Jori Finkel: “It turns out that half a minute is not enough time to experience the most powerful dynamic of these rooms: our shifting perceptions of what is far versus near, or personal versus universal, as one collapses into the other through the unending regression of mirrored images. … The Hirshhorn, The Broad and other venues have essentially decided to give twice as many people half as much art, with what you might call infinitely diminished returns.”
For years, artist Serkan Özkaya has been fascinated by Duchamp’s Etant données, the darkened room you view through peepholes in the closed door. He wanted to know exactly how it works, but the curators at the its home, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, aren’t allowed to go in and inspect its mechanisms themselves, let alone allowing a stranger access. So Özkaya did it Ikea-style.
“The Colombian artist’s 57cm-high sculpture, Maternity (2003), of a mother sitting on a plinth and cradling her baby, … was stolen from Galerie Bartoux in an upmarket district of Paris earlier this month in broad daylight. Gallery staff became aware of the theft only when they prepared to close the gallery.”
Galleries are looking not only to import their own artists to cities like Shanghai and Beijing, but also to scout major local talent. And some have begun to look beyond financial hubs like Hong Kong to expand into less saturated markets like Seoul.
“These days, a large part of the budget for arts programmes is taken up by reproduction fees. Museums merrily charge hundreds of pounds each second a painting is seen. But such charges are little more than a hustle. Museums talk threateningly about “copyright”, but in law, they’re on weak ground. If a painting was made by an artist who died more than 75 years ago (70 years in the US), it is out of copyright, end of story. Faithfully photographing it generates no new copyright implications, and there is nothing in law to stop one reproducing (say) a Rembrandt, in any context, and without paying. But because most of us think we need to pay to secure a spurious image ‘licence’, museums get away with it.”
Namely, it’s missing Islam, and the Koran. One scholar who has studied the museum’s sponsors says, “For them, the Bible is American Protestantism [and] the story they are telling is the story of ‘the Bible goes West.’ … There’s a disconnect of the Bible from any non-Western themes, which is incredible.”
Yes, if the project can find funding. “The new building will feature exhibition spaces for loans, a community gallery for printmakers, contemporary artists and schools. There will also be a landscape studio with the view of the countryside replicated in Gainsborough’s famous portrait Mr and Mrs Andrews.”
That would be the high school, where old-school photography is back in style. “As younger generations embrace vintage things — like vinyl records and early gaming consoles — more students have become interested in old-school photography, increasing the demand for analog photography classes.”
These curators work in traditional spaces, create new space, work together, and say that the art fair needs to end. But more important than that, says one: “The art world needs to reckon with its own power.”
Contemporary art museum creator Bernardo Paz, “an eccentric and celebrated figure in Brazil’s art scene, was accused of using money raised abroad for Inhotim for expenses related to a conglomerate of mining and steel companies he ran. Mr. Paz’s sister, Virgínia de Mello Paz, was also convicted in the scheme and sentenced to five years in prison.”
Robert Gentile’s attorney says he can’t remember pleading guilty on a weapons charge and thus, “the reputed Connecticut mobster, who authorities say is the last surviving person of interest in the largest art heist in U.S. history, wants to await sentencing in an unrelated weapons case at his home.”
“Where a shortfall of $15 million had been projected for the fiscal year 2017, which ended in June, that figure was contained to $10.1 million, according to the report, and the Met said it is on track to eliminate its deficit by 2020. In addition, the museum’s endowments increased by almost $300 million, to a total of $2.9 billion; and the Met said it raised $232 million in philanthropic gifts, membership dues and government support.”
“Yet another fair feels like a car company offering another new model: there are already more than enough different cars, besides other options like bicycles, trains and planes. But, like the possibility of a new and really interesting car model entering the stage—an electric one, for instance—there’s always a chance of a new and really interesting art fair showing up. Anything truly innovative could of course change my calendar.”
The final decision had been made two weeks earlier, spurred by a combination of declining admissions — down by 35% just this year, according to High Ground Memphis — increasing real estate debt, and the school’s small endowment fund. Tuition at the school is $35,000 per year. While many remain optimistic that the school could remain open, it would take a miraculous $30 million endowment donation to make this possible.
Some people are asking that very question following the record-smashing sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi for $450 million. But there were some special factors at play here that are unlikely to be repeated – as Robin Pogrebin reports, “the artwork achieved an unprecedented price because it was an unprecedented piece.”
“The enigma of The Enchanted Pose, which depicts side-by-side female nudes, began decades ago. It is listed in the comprehensive catalog of Magritte’s works, but its location had been marked as ‘unknown’ since 1932. Magritte, who died in 1967, never said anything about its fate.” Turns out he cut it into four, painted over the pieces, and sold them as separate paintings. They were all hiding in plain sight, as it were, and the last of the missing quarters has now been identified.
“The Moorish-influenced Casa Vicens, commissioned by the stockbroker Manuel Vicens Montaner [as a residence] and built between 1882-88, was the architect’s first major project. … Fifteen lavishly decorated rooms by Gaudí have been restored with input from the descendants of its original tenants as well as extensive archival research.”
“[The Art Gallery of New South Wales’s] new wing, Sydney Modern, will step across the Cahill expressway and spill north down the Domain towards the harbour, under an ambitious plan to increase visits to the city’s pre-eminent gallery. But the latest plan, though more modest than the first version released in 2015, is still likely to spark a furious debate about the loss of open space in Sydney.”
One can be forgiven for initially overlooking another elephant in the room — the identity of the seller. When there’s this much money involved, though, it usually pays to follow it, and here the money leads directly back to the Russian billionaire Dmitry E. Rybolovlev.
“For more than a century art historical experts have labelled a painting Queen Victoria bought as a Christmas present for Prince Albert a 19th-century fake. But a new generation of art historians has discovered they were wrong. Victoria and her advisers were correct when they bought the painting in 1840. It is a genuine work by the German master Lucas Cranach the Elder and his workshop.”
“After 19 minutes of dueling, with four bidders on the telephone and one in the room, Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi sold on Wednesday night [at Christie’s] for $450.3 million with fees, shattering the high for any work of art sold at auction. It far surpassed Picasso’s Women of Algiers, which fetched $179.4 million at Christie’s in May 2015.”
“The dates have been set for the next Documenta, the pace-setting quinquennial German contemporary art exhibition, allaying fears that the future of the show was in doubt after this year’s edition ran over budget and caused a deficit expected to be €5.4m at the end of the year. The city of Kassel is able to shoulder the extra costs incurred by the 2017 extravaganza, the mayor says.”
“The art world’s most important business goes on in private and is hardly subject to public scrutiny. The art world is a largely unregulated industry in which the rich and powerful that dominate see themselves as being above the law. It’s a business that requires endless socializing, where deals are sealed over drinks, in expensive restaurants, swanky clubs and high-end hotels. Artists who want commercial success are supposed to humor and indulge their collectors — and that can include sitting in their laps when asked.”
“Not only does it look like a dreamed-up version of a missing da Vinci, various X-ray techniques show scratches and gouges in the work, paint missing, a warping board, a beard here and gone, and other parts of the painting obviously brushed up and corrected to make this probable copy look more like an original.”
“In a surprise announcement Tuesday, the Walker said [Olga] Viso, who has led the internationally known center since 2008” – with a considerable record of achievement, it must be said – “will leave by year end. Four sources close to the board characterized her resignation as the end result of a monthslong process fueled by unusually high turnover among Walker staff and demonstrations against the Scaffold sculpture that delayed the gala opening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden last spring.”
“In a gesture of inclusiveness that is rare in the region, the workers who had built the Jean Nouvel-designed museum on Saadiyat Island were given their own party. … Yet questions remain over the welfare of these and other construction workers, mostly migrants from the Indian subcontinent, on the island.” Annual reports by PricewaterhouseCoopers note improvements, but the results are still – well, mixed.
Maura Reilly: “[It] is a term I use to designate the practice of organizing art exhibitions with the principle aim of ensuring that certain constituencies of artists are no longer ghettoized or excluded from the master narratives of art. It is a practice that commits itself to counter-hegemonic initiatives that give voice to those who have been historically silenced or omitted altogether.”
A reporter and cameraman for the Swiss public broadcaster RTS say they were arrested while taking images at an open-air market of migrant workers like those who built the museum. The pair were separated, blindfolded, and interrogated for up to ten hours at a time about the nature of their reporting on the migrants; their equipment was confiscated and has still not been returned.
Impressionist, modern and contemporary art with an estimated value of least $1.6 billion will be offered at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips. The value of these consignments, which include works by Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, Fernand Leger and Franz Kline, as well as, incongruously, a Ferrari racecar, represents an increase of more than 46 percent over the equivalent auctions last November.
In 1985, Woman-Ochre was stolen from the University of Arizona Museum of Art during opening hours. Thirty-two years later, the $165-million masterpiece wasn’t discovered tucked away in the mansion of a mafioso or for sale on the black market; it was found hanging demurely behind the bedroom door of an elderly couple in rural New Mexico.