FAILE, “Wishing on You,” 2015 (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

A giant, beautifully hand-carved, wooden prayer wheel has appeared in the heart of Times Square, courtesy of Brooklyn-based artist duo FAILE. Standing seven-feet-tall on the major thoroughfare of Broadway between 42nd and 43rd Streets, “Wishing on You” is the largest iteration of artists Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller’s signature guerrilla prayer wheel sculptures; not only upsized, it also takes shelter in a decorated, temple-like structure fitted with neon lights. Unlike their previous prayer wheels, which have appeared in public at random, “Wishing on You” emerged as a Times Square Arts project, in collaboration with FAILE’s ongoing exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, Savage/Sacred Young Minds.


Claire Voon


Approximately 2,000 gold spirals from Boeslunde (Image courtesy Morten Petersen, Museum Vestsjælland)

In George Eliot’s novel Silas Marner, the delusional namesake character returns home to find what he thinks to be his missing hoard of gold on the kitchen table. But when he reaches out his hand to touch the coins, his fingers instead meet the shiny curls of a lost, sleeping child who has wandered in.

The story jumps to mind when looking at images of some 2,000 ancient gold spirals recently discovered in Denmark. They’re about an inch long, and some of them are as thin, Smithsonian Magazine observes, as a human hair.

The coils were unearthed in a field in Boslunde, where many other gold Bronze Age objects have been found. A couple years ago, two amateur archaeologists dug up four “oath rings” there, prompting archaeologists Flemming Kaul and Kirsten Christense — also curators at the National Museum of Denmark and Museum Vestsjælland respectively — to carry out proper excavations.

They soon found the gold spirals tangled together in a pile. Beneath them lay flakes of birch pitch that once formed part of the box that held them. Two gilded dress pins nearby allowed them to date the coils to roughly 900–700 BCE.


Laura C. Mallonee

Images of rock art that could be 20,000 years old, found in Chiribiquete national park, Colombia. Photograph: Francisco Forero Bonell/Ecoplanet

A British wildlife film-maker has returned from one of the most inaccessible parts of the world with extraordinary footage of ancient rock art that has never been filmed or photographed before.

In an area of Colombia so vast and remote that contact has still not been made with some tribes thought to live there, Mike Slee used a helicopter to film hundreds of paintings depicting hunters and animals believed to have been created thousands of years ago. He said: “We had crews all over the place and helicopters filming all over Colombia. As a photographer, Francisco Forero Bonell discovered and took the pictures for my movie.”

The extraordinary art includes images of jaguar, crocodiles and deer. They are painted in red, on vertical rock faces in Chiribiquete national park, a 12,000 square kilometre Unesco world heritage site that is largely unexplored. There are also paintings of warriors or hunters dancing or celebrating. “It is the land that time forgot,” Slee told the Observer.

There had previously been only vague reports of rock art in the area, which is known as Cerro Campana, he said: “There’s no information, maps or communication. It’s such a massive central part of Colombia.” Though some paintings had previously been found and photographed elsewhere in Chiribiquete, this Cerro Campana art has never been filmed or photographed, Slee said: “It was an absolutely stunning moment to be able to get the footage.”


Dalya Alberge
The Guardian

Robert Irwin’s “Excursus: Homage to the Square3,” on view at Dia:Beacon. Credit Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

A lot of contemporary art is agitating. Gratuitous sexual provocation and moral bullying; sensory irritation and intellectual grandiosity; gaudy spectacle and cults of personality. Roiled by such strident forms of sociopathology, today’s art and its attendant New York society can sometimes seem like a boiling caldron of bile and tears heated by a bonfire of money. In many ways, it’s not so different from the mainstream cultures of music, movies, television and politics, and it’s usually not as entertaining.

Of course, it’s not all that bad. I’m waxing hyperbolic by way of recommending a potentially soul-enhancing journey to Dia:Beacon, the museum in Beacon, N.Y., where a quasi-ecclesiastical, minimalist calm prevails and a reincarnation of a luminous late work by the California Light and Space artist Robert Irwin was recently unveiled.


Ken Johnson
New York Times


Mars from Distance of 560.000 Miles,” captured by Viking Orbiter II on June 17, 1976 (all images ©NASA)

In the early 20th century, the world watched in anticipation as Stetson-capped explorers disappeared into the Amazon jungle. By the 1960s, it was equally intrepid astronauts that commanded attention. Today, while anyone with a strong enough desire can visit the rainforest, very few will still ever enter outer space.

A collection of vintage photographs of NASA’s early missions might offer the next best thing. Currently on view at Daniel Blau in London, the images were taken from manned and unmanned aircrafts like the Apollo, the Viking, and the Voyager. They feature some of US astronautic history’s most iconic moments — Buzz Aldrin stepping on the moon, planting a flag on lunar soil — as well as close-ups of Mars, Venus, and Saturn.

Looking at them lets those of us who will never journey through the Milky Way experience its wonder vicariously. Most of all, they’re a reminder of just how much remains to be explored.


Laura C. Mallonee


A rendering of Carsten Höller’s slides scheduled to appear at London’s Hayward Gallery later this year. (The Hayward Gallery)

The Hayward Gallery is bringing the work of Carsten Höller to London starting in June. Improbably, the gallery has managed to take the spectacle of Höller’s last museum appearance in London—at the Tate Modern in 2006—and turn it all the way up.

For his show at the Tate, Höller installed vast winding slides through the museum’s Turbine Hall. Now, only nine years later, he’s doing the very same thing at the Hayward, just on the outside of the building. That’s in addition to the winding slide the artist punched through the floors of the New Museum in New York in 2011. And at the Prada offices in Milan in 2000, and at the Berlin Biennale in 1998, and so on and so on.

The artist tells the BBC that the slides at the Hayward are there for “experiencing an emotional state that is a unique condition somewhere between delight and madness”.

Museums aren’t buying into redundant Höller exhibitions for the wafer-thin societal critique. The slides are just one of a piece with the spectacle-driven art exhibitions that have come to dominate museum calendars—and therefore, the cultural platforms of major cities. If museums insist on commissioning artists to work at the glib scale of starchitecture, then it’s time to start thinking of museums as malign developers.


Kriston Capps
The Atlantic CityLabs

Bark painting of a barramundi, Western Arnhem Land (about 1961) (© The Trustees of the British Museum)

There are only a handful of bark art examples from the Dja Dja Wurrung in Australia, and they’re leagues away from their place of origin. A new exhibition of indigenous art of Australia at the British Museum, which holds these artifacts in their collections, will finally bring them back to the South Pacific. However, leaders there want them returned permanently.

Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation opens April 23 in London, the first major British exhibition to focus on indigenous Australia through these artifacts, many which have never been on public display. The British Museum’s release notes it will be a “unique narrative exploring the complex history of Indigenous Australia from Captain Cook’s landing in 1770 up to the present day” and has been “developed in consultation with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, Indigenous art and cultural centres across Australia, and has been organised with the National Museum of Australia.” Many of these objects will then travel to the National Museum of Australia in Canberra. As the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported last month, that “will be the first time that these objects have been exhibited in Australia since they were collected.”


Allison Meier

Light reflections … A detail from Monet’s Impression, Sunrise (1872), dismissed by critics as worse than wallpaper. Photograph: Getty Images

It is one of the ironies of impressionism, the quintessential French movement, that it had its beginning and its end not in Paris but in London. It is another irony that the key figure in the movement was not a painter but, that most maligned of species, a dealer. In 1871, having fled the Franco-Prussian war, Claude Monet was living in London. It was in January that year that the landscapist Charles-François Daubigny took him along to the inaptly named German Gallery on New Bond Street and introduced him to the proprietor, another French expat, named Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922). Whether or not the gallerist believed Daubigny’s words of introduction – “This artist will surpass us all” – he liked Monet’s work well enough to buy numerous canvases and, a few days later, paintings by his fellow artist-refugee Camille Pissarro, too.

This meeting and the chain of introductions, friendships and innumerable business transactions it put in motion was to culminate 24 years later with an exhibition just down the road on Bond Street at the Grafton Galleries. The exhibition, sometimes known as The Apotheosis of Impressionism, contained 315 pictures and was, and remains, the largest show of impressionist works ever held. For Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley and their peers it was final confirmation that their struggle to win acceptance for their unacademic, light-infused paintings had been successful. For Durand-Ruel, it was validation of his steadfast support for this group of avant-garde painters which had several times put him on the point of financial ruin. As he noted: “My madness had been wisdom. To think that, had I passed away at 60, I would have died debt-ridden and bankrupt, surrounded by a wealth of underrated treasures.”


Michael Prodger
The Guardian

Part of Peter Zumthor’s developing zinc mine museum in Norway in October 2014 (Photo: Arne Espeland/Kon- Sul AS)

Set to open in the summer of 2016, a sleek museum designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor for a Norwegian zinc mine has been over a decade in the making, although parts of the attraction are already in place. The arrangement of buildings with its exposed beams, some perched on existing stone structures, is part of Norway’s National Tourist Routes.

The ambitious creation of 18 routes by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, started in 1994, includes an impressive roster of local and national artists and architects collaborating on structures and installations along the road. The project is harnessing the old roadside attraction idea, except instead of fiberglass dinosaurs or mystery houses luring travelers to more rural locales, we are presented with modernist rest stops or a sleeping bear in a cave diorama by artist Mark Dion.

Designboom shared images of the in-progress zinc mine museum this week. Located in Allmannajuvet, it will be dedicated to the mining that took place there from 1881 to 1899. As Icon reported last year, Zumthor was commissioned for this museum of industrial heritage in 2002, but a combination of the instability of the mountains with the architect’s meticulous work pace, which has made his minimalist architecture so striking, has meant long delays. In the subsequent years since the commission, a memorial Zumthor designed in collaboration with the late Louise Bourgeois opened as part of the National Tourist Routes. Situated on the Arctic island of Vardø, it memorializes 91 people burned for witchcraft in the 17th century, with a long structure that looks something like a ship’s hull under construction culminating with a steel chair engulfed by flames.

Louise Bourgeois installation in collaboration with Peter Zumthor in Vardø, memorializing 91 people burned for witchcraft (© Hege Lysholm/NPRA)


Allison Meier

The eyes have it … Hiroshi Sugimoto: 50 Glass Eyes. Courtesy of Hiroshi Sugimoto

On 23 April 1988, 14 months after the artist’s unexpected death, the sale of Andy Warhol’s personal effects began in New York. There were 10,000 items up for auction. In the six-volume catalogue that Sotheby’s published for the occasion, these lots seem to fit neatly into a connoisseur’s categories: art nouveau and art deco, drawings and prints, Americana, an entire volume devoted to jewellery and watches. The auctioneers had photographed much of this material at Warhol’s house on East 66th Street; his Native American artefacts are lavishly arrayed on the Sheraton dining table, spilling on to 14 Ruhlmann chairs. The impression is of a keen but democratic aesthete’s eye; folk art and mass-produced gewgaws caught Andy’s fancy as much as aspirational antiques. But the photographs record a canny fiction. Sotheby’s handlers had elegantly corralled an astonishing mess, the product of Warhol’s conspicuous but oddly secretive shopping habit. They had turned a morbid, chaotic hoarder into a proper collector.

The elegant distinction between pathology and taste is one of the subjects explored in Magnificent Obsessions, the Barbican’s new survey of artist-collectors present and (recent) past.


Brian Dillon
The Guardian