While speculations around Art Basel Hong Kong continues, news of a new Chinese branch of Musée Rodin emerges, and LACMA confirms Nara retrospective will travel to Shanghai. Meanwhile Desert X sparks controversy with a new partnership with Saudi Arabia.
TEXT: CoBo Editorial Force
IMAGES: Courtesy various
Art World Speculations
Whispers started some months ago and everyone has been speculating what will indeed happen to Art Basel Hong Kong, the city’s megafair and golden jewel amid the unrest and ongoing demonstrations that has been shaking Hong Kong since mid-June, which have turned increasingly violent in recent weeks. As reported by artnet on 7 October, two galleries who wish to remain unnamed have officially withdrawn participation from the fair next year. Although fear not, of the 50 or so exhibitors they reached out to who attended the last iteration, artnet noted that most galleries who responded confirmed that they are continuing to plan for the fair which is set for March 2020 while monitoring the situation as it continues to evolve. Meanwhile a spokesperson for Art Basel has confirmed that the fair has no plans to postpone or relocate the fair at this stage.
Nara Travels to Shanghai While Rodin Heads to Shenzhen
On 8 October, ARTnews reported that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s upcoming retrospective of Yoshitomo Nara, set for the spring of 2020, will then travel to the Yuz Museum in Shanghai—owned by Chinese-Indonesian collector and entrepreneur, Budi Tek—as part of a new partnership formed earlier this year. The retrospective will also be making stops at the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain as well as an institution in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, which is yet to be named. After making headlines this week with the record-shattering sale of his painting Knife Behind Back at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, Nara has risen the ranks to be the most expensive living Japanese artist, and one of the most expensive living artists worldwide.
Meanwhile the Musée Rodin in Paris announced a partnership to lend its name, along with 50 works, to a new outpost to be built in Shenzhen, China. The announcement was made during the Franco Chinese cultural forum in Nice, France on Monday 7 October and reported by several news outlets including Art Forum. The new art centre dedicated to the French sculptor, Auguste Rodin, is supported by the French Ministry of Culture, China’s State Administration as well as the deep pockets coming from private funding. In addition to the loans, Musée Rodin has also agreed to sell 50 bronzes to the Chinese branch.
Not long after Michael Xufu Huang announced he was leaving M Woods to pursue opening his own institution, the private contemporary art museum which has two locations in Beijing, has already found itself a new leading force. As announced on 27 September, independent curator Victor Wang is serving as the new artistic director and chief curator of both M Woods museums; M Woods 798 and M Woods Art Community. Wang began his new appointment in October and will spearhead the museum’s multidisciplinary programming.
Speaking of efficiency, just as Sotheby’s secured its US$3.7 billion deal and returned to private ownership, Patrick Drahi has shown he isn’t a man to waste any time. Only days after the deal was completed, news emerged that the both the current executive vice president and chief commercial office John Cahill, and CFO Mike Goss are leaving the company. Replacing Goss as CFO will be Jean-Luc Berrebi—the current CEO of Drahi’s family office—who will be taking on both Cahill and Goss’s former responsibilities.
Controversy Rocks California
In a controversial move, the contemporary art biennial Desert X—which launched in 2017 in Coachella Valley—has agreed to partner with the government of Saudi Arabia to host an iteration of the exhibition, titled Desert X AlUla, reported by The Los Angeles Times on 7 October. Saudi Arabia has been scrambling lately in an attempt to recover is shabby international image and poor tourism, including sponsoring trips for Instagram influencers which has sparked immense backlash. In response to this contentious collaboration, three of its 14 board members have resigned; art historian and curator Yael Lipschutz, philanthropist Tristan Milanovich, and artist Ed Ruscha. As Lipschutz told artnet News, “I resigned because I felt like Desert X no longer reflected my humanitarian values.” He added, “I don’t want to aid in rebranding Saudi Arabia as a somehow, elightened credible government.”
Fancy A New Perfume?
Korea-born, New York-based conceptual artist Anicka Yi will be taking her olfactory explorations to Dover Street Market this November where she will be launching her own line of fragrances, WWD reported on Tuesday. Created in collaboration with perfumer Barnabé Fillion, the line of three limited edition fragrances, called Biography, was inspired “by women often forgotten in history” and will be available in Dover Street Market’s New York and Los Angeles stores.
This week the art world bids farewell to Canada-born, Hong Kong-raised artist Matthew Wong (1984–2019). Announced by his New York gallery, Karma on 7 October in an Instagram post, the self-taught painter studied cultural anthropology at the University of Michigan and held an MFA in photography and creative media from Hong Kong’s City University. He is most remembered for his vivid and painterly canvas and vibrant landscapes which often portrayed a single, lone figure. The cause of death was suicide. The artist was 35 years old.