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James Rosenquist’s “Sand of the Cosmic Desert in Every Direction” (left), and “Quantam Universe,” 2012. Courtesy Richard L. Feigen & Company, New York

In April 2009 a forest fire destroyed [James Rosenquist's] Aripeka, Florida, home, including a large studio and his personal art collection. “I didn’t cry in my beer after that,” he says. “I just went back to work and tried to forget about it.” Still, the event, in which he lost a reported $14 million in artwork, seems to have had an understandably traumatic effect. He readily brings it up in conversation—“It was a real dent in my career, destroying a lot of stuff”—goaded by the fact that, because the property is deemed to be in a new flood plain, the government won’t allow him to rebuild.

Asked if the loss of so much of his output in the fire caused him to reevaluate his oeuvre or career, he retorts, with some disdain, that no, he doesn’t concern himself with the past, only with “what’s ahead.” Rosenquist does not look back, doesn’t dwell on history. Indeed, he claims the past doesn’t press on him: “Nothing weighs on me. I don’t feel any weight.” But he is very much concerned with time.

He turned 80 this past November and corrects me when I suggest that his upcoming exhibition, opening April 29 at Bjorn Wetterling Gallery in Stockholm, is composed of recent works. No, he says, they’re “late works.” And unlike those Pop pieces for which he is best known, Rosenquist’s later efforts have few recognizable images. Stars, galactic dust, as well as the effects of red or blue shift abound, usually presented in tightly juxtaposed, sharp-edged prismatic planes. Most were made in 2012, and some were first shown at Acquavella, his gallery in New York. The following summer he had a bout of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, an illness that put him in the hospital for a month, where, he recounts, “I had hallucinations that were very vivid. They were cinematic, not like paintings.”

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Daniel Kunitz
Blouin Art Info

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Artist Shane Hope creates ornate, abstract paintings using low-cost 3-D printers. Photo: Shane Hope

3-D printers are typically used make high-resolution models or functional prototypes, but artist Shane Hope manipulates them to channel his inner Jackson Pollock. The Brooklyn-based artist creates “paintings” that are densely packed with a rainbow of 3-D printed barnacles. The results are massive, dazzling assemblages—beautiful in the way that spectacular computer glitches can be—and are only matched in manic energy by Hope’s descriptions of them. “Seeing 3-D printing as a sort of gateway drug en route toward molecular manufacturing, I thereafter decided I’d visually/literally relate the operative ideologies, promises, and hype of 3-D printing to the R&D and forecasts regarding nanofacture.” Heady stuff, and while this jargon-filled description is a tad grandiose, the paintings push the boundaries of low-cost 3-D printers in new and interesting ways.

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Joseph Flaherty
Wired

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Petros Chrisostomou, digital rendering of “Sky Feather” public art project at 124th & 125th streets in Harlem. It’s scheduled to fly in April 2014. (image courtesy the artist)

Feathers fall from the sky all the time. The wind plucks them from birds’ bodies, and they fall fast whilst spinning in circles. Once upon the ground, human fingers may pick them up and gaze at the way light shines through. Or perhaps they just sit there on the cold gray ground, eventually turning to city grunge under the feet of fast-moving pedestrians. What if one of those feathers was blown up to epic proportions and positioned in a highly-trafficked space?

Brooklyn-based sculptor Petros Chrisostomou is in the process of creating “Sky Feather,” his first large-scale artwork in New York City — a giant feather that will occupy a public space in Harlem at the median of 124th and 125th Streets and Lenox Avenue. The New York City Department of Transport has already given Chrisostomou the okay to use this public space. Now he is raising funds for the creation of it via the crowdsourcing platform USA Projects. The project will go into production in January 2014 and will be installed by early April 2014, where it will remain on view for one year.

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Alicia Eler
Hyperallergic

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Peter Doig’s Cricket Painting (Paragrand), 2006-2012. Photograph: Peter Doig

In Edinburgh, Peter Doig’s imminent exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery is being billed as a kind of homecoming. They even have a “Doig menu” available at the gallery restaurant. Given that he was born in the city, but left when he was two, and that his art has always been informed by his inveterate desire to keep moving from place to place – he currently lives in Trinidad, following two long stints in London separated by a spell in Canada – it must feel odd to suddenly find himself referred to as a Scottish artist.

“It does a bit,” he says, grinning. “When I was growing up, I never felt that I belonged anywhere because we never lived in a house for more than three months. That’s all I knew and that’s why I don’t really belong anywhere. Then again, I do feel Scottish in some way. Maybe it’s to do with visiting my grandparents here every summer as a child, but I am aware of my Scottish ancestry. It’s there all right, but it would be pushing it to label me a Scottish painter. Or, indeed, an anywhere painter.”

Yet a sense of place is one of the key determinants of Doig’s art. Since his move from London to Trinidad in 2002, his paintings have become richer in hue and even more vivid in their evocation of atmosphere and memory, both his own personal memory and that of the artists his work calls to mind, from Cézanne and Daumier to the German expressionists of the 1920s. In one of the smaller rooms, a recent big work, entitled Paragrand, features three silhouetted figures playing cricket, each one receding more into a vivid, indeterminate backdrop where sand, sea and foliage merge into one. It seems to vibrate with intensity even from a distance, a huge, flat swath of shimmering orange at the centre, altering all the other colours around it.

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Sean O’Hagan
The Guardian

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Dusasa 1, 2007, by El Anatsui, who is based in Nigeria. Another of his tapestries sold for a record-breaking £541,250 last year. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

When one of Nigeria’s biggest media moguls began collecting contemporary African art three decades ago, he was one of the few Africans in a niche market dominated by western connoisseurs. But as African art becomes more sought-after globally, that is rapidly changing.

“Some of the things I bought just for aesthetic pleasure years ago are now worth millions,” said the wealthy businessman, who did not want to be named for fear his home could become a target for thieves.

“A lot of people on both sides of the pond are waking up to the fact you can make big money in contemporary [African] art,” he added, reclining on a golden sofa in his Lagos home crammed with expensive art from across the globe.

As African economies outperform the global average, a collectors’ scene is booming among emerging elites and a growing number of foreign buyers.

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Monica Mark
Guardian

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Day four of a Buddhist sand-mandala ritual at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center in Florida earlier this year. (Photo: Lee Lawrence)

Until relatively recently, if you were not a monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the chances of seeing a sand mandala were slim. Today, however, opportunities abound. In July alone, monks from the Atlanta-based Mystical Arts of Tibet will create shimmering, colorful sand mandalas in New York, California, Pennsylvania and Virginia. As I discovered earlier this year at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center of Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, even more entrancing than the end result is the three-to-five-day process: A slow-paced feast of religious ritual, symbolism, performance and temporal art.

It begins with sound: Preternaturally low, vibrating notes energizing the air like the complex tones of a pipe organ. They emanate from nine Tibetan Buddhist monks dressed in dark red and golden saffron, eyes lowered. Punctuated by the wail of horns and the clash of cymbals, their rhythmic chanting dispels harmful spirits and invites the blessing of the Buddha—for it is here that they will build him a palace.

When the senior monk, or vajra master, steps forward, he visualizes the symbolic rendering of that divine abode. The chanting then drops away, the horns, cymbals and drums are stored, and the monks embark on a transfixing exercise in memory, precision and what Buddhists refer to as mindfulness, a state of being present in the moment.

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Lee Lawrence
Wall Street Journal

Marcel Storr, Untitled
‘Part hallucinatory, part biblical’: Untitled, date unknown by Marcel Storr, a Paris road-sweeper who died in 1976 leaving a hoard of dazzlingly detailed drawings in coloured ink and varnish. Photograph: © Liliane et Bertrand Kempf

The Alternative Guide to the Universe may sound like another of those fun-filled summer shows at which the Hayward Gallery excels – mirrored mazes, crooked houses, cinemas and boating ponds erected for your pleasure on the roof. It’s exactly the opposite. The exhibition presents the visions of 22 people who have imagined another universe, or another way of living in this one, in fantastic detail. The experience is by turns bewildering, charming and oppressive.

Unclassifiable work by unorthodox thinkers: that might be one way of describing the enterprise. Here is an unlicensed architect designing a cathedral composed of every medieval ornament known to man as a symbolic representation of his mother. Here is a dentist-cum-inventor whose system for intergalactic travel is set out in beautiful watercolours in the tradition of William Blake.

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Laura Cumming
The Guardian

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Lena Nyadbi with Harold Mitchell, whose foundation has made the Paris commission happen

An indigenous Australian painting representing the shimmering scales of the barramundi fish is being transferred on to the 700 sq. m rooftop of the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris. The seven million people who every year ascend the nearby Eiffel Tower will be able to see the work, which is due to be unveiled on 6 June.

The original painting, Dayiwul Lirlmim (barramundi scales), was painted last year by Lena Nyadbi, a Gija woman whose ancestral country extends in a 100km radius from the tiny Western Australian settlement of Warmun. “It’s the first time a museum has commissioned a piece that will not be visible from the museum,” said Stéphane Martin, the president of Musée du Quai Branly, on 29 April, when the project was formally announced at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. “You have to be outside the museum to appreciate it,” he said.

The Paris museum dispatched senior staff to Warmun to work with Nyadbi on selecting a section of Dayiwul Lirlmim to be transferred to the rooftop with the use of digitised stencils.

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Elizabeth Fortescue
The Art Newspaper

Ai Weiwei's map of China, an installation constructed from 2000 baby formula cans.
Land of milk, not honey … Ai Weiwei’s map of China, an installation constructed from 2000 baby formula cans. Photograph: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

Who will be the star of this year’s Venice Biennale? Ai Weiwei. Not since Joseph Beuys created his sublime installation Tram Stop in the German Pavilion for the 1976 Biennale has Venice foregrounded an artist so much at the peak of his powers.

Ai Weiwei will show work in the very German pavilion whose turbulent history Beuys illluminated, and also has a solo exhibition running as a “collateral” event of the Biennale. Since he matters so much more than any other living artist right now, and operates in his own personal sphere where he can make the slightest things significant – the other day he witnessed and filmed a street fight and it became world news – there is little doubt that he will be the star. He makes art matter, and the Biennale needs an artist who can do that.

Meanwhile, a new installation by Ai Weiwei invites a comparison with the work of Beuys, his German pavilion antecedent.

Ai Weiwei has made a map of China entirely out of cans of formula milk. It comments on another of those running national sores he loves to rub salt into: in 2008, tainted baby milk made 300,000 children ill in China and killed six babies. People no longer trust domestic formula milk and now try to get it from abroad.

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Jonathan Jones
The Guardian

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(Photo: Van Gogh Museum)

“The Bedroom,” Vincent van Gogh’s 1888 painting, with its honey-yellow bed pressed into the corner of a cozy sky-blue room, is instantly recognizable to art lovers, with his signature contrasting hues. But does our experience of this painting change upon learning that van Gogh had originally depicted those walls in violet, not blue, or that he was less a painter wrestling with his demons and more of a deliberate, goal-oriented artist?

These questions are raised by a new analysis, eight years in the making, of hundreds of van Gogh’s canvases as well as his palette, pigments, letters and notebooks by scientists at Shell, the oil company, in collaboration with the Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency and curators at the newly renovated Van Gogh Museum here, which owns the world’s largest collection of works by that Dutch Post Impressionist.

The research did not lead to “earth-shattering new insights” that rewrite van Gogh’s life story, said the director of the Van Gogh Museum, Axel Rüger, but it could shift the understanding of van Gogh’s temperament and personality. The results of that study will be revealed in an exhibition, “Van Gogh at Work,” which opens on Wednesday and features about 200 paintings and drawings, 150 of them by van Gogh and others by contemporaries, including Paul Gauguin and Émile Bernard.

“You discover more clearly that van Gogh was a very methodical artist, which runs counter to the general myth that he was a manic, possibly slightly deranged man who just spontaneously threw paint at the canvas,” Mr. Rüger said. “He was actually someone who knew very well about the properties of the materials he used, how to use them, and also he created very deliberate compositions. In that sense it’s a major insight in that it gives us a better notion of van Gogh the artist. He was very goal-oriented.”

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NIna Siegal
New York Times

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