The New Season: Art from hip hop to Picasso

There is a different soundtrack playing at the Saint Louis Art Museum this fall. Hip hop is now the subject of an exhibit exploring its impact on contemporary art.

The show, titled “The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century” (which was previously at the Baltimore Museum of Art), is comprised of more than 90 works.

An installation view of “The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century,” which showcases art, video and fashion.

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One of the show’s curators, Andréa Purnell, said, “Some that don’t necessarily consider themselves fans of hip hop are coming in and finding themselves in the artwork, which is what it’s all about. And for those that are true hip hop lovers, they are finding an even deeper love for the art form.

“You see graffiti; fashion is on full display. But some of the artists describe hip-hop being intrinsic to their nature,” Purnell said. “So, it then almost, if you will, bleeds from who they are.”

And some of the art turns the idea of what art is on its head, like works made from unexpected materials. Anthony Olubunmi Akinbola’s “Camouflage #105 (Metropolis)” is made from dozens of durags.

Correspondent Serena Altschul and curator Andréa Purnell with Anthony Olubunmi Akinbola’s “Camouflage #105 (Metropolis).”

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Other works use familiar lyrics, such as Alvaro Barrington’s tribute to Tupac Shakur. “You literally see the words from the song ‘Keep Your Head Up,’ so you’re making that immediate connection,” said Purnell.

Alvaro Barrington’s “They Have They Can’t” (2021).

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Artist Aaron Fowler, whose giant, 400-pound sneakers are made of car parts, said it’s no surprise that his inspiration came from hip hop. 

“I think what hip hop embodies is, like, you putting a bunch of elements together to create something new, use what you got to make anything, you know what I mean?” Fowler said. “I feel like the spirit of how I make and what I put out comes from hip hop, for sure.”

“Live Culture Force 1’s, 2022” by  Aaron Fowler.  

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And it’s that spirit Purnell hopes visitors step away with: “The hope is that you’ll take away a different song, a different way to think about this music that we know and love, and the way that it has made our society so much better. I think it’s just beginning.”

But even if you can’t make it to St Louis this fall, there are plenty of exhibits worth tuning into.

Museums around the country – from the Art Institute of Chicago to the Dallas Museum of Art – are commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Pablo Picasso’s death with showcases of his work.

“Reclining Nude (Sleeping Woman), September 5, 1969” by Pablo Picasso, on view at the Art Institute of Chicago.

© 2023 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

In Beverly Hills, artist Ewa Juszkiewicz turns convention on its head with a show at the Gagosian later this fall.

“The Letter (after Adélaïde Labille-Guiard)” by Ewa Juszkiewicz, 2023. Oil on canvas. At the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills.

© Ewa Juszkiewicz

On the East Coast, two other female artists get their due. In Washington D.C., Alma Thomas brightens the walls of the Smithsonian American Art Museum; and in New York, Ruth Asawa works now hang at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

“The Eclipse” by Alma Thomas, 1970. Acrylic on canvas. At the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

© Alma Thomas. Smithsonian American Art Museum. Gift of the artist.

And opening today at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the exhibit “Manet/Degas,” placing the two French painters side by side. The show features a special guest: Manet’s “Olympia,” making a historic first appearance in the United States … a visit, that might inspire others to pop into a museum themselves.

  • “Manet/Degas,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City (through January 7, 2024)
From the Met’s exhibition “Manet/Degas.” Left: “Plum Brandy,” c. 1877, by Édouard Manet. Oil on canvas. Right: “In a Café (The Absinthe Drinker),” 1875-76, by Edgar Degas. Oil on canvas.

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Musée d’Orsay, Paris. © Musée d’Orsay Dist. RMN-Grand Palais/Patrice Schmidt

Other exhibitions this fall:

“Picasso Landscapes: Out of Bounds,” at the Cincinnati Art Museum (through October 15)

“Renegade Edo and Paris: Japanese Prints and Toulouse-Lautrec,” at the Seattle Art Museum  (through December 3) Seattle Art Museum)

“China’s Southern Paradise: Treasures from the Lower Yangazi Delta,” at the Cleveland Museum of Art (through January 7, 2024)

“Picasso’s Muses: Between Inspiration and Obsession,” at the Dallas Museum of Art (through January 7, 2024)

“Strong Women in Renaissance Italy,” at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (through January 7, 2024)

“Barkley L. Hendricks: Portraits at the Frick,” at the Frick Collection, New York City (through January 7, 2024)

“Lawdy Mama,” by Barkley L. Hendricks (1969), at the Frick Collection in New York. 

Studio Museum in Harlem. © Barkley L. Hendricks, courtesy of the Estate of Barkley L. Hendricks and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

“Cy Twombly, Morocco, 1952/1953,” at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Va. (through January 7, 2024)

“Ed Ruscha / Now Then,” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City (through January 13, 2024)

“A Long Arc: Photography and the American South Since 1845,” at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta (through January 14, 2024)

“Woven Histories: Textiles and Modern Abstraction,” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (through January 21, 2024) 

From the LACMA exhibition “Woven Histories: Textiles and Modern Abstraction.” Left: Ed Rossbach’s “Damask Waterfall” (1977). Right: Andrea Zittel’s “‘White Felted Dress #3,’ from A-Z Fiber Form Uniforms” (2002).

© Charles Benton, courtesy The Artists’ Institute; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, © Andrea Zittel, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

“Making Her Mark: A History of Women Artists in Europe, 1400-1800,” at the Baltimore Museum of Art (October 1 through January 7, 2024)

“Fragments of a Faith Forgotten: The Art of Harry Smith,” at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City (October 4 through January 28, 2024)

“Degas and the Laundress: Women, Work and Impressionism,” at the Cleveland Museum of Art (October 8 through January 14, 2024)

“Picasso in Fontainebleau,” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City (October 8 through February 17, 2024)

“Judy Chicago: Herstory,” at the New Museum, New York City (October 12 through January 14, 2024)

“Botticelli Drawings,” at the Legion of Honor Museum, San Francisco (November 19 through February 11, 2024)

Story produced by Sara Kugel. Editor: Emanuele Secci. 

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