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A Peek Inside the Evolving World of Handmade Rugs

We dive into a fascinating, comprehensive guide to the world of rugs; Donald Judd exhibits in Basel; and a South African activist spreads his wings in London.

June 19, 2024 By THE GRAND TOURIST
Yarn dyeing in Afghanistan, aided by the NGO called ACEBA. Photo: Courtesy Cover

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A Peek Inside the Evolving World of Handmade Rugs

Every corner of the design world contains multitudes. And when it comes to rugs, I feel like I’m always learning something—the industry combines artistry, craft, tradition, and old-fashioned, hardworking functionality. This summer, our friends at the UK-based trade magazine Cover, the leading publication in handmade carpets and textiles, wanted to share their annual free digital issue with listeners of The Grand Tourist. Aside from getting quite the comprehensive look at all the latest designs in the market (including, for those on the hunt, a report on what the editors spotted at Milan Design Week), there are two features definitely worth a read once you’re done shopping.

The first is a look inside the new digital landscape of online shopping possible in this post-pandemic moment, with interviews from some of the smartest design dealers around, including friend-of-the-podcast Laura Young from the leading gallery The Future Perfect. Then, on a more serious note, there’s a deep dive into production today in Afghanistan. Emerging from the country’s tumultuous recent history, it gives readers a thorough understanding of the players involved today, from brands with a deep connection to the region to the NGOs that assist in making it all possible, including a recent collaboration between the organization Turquoise Mountain and London’s five-star hotel, The Connaught. You can read Cover’s gratis Issue 75 here. —Dan Rubinstein

An untitled Gavin Jantjes acrylic on canvas, 1989. Photo: Courtesy Whitechapel Gallery

An Activist Expresses True Freedom; Donald Judd in Basel; and More Must-See Exhibitions

Basel, “Donald Judd” (Until Sept. 7)
To coincide with Art Basel and Design Miami, Gagosian presents 10 of Donald Judd’s trademark plexiglass and aluminum wall-mounted rectangular works made in Switzerland between 1987 and 1991. Though the late American artist spent most of his time working from his SoHo studio and home in Marfa, Texas, he was closely connected to Switzerland, where he designed his lakeside home, exhibited, and collaborated with the industrial firms that produced a large number of his plexiglass pieces.

Bilbao, “Martha Jungwirth” (Until Sept. 22)
Viennese painter Martha Jungwirth describes her work as a diary of her subconscious, expressed through loose, casual brush strokes, often on an unpretentious cardboard-brown background. Bits of personal memories, art history, and Greek mythology all become sources of inspiration as she paints—and can be seen as a kind of Freudian game of interpretation. In this retrospective, the Guggenheim brings together 70 of her paintings and watercolors from nearly six decades of her career.

Humlebæk, “Franz Gertsch” (Opens June 21)
The woodcuts and paintings of the late Swiss painter Franz Gertsch are so meticulously detailed that they could fool you into thinking they’re photographs. The hyperrealist’s fascination with the most minute details allowed him to reproduce portraits and landscapes on a blown-up scale, down to the finest blade of grass. Largely documenting the youth and subculture of his time, he is better known for a series of paintings of ’70s icon Patti Smith. This exhibit will be the first presentation of his work following his death in 2022, and the last that he would help prepare.

London, “Gavin Jantjes: To Be Free! A Retrospective 1970–2023” (Until Sept. 1)
The struggle for liberation is ingrained in the paintings and prints of artist Gavin Jantjes, who was born in South Africa in 1948, the first year of apartheid. A bold artist and activist, he was later exiled from the country due to his political beliefs. He received his art education in Germany, Norway, and the UK, where he became a transformational figure in the art scene as a curator and lecturer. This retrospective—which coincides with the 30th anniversary of South Africa’s first free elections—is his largest-ever in the UK and presents 100 prints, drawings, and paintings.

Los Angeles, “David Medalla: In Conversation with the Cosmos” (Until Sept. 15)
This is the first comprehensive study in the U.S. of the late Filipino artist David Medalla’s distinctive career, which comprised radical kinetic sculptures, paintings, and performances. Born in Manila, Medalla spent the larger part of his life in London. There, he established his reputation as a pioneer of kinetic art with his angelic Cloud Canyons, bubble-machine-made sculptures that have been exhibited internationally. The exhibit begins with early paintings and drawings from the late 1950s and encompasses the manifold expressions of Medalla’s work. —Vasilisa Ioukhnovets

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