Art World Roundup: More COVID-19, COVID-19, and Kanye West

Art World Roundup: More COVID-19, COVID-19, and Kanye West
A pre-COVID-19 still life. Courtesy Flickr Commons | photo: Kelly Russo.

In this week’s Art World Roundup we bring you more COVID-19 news and a little bit of Kanye West’s early artworks.

LA arts project helping feed the community

Having provided food for some of the most at-risk individuals in LA County for 30 years, Project Angel Food  (PAF) has partnered up with the grantLOVE project and Oscar de la Renta to raise funds to continue providing food to those who need it most. During quarantine, PAF is working to ensure that their 1,600 clients have enough food to last them three weeks by providing Emergency Food Kits, which cost $93.75, each. Created during the AIDS/HIV epidemic, PAF now provides services for free to those living with AIDS/HIV as well as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and many other health issues. In all, their team of more than 4,000 volunteers work to serve 12,000 meals per week. They’re now working with grantLOVE, an artist-owned and operated project that uses proceeds from the art they sell to benefit and support artists and art non-profits. Created by Alexandra Grant, an LA artist, in 2008, grantLOVE has collaborated with Oscar de la Renta to create limited edition prints, inspired by the fashion line’s 2020 collection. The proceeds from those artworks will help fund PAF’s mission during this time of crisis, taking a little worry off the plates of hundreds. “I knew during the AIDS crisis that with enough love, we would make it through,” said Marianne Williamson, founder of PAF, in a statement. “And we will make it through the coronavirus too. But it took a lot of love then, and it will take a lot of love now. I hope you’ll share your love with us.”

Limited edition prints made by grantLOVE in collaboration with Oscar de la Renta to raise money for Project Food Angel. Courtesy grantLOVE.


What’s keeping you busy these days?

For actor Sharon Stone, it’s learning to paint… well, paint by number that is. While it might not be the most high-brow art form, Stone’s new-found, social-distancing induced hobby shows that while we’re all knocking around the house, we might have the chance to learn, do, or just appreciate something that we wouldn’t usually get to. So, whether it’s making postcards to send your loved ones, learning to cook like Florence Pugh, or simply taking two minutes to yourself in-between working from home and keep your kids at bay to doodle in a journal, your new quarantine hobby might just teach you something about yourself and keep you sane during these odd times.


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Finished my first (paint by #s painting) very chill. #SQ2020 #selfquarentine

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Sotheby’s and Christie’s furlough workers and cut executive pay to stay afloat

As another week of social distancing and in many cases, isolation, draws to a close, Sotheby’s and Christie’s have announced major changes ahead as they deal with the impact of COVID-19. Having pushed major auctions until June, Sotheby’s is furloughing 200 employees (~12 percent of their staff) and cutting some staff in order to move forward. Those lucky enough to still have a job will experience a 20 percent pay cut through the first of June while executives, including Sotheby’s CEO Charles Stewart, will take a 10 percent pay cut. Meanwhile, Christie’s is taking similar measures as they move forward during the pandemic having asked senior executives to participate in a “voluntary salary sacrifice” in addition to tightening restrictions on travel, events, consultants, and contractors.


Architects seek to help combat COVID-19

In places hit hardest (so far) by COVID-19, medical professionals aren’t the only ones working to adapt to overwhelming needs. Architects have taken the humble shipping container, which has edged its way into the landscape of day to day life as architecture, and transformed them into intensive care units, extending the capacity of hospitals in need. To stand in for larger field hospitals (i.e. wheeling beds into a convention centre) or tent hospitals, is the Cura, or Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments, developed by a group of architects who wanted to offer what they could to help battle the pandemic. The units would come prefab with the needed tools to specifically treat patients with coronavirus-like ailments. Architect Carlo Ratti has worked with Italo Rota (a fellow architect), Humanitas Research hospital, Milan Polytechnic, Jacobs engineers, and a number of Europe’s leading experts and physicians to develop Cura. The pods, which can be a standalone unit or join together to form a network, are only at the prototype phase, but it is hoped that they will quickly be developed and adopted throughout the world.


Kanye West made headlines, but not in relation to his ongoing T Swift feud

In an episode of Antiques Roadshow, a selection of works by a young Kanye West made their debut. Five works on paper made by the mega-star when he was just in high school were examined by Laura Woolley, an appraiser for LA-based Collector’s Lab, and valued at $16,000 to $23,000. The works include two portraits in graphite, scratchboard, and gouache, two landscapes, and a surrealist-inspired drawing of a chained multi-eyed figure with horns. The works were brought to the show by West’s first cousin’s spouse who inherited the works, and others like it, from West’s mother’s estate after her death in 2007. “What really attracted me to these pieces was the fact that a lot of people are probably not aware of how talented he is an artist outside his music career,” said Woolley.  She continued: “To have early pieces like this from someone who really will be an important cultural figure of our time is really fantastic.”


Frieze New York to refund booth fees

In the wake of canceling its 2020 edition of Frieze New York, the fair has announced that it will be refunding booth fees in two installments over the coming months. According to ARTNews, the fair will release the first reimbursement on May 20th with the second wave of refunds coming a month later on June 20th. Prior to its cancellation, nearly 200 galleries were to participate in the three-day fair. Fair organizers have stated that a free online platform, which was set to launch in May alongside the fair, will still be available for galleries that would’ve been a part of Frieze New York. While a refund is an option, fair organizers have asked that the galleries, who are able, to consider rolling their fees over to next year’s fair rather than receiving their money back. As an incentive, those who roll over their booth fees would pay 2020 prices per square foot of gallery space instead of potentially higher 2021 fees.


Unable to use their studios, artists are making due at home

Another week, another arts-related hashtag bringing a little joy to life at home. While some artists have been lucky enough to continue accessing their studios, others, in places where lockdowns have become mandatory, haven’t had that option…so they seem to making due at home creating still lives out of household items. Thus was born the #quarantinestillife and a lot of artists have joined in from the serious to the whimsical take on traditional still lives.


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day 13 #propsfromthekitchen #quarantinestilllife #homestilllife #stilllife

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Rotting fruit for fresh vegetables. #quarantinestilllife

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