Wrapping Up The Art World: Madonna and Beeple’s Bizarre NFT Drop Is NSFW; Blue-chip Names Reign Supreme At New York’s Auction Season, And More
Mother of Nature (still image). Image courtesy of Madonna and Beeple.
(Left) Marilyn Monroe, New York City, 1962. Image via Wikimedia Commons. (Right) Screenshot of Kim Kardashian’s Instagram post.
Hong Kong Palace Museum. Image courtesy of West Kowloon Cultural District.
Taipei Performing Arts Center. Image courtesy of Taipei Performing Arts Center.
(Left) Andy Warhol, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, 1964, acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen, 101.6 x 101.6 cm; (Right) Deinonychus antirrhopus, from the Cloverly Formation, Wolf Canyon, Carbon County, Montana, the Early Cretaceous (circa 115-108 million years ago), approximately 126 fossil bones with remaining cast elements on custom frame, 304 x 158 x 66cm. Images courtesy of Christie’s.
The Macklowe Collection at Sotheby’s New York, 16 May 2022. Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.
Mark Rothko, Untitled, Oil on canvas, 1960, 178.4 x 189.2 cm; sold for $48 million during the Macklowe Collection sale on 16 May 2022. Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.
In case you missed the news, here’s a roundup of headlines from the art world in the last two weeks.
TEXT: CoBo News
IMAGES: Courtesy of various
Who Stirred the Pot?
The biggest news in the digital art front from the past couple of weeks without a doubt goes to Beeple and Madonna’s wild NFT drop, a project that truly, honestly, no one asked for. In a blockbuster collaboration, the Like A Virgin singer teamed up with the widely popular digital artist on an NFT series that was released on 9 May via the platform SuperRare. Titled “Mother of Creation”—it consists of three digitally-rendered videos that portray Madonna as a nude avatar giving birth to a blooming tree, a swarm of butterflies and robotic centipedes—straight out of her digital honeypot. Each video also comes with a voice over of Madonna reading poems by mystic poet Rumi. The series, which at the time of writing is still on sale through SuperRare, is the culmination of a year-long collaboration, with proceeds going towards three non-profits supporting women and children—the Voices of Children Foundation, the City of Joy Foundation, and Black Mama’s Bail Out.
Speaking of provocateurs, earlier this month at The Met Gala, Kim Kardashian wore the dress that Marilyn Monroe had on singing “Happy Birthday Mr. President” to John F. Kennedy in 1962. Although she only wore the dress for a matter of minutes on the red carpet, the incident was met with public outrage immediately—including from the costume’s original designer, who argued that “nobody else should be seen in that dress” and the former head of the Met’s fashion conservation department, Sarah Scarturro, who blasted the socialite on her Instagram. On 9 May, International Council of Museums responded to the issue with a statement, declaring that “historic garments should not be worn by anybody, public or private figures.”
In less vexing news: revered Korean artist and philosopher Lee Ufan has opened a new museum in the southern French city of Arles. Housed in a 16th-century private mansion that once belonged to the Dervieux family of antique dealers, the Mono-ha proponent teamed up with Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando to rework its designs, who in 2010 also styled the Lee Ufan museum in Naoshima, Japan. The Arles space has been repurposed to more closely assemble Ufan’s minimalist practice, including a new installation Chemin vers Arles (Road to Arles) and two works from Ufan’s emblematic “Dialogue” series of canvases.
It’s a Summer Full of Art in the Tropics
Following tightened pandemic controls in response to the Chinese government’s stringent “Zero COVID” policy, Gallery Weekend Beijing announced on 9 May that it will be postponing the fair’s 2022 edition indefinitely. The event, organised by 798 Art District was originally scheduled to run in the Chinese capital between 27 May and 5 June, hosting 40 galleries and non-profit institutions, including a number of visiting galleries from other cities.
On a more positive note, the cultural scene in Asia is having a moment with several exciting openings lined up this summer.
About 2000 kilometres down south from Beijing, the highly anticipated Hong Kong Palace Museum is set to open in the West Kowloon Cultural District this summer, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China. With design led by acclaimed Hong Kong architect Rocco Yim, the institution’s key architectural highlights is its “vertical central axis” concept, which is inspired by the central axis of the Forbidden City. Its interior features beige-gold-lined ceilings in undulating forms, a design that is informed by the ubiquitous glazed roof tiles on grand palaces inside the Beijing Palace Museum.
Also in the West Kowloon Cultural District premise, M+ announces that it is opening a brand new cinema on 8 June. The three cinema houses, designed by the museum’s architect Herzog & de Meuron, will offer a wide range of moving image works, including feature films, documentaries, experimental cinema, video art, and restored classics. Cinephiles can look forward to the cinema’s opening schedule, which will feature screenings of the 4K restored versions of Days of Being Wild (1990) by Wong Kar Wai and Xiao Wu (1998) by Jia Zhangke, both marking their Hong Kong premieres.
After more than a decade in the making, the Taipei Performing Arts Center in Taiwan, which was designed by Dutch architecture studio OMA, has completed construction ahead of its official opening on 7 August. Led by Pritzker Architecture Prize-winner Rem Koolhaas, alongside managing partner David Gianotten, the futuristic 59,000 square-metre landmark comprises three theatres plugged into a central cube—an 800-seat spherical proscenium theatre, a 1500-seat grand theatre, and an 800-seat multiform theatre—which is designed to accommodate a wide range of performing arts genres.
Going, Going, Gone
Christie’s New York staged its 20th and 21st Century sale week from 9–14 May with stellar sales results, kicking off the city’s spring marquee auction season on a high note. On 9 May, Christie’s 20th and 21st Century auctions commenced with a record-breaking sale of Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (1964). Hammering at US$195 million, it became the most expensive 20th century artwork ever sold at auction. The winning bid was placed by mega-dealer Larry Gagosian in the Rockfeller saleroom after less than four minutes of bidding, with proceeds going into the new Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation Zürich. During its 20th Century Evening Sale on 12 May, the auction house also sold a velociraptor skeleton—a species that became famous after appearing in Jurassic Park—for US$12.4 million, with fees, to an undisclosed buyer.
The auction action continued at rival Sotheby’s the following week, beginning with the sale of the eagerly anticipated second portion of the Macklowe collection, which fetched a collective US$246.1 million at Sotheby’s on Monday evening in New York, which, combined with the US$676.1million raked in from the first sale in November 2021, the vaunted 65-work collection totals to a staggering value of US$922.2 million.
Art World Movers and Shakers
Stephanie Rosenthal is leaving her position as Director of Berlin’s Gropius Bau to head up the long-awaited Guggenheim Abu Dhabi museum from September.
Gilane Tawadros, the chief executive of the London-based artists’ rights management non-profit DACS, will be taking up the role as director of Whitechapel Gallery in the British capital from October onwards, replacing Iwona Blazwick, who announced in January that she would step down as director after 20 years in the job.
Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang has been named Honorary Academician of 2022 by the Fine Arts Academy of Carrara. Recognised for his distinctions in international arts, Cai follows an illustrious line of predecessors including Maurizio Cattelan, Massimo Bottura, Jeff Koons, and Marina Abramović.
Acclaimed Aboriginal artist Blak Douglas, born Adam Douglas Hill, has taken home the 2022 Archibald prize for his portrait of artist and friend Karla Dickens, titled Moby Dickens. This is the first time a portrait of an Aboriginal woman has been awarded the prize.
Christie’s has announced its sponsorship of the “Grant for Female Young Artists” an initiative launched by the Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation (BCAF). The grant is open to any emerging female artist from Mainland China and each of the four selected recipients will receive RMB 63,750 to fund her future artistic creations.