Art News Headlines: May 23, 2011

Hepworth Wakefield, Barbara Hepworth’s sculptures

Over 8,000 people visited the new Hepworth Wakefield gallery in London after it opened its doors to the public for the first time on Saturday. The £35 million center, celebrating sculptor Barbara Hepworth, is the largest purpose-built art gallery to open in Britain since 1968. Cultural chiefs hope the facility will put a spotlight on Yorkshire as a world center for sculpture. Named after Barbara Hepworth, who was born in Wakefield in 1903, the highlight of the permanent collection is a group of more than 40 works given by her family. Dr Sophie Bowness, granddaughter of Hepworth, commented, “On behalf of our family I want to thank all the many people who have made this beautiful gallery a reality. We are tremendously proud that at last we have been able to reveal the work of Barbara Hepworth in the place where she was born and grew up—and to give new insights into her practice as an artist.”

Princess Beatrice turned heads at the Royal Wedding last month as she sported a hat that more closely resembled a toilet or a pretzel, immediately becoming an Internet sensation—“Princess Beatrice’s ridiculous Royal Wedding Hat” has almost 150,000 fans on Facebook. The Philip Treacy fascinator set a new record for the sale of a designer hat on eBay, going for £81,101 (about $130,767 at current exchange) when it was finally sold yesterday. The identity of its new owner is unknown, but at one point the leading bidder was Australian children’s band, the Wiggles. All proceeds will go to the Little Bee Initiative, a charity that Princess Beatrice set up specifically for the hat’s auction to raise money for UNICEF and Children in Crisis charities. Long live the hat.

Tower of Babel, Plaza San Martin, by Marta Minujin

The top may not reach to heaven, but Argentinian artist Marta Minujin’s 82-foot tower is made of 30,000 books in languages from all over the world. Built in San Martin Square in Buenos Aires, the artist suggested that in 100 years people will say, “There was a Tower of Babel in Argentina… and it didn’t need translation because art needs no translation.” Fittingly, Buenos Aires was named the World Book Capital earlier this year. Climbing up its seven floors of metal scaffolding, visitors to the tower hear music composed by Minujin and the voice of the artist repeating the word “book” in scores of languages. Minujin previously built a full-scale model of the Parthenon in Buenos Aires in 1983 using books banned by the military dictatorship that ended that year. When the exhibit ends later this month, Minujin said literature lovers will be allowed to come and pick one book each. The rest will be brought down to start a new archive that she has already been dubbed The Library of Babel, the name of a story by Argentina’s most famous author, Jorge Luis Borges.

Little Planetary Harmony, Mai-Thu Perret

The Aargauer Kunsthaus in Aarau, Switzerland presents a major solo exhibition of Swiss artist Mai-Thu Perret, on view through July 31, 2011. The exhibition, which incorporates sculpture, installation, painting, video and performance as well as text-based work, is the most comprehensive presentation to date of this internationally renowned artist. In recent years Mai-Thu Perret has drawn considerable attention in Europe and the U.S. for her ambitious, multidisciplinary artistic work. Dubbed “The Adding Machine”, the show is comprised of pieces completed for this particular exhibition as well as older work. The Geneva-based artist is particularly interested in 20th century avant-garde movements and Utopian concepts of life.

In other art news, London’s Hayward Gallery recently unveiled “TRACEY EMIN: LOVE IS WHAT YOU WANT”, the first major survey in London of the work of one of the UK’s most renowned and celebrated artists. The exhibition features key works from all periods of Emin’s career, including seldom-seen early works and more recent large-scale installations as well as a new series of outdoor sculptures created especially for this show. Tracey Emin emerged onto the British art scene in the early 1990s, running ‘The Shop’ in East London with friend and artist Sarah Lucas. When The Shop closed, Emin burnt its remaining contents so it could never be recreated—the ashes of which are featured in this new retrospective. The exhibition, supported by Louis Vuitton, is on view through August 29, 2011.


Laura Lawson paints when writer’s block strikes and writes when painter’s block strikes. She has studied fine art at LCAD and is pursuing a degree in journalism. Recently diagnosed with the degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, she strives to bring hope to those without vision through her blog. She is currently working on her first book about coping with vision loss.

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