FRANCOIS SULTANE shares its eighth monthly column on arts and culture in collaboration with Malta weather, in which he presents a set of must-see local and international events that he encourages readers to explore.
Just returned to Malta from a whirlwind tour of New York. It was so fabulous to come back to the city after more than two years away. Like in Europe, it looks like summer 2022 in New York will be one to remember and you can really feel the sense of anticipation in the air.
It’s no surprise that some of the biggest names in the art world have made their mark once again. For a city that celebrates newness, it was encouraging to see that some classics remain as fresh and relevant as they were almost 50 years ago!
Jean-Michel Basquiat: king of pleasure was the spectacle on everyone’s lips. The recent auction of his work Untitled (1982), which fetched a sale price of $85 million, set the tone for a highlight of an exhibition that runs until the end of the month. .
Housed in 1,500 square feet of the Starrett-Lehigh Building, the exhibit was curated by artist sisters Jeanine and Lisane who run the estate, and features more than 200 pieces of never-before-seen or rarely-seen items, including paintings, photographs and artifacts, and takes visitors from Basquiat’s early childhood through posthumous accomplishments, and gives context to how his legacy and family influenced his work.
Designed by David Adjaye, the exhibition also presents reconstructions of Basquiat’s studio and the VIP room of the Palladium nightclub which presented two of his works.
On the side of Hauser and Wirth, another icon of the New York art scene is on display. Cindy Sherman 1977-1982 presents a selection of Sherman’s groundbreaking work on themes of female identity in contemporary media.
Photos without title features 70 black-and-white images of invented characters that mimic the type of commercial shots used by films of the 1950s and 1960s.
These worlds created by Sherman, which are filled with an unwritten narrative, became the basis for much of Sherman’s work. The series of Rear screen projections in color show Sherman returning to her studio where she used an overhead projection technique favored by Alfred Hitchcock.
Center pleats shows Sherman toying with the idea of the female nude in men’s magazines but subverted by being fully clothed. The show lasts until July 29.
Like Sherman, who has proven herself a master of reinvention, the queen of contemporary British art, Gillian Wearing, is currently on view at the Guggenheim with an exhibition called Wearing Masks. Like Sherman, Wearing uses photographs of herself to explore identity and probe the tension between self and society and the media.
It’s no surprise that some of the biggest names in the art world have made their mark once again
Featuring over 100 pieces, the exhibition traces the artist’s evolution from his early Polaroids to his latest self-portraits, all of which explore the performative nature of identity. The show ends this week; so if you are in New York, then hurry to see it.
Now let’s move on to another NYC queen, the Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Met. In America: a fashion lexicon is a wonderful exploration of American fashion, presented as a patchwork quilt with each piece enclosed in a case that represents the patches of a quilt; approximately 100 men’s and women’s pieces from a wide range of designers from the 1940s to the present are featured, covering themes such as nostalgia, belonging, fun, joy, wonder, affinity, confidence, strength, desire, assurance, comfort and awareness.
The second part of the exhibition can be seen next to the period rooms of the American wing.
Let’s move on to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and on the occasion of her Platinum Jubilee. Union Jacks and street parties may have taken place all over the UK, but here in Malta we also have a very special relationship with Her Majesty, and I was delighted to hear that the government has bought the Villa Guardamangia and will turn it into a museum.
The Queen and Prince Philip spent two years (1949-1951) living in Malta when Prince Philip was stationed here and clearly it was one of the happiest times of his life when the couple lived a relatively normal existence, shopping in Valletta. in his Morris Minor and taking regular boat trips around the island.
If you’re in the UK this summer, there’s a range of exhibits celebrating the Queen’s accession to the throne, including the portraits of Dorothy Wilding at Buckingham Palace which have become the basis for postage stamps until in 1971.
At Windsor, the coronation robes and iconic coronation photograph of Cecil Beaton are on display, while at Holyrood House in Edinburgh there are the Jubilee outfits that have been worn by the Queen over the years.
Stay tuned for the next monthly cultural column in July. If you want to find out what I do each month, follow me on Instagram @francis_sultana.
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