Crowds Swarm Kara Walker’s Sugar Sphinx (artnet news)

Cait Munro, Sunday, June 1, 2014 original article here.

Kara Walker, A Subtlety (2014). Photo: Jason Wyche, Courtesy Creative Time.

Kara Walker’ s immense A Subtlety (2014) is 75 ½ feet long, 35 ½ feet tall, and 26 feet wide Photo: Jason Wyche, Courtesy Creative Time.

The Brooklyn art scene saw an influx of visitors this weekend thanks to Bushwick Open Studios, and though not a part of the official programming, Kara Walker’s giant sugar sculpture at the Domino Sugar Factory was one of most popular destinations. The much-discussed installation, which features the body of a racially-charged stereotype of a black woman in the pose of a sphinx, has recently been the subject of some unsavory Instagram photos amidst widespread positive attention from casual art observers and major publications alike.

While the Washington Post predicts you might only have to wait in line for 20 minutes to see the artwork, this weekend visitors waited for up to an hour in a line that snaked down Kent Street underneath the beating sun. One witness claimed the line reached all the way back to the Williamsburg Bridge, and that a single policeman was tasked with controlling the crowd.

photo (4)

Photo: artnet News

Whether the massive interest in the sculpture has stemmed from the social media controversy, the recent inundation of art events in Brooklyn, or steadily increasing media coverage remains a mystery, but clearly something in the combination of aesthetic, location and, concept has won Walker’s work a place among the most successful, highly trafficked exhibitions of the year. If you can handle the crowds and the heat, we recommend making the trek to go see it. Just remember to bring some water and entertainment, because there’s sure to be a wait, and it’s only getting hotter.

Kara Walker‘s “A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant” remains on view at the Domino Sugar Refinery through July 6.



Banksy Mobile Lovers Get $670,000 Price Tag from Antiques Roadshow (artnet news)

by Eileen Kinsella, Monday, June 2, 2014 original article here.


Banksy, Mobile Lovers (2014). Courtesy Vision Invisible/Flickr.

A Banksy mural with an interesting back story could bring in over a half million dollars for a British boys club in dire need of funds.

Mobile Lovers, a work showing a man and woman seemingly locked in a passionate embrace, but actually gazing distractedly over each other’s shoulders at their cell phones, their faces lit from the glow, was valued at $670,000 (£400,000) on the Antiques Roadshow TV program. The work was brought for appraisal by a Bristol-based youth club known as the Broad Plain Boys’ Club. An added bonus, the club has a letter from the mysterious street artist himself, stating that the club can keep the work.

In April, shortly after Mobile Lovers was spotted on a wall in Bristol, it was taken down by the youth club with a crowbar. The club left a note indicating that they removed it “to prevent vandalism or damage being done,” as artnet News reported. The move was controversial, sparking some criticism that it was holding the work “hostage.” According to their note, “You are free to come and view, but a small donation will be asked for you.” The letter from Banksy, and confirmation from Banksy’s publicist Jo Brooks has seemingly quashed any question of ownership between the city of Bristol, where the artist resides, and the youth club.

In the Daily Mail, club leader Dennis Stinchcombe said he had received offers as high as $1.7 million (£1 million) for the work since the Banksy confirmation. Stinchombe said he was considering selling the work at auction but was concerned about “choosing an appropriate auctioneer and one which is respectful of the work.” His hope is that any sale proceeds “settle our finances and secure our future over the next few years at least.”

Stinchcombe had hoped to keep a low profile when he brought it to the BBC program being filmed at Ashton Court in Bristol last Thursday (May 29), but the large, distinctive work was spotted almost immediately, and crowds descended.

Banksy’s auction record is for Keep It Spotless (2007), (a playful jab at Damien Hirst), made of household gloss and spray paint on canvas, that sold for $1.9 million at Sotheby’s New York in 2008, soaring above expectations of $250,000–350,000. According to the artnet database, roughly 1,165 Banksy works have appeared at auction to date.


12 Haunting Photos of The Last Meals of Death-Row Inmates (INDULGD)

original article here.


It was customary, in pre-modern Europe, to grant condemned death-row inmates a last meal before their demise. This action was highly symbolic and was believed to be done in an act of superstition to ask for forgiveness to the executioner, the judge and witnesses and absolve any potential acts of vengeance.

Regardless of your opinion on the death penalty, this post, though potentially appetizing to some will turn your stomachs upside-down. The very talented Henry Hargreaves has come up with an eye-opening, yet haunting series of photos documenting death-row inmates last meal requests.

In a recent interview with we asked…

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a self taught photographer living in Brooklyn originally from New Zealand. My work seems to touch on 4 main themes – food, bright colors, childhood nostalgia and breasts!

What first inspired you to take these shots?
After hearing about the abolishment of the last meal in Texas I read up on what inmates actually requested. As I read about their food tastes it humanized them for a moment in my mind and brought the gravity and unnatural practice of state sponsored executions.

What has been people’s reactions to your work?
I mainly hear the compliments but I’m sure it’s not everyones cup of tea.

What is your personal favorite photo that you have taken?
I’m always looking toward the next photo.

What was the eeriest meal in your opinion?
Ricky Ray Rector when he told the guard he was saving his pie for later. Rector was mentally disabled so I feel he had no idea of what was about to happen to him.

What projects have you been currently working on?
Just finished a series of Gingerbread Art Galleries that were shown at Art Basel and will be exhibited in NY on Wednesday at Dylan’s Candy.

How can people get in touch with you?
They can visit me at and my Facebook page.



Banksy adds Nazi to thrift store painting, amps up charity’s fund-raising (NY Daily News)

BY , NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Tuesday, October 29, 2013, 8:19 PM original article here.


Banksy transformed this cheap nature scene into a high-priced work of art with his addition of a Nazi enjoying the view.

Banksy transformed this cheap nature scene into a high-priced work of art with his addition of a Nazi enjoying the view.

Banksy’s latest work is a Nazi who’s raising big bucks for charity.

The cagey street artist surprised the Housing Works Thrift Shop in Gramercy on Tuesday by returning a pastoral oil painting he had bought for $50, after he added a Nazi soldier sporting a swastika armband.

Store officials wasted no time in auctioning the piece on A bidding war started at $74,000 and stood at $201,200 as the clock struck midnight Tuesday night. No telling what the price will be when the online auction ends at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Housing Works plans to use its windfall to fund its mission of fighting homelessness and AIDS.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

The crowd at Housing Works Thrift Shop in New York takes pictures of the latest Banksy work.

Josh Haskins, the store assistant manager, said the painting, originally done by an obscure artist named K. Sager, mysteriously appeared at the shop Tuesday morning.

“Someone showed up at the counter and told a volunteer to get the manager, saying, ‘A valuable piece of art is here,’” said Haskins. “He then just walked away.

“I took one look at it and I knew what it was,” said Haskins, 27, of Brooklyn. “I’ve been into Banksy since I was in college.”

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

Banksy fans gather to take snapshots of ‘The banality of the banality of evil,’ the artist’s latest work on sale at the Housing Works Thrift Shop.

Rebecca Edmondson, spokeswoman for Housing Works, said proceeds from the painting would help thousands.

“Housing Works is thrilled to receive such a generous donation from Banksy,” Edmondson said in a statement. “It means a lot to our organization that the artist is using his time in New York to give back to the very community that has been captivated by his every move.

“Proceeds from this one of a kind piece will do so much good for the thousands of men, women and children dealing with the dual crisis of homelessness and AIDS that still plagues our city streets.”

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

Hung just so above a couch in the Housing Works Thrift Shop, art collectors should have no trouble imagining the oil painting modified by Banksy in their own living rooms.

To the painting, Banksy added the Nazi soldier sitting on a wooden bench and staring contemplatively at the original artist’s fall landscape of a peaceful river flowing from a snowy mountain.

The famed British graffiti master signed the painting under Sager’s signature.

“A thrift store painting vandalized then re-donated to the thrift store,” Banksy wrote on his website.

Not everyone can afford $153,601 — possibly more — for a painting, even one transformed by famed street artist Banksy, so they're taking photos of it instead.

Not everyone can afford $153,601 — possibly more — for a painting, even one transformed by famed street artist Banksy, so they’re taking photos of it instead.

He titled the doctored painting: “The banality of the banality of evil.”

While Banksy didn’t offer an explanation, the work is reminiscent of a 1969 episode of Rod Serling’s TV show “Night Gallery.” In an episode titled “The Escape Route,” a Nazi war criminal, haunted by past demons and confronted by a Holocaust survivor, finds solace in a serene museum painting.

The E. 23rd St. store immediately drew a crowd of photographers and Banksy fans after the shop hung the framed 3-by-2-foot painting in the front window above a checkered pink couch.

The donation to Housing Works came just days after Banksy angered loved ones of 9/11 victims by slamming the design of 1 World Trade Center as “vanilla” and a symbol that “proclaims the terrorists won.”

Banksy has been on a month long residency in New York, tagging buildings with provocative graffiti and erecting installations in vacant lots and even on trucks roving the city.

Nazi-Looted Van Goghs Bring Ruin Upon Greek Woman (artnet news)

by Sarah Cascone, Thursday, April 17, 2014 original article here.

Doreta Peppas with a van Gogh painting recovered by her father during a  Greek resistance raid of a Nazi train.

Doreta Peppas with an alleged Vincent van Gogh painting recovered by her father during a Greek resistance raid of a Nazi train. Photo via Greek Reporter.

When Doreta Peppas discovered a box of Vincent van Gogh paintings among her late father’s belongings in 2003, she thought she was rich. In the over 10 years since, she’s spent her life’s savings trying to authenticate the artworks, which her father, a Greek resistance fighter, recovered from the Nazis during World War Two.

According to the Greek Reporter, Doreta Peppas’s father Meletis Peppas conducted a raid on a Nazi train in Greece in October of 1944. Though his squad was looking for ammunition, what they found was a cache of Impressionist art, labeled degenerate by Hitler’s regime, likely on its way to be sold to bolster the fuhrer’s war chest.

The train carried oil paintings and a sketchbook by Van Gogh, as well as a photograph of the artist as a teen, and a nude painting by Paul Cézanne. Altogether, the stash is estimated to be worth $100 million. Peppas told the Greek Reporter that her father, a captain of the resistance, was “an educated man, and an amateur art buff” who “decided to keep the paintings for himself.”

Following the war, Meletis Peppas was targeted by the government due to his Communist leanings, and spent time in prison. He eventually left his family in order to protect them from the government, all the while managing to keep his priceless art stash a secret. The elder Peppas died in 1973, and for decades the artworks that his daughter claims he took from the Nazis were forgotten.

When Doreta Peppas uncovered the work in November 2003, she immediately turned to experts for X-rays, lab tests, and other means of authentication. Two specialists have identified the sketchbook as dating to Van Gogh’s studies at the Royal Academy of Art in Brussels. A facial recognition expert confirmed the photo of an adolescent Van Gogh as a match to known photographs of the artist as an adult.

A stamp on the back of a Van Gogh portrait of a man smoking a pipe, thought to be one of a series of paintings of the artist’s doctor, Paul-Ferdinand Gachet, has been authenticated as an official Nazi mark by the Bundesarchiv in Germany. Much of the art confiscated by the Nazis was cataloged at the Louvre in Paris before being sold to private collectors.

Despite the works’ ties to the Nazis, there are no records regarding their original owners. “I went to great lengths to find out who originally owned the paintings,” said Doreta Peppas. “I even went to Interpol.”

According to Greek law the works are hers, but potential buyers—whether collectors, auction houses, or institutions—remain skeptical. Citing the artworks’ Nazi provenance as a reason for the lack of interest, she claims that institutions have doubted the results of the authentication research for which she has paid so much.

Among the suspicious institutions is Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum. “They said they would authenticate it, but the contract they sent me stated they had the right to keep it forever, for free,” Peppas said. Greek dealers and the Louvre have also turned away the works, leaving her with no way to recoup the $150,000 she says she has spent verifying the art’s origins.

“These galleries and auction houses are nothing less than cartels, and word has gone around that my pieces must not be sold,” Peppas complains. “I have been the subject of terrible bullies in the art world.”

At this time it is unclear whether or not this Doreta Peppas—whose last name is alternately spelled “Peppas” and “Peppa” throughout the Greek Reporter article—is the same woman who, in 2007, called upon Greece’s Culture Ministry to grant access to the Temple of Olympian Zeus for the small group of Athenians who continue to worship the ancient Greek deity Zeus.

Bristol Museum Will Display Stolen Banksy Confiscated by City Hall (artnet news)

by Sarah Cascone, Thursday, April 17, 2014 original article here.


Banksy, Mobile Lovers (2014), in Bristol. Photo via

The municipal government in Bristol has stepped in to resolve the controversy over secretive street artist Banksy‘s latest work, which will now be displayed at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, reports the BBC.

Shortly after the painting of a couple embracing, their faces alight with the glow of their mobile devices, was announced on Banksy’s website, an opportunistic local youth club leader, Dennis Stinchcombe, pried the plywood artwork from the doorway where it had been installed.

Where the original stood, a smaller copy was displayed, along with a note reading:

This is where Banksy’s work did stand. It has been removed as it was at risk of being damaged or vandalized or taken away. As some of you may be aware, the Riverside Youth Project which stands to your left is under major threat of being shut down due to funding. You can view the art work in our building where it is being kept safe from harm! We will ask a small donation to be contributed if you do wish to view. Please do not hesitate to pop in!

Reactions to Stinchcombe’s theft have ranged from death threats to an offer of $1.7 million for the painting, according to the BBC. The Broad Plain Boys’ Club claims to need over $200,000 to continue operations, and had initially hoped to raise $170,000 from the proceeds of a sale.

Yesterday, Bristol mayor George Ferguson stepped in, urging the club to turn the painting over to police. “As far as we know it belongs to the city,” he told the BBC. “What’s important is that it’s available for everybody to see.” Reluctantly, the club acquiesced.

Now, it is unclear how much the struggling organization will benefit from the artwork, which is scheduled to go on view tomorrow, “once,” per the museum’s Twitter feed, “we have cleaned the spiders, wasp nest and dirt off.”

The Bristol Museum and Art Gallery promises to put up a donation box next to the work, and the mayor is encouraging Banksy to offer a limited-edition print of the work, with the proceeds to go to the club.

Stinchcombe, for his part, is heartbroken, asking “How often do you see a million pounds walk out of your club?”



see updates about Mobile Lovers here.


Brooklyn Museum Mural Irks Self-Appointed Spokesman for All Hindus (Hyperallergic)

by Benjamin Sutton on December 22, 2014 original article here.

Installation view of Chitra Ganesh, 'Eyes of Time' at the Brooklyn Museum (all photos courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum)

Installation view of Chitra Ganesh, ‘Eyes of Time’ at the Brooklyn Museum (all photos courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum)

The centerpiece of Chitra Ganesh’s new exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, a mural that depicts the Hindu goddess Kali, has provoked the ire of the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism (USH). What is the Universal Society of Hinduism, you ask? Hard to say, as its website is currently down, and no posts have ever been published on its blog, but its Nevada-based president, Rajan Zed, keeps a very active website that describes the USH as a “nondenominational religious-philosophical-cultural-educational organization [that] aims at reaching about one billion Hindus spread around the world.” One of the most recent press releases on Zed’s site is titled “Upset Hindus urge withdrawal of goddess Kali mural from Brooklyn Museum.”

“Such trivialization of goddess Kali was disturbing to the devotees world over, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stated and urged Brooklyn Museum to withdraw it,” the statement reads. “Zed also asked Museum’s Director Arnold L. Lehman to tender a formal public apology.”

Nevada-based "Hindu statesman" Rajan Zed (photo courtesy Rajan Zed, via

Nevada-based “Hindu statesman” Rajan Zed (photo courtesy Rajan Zed, via

The Brooklyn Museum declined to comment on Zed’s accusations and demands.

Ganesh’s exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Eyes of Time, features a large-scale, site-specific mural of Kali, the Hindu goddess of time, destruction, and regeneration. The deity has long been a popular figure with feminist scholars and is included in Judy Chicago’s “Dinner Party” in the adjacent gallery. Ganesh portrays Kali as a towering figure with three legs, three breasts, six arms, a clock with no hands for a head, and, in keeping with traditional portrayals, a skirt made of severed human arms. It’s unclear from Zed’s press release which element or elements of the mural offended him and the other, unnamed Hindus he cites:


Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that goddess Kali was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be thrown around loosely in reimagined versions for dramatic effects on museum walls. Such absurd depiction of goddess Kali with no scriptural backing was hurtful to the devotees.

Zed is known to make pronouncements on any and all matters relating to Hindu culture. In a 2013 post about Zed’s message of approval for a new Selena Gomez music video, Gawker referred to him as the “Hindu-in-Chief.”

Installation view of Chitra Ganesh, 'Eyes of Time' at the Brooklyn Museum (all photos courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum)

Installation view of Chitra Ganesh, ‘Eyes of Time’ at the Brooklyn Museum (all photos courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum)

Chitra Ganesh’s Eyes of Time continues at the Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Parkway, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn) through July 12, 2015