered less than the articles, reviews, and essays written about them. Even in his last years of life the artist remained passionately skeptical of the opinions of the “art world,” and the true power of critics.
2) LGBTQ+ Supporters Beaten in Beijing Art Complex
Two women were beaten by security guards at Beijing’s 798 Art District, reportedly because they were wearing rainbow pins in support of LGBTQ+ rights. The women were assaulted just days before the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia which took place yesterday on May 17th. 798 (also called 798 Art Zone) is a complex of abandoned factory buildings that have been converted into studios and galleries. One staff member involved in the property management of the building told the state newspaper the Global Times that security at the complex has the right to stop illegal activity, and that, “wearing a rainbow badge is illegal to [him].” Many curators, gallerists, and other art professionals working in or with the District are openly gay, though many are understandably reluctant to protest against this type of prejudice. The incident was denounced by many on Chinese social media, though a number of related posts were quickly censored.
3) Newly Discovered Rembrandt is the First in 44 Years
The first new Rembrandt painting to be discovered in 44 years has made its debut at the Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam, and will be on display for a month. Art dealer Jan Six and an anonymous investor purchased the painting at an auction in 2016, where it was sold for about $185,000. It seems remarkable that one man would be able to identify a Rembrandt on sight when the painting had been unknown for so many years, but Six credits his good eye to a childhood spent in a household with numerous paintings by the Dutch master. According to Six, he was able to pinpoint the artist’s hand based on the very particular style of collar that the young subject of the portrait is depicted wearing.
4) Chicago Public Artwork is a Visceral Take on the Gun Control Debate
A new art exhibit in Chicago contends with how easy it is to purchase automatic weapons in the United States. Designed in the manner of a bike-share rack, the work, titled “Chicago Gun Share Rack,” was designed by Nicholas Berg of Ojo Customs, a local custom fabrication shop, and designed through collaboration with advertising agency Escape Pod and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Berg says that he intends the artwork to prompt conversation among viewers, noting that conversation surrounding gun control often occurs after an incident of gun violence -- Berg hopes that his artwork might provoke similar conversations without the violence. The