This Week in Art News

Blurring Binaries, Fascist Art, the Hiscox Report & More

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Published

Apr 12, 2019

Featured artists

Umberto Boccioni

Each week, we scour the internet for the most significant, surprising, and outrageous art news—helping you stay informed (and sound smart). Have a suggestion? Let us know on social media (@meetmeural) with the tag #thisweekinartnews. (See all installments.)

A 1970 jumpsuit by Rudi Gernreich in “Gender Bending Fashion,” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The designer is pivotal to fast-changing notions of gender in fashion. Credit: Kayana Szymczak for The New York Times

Negating the gender binary may feel like a more recent form of progress, but a new show at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston begs otherwise. As this review in the Times highlights, the exhibit includes examples of clothing that exists outside of a male-female dichotomy—from the past century. The review is decidedly mixed however, starting with the name of the show, “Gender Bending Fashion,” which the Times deemed “ill-defined.” In summation: “For an exhibition as scrupulous as ‘Gender Bending Fashion’ is about providing a map of the way-stations along the arc of gender identity and expression — ‘agender’ to ‘genderqueer’ to nonbinary to trans — the effort to establish lineages can seem disappointingly attenuated.”

Mario Sironi’s mural Italy Among Arts and Sciences (detail), 1950 restoration of the 1935 original, with Fascist elements reinstated, approx. 1,500 square feet. Courtesy Sapienza University of Rome. © Artists Rights Society (ARS)

Italian Fascism inspired an unbelievably unique form of art: Futurism, as led by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni, and friends. It defied what we’ve come to expect of art movements in nearly every way possible, celebrating technology and machinery, urbanity and change, speed and violence. This article from Art in America is a dense, heady dive into how the politics of Fascism helped shape its art, as well as a tie-in to today. It’s chock-full of insights that may take a few reads to digest, i.e.: “The inconsistencies of aesthetic expression under Fascism proved a source of strength—something democratic forces ignored at their peril. To make even the economically dispossessed feel—contrary to all evidence—that they formed a new aristocracy, under the sign not of class consciousness but chauvinism: such was Mussolini’s feat for two decades.”

Credit: REUTERS

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Louvre’s glass pyramid, the museum produced a work made to be as ephemeral as the pyramid is lasting. “With the help of 400 volunteers, French artist JR had worked for five days to glue together around 2,000 pieces of paper into one massive collage.” The finished work was over 183,000 square feet—and destroyed by pedestrians (the purpose of the piece) in just one day. The artist JR may ring a bell; he was the director (and co-star) of the 2017 documentary Faces Places, along with the recently deceased film director Agnès Varda.

Courtesy of Hiscox

As the above graph shows, the online art market has steadily risen over the past five years, with $4.6 billion worth of art sold online last year alone. We know this thanks to the Bermuda-based insurance company Hiscox, who has just released their annual Online Art Trade Report. Browsing the report, we can also suss out more subtle changes, such as medium preference, with new media, sculpture, and photographs falling, and paintings and prints rising.

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Umberto Boccioni: Featured Works

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