‘It’s Important to Leave Something for the People of Venice’: Why Artist Bosco Sodi Is Letting Locals Take His Biennale Art Home

Installation view of “Bosco Sodi: What Goes Around Comes Around” at the Palazzo Vendramin Grimani, Venice. Photo courtesy of Kasmin, New York; Axel Verwoordt, Antwerp; and König, Berlin.

When the Venice Biennale closes in November, artworks from hundreds of artists will be packed up and shipped back to countries around the world. But a little piece of the contemporary-art circus that brings so many jet-setting art collectors to the Italian city will stay at the lagoon thanks to Bosco Sodi.

That’s because the artist is giving away one of the artworks in his exhibition “Bosco Sodi: What Goes Around Comes Around.” Venetian residents will be able to take home the small 195 clay spheres that surround a giant one in Noi Siamo Uno, an interactive display on view beneath a Murano glass chandelier at the Palazzo Vendramin Grimani.

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Clusters of Diaphanous Textile Sculptures by Mariko Kusumoto Evoke the Ocean Floor

Japanese artist and designer Mariko Kusumoto (previously) shapes gossamer coral and sea creatures from soft fibers like polyester, nylon, and cotton. Embedded with tiny ripples or airy pockets, the standalone sculptures and wearables are translucent renditions of lifeforms, and their delicate compositions correspond with the fragility of the subject matter.

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In ‘Extinct and Endangered,’ Photographer Levon Biss Magnifies the Potential Loss of Insects Around the Globe

Madeira brimstone. Image © Levon Biss, courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History

Despite existing on separate continents thousands of miles apart, the Madeira brimstone and giant Patagonian bumblebee are experiencing similar hardships. The former, which inhabits the islands it inherits its name from, is dealing with an invasive species decimating the trees its caterpillars require pre-metamorphosis, while the latter has been struggling to survive in its native Chile after farmers introduced domesticated European bees to aid in crop pollination. Both species are in danger and are part of an ongoing exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History conveying what’s at stake if their species are lost entirely.

Extinct and Endangered is comprised of massive, macro shots by Levon Biss, a British photographer who’s amassed a stunningly diverse collection of images with a variety of natural subject matter from dried seeds to iridescent insects. Biss often collaborates with institutions like the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the Oxford Museum of Natural History, gaining access to their archives and selecting specimens.

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Mesmerizing Human Faces Emerge From Carefully Sculpted Metal Wires

Human faces come to life in the industrial sculptures of Darius Hulea. The Romania-based artist uses iron, stainless steel, brass, and copper as the materials for expressive portraits inspired by history and mythology. Inspired by the sketches of old masters, Hulea translates the quickness and fluidity of drawing into three-dimensional forms.

Despite the rigidity of his medium, his portfolio of sculptures displays a looseness and spontaneity not often associated with metal. Many of Hulea’s pieces take on the form of a man with long hair and a beard, and he weaves the wire together to mimic the appearance of long, unruly locks. The density of numerous individual wires creates an interesting texture reminiscent of hair blowing in the wind.

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Olivia Guterson Carries Ancestral Patterns Into Contemporary Art

Olivia Guterson and Laura Earle, “Night Menorah” (2020) (photo courtesy the artist)

Not all stories are written with words. Some are encoded in patterns — swirling, squiggly, and zig-zagged lines that have been engraved in stone or woven into cloth for generations in nearly every culture. Olivia Guterson, also known as Midnight Olive, carries these ancient patterning traditions into contemporary art, drawing from her Russian, Ukrainian, Jewish, and African American roots to create a dazzling new ornamental language. 

An intricate surface design drapes effortlessly over Guterson’s sculptures, almost as if it emerged organically. If you haven’t crafted patterns before, you might think it gets tedious to mark the same shape over and over again. Rather, she finds it healing, telling Hyperallergic, “This meditative practice feels so spiritual and ancestral — it’s almost as if it’s like the language of everyone I came from.” She treats the pattern as another form of language, pulling in symbols and memories from her multicultural family. Her Ashkenazi grandmother was a quilter and even stitched her own doilies.

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Sam Gilliam, Groundbreaking Abstractionist, Dies at 88

Sam Gilliam, “10/27/69” (1969), acrylic on canvas installation, collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York (photo by Fredrik Nilsen Studio)

Sam Gilliam, whose draping, color-drenched canvases insisted on the radical potential of abstraction, died at the age of 88 this Saturday, June 25. The cause was kidney failure. The news was confirmed by Pace and David Kordansky, the two galleries that jointly represent the artist.

Emerging at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, a time when many Black American artists harnessed figuration to represent their reality and spur social change, Gilliam did not just pursue non-representational art but managed to turn it on its head. Inspired in part by women he saw hanging laundry on clotheslines from his studio window, he freed the canvas from the stretcher for his pivotal “Drape” paintings, suspending them from the ceiling or on the wall in sensual configurations that embrace the organic folds of fabric. It was the zenith of American postwar painting: Abstract Expressionism, the New York School, and the Color Field movement collided in a frenzy of drips, splashes, and egos, mostly those of a rather male and White coterie of artists. Gilliam, along with contemporaries like Howardena Pindell and Alma Thomas, made their mark on the medium while asserting the creative autonomy of Black artists in the United States.

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Alison Hall’s Hypnotic Paintings Invite Slow Looking

Alison Hall, “A Ballad (for this pain in my heart), (2022), oil, graphite, and plaster on panel; artist frame, Virginia maple and plaster, 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches (all photos by Lacey Leonard, courtesy the artist and SOCO Gallery)

The artists who many critics cite when writing about Alison Hall’s paintings are Agnes Martin, Sol LeWitt, and Ad Reinhardt. Hall is one of the few contemporary abstract painters that I know of whose highly formal paintings do not diminish in the company of such rigorous ascetics. This is because her slow, mesmerizing, monochromatic works provoke a state of exalted seeing that is unlike anyone else’s, including the aforementioned artists. Working within her established limits, which she set early in her career, Hall keeps finding ways to pull willing viewers closer, to encourage them to get lost in looking as well as reflect upon this experience. This is one of the reasons that I have continued to follow her work.

Her current exhibition, Alison Hall: Cold-Eyed and Mean, in a new project space in Chinatown opened by SOCO Gallery (May 20–June 30), features 14 paintings divided into two groups: a suite of 11 intimately scaled ultramarine paintings collectively titled A Ballad, and four black paintings in three different sizes.

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Lynda Benglis Basks in the Light of Her Art

Lynda Benglis, “Yellow Tail” (2020), Everdur bronze (golden), 53 x 96 x 74 inches, edition of 6 (all images © Lynda Benglis/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY; courtesy the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo, all photos Josh Schaedel)

LOS ANGELES — In Lynda Benglis’s latest exhibition, Excavation at Blum & Poe, the sensuality of her sculptures is as seductive as ever, but the forces of gravity that defined her seminal poured latex and polyurethane pieces are traded for lightness. The large bronze sculptures, accompanied by a room of small ceramics, are spiral bursts that further the artist’s inquiry into the “gestural and the knot” as they investigate negative and positive space. This explanation conveys the formal concerns but not the energy of the works, and the sense of ecstatic motion that they capture.

The large sculptures result from a process of 3D scanning the small ones, creating foam models, and then casting the bronze using the lost-wax method.

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Minimal Portraits by Luke Stephenson Frame the Elegant Plumage of Show Birds

Red Legged Honeycreeper (2016)

For the better part of a decade, U.K.-born, Stockholm-based photographer Luke Stephenson has been fascinated by show birds, their impeccably groomed feathers, and undeniably unique personalities. Whether centering on a white-eyed Zosterop or confrontational Spereo Starling, his portraits are minimal with monochromatic backdrops that accentuate the distinct colors and patterns of each plume.

The ongoing series, titled An Incomplete Dictionary of Show Birds, originated with Stephenson wanting to photograph budgies but was intrigued by other species when he met some of his future subjects and their owners. He then designed a portable, avian-sized studio with lighting and a slot for swapping backdrops. Most of his subjects gravitate toward the wooden perch, he says, where they land and show off their distinct personalities.

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Fierce and Fantastical Experiments in Ceramics 

Roxanne Jackson, “Indigo Kush” (2016), ceramic, glaze, luster 13 x 20 x 12 inches

TORONTO — When ceramic artists place their hands in clay, they are echoing an expressive gesture that has been with humanity for some 20,000 years. With all that in mind, you might think there is no new ground for contemporary ceramicists — but, as Earth Oracles proves, nothing could be further from the truth. The group show at Mayten’s features 15 artists, each of whom has taken their ceramic practice in a unique and groundbreaking direction.

“Coming from Iran, we had clay and ceramics for thousands of years, not only for functional purposes, but artistic purposes,” said Mayten’s co-founder Farnoosh Talaee, who co-curated the exhibition with participating artist Lindsay Montgomery.

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