After a hiatus over the last couple of months we are finally back in the groove with our bi-weekly roundup of headlines from around the art world that caught our attention.
TEXT: CoBo News
IMAGES: Courtesy of various
The Pandemic Presses On And So Do Museums
Global museums continue to struggle with new lockdowns and hardship amid a still surging pandemic and after a full financial year, the real numbers are coming in. In Madrid, the Museo Nacional del Prado reported a 75.5% decrease in revenue last year, with a loss of €18.5 million (US$22 million). Among other European museums, the Louvre in Paris also suffered a 72% contraction in attendance and a US$110.3 million loss in revenue.
On the (slightly) bright side, in Germany, organisers of documenta 15 have decided to carry on with its original exhibition schedule, opening from 8 June to 25 September 2022 despite anticipating lower visitor numbers and less revenue from ticket sales.
Comings and Goings
In a surprising move, Nosh Horowitz, director of Art Basel Americas for the past six years, announced his departure. Art Basel confirmed the news in a statement released on 8 July, stating that Horowitz will step down from his director role at the end of August “to pursue other opportunities”. The news came shortly after Art Basel announced the news dates of its Miami Beach iteration, which will run from 30 November to 4 December.
Announced on 28 June, the decade-long president and chief executive of the world’s wealthiest art institution, J. Paul Getty Trust, James Cuno, is stepping down. Cuno is a writer, art historian and curator who is formerly the president of the Art Institute of Chicago and director of the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.
Since the unsettling scandal of gender and diversity issues last year, Philadelphia Museum of Art names Alphonso Atkins Jr. to the newly created position of Deputy Director for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access (DEIA), to safeguard the goals of institutional equity and diversification of the museum.
In the auction world, Christie’s announced on 30 June the appointment of Rebecca Yuancao Yang as Chairman of Christie’s China. Based in Shanghai, Yang will oversee the expansion of Christie’s in China utilising her entrepreneurial background in the media and entertainment industry.
Meanwhile, BMW Art Journey, a partnership between BMW and Art Basel, announced on 30 June French-Carribean artist Julien Creuzet as its winner for 2021. The artist will unveil his work in Martinique and Guadeloupe.
Fireworks Set Off All Over The Globe
The world-touring exhibition “Banksy: Genius or Vandal” soon to arrive in Los Angeles, which features more than 100 recreated and “authenticated” private works by the controversial and provocative street artist, is heating up debates among Banksy fans. Produced by New York marketing and event company Fever and the Belgian firm Exhibition Hub, the digital art exhibition is viewed as an educational experience serving the purpose to “democratise the artist’s body of work.” The public remains sceptical about the exhibition’s authenticity and credibility, not to mention the artist’s criticism on Instagram in 2018, stating that the charged show has got nothing to do with him.
In Norway, Momentum 11 has fired its curator, Théo-Mario Coppola, just weeks before its opening last month, which resulted in at least seven of the biennial’s exhibiting artists to withdraw in solidarity. Reported by The Art Newspaper, organisers claim that Coppola’s professional conduct has caused irreparable damage to their relationship with the team; while in another story, Coppola charges organisers with overstepping curatorial authorship and infringement of rights. One of the participating artists, Karol Radziszewski, stated that he was shocked to experience a biennale removing its curator and proceeding to go ahead despite numerous requests from the artist to the biennial to have his work removed.
In Korea, selecting the curator to take the helms of the Korean Pavilion at the next Venice Biennale is in crisis due to a cronyism controversy, which prompts an unprecedented move by Arts Council Korea (ARKO) to re-evaluate all applicants and start over the entire review process with a judge from the selection committee removed.
The Market Thrives While NFT Platforms Are Also On The Rise
At auction house Sotheby’s recent British and Modern Art marquee sale in London, a portrait of David Hockney by Lucian Freud from 2002 has sold for £12.8 million (US$17.7 million) after a 10-minute bidding war, making it the sixth most expensive work of art by the artist to be sold under the gavel. Meanwhile over at arch-rival Christie’s, Banksy’s Subject to Availability (2009), a 1980 oil painting by artist Albert Bierstadt hijacked by the street artist, was sold for £4.5 million (US$6.3 million).
In the era of NFTs, record-breaking news of yet another NFT sale is hardly a surprise to anyone but this one did give us a momentarily shock. Sotheby’s has auctioned off the original source code for the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee in a single-lot sale. With bids starting off at just US$1,000, the bidding price rocketed to US$2.8 million in two days and reached US$3.5 million just 10 minutes before the sale was due to close. After a final 51 bids, the NFT went for a whopping US$5.4 million including buyer’s premium. Over at Christie’s, the line-up for the second edition of the house’s Trespassing auction has been announced. Taking place online from 9 to 22 July, a wide range of popular artists including KAWS, Banksy and Invader will take the spotlight alongside other lesser known graphic pieces inspired by graffiti and commercial aesthetics.
More artists and galleries are diving into the NFT craze. On 1 July, Mr Doodle released his first NFT artwork ESC through one of the most popular NFT marketplaces, Nifty Gateway, for a 12-minute period of open bidding. Out of the 114 purchased editions, the highest bid achieved US$3,800,000. Also jumping on the bandwagon, Pace Gallery recently announced the gallery’s first dedicated NFT platform, which accepts cryptocurrency as a form of payment for all physical and digital artworks. Big name in the NFT world, Beeple (also known as Mike Winkelmann), who sold his diaristic project Everydays: The First 5,000 Days for US$69 million at Christie’s, is debuting the new NFT platform WENEW, collaborating with successful artists or athletes within “The Memory Palace of the Metaverse”, where the NFT also comes with a physical object, including signed or replica posters.
On The (Asia) Calendar
Coinciding with Shanghai Art Week from 5 to 14 this November, Design Miami will be launching a pop-up exhibition bringing together workS from galleries and independent design studios. Podium is, according to Jennifer Robers, Design Miami’s CEO, “ideally positioned to enter new, emerging markets around the world.”
In South Korea, ST International and SongEun Art & Cultural Foundation announced on 6 July the opening of their new office building and cultural site in Cheongdam district in September. Aiming to become a significant landmark in Seoul, the inaugural programming of the new building features an exhibition curated by Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron in late September, followed by the 21st edition of the SongEun Art Award in early December.
Announced on 30 June and following on the coattails of Sotheby’s x Jay Chou, Sotheby’s Hong Kong will soon unveil an exciting collaboration with internationally acclaimed auteur Wong Kar Wai, slated to take place during the October autumn marquee auctions.