In my last two posts I have explored what museums and galleries are doing to engage the public with their collections or artists whilst their physical doors are closed. However, they have also come up with a creative range of digital fundraising initiatives to support the Covid-19 pandemic efforts. Gagosian has started the #GagosianChallenge by releasing a customizable poster designed by Michael Craig Martin, with the words ‘Health Workers Thank You’ on it, and is encouraging people to post their completed versions on Instagram by 11 May. Hauser & Wirth and Rashid Johnson have released the series ‘Untitled Anxious Red Drawings’ online, with a percentage of all sales donated to the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund. White Cube and Harland Miller launched a coronavirus fundraiser, selling editions of the artists’ ‘Who Cares Wins’ print for £5,000 each. They all sold out within 24 hours with proceeds split between the National Emergencies Trust in the UK, the New York Community Trust and HandsOn Hong Kong, as well the York Teaching Hospital Charity to support NHS staff in hospitals across Yorkshire, where Miller was born. Damian Hirst has also designed ‘Butterfly Rainbow’ and a limited edition is being produced, which will be sold with all profits going to the NHS. Maureen Paley in conjunction with other galleries and over 200 photographers have donated prints for #photographsforthetrusseltrust, each selling for £100 with proceeds going towards 1,200 food banks which have seen a 300% increase in demand since the pandemic outbreak. Over thirty artists and creatives including Wolfgang Tillmans, Katherine Hamnet, Vivienne Westwood, Polly Nor and Jeffersen Hack have collaborated with Dazed in the #AloneTogether campaign to contribute works to raise funds for Barts Health NHS Trust, which has launched an emergency Covid-19 appeal to support their frontline staff. Tillmans has also enlisted forty artists, including Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff, Elizabeth Peyton and David Wojanrowicz to donate posters of their works for his #2020Solidarity campaign, which he is paying for printing and distribution of, to support informal places of culture, nightlife and music venues at risk of going out of business because of the Covid-19 outbreak. Art4Changes have collaborated with Roger Ballen, David Datuna, Ultra Violet and other artists to support the Covid-19 crisis by selling artworks, memorabilia, merchandise, music tracks, lectures and books, with all proceeds donated to either the Red Cross, World Health Organisation or Centre for Disease Control in any country the buyer chooses. Outdoor sculpture trail, The Line, has released 100 editions of an Abigail Fallis’ print of her shopping trolley installation, DNA DL90, for £100 each with 30% of profits being donated to Covid-19 frontline workers, and more prints will be released over the coming weeks. Mixed media artist Dan Pearce is reworking iconic film posters to help share NHS messaging in a fun, light-hearted way and is releasing a new reworked A2 poster every week, which will go on sale for £75 each with proceeds going to NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Urgent Appeal. Wimbledon Art Fair will be a purely virtual event this year, and their #ArtSOS running from 14 – 17 May will showcase thought provoking artworks depicting defining moments of the current pandemic, with a percentage of total sales being donated to the NHS and St George’s Hospital in Tooting. Andrew Salgado and Rachel Howard amongst other artists are also donating signed, limited edition posters with a percentage of sales going to The Hospital Rooms via #artistssupportpledge, a charity that transforms impatient health units with contemporary art – and increasingly pertinent in the current circumstances. This is just a handful of the online offerings, so have a look to see what’s out there and maybe even nab yourself a bargain artwork whilst supporting the current pandemic efforts!
Dulwich isn’t always the easiest part of London to travel to… however their current exhibition on enigmatic Dutch graphic artist Maurits Cornelius Escher is certainly worth the effort. It features nearly 100 pieces from the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag collection, starting with his early works of 1920’s through to his last print ‘Snakes’ from 1969. For an artist with so many iconic pieces, Escher remains an obscure figure, but this exhibition sheds light on his original intentions to study architecture, his travels through Europe, marriage to Jetta and their children, and politics of the time – which place the works in much better context. There are too many standout pieces to mention, but ‘Eight Heads’ a 1992 woodcut, ‘Metamorphosis II’ a monumental woodcut (unusually featuring colour) created in 1939-‘40, and ‘Eye’ a mezzotint from 1946 deserve special attention. ‘Eight Heads’ is Escher’s first tessellation and gives the impression of a never ending story by repeating the same pattern of eight heads as its’ central motif. ‘Metamorphosis II’ spans an entire wall of one gallery and was extended to a 42 metre version in 1967 for the Post Office in The Hague; it begins and ends with the word metamorphose against a mono background and includes a chequered pattern which morphs into tessellations of reptiles, honeycomb, insects, fish, birds, and three dimensional blocs with red tops merging into an Italian coastal town and on into a chess set, all in stunning detail, ‘Eye’ features his own eye magnified by a convex shaving mirror with a skull occupying the centre of his pupil, and is displayed alongside the sketch and metal etching plate that the dry-point image was printed from, explaining the artistic process. Having now seen these pieces close up, I can only lament that Escher died in 1972 and I will never have the opportunity to hear him talk and gain insight into the inspiration behind his surreal yet methodical and mathematically perfect images.
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