An artist best known for refined post-Minimalist sculptures, Jene Highstein died at age 70 in New York on Apr. 27 after a brief battle with lung cancer. Soft-spoken and admired for his intelligence and humor as well as his work, Highstein developed, over the course of a nearly five-decade career, a spare and evocative sculptural language. He favored monumental forms and was adept in a wide range of mediums, including stone, metal, wood, glass, concrete and resin. His work is related to Minimalism but is distinctive in its sensuousness and its use of curving lines and organic shapes inspired by nature. Read More
Arguably Africa's most important and influential contemporary artist, El Anatsui is the subject of a spectacular retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum (through Aug. 4), his first New York museum solo. To coincide with "Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui," Icarus Films recently released the hourlong documentary "Fold, Crumple, Crush: The Art of El Anatsui" on DVD. Directed by Susan Vogel, the founding director of New York's Museum for African Art, the film lacks much in the way of insight into the artist's private life. However, it provides a useful complement to the museum show and helps explicate the artist's studio practice as well as the technical intricacies and conceptual nuances of his work. Read More
This spring in São Paulo a number of prominent exhibitions are invigorating the art scene. A Caravaggio show generates daily lines around the block at the São Paulo Museum of Art downtown ["Caravaggio and his Followers," through Sept. 30]. The first-ever museum survey for Rio-based art star Adriana Varejão currently fills the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art in Ibirapuera Park [through Dec. 16.]. And the highly praised 30th São Paulo Bienal, "The Imminence of Poetics," recently opened in the adjacent Oscar Niemeyer Pavilion and the other sprawling galleries of the Bienal Foundation building plus a number of off-site venues [through Dec. 9].
Marina Abramović has big ambitions to transform the sleepy town of Hudson in upstate New York into an international mecca for performance art and other time-based work. On Aug. 12, the global art star hosted an open house in the future site of the Marina Abramović Institute (MAI), a 20,000-square-foot downtown Hudson building that she purchased in 2007. The local community, along with some vacationing New York art world denizens, was invited in for a first look at the space. A disused theater built in 1929, the structure subsequently served as an indoor tennis court and most recently as a market for antique architectural fixtures.
There wasn't much to see in the gutted space last Sunday, except for a new roof that Abramović said was the only construction completed so far. Also on view were models of the Institute designed by the architectural firm OMA, led by Rem Koolhaas and Shohei Shigematsu.
Currently on view in the group show "Redux" at New York's Cristin Tierney Gallery (through Feb. 4) are two works by Joe Fig, both related to his 200