You’re Not Too Old: Sheila Hicks, Strange and Intense Work at 84 Years

A widening column of brilliantly colored ropes of fabric cascade into a heap at its base, seemingly floating atop a forested river.
Sheila Hicks, unknown work from the Horst Festival, Belgium 2018. photo by Jeroen Verrecht

It’s easy to think you’ll be overlooked if you’re no longer young, the stars of the art world mostly fawned and obsessed over in their 20s. But cheer up, most of us will be overlooked! But if you’re thinking you might be past it, Sheila Hicks is 84. She’s a fiber artist making some of the best work of her life. Yes, she started younger. As Mayer Hawthorne said: You’ll never be as young as you are today. It really makes no difference. The sooner you start, the sooner we get your work.

Sheila’s is beautiful, gloriously saturated, and it makes me feel like I should let my eyes take a nap from experiencing so much visual joy.

We aren’t making art to be a star. That might be a nice bonus, and have fun if you get that. But it’s in human DNA to make art, and if you’re alive you’ve got some of that. Do it. Sheila will be.

Mary Sibande’s Sculptures Create a Connection Between Domestic Servant and the Sublime

 

Usually, I think of the sublime as a feeling of awe prompted by a vastness or an eternal existence, like landscapes or empty spaces. But there’s another kind, one that turns up unexpectedly, when the mundane is presented in an almost worshipful way.

Such is the work of Mary Sibande, a South African sculptor using fabric, photography, and molds of her own body to create a beautiful and, yes, sublime portrait of domestic servitude that transcends the idea of both occupation and the word, “service.” The trappings are there, but the images and traditions are both transformed into something more.

In her own words, which are much better than mine, she explains the origin of her recent work.

Lucky Bostonians Will Get a Fun and Funny Nicole Eisenman

sketch of a fountain

Nicole Eisenman’s sculpture in Germany

Eisenman works with figures, or more accurately, with the body. She often puts a queer sensibility in her pieces, playing with gender expression and convention. She’s another artist who often puts humor into her work, which I always like to see in fine art.

So much contemporary art takes itself super seriously, and we could all do with occasional wind taken out of our hoity-toity sails. The sculpture, Sketch for a Fountain (2017), is a joyous and life-celebrating piece, something the world always needs more of.

I see echoes of other artists in her paintings, Guston and the realists (usually parodied) are two, historical painters edge in as well. The occasional crudeness—maybe grotesquery is more apt—belies her skill as a draftsperson. Enjoy, Boston.

Sophia Kalkou and a Subtle Kind of Humor

https://vimeo.com/326757932

Kalkou is a Danish sculptor who often works in pure white, as well as making photographs. Her work is, on the surface, very stately, pristine. But there is something of a smirk, or more accurately, an impishness within.

I’m always on the lookout for humor in fine art. Sometimes it’s overt, sometimes it’s obvious. For Sophia, it’s more an undercurrent.

If you can find a subtle, artful humor, you can create air pockets in the seriousness.

Vessel: Thomas Heatherwick’s New Point of Argument in the Art Sphere

There’s something exciting about art world controversy. Even in school, and getting angry about some sculpture or painting or exhibition I deemed “fake,” or “insincere,” or “pandering,” I still enjoyed the engagement those works provoked in me and in my fellow students.

So, anew, is the latest in back-and-forth arguments about the relative worth or meaning of a work. Heatherwick installed “Vessel,” a linked set of staircases, basically, in Manhattan, NYC.

For me, it most resembles one of those sets in sci-fi films where members of an alien tribunal gaze down on humans and condemn them to work in salt mines on some distant planet.

Andrew Russeth

ArtNews has a nice rundown on the thing.

Exciting Works From Michael Sailstorfer Connect Ordinary and Conceptually Fantastic

There are lots of sculptures to marvel over at Sailstorfer’s web site, and they range from static, pedestal-bound allegories to machines in motion to indoor-specific to outdoor manipulations. Expectations are twisted and new connections made in brilliant presentations that are simple on the surface but full of ingrained substance.

Take some time and poke around, Sailstorfer is masterfully repurposing things of contemporary society and rethinking their places.

The Strange and Various Arts of Frances Bagley

It’s been a while since I posted an artist link, but for Frances Bagley, I have to. She’s a counterargument to the idea that one should have a focus on a specific kind of work, since she does all kinds of wildly different things: installations in rooms, disturbing mixed media draped figures, abstract sculpture, video-centered works, public conceptual pieces, and all with a thoughtful and deft eye and hand.

The Weird and Haunting Final Duchamp Sculpture Is Seasonally Appropriate

I’m sharing this because it’s one of the few artworks I find actually scary. Incredible and fascinating, but also scary. It’s not a sudden, frightening type, but a deeper, more primal kind.

We look through a tiny hole and are confronted with a prone, naked body, only partially seen and still, in the sticks and brush. It might be catching an intimate moment, or it might be something grisly.

Marcel Duchamp spent more than 20 years working on Étant donnés in secret. His hidden dedication is one of the components of the work.

Something else—I’m ever so salty when I see a piece I like a lot and want to know more about its making, but I usually see simply “mixed media” in the medium area of the title card with no elaboration. What did you use? Gorilla bones? Model airplane parts? Camel spit?? It’s so often frustrating. Duchamp made sure we know damn well what went into his last creation:

Mixed media assemblage: (exterior) wooden door, iron nails, bricks, and stucco; (interior) bricks, velvet, wood, parchment over an armature of lead, steel, brass, synthetic putties and adhesives, aluminum sheet, welded steel-wire screen, and wood; Peg-Board, hair, oil paint, plastic, steel binder clips, plastic clothespins, twigs, leaves, glass, plywood, brass piano hinge, nails, screws, cotton, collotype prints, acrylic varnish, chalk, graphite, paper, cardboard, tape, pen ink, electric light fixtures, gas lamp (Bec Auer type), foam rubber, cork, electric motor, cookie tin, and linoleum

The Weighty, Considered, Symbolic, and Evocative Work of Alicja Kwade

via Louisiana Channel

Polish artist Kwade is making lovely and ambitious work with her sculpture. It calls to mind the compulsive appeal of orreries. The work incorporates planetary physics, time, geology, and movement in unexpected but immediate and accessible ways.

It brings to my mind my love of science, of science fiction, and also of our very human need to understand our place in the universe.