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Flash News! ​ Drawing Now – ​ Peggy Cooper Cafritz

[16 Mar 2018]

Drawing Now 2018

Now a regular feature of the French art market, every March, Paris hosts a whole month of exhibitions and fairs dedicated to the drawing medium including the Salon du Dessin at the Palais Brongniart, the DDESSIN {18} fair at the Atelier Richelieu and DRAWING NOW at the Carreau du Temple as well as a number of major auction sales dedicated to Old Master and Contemporary drawing. Having established itself in the art market’s busy international calendar, the Parisian focus on drawing offers a unique opportunity to discover the breadth and depth of a medium that today enjoys a respectable place among the different artistic disciplines, with its own clientele and its own market.

This year, the 12th edition of the DRAWING NOW ART FAIR is hosting 72 galleries from all over the world with more than 2,000 works by nearly 400 artists. Besides the superb discoveries to be made from one gallery stand to another, the fair is pursuing its programme of talks and discussions about Contemporary drawing and the creative process, often in conjunction with the artists themselves. This year’s programme has a decidedly international flavour with contributions from the Drawing Center New York, the Drawing Room London and the Menil Collection Houston (among others). The fair’s intra-mural exhibition Comics/ Drawing: Correspondences will no doubt attract a large audience with a selection of works from Angoulême’s Cité internationale de la bande dessinée et de l’image as well as from artists studios and from their galleries’ archives. The presentation highlights the cross-influence between Contemporary drawing and comics: both mediums share a desire to step outside the frame (or the vignette)… defeat heros… create anti-heros… break down narratives, etc..

Philippe Piguet, the fair’s Artistic Director has decided to reiterate the Master Now curatorial initiative first used in 2016. This involves selecting one exceptional drawing from each archive of 20 different galleries, forming a kind of ‘discovery trail within the fair, with works like Tomi UNGERER’s Fornicon at the Martel gallery and Bruno GIRONCOLI’s Entwurf at the Bernard Jordan Gallery. Another showcased artist not to be missed is Lionel SABATTÉ, winner of the 2017 DRAWING NOW prize awarded since 2011 to an artist under 45 whose work is considered particularly representative of Contemporary drawing in all its diversity. Born in Toulouse in 1975, Sabatté sees drawing as a borderpass between the different disciplines he explores. The award is good news for artists with nascent markets: works by the 2016 laureat, Jochen Gerner, are currently showing at Christies France right through the auctioneer’s drawing sales.

Peggy Cooper Cafritz (1947-2018), the ‘grande dame’ of African-American art

Peggy Cooper Cafritz was famous in the US for founding the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and for her collection of African-American and African art, one of the largest private collections in the country. It contains more than 300 pieces, including works by artists El Anatsui, Glenn Ligon, Chris Ofili, Kara Walker and Kehinde Wiley. Part of her treasure disappeared forever in 2009 when fire destroyed her home in Washington, but she subsequently rebuilt the collection.

Born Pearl Alice Cooper in 1947, Peggy Cooper Cafritz came from a relatively wealthy family in Mobile, Alabama, in the southern United States. In her early years she experienced racial discrimination and southern State segregation laws and later affirmed that these years gave her the motivation to fight for equal treatment of all Americans. She was only 17 when she started the first club for black students at the George Washington University. Later, in 1968, she and choreographer Mike Malone set up a visual arts workshop (summer camp) for young people interested in art but with limited to access to cultural institutions. The experience turned into a sustainable project when the Duke Ellington School of the Arts opened in 1974. The new school represented a revolution at that time for the city of Washington, and its co-founder managed to impose her ideas on the social and cultural landscape of the American East Coast.

The artists that Peggy Cooper Cafritz followed and encouraged over the years often talk about her motives for collecting art – more as an investment in the person than in the object acquired – and this investment involved a personal commitment to each one of them. Her relationship with Nigerian-born artist Njideka Akunyili CROSBY is a good example. Crosby, who now lives in Los Angeles, creates large-format oil and collage paintings reflecting her African heritage and her daily life in America. Within a very short timespan, Crosby won the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s prize for Contemporary art (2014); joined the prestigious Victoria Miro Gallery in London, was awarded the Joyce Alexander Wein artist prize by the Studio Museum in Harlem (2015) and, last year, won the MacArthur “genius” grant. Peggy Cafritz had spotted Crosby long before her string of career successes, and in 2013, after three years of careful observation, she acquired Crosby’s The Beautiful Ones, # 1a (2012) depicting the artist’s older sister in her youth. In March 2017 this masterful work was offered for sale at Christie’s in London where it fetched nearly $3 million, the artist’s latest auction record. Peggy Cafritz chose the work for the cover of her book Fired up! Finding Beauty, Demanding Equity: An African American Life in Art. The Collections of Peggy Cooper Cafritz. Peggy Cooper Cafritz died in February two days before the publication of her book, which explores her collection, her life and her circle of artist friends and political activists.

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