Global contemporary art events and news observed from New York City. Suggestion? Email us.
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Art News Charts Acquisitions and Sales Speculations Among Mega-Galleries

May 22nd, 2019

A piece in Art News notes the increased pace of acquisition of artists and artists’ estates by Hauser & Wirth of late, and looks at the sizes and purported earnings of each of the mega-galleries. “Gagosian was reputed to gross the most: roughly $1 billion a year,” says writer Michael Shnayerson. “The others were said to be closer to $250 million each, but claimed to do better.”
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Brooklyn Academy of Music Workers Move to Unionize

May 22nd, 2019

Administrative workers and cinema staff at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in New York are trying to unionize, Artforum reports. “We are here because we believe in BAM’s mission,” the new union’s Twitter account posted last month. “Through unionization, we raise our morale, pride, and job satisfaction. Our union will make BAM stronger, more democratic, and more sustainable. BAM is a cultural institution that stands for freedom of expression, innovation, and open dialogue. However, as administrative staff, we need a truly powerful voice of our own in our workplace.”
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Knight Foundation Gives $1.7 Million to PBS

May 22nd, 2019

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has given a $1.7 million gift to PBS, Art News reports. “This initiative raises the visibility of artists working across the U.S., north to south and east to west, in cities large and small,”says Victoria Rogers, the Knight Foundation’s vice president for arts. “Through its iconic national programming and expanded digital presence, PBS NewsHour’s Canvas elevates art as national news, bringing arts directly to millions of people on their screens big and small.”
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Kim Gordon, Glenn Ligon, Olivia Marciano Among New Board Appointments at LAXART

May 21st, 2019

Kim Gordon, Zenas Hutcheson, Glenn Ligon, Olivia Marciano and Conor O’Neil have been named to the board of the nonprofit art space LAXART in Los Angeles. “I’m simply giddy—humbled, honored, inspired all at once. These new members heighten our dynamism,” Hamza Walker, LAXART’s director, said in a statement. “Whereas Gordon and Ligon are seminal figures (read rock stars) in the field of contemporary art, Hutcheson, Marciano, and O’Neil mark a new generation of cultural stewardship. They join an already outstanding slate of directors who are our primary supporters and advocates.””
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Nomura Emerging Artist Award Goes to Cheng Ran and Cameron Rowland

May 21st, 2019

Artists Cheng Ran and Cameron Rowland have been awarded the newly launched Nomura Emerging Artist Award, with each of them receiving $100,000.  “It is extraordinary and admirable that Nomura has based this award program on the concepts of change and challenge,” Kathy Halbreich, a member of the prize’s jury and the executive director of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation said. “For the Nomura Emerging Artist Award, the jury has responded by selecting two artists of high purpose, exceptional intellectual ambition, and profound sensitivity to the fast-moving currents of today’s world.”
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Art News Surveys MOCA’s Steps Forward Under Klaus Biesenbach

May 21st, 2019

A piece in Art News this week notes the recent fundraising successes at MOCA, and Klaus Biesenbach’s vision for the museum. “I think the future of MOCA is getting back to serving art and serving community—that’s the message,” says artist and board member Catherine Opie. “It’s all about opening up the museum and what MOCA stood for when it started. I think people are feeling really good about everything. I’ve been trying to take a beat from people I know, people that work inside the museum, as well as the perspective outside of MOCA. I have to say that, so far, everyone’s been giving the thumbs up.”
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Guardian Study Finds 88% of US Museum Collection Holdings Are Men

May 21st, 2019

A survey finds that museum holdings in the U.S. tend overwhelmingly towards white males, with men making up 88% of collection holdings nationwide. The survey breaks down collection data across a range of datasets and reports. 
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British Council Employee Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Spying

May 21st, 2019

Aras Amiri, a British Council employee accused of spying for the UK, has been sentenced to a ten-year prison sentence in Iran. “We are very concerned by reports that an Iranian British Council employee has been sentenced to jail on charges of espionage,” the UK Foreign Office said. “We have not been able to confirm any further details at this stage and are urgently seeking further information.”
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Mitch and Emily Rales Were Buyers for Record-Setting Lee Krasner Last Week

May 21st, 2019

The collector couple Emily and Mitchell Rales were the buyers of Lee Krasner’s The Eye is the First Circle (1960) last week at Sotheby’s, which set a record of $11.7 million for the artist.  WSJ reporter Kelly Crow broke the news on her Instagram. “We weren’t sure we’d get it,” Rales told her. “We’re so happy.”
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The Guardian Tours the Savitsky Museum in Uzbekistan

May 21st, 2019

The Guardian has a piece on the Savitsky Museum in Nukus, Uzbekistan, which holds a collection of avant-garde masterpieces rescued from the Staling regime in Russia.  The works were taken by Igor Savitsky, an electrician who fled Russia with the works in tow.
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REFERENCE LIBRARY

AO On-Site – New York: The 2019 Whitney Biennial, May 17–Sep 22, 2019

May 20th, 2019

Nicole Eisenman, via Art Observed
Nicole Eisenman, via Art Observed

Following a wild few weeks between New York and Venice, the pace of the art world has slowed somewhat, and the big apple has had a moment to catch its breath, opening the doors on this year’s edition of the Whitney Biennial.  Often described as a snapshot of art in the United States, the Biennial brings together work by a range of artists across the spectrum of American contemporary practice and in a broad array of mediums. Over the past year and a half, curators Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley crossed the country visiting artists and surveying a broad selection of perspectives and concepts to complete their show.

Simone Leigh, via Art Observed
Simone Leigh, via Art Observed

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RIP: Lutz Bacher, Relentless Pioneer of Various Forms and Processes, Has Died

May 17th, 2019

 

Lutz Bacher, via K21
Lutz Bacher, via K21

Artist Lutz Bacher, a relentless innovator whose works frequently defied easy categorization or understanding, has passed away.  The artist, who has long avoided releasing much biographical information about herself, was either 75 or 76 at the time of her death. Read More »

AO Auction Recap – New York: 20th Century and Contemporary Evening Sale, May 15th-16th, 2019

May 17th, 2019

Jeff Koons, Rabbit (1992), via Christie's
Jeff Koons, Rabbit (1992), final price:$91,075,000, via Christie’s

Following the early days of the marathon week of auctions in New York, it wasn’t hard to anticipate a strong outing for the Contemporary Auctions soon to take place, yet the impressive sales at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips this week outpaced expectations, charting a path of major auction records and bested tallies that marked a strong outlook for the secondary market. Of particular note was the setting of a new auction record for a living artist with Jeff Koons’s Rabbit selling for a new record price of $91,075,000. Read More »

AO Auction Recap – New York: The Impressionist and Modern Evening Sales, May 13th-14th, 2019

May 15th, 2019

Claude Monet, Meules (1891), via Sotheby's
Claude Monet, Meules (1891), final price: $110,747,000, via Sotheby’s

It’s been a wild week so far the world’s financial elite, especially in New York, where the stock market has plummeted over fears of an ongoing trade war with China and the attendant tariffs that implies. Yet that didn’t seem to deter the city’s auction houses from swinging for the fences and connected, as Christie’s and Sotheby’s capped a pair of wildly impressive sales that saw both auction houses notch some strong figures, and some major auction records, including a new world record for Claude Monet at Sotheby’s last night. Read More »

AO On-Site – Venice – Luc Tuymans: “La Pelle” at Palazzo Grassi Through January 6th, 2020

May 13th, 2019

Luc Tuymans, La Pelle (Installation View), via Art Observed
Luc Tuymans, La Pelle (Installation View), via Art Observed

Continuing its string of landmark exhibitions running concurrently with the spectacle of the Venice Biennale, François Pinault’s Palazzo Grassi has opened the doors on a major exhibition dedicated to the works of Belgian painter Luc Tuymans. Considered among the most influential painters of his generation, Tuymans has been dedicating himself to figurative painting since the mid-1980’s, and has regularly reinvented both himself, and the potentials for the medium, over the course of his work. Drawing from a range of sources and iconographies, his pieces at the Palazzo Grassi offer a welcome respite from the throngs outside, and the bustle of the early days of the Biennale. Read More »

AO Auction Preview – New York: Impressionist/Modern and Post-War/Contemporary Evening Sales, May 13th -16th, 2019

May 12th, 2019

Robert Rauschenberg, Buffalo II (1964), via Christie's
Robert Rauschenberg, Buffalo II (1964), via Christie’s

The show previews, VIP openings and special presentations of the 58th Venice Biennale are now in the bag, and the art world has returned to business as usual this week, returning to New York for a string of auction sales that will offer a grounding take on the market, and a look at how the following weeks may have affected both single artists and the overall health of art world economics at the top of the market.

Amedeo Modigliani, Tete (1911-1912), via Christie's
Amedeo Modigliani, Tete (1911-1912), via Christie’s Read More »

AO On-Site – Venice – Adrian Ghenie: “The Battle Between Carnival and Feast” at the Palazzo Cini Through November 18th, 2019

May 12th, 2019

Adrian Ghenie, The Wall (2019), via Art Observed
Adrian Ghenie, The Wall (2019), via Art Observed

Marking the 2019 seasonal opening of the Palazzo Mini gallery in Venice, artist Adrian Ghenie and Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery have brought a selection of new paintings to show in the space. Marking a new step in the artist’s continued exploration of the nuances of power, masculinity and politics in both the contemporary era and the annals of history, the new show stages a set of works notable for their portrayal of modern political crises, clashes of personality, and the framing of power.

Adrian Ghenie, Figure With Dog (2019), via Art Observed
Adrian Ghenie, Figure With Dog (2019), via Art Observed

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Arthur Jafa, Lithuanian Pavilion Take Home Golden Lions This Year in Venice

May 11th, 2019

Arthur Jafa at the Venice Biennale, via Art Observed
Arthur Jafa at the Venice Biennale, via Art Observed

The awards for the 58th Venice Biennale have been announced, with the Lithuanian Pavilion’s operatic beach installation taking home the Golden Lion for best exhibition, Arthur Jafa winning the Golden Lion for best artist in the main exhibition, and Jimmie Durham winning the Lifetime Achievement award.  A full list of awards is included below: Read More »

AO On-Site – Venice: “Liberty,” Martin Puryear at the US Pavilion Through November 24th, 2019

May 11th, 2019

Martin Puryear, Liberty (Installation View), via Art Observed
Martin Puryear, Liberty (Installation View), via Art Observed

Walking up the pathway to artist Martin Puryear’s installation at the US Pavilion of the Venice Biennale, one is greeted with a dazzling, and perhaps equally foreboding work. The piece, Swallowed Sun (Monstrance and Volute), stages an immense grate before the doors of the pavilion, a beautiful, carefully arranged grid that references sun streaming down, until one passes behind the work to see a black, serpentine form apparent “swallowing” the sun whole. Read More »

AO On-Site – Venice: Cathy Wilkes at the British Pavilion of the Venice Biennale Through November 24th, 2019

May 10th, 2019

Cathy Wilkes, Untitled (2019), via Art Observed
Cathy Wilkes, Untitled (2019), via Art Observed

Within the grand architecture of the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, artist Cathy Wilkes, born in Northern Ireland, has orchestrated a somber, quiet affair, moving the viewer through an occasionally disquieting, frequently challenging arrangement of narrative fragments and installation pieces that draw on the long echo chamber of history. Presenting an arrangement driven by both tension and reflection, the artist’s work is a particularly striking entry in what has been a consistently strong series of outings in recent years for the British Pavilion. Read More »