Above: Cher, Elton John and Diana Ross at the Rock Awards in 1975. Photo: Mark Sullivan/Contour by Getty Images.
Famous outfits worn by Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, and other “divas” will be showcased in an upcoming exhibition at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) later this summer. Entitled “Diva,” the show celebrates the iconic performers and some of their most famous outfits. The exhibition is set to go on view June 24 through April of next year.
“Today the word ‘diva’ holds a myriad of meanings,” said V&A curator Kate Bailey, who organized the show. “At the heart of this exhibition is a story of iconic performers who with creativity, courage, and ambition have challenged the status quo and used their voice and their art to redefine and reclaim the diva.”
“Diva” will be divided into two “acts.” The first will examine the historical background of the notion of the diva. Opera singers like Adelina Patti and Jenny Lind, silent cinema sirens like Clara Bow and Mary Pickford, and Golden Age Hollywood stars like Vivien Leigh and Mae West will all be honoured. Marilyn Monroe, who belongs to the latter group, will be represented by the fringed black dress she wore in 1959’s Some Like it Hot when playing Sugar “Kane” Kowalczyk.
The second act examines how more modern celebrities have reclaimed the term “diva”, frequently in opposition to their own male-dominated fields. Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, and Aretha Franklin all make appearances, and Grace Jones, Prince, Bjork, and Rihanna represent the late 20th and early 21st centuries, respectively.
Archaeologists in Sudan have found medieval paintings on the walls of an ancient chamber that are “unique for Christian art.” The paintings feature images of the Mother of God, Christ, and Archangel Michael. Archaeologists uncovered a hidden complex of rooms covered with Christian paintings in Old Dongola, a deserted town in Sudan that was once the capital of medieval Makuria.
Preliminary research suggests the paintings were created during a time of extreme duress for Dongola, an important trade city on the Nile. The area flourished for hundreds of years under the peaceful relations between the Muslims of Egypt and the Christians of Nubia.
“I think these structures were built in exactly this place because of the presence of the Great Church of Jesus, which was the largest and most important church in Nubia according to written sources,” Artur Obłuski, the project’s director told Artnet News. “We have funding for three new projects and one is focused on the excavation of the Great Church of Jesus.”
Polish archaeologists have been excavating the town since the 1960s, with the latest work funded by the European Research Council.
In case you missed it, an artist using AI has won a prestigious photography contest. The artist, Boris Eldagsen has refused the 2023 Sony World Photography Award (SWPA), saying his submission was intended to start a discussion about the use of A.I. in photography. Eldagsen, a Berlin-based photographer, was concerned about the unregulated spread of artificial intelligence-produced photos and came up with a test: to submit generated images to prestigious photography competitions.
He would be transparent about his use of artificial intelligence (unlike the artist who won a prize at a Colorado State Fair for his A.I. artwork), and he would check to see if the judging panels made a distinction between actual photography and A.I. works.
When Eldagsen received the email in February with the news of his win, he responded by proposing a panel to discuss the problems created by A.I.-generated images in art and journalism. Sony disagreed and continued offering the prize despite his request for it to go to someone else. A similar conversation with the event’s organiser, Creo Arts, ensued.
“I applied as a cheeky monkey,” the artist wrote in a statement on his website. “We, the photo world, need an open discussion. A discussion about what we want to consider photography and what not.”
“The first step would be to come up with a new terminology for A.I.-generated images,” Eldagsen told Artnet News, proposing the term “promptography.” “The second step is to have separate categories for ‘promptography,’ and the third is for the photo community to discuss if ‘promptography’ fits under the umbrella of photography.”
One of Louise Bourgeois’ famed “Spider” sculptures will be on the auction block next month at Sotheby’s, New York, with a potentially record-breaking price tag. The work, titled “Spider” (1996), is expected to fetch between $30 million and $40 million. At the low end of its estimate, “Spider” (1996) would surpass the current record of $28 million, a record set by another “Spider” (1996) at Christie’s in May 2019.
According to Sotheby’s, “Spider” comes from the collection of Fundação Itaú, the philanthropic wing of Brazilian bank, Itaú Unibanco. The work debuted in 1996 Bienal de São Paulo and was subsequently acquired by Olavo Setubal, a collector and cofounder of the bank.
“The Spider has become a global icon, recognizable by all given its prominent presence in cultural institutions around the world,” David Galperin, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art in New York, said in a statement. “It is not only a paragon of modern sculpture but has taken on a larger symbolic presence within contemporary culture internationally.”
In response to accusations of racism, sexism, and intimidation, the director of the Brussels Royal Museum has announced that he will resign on April 30th, 2023. 31 of the 176 staff members of the museum wrote an open letter to Thomas Dermine, Belgium’s Secretary of State and the person in charge of all federal museums, in December, 2022. A number of allegations of inappropriate behaviour were described in the letter, including intimidation, racism, sexism, and homophobic remarks.
When the accusations were first made public, Draguet was surprised by them. He stated that to Belgian news organisation RTBF, that the claims were “a surprise because there is obviously a lot of suffering and a lot of pain in this letter and we don’t didn’t notice it, nor was it heard in the consultation bodies with the unions.”
Draguet is also a professor in the art history and archaeology master’s degree program at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Many students have come forward with claims of public humiliation and sexist and transphobic remarks made during his classes. Some said it was not uncommon to leave the class in tears.
After the letter was reported, additional museum staff came out against Draguet. They described the director as “someone who is stuck in the past century” and a person who doesn’t hesitate to make inappropriate remarks, “even in meetings.”
The Belgian Royal Library’s director, Sara Lammens, will act as interim director of the museum while a new leader is determined.