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Artist Claims That Banksy Sculpture That Could Sell for $1.3 M. at Sotheby’s Was Stolen From Him

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 16:18

Andy Link has alleged that the work was plucked from his garden in 2006. The auction house says it is in the clear. Read More

The post Artist Claims That Banksy Sculpture That Could Sell for $1.3 M. at Sotheby’s Was Stolen From Him appeared first on ARTnews.

Baltimore Museum of Art Will Only Collect Works by Women in 2020

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 11:46

Just 3,800 of the 95,000 pieces in its collection are by women. Read More

The post Baltimore Museum of Art Will Only Collect Works by Women in 2020 appeared first on ARTnews.

‘The Poetics of Democracy’ Reconstructed the Cultural Clashes of Post-Franco Spain

Sat, 11/16/2019 - 19:03

The cultivation of memory is a vital part of contemporary Spanish society. It informs conflicts between federalists and nationalists, socialists and neoliberals. During a recent visit to Madrid, I saw on the same day, just blocks apart, mass protests by impoverished seniors pining for the pensions they had been promised and by regional separatists railing against prison sentences given to leaders who had vowed to restore a fabled Catalonian glory. Such antagonisms play out in the museums as much as in the streets. At the Reina Sofía, they were captured in an exhibition that reconstructed the first Spanish installation at the Venice Biennale following the death in 1975 of fascist dictator Francisco Franco.

The 1976 Biennale was intended by the Italian organizer, Carlo Ripa di Meana, to honor the Spanish avant-gardists who had survived the nearly forty years of Franco’s rule. But when the generalissimo died in the course of exhibition planning, all the buried conflicts and intrigues of Spanish artistic culture came to the surface. Whereas Antoni Tàpies’s paintings and sculptures, including Tabouret au papier mâché (Papier Mâché Stool, 1970) and Cadira i roba (Chair and Clothes, 1970), initially appeared as Spanish contributions to Arte Povera and the American assemblage practice associated with Robert Rauschenberg, they now seemed diversions from the violence of late Franco-ism. Even Antonio Saura, as anti-Francoist as any artist of the period, was held in suspicion by the younger generation. His “Retratos imaginarios de Goya” (Imaginary Portraits of Goya, 1968–72)—silkscreened compositions that recall the facial distortions of Francis Bacon and Otto Dix—were seen as politically useless.

In response to Franco’s death, therefore, a raft of more directly political works were added to the Biennale. These included Alberto Corazón’s 18 de julio. Iconografía de un Dictador (July 18. Iconography of a Dictator, 1976), which comprises rows of facsimiles of the magazine ABC—a Spanish-fascist version of Life—organized according to themes found on the issues’ covers, including family, community, symbols of power, and the dictator’s gestures. (July 18 was the official date of Franco’s victory, in 1939, over Republican forces.) Another was a conceptual artwork by the Grup de Treball that charted (in the manner of the British Art & Language collective) the affiliation and activities of the Marxist press in Catalonia. Yet even these works were insufficient to quell the criticism, and a kind of counter-counter exhibition was mounted, consisting mostly of film and performances. The whole thing was perhaps the typical left-wing-artist clusterfuck, but the exhibition in Madrid represents it with generosity and poignancy.

The constitutional monarchy that emerged post-Franco was anything but radical. The dominant political parties were in thrall to Spanish capitalist entities, such as the banking giant Santander and oil behemoth Repsol, and to the international minders in Brussels, Europe’s unofficial capital. That’s why the exhibition also includes dozens of subversive works made in the half-decade following 1976. We encounter posters, cartoons, photographs, paintings, and prints exploring feminist, queer, and punk subcultures and the anti-psychiatry movement. In woodcuts and paintings from 1979, Victor Mira—channeling Edvard Munch and George Romero—portrays monstrous figures. Pedro Almodóvar emerged from the artistic underground in this period, and one of his early films, Dark Habits (1983), about a community of fetishistic nuns, is featured here.

Illuminating the art and politics of a period four decades distant, the exhibition feels like a single contemporary artwork concerned with memory. It implicitly invokes the current plan to remove Franco’s body from the Valley of the Fallen, a monument that recalls Nazi parade grounds in Nuremberg, and the failure of the Spanish state to reckon with the crimes of the dictator and his regime. It also brings to mind the current Spanish electoral impasse, and a similar one in the United States. Undone by false memories of greatness, we, too, have so far failed to overcome the institutional lock on government held by reactionary parties and leaders. 


This article appears under the title “The Poetics Of Democracy: Images And Counter-Images From The Spanish Transition” in the December 2019 issue, pp. 106–107.

Nan Goldin’s P.A.I.N. Group Protests ‘Proud’ Support from Sackler Family at Victoria & Albert Museum in London [Updated]

Sat, 11/16/2019 - 11:24

Sackler P.A.I.N.’s protest at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.


Sackler P.A.I.N., an anti-Sackler group that artist Nan Goldin and fellow activists launched in 2018, has become a force in the museum circuit, regularly protesting institutions that have received support from a family whose name has become synonymous with what many now call toxic philanthropy. After actions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Louvre, and elsewhere, protestors have now brought their cause to one of London’s top institutions.

On Saturday, P.A.I.N. led a die-in at the Victoria & Albert Museum, which currently has a courtyard and an education center named after the Sackler family and is reported to have received millions of dollars in funding from the patrons over the years. In July, the museum’s director, Tristram Hunt, said the institution was “proud” to have received funding from the Sacklers.

A V&A spokesperson commented: “As a national museum and a space for civic debate, the V&A fully supports the public’s right to a peaceful protest. We are grateful for the generosity of our donors, which contributes towards our world-class public programme, supports the expert care needed for the collection and improves our facilities so they can be enjoyed by future generations.”

The Sackler family is the owner of Purdue Pharma, a company that produces the painkiller OxyContin, which many have alleged was put on the market despite company officials’ knowledge that the drug is addictive. Purdue Pharma has since weathered numerous lawsuits, and it recently filed for bankruptcy.

Museums have been hit hard as activists have forced them to take accountability for accepting money from patrons who many have said played a key role in the current opioid crisis. (The Sackler family and Purdue Pharma have previously denied that they are responsible for it. Purdue Pharma did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

Following protests by P.A.I.N., the Met, the Guggenheim, Tate in London, and others said they would no longer accept funding from the Sackler family, and the Sackler Trust, an organization that gives money to British arts organizations, said it would “temporarily pause” its donations earlier this year.

At the Victoria & Albert Museum earlier today, Goldin and other activists brought with them a giant sign reading “ABANDON THE SACKLER NAME.” They staged a die-in and scattered dollar bills that appeared to have been smeared with blood, and they urged the museum to retitle sites at the institution that are named after the Sacklers.

“What will it take for the V&A to recognize their responsibility to denounce the name of the family liable for one of the deadliest crises of our time?” P.A.I.N. wrote in a statement posted to Instagram. “This money must be clawed back to fund drug treatment, not decadent architecture.”

Nan Goldin’s P.A.I.N. Group Protests ‘Proud’ Support from Sackler Family at Victoria & Albert Museum in London

Sat, 11/16/2019 - 11:24

Earlier this year, the museum's director said the institution was "proud" to receive funding from the family. Read More

The post Nan Goldin’s P.A.I.N. Group Protests ‘Proud’ Support from Sackler Family at Victoria & Albert Museum in London appeared first on ARTnews.

Suspect in Famed Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist Released from Prison

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 16:59

An empty frame which once displayed Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633). 


In 1990, two thieves, dressed as police officers, entered Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and slipped away with $500 million of work, including paintings by Rembrandt, Degas, and Manet. No suspects were ever prosecuted, and the works remain missing. 

Some suspects have ended up in prison, however, and the Boston Globe reported on Thursday that one was released from prison after serving 21 years for his role in a foiled armed robbery of an armored car. David Turner was long suspected of, but never charged with, helping orchestrate the heist.

In 2014, the FBI identified the culprits present at the museum as George Reissfelder and Lenny DiMuzio, who both died within a year of the notorious robbery. Dressed as police offers to trick the museum’s night watchmen, the duo decamped with 13 pieces of artwork, including Rembrandt’s The Storm in the Sea of Galilee and Vermeer’s The Concert, estimated to be worth upwards of $250 million. It remains the most famous art crime in American history. 

Turner was a known employee of Boston’s late crime lord Carmello Merlino, who officials believe was the mastermind of the scheme. According to the Globe, FBI agents offered Turner leniency if he returned the stolen artwork, but he denied any involvement in the crime. At the time of his sentencing for the planned armed robbery, Turner wrote a letter to Boston Magazine reiterating his innocence for the Gardner heist.

“They think that I was the person who committed the robbery, which is false,” he wrote. “They thought that if I was facing serious charges, I would be motivated to help facilitate the return of the paintings. Well, they got the serious charges against me, and now I am going to die in prison.” He has been released on three years of probation.

In 2014, special agent Geoff Kelly—the lead FBI investigator on the Gardner case for the past 11 years—told Boston’s FOX 25 that police had received a tip that the artworks had been spotted for sale in Philadelphia. At the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the 13 empty frames remain on display.

Suspect in Famed Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist Released from Prison

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 16:59

David Turner has denied having played a role in the theft of 13 masterworks. Read More

The post Suspect in Famed Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist Released from Prison appeared first on ARTnews.

The New York Day Sales: Highlights and Records from Modern and Contemporary Auctions

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 16:12

Jaume Plensa’s Twins I and II (2009) sold for $1.13 million at Phillips’ 20th-century and contemporary art day sale, setting a new record for the artist.

With auction week in New York coming to an end, ARTnews has rounded-up some of the most notable sales achieved in the day sales at Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips. Below is a listing of new records and top-performing lots from day auctions of 20th-century and contemporary art, as well Impressionist and modern works, at the three houses. (Sotheby’s contemporary sale was still in progress when this article went to press, and this post will be updated with the sale’s complete results.)


  • Christie’s Imp-mod day sale totaled $36.35 million, ahead of its $27.18 million result last year. It was led by Salvador Dalí‘s painting Décor pour Roméo et Juliette (1942), which was estimated $800,000 to $1.2 million and sold for $1.11 million.
  • Sotheby’s Imp-mod day sale realized $53.3 million, up from its $44.7 million total last November. The top lot was Vincent van Gogh‘s 1883 painting Paysan brûlant de mauvaises herbes, selling for $3.14 million, smashing through its $600,000 to $800,000 estimate.



  • Phillips achieved higher results in both its evening and day sale performances this year. At its 20th-century and contemporary art day sale, the auction house racked up $40.22 million, as compared to $34.68 million in November 2018. The sale set new records for 10 artists, including Jaume Plensa, whose stainless steel sculptures Twins I and II from 2009 (est. $600,000 to $800,000) sold for $1.13 million, Larry Poons, for the bright yellow painting Jessica’s Hartford (1965) that sold for $1.15 million, and Dorothea Rockburne, for Oxymoron (1987-88), an oil on linen piece that went for $93,750.
  • Other artists records: Maria Lassnig, Jeff Sonhouse, Ann Craven, Noah Davis, Louise Fishman, Sascha Braunig, and Elizabeth Murray.
  • A number of works sold well above their estimates, including Loie Hollowell‘s 2015 painting Giving Head (est. $40,000 to $60,000), that went for $106,250, and KAWS‘s painted bronze COMPANION (PASSING THROUGH), 2011, estimated $300,000 to $400,000 and selling for $836,000.
  • The top-performing lot was Josef Albers‘s Homage to the Square: Silent Gray (1955), soaring past its $400,000 to $600,000 estimate with a $1.31 million sale. 
  • Lots that failed to sell included Robert Motherwell‘s Open No. 116: La France Open (executed 1969/1983/circa 1985), estimated $1 million to $1.5 million, and Anish Kapoor‘s aluminum work Untitled (1997), which carried a $300,000 to $400,000 estimate.


  • Christie’s tallied a total of $117.1 million at its contemporary day sales in the morning and afternoon, a figure that surpasses last year’s $92.97 million sum. This number also represents the highest ever contemporary day sale total.
  • The auction house set records for several women artists with the sale of Ruth Asawa‘s Untitled (S.387, Hanging Three Separate Layers of Three-Lobed Forms), ca. 1955, for $4 million, Julie Curtiss‘s 2018 painting Pas de Trois for $423,000, Carrie Mae Weems‘s Kitchen Table Series (executed 1990/printed 2003) for $237,500, and Mary Corse‘s Untitled (DNA Series), 2016, for $435,000.
  • Works by George Condo, Frank Stella, Andy Warhol, and Joan Mitchell all achieved over the $3 million mark.
  • Other top lots were Helen Frankenthaler‘s (Bach’s) Sacred Theater (1973), which sold beyond its estimate for $2.53 million, Jean Dubuffet‘s gouache on paper L’Aberrateur (1963) for $2 million, and Andy Warhol‘s Flowers (1965) for $2.41 million.
  • Lots that did not sell include pieces by Isamu Noguchi, Alexander Calder, Simone Leigh, Takashi Murakami, and Tauba Auerbach.


  • Sales were flying past their estimates at Sotheby’s on Friday: Joan Mitchell‘s Saint Martin La Garenne IX (1987), estimated $1 million to $1.5 million, sold for $2.9 million; Sam Gilliam‘s With Crimson (1970), estimated $600,000 to $800,000, went for $1 million; January 2 (1992) by Alex Katz sold for $1 million over its high estimate of $700,000; Michael Armitage‘s The Conservationists (2015) made a mockery of its $50,000 to $70,000 estimate when it sold for $1.52 million.
  • Wayne Thiebaud‘s 1976 painting Ripley Street Ridge sold for $3.32 million, well above its high estimate of $2 million.
  • Two sculptures by Ruth Asawa also passed their estimates: Untitled (S.256, Hanging tied-wire, double-sided, open-center, six-branched form based on nature), ca. 1965, which had carried a $200,000 to $300,000 estimate, sold for $884,000. And Untitled (S.422, hanging single-lobed, three layers of spheres), estimated $150,000 to $200,000, sold for $1.22 million.

The New York Day Sales: Highlights and Records from Modern and Contemporary Auctions

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 16:12

New records were set for Ruth Asawa, Julie Curtiss, Jaume Plensa, and more. Read More

The post The New York Day Sales: Highlights and Records from Modern and Contemporary Auctions appeared first on ARTnews.

Barcelona’s Iconic Sagrada Familia Basilica to Add New Stairway, Against Objections from Locals

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 16:11

Tourists outside La Sagrada Familia.


One of Spain’s most iconic structures, which has famously been under construction since 1882, is now getting one more addition.

Antoni Gaudí’s soaring basilica, the Sagrada Familia, will soon expand into the neighboring street, to the chagrin of Barcelona’s longtime residents, according to El Pais. The building’s Board of Construction had acquired part of a 6,000-square-foot plot of land that had long been eyed for a new stairway that is projected to be 187 feet-long and 16 feet-wide.

In September some 250 residents and businesses that would be affected by the expansion  contested the Sagrada’s work permit in the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia. The plaintiffs argued that the proposed steps would force the relocation of 3,000 people. They also argued that this addition is not included in Gaudí “original” designs. Esteve Camps, president of the Temple Building Board, successfully argued that the steps were sanctioned by plans drawn up by the artist in 1916.

The Mallorca expansion is far from the project’s first controversy. Gaudí’s workshop was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War, leaving successive architects to rely on conjecture to complete the basilica following his death in 1926. A 1953 manifesto penned by some of the era’s most prominent voices in architecture, including Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and Walter Gropius, demanded Gaudí’s assistants cease any further expansion, which has progressed in spurts over the years and in earnest since 1985.

Since its inception, La Sagrada Familia has relied on public donations and it is currently in debt for approximately $41 million, with construction scheduled to be completed in 2026.

Barcelona’s Iconic Sagrada Familia Basilica to Add New Stairway, Against Objections from Locals

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 16:11

The iconic structure has famously been under construction since 1882, with a projected completion date of 2026. Read More

The post Barcelona’s Iconic Sagrada Familia Basilica to Add New Stairway, Against Objections from Locals appeared first on ARTnews.

London Police Investigate Attempted Theft of Two Rembrandt Paintings

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 15:34

Dulwich Picture Gallery in London.


A break-in at a London art museum has left police investigating the attempted theft of two Rembrandt paintings. The gallery has not yet revealed which pieces were involved in the incident.

On Wednesday night, one or more intruders removed the two works from a 35-work exhibition of the Dutch master currently on view at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, according to a report by The Guardian.

After police arrived on the scene, a suspect sprayed an unknown substance in an officer’s face and was seen running from the gallery. The works in question were found shortly thereafter on the gallery’s property by police and gallery security staff.

In a statement posted to its website, the Dulwich said it would remain closed until further notice “to allow the police to conduct a full investigation into the incident.”

“The intruders were detected by the gallery’s robust security systems and, thanks to the immediate intervention of security staff and the swift response of the Metropolitan Police, the paintings were secured at the scene,” the statement reads.

Detective inspector Jason Barber of the Metropolitan Police told the Guardian that the incident “was an audacious attempted burglary and was clearly planned in advance.”

Works included in the “Rembrandt’s Light” presentation include paintings, etchings, and drawings, with major loans from the Louvre in Paris, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Royal Collection in England. Among the highlights are The Pilgrims at Emmaus (1648),  Philemon and Baucis (1658), and A Woman Bathing in a Stream (1654).

London Police Investigate Attempted Theft of Two Rembrandt Paintings

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 15:34

The Dulwich Picture Gallery will remain closed until further notice as part of the investigation. Read More

The post London Police Investigate Attempted Theft of Two Rembrandt Paintings appeared first on ARTnews.

Donna De Salvo, Former Whitney Museum Deputy Director, Heads to Dia Art Foundation

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 12:06

Donna De Salvo.


When Donna De Salvo stepped down as deputy director of the Whitney Museum, the news shocked the New York art world. In June, when that announcement was made, De Salvo didn’t name any future plans, though now her next steps are clear—she’s headed to another major New York institution.

The New York Times reports that De Salvo will now be the Dia Art Foundation’s senior adjunct curator of special projects. She begins in her role in January at the foundation, which oversees exhibition spaces in Manhattan as well as Dia:Beacon, a museum in Upstate New York, and various Minimalist and Land artworks across the nation. She is being brought on as Dia prepares to open its newly renovated spaces in Chelsea in September 2020. And it marks a return of sorts, as De Salvo worked decades ago as a curator for Dia, from 1981 to 1986.

“For me, it’s a continuation of the work I’ve been committed to my whole career,” De Salvo told the Times.

Before June, De Salvo had been at the Whitney for 15 years. Among her projects there was a behemoth Andy Warhol retrospective that opened in 2018, as well as exhibitions about Hélio Oiticica, Lawrence Weiner, and many more. Prior to working at the Whitney, she had been a senior curator at Tate Modern in London, and had also organized, with Linda Norden, Ed Ruscha’s U.S. Pavilion for the 2005 Venice Biennale.

De Salvo’s hire comes as Dia expands with its retooled Chelsea space plus plans to reopen a bookstore that used to be there and the reclamation of a different space in SoHo that has been rented to commercial enterprises over the years. Meanwhile, Dia has been bulking up its curatorial team—the foundation promoted Kelly Kivland and Alexis Lowry earlier this year.

See Masterpieces from Jayne Wrightsman’s Historic Bequest to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 10:58

The bequest includes more than 375 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, decorative art objects, and rare books. Read More

The post See Masterpieces from Jayne Wrightsman’s Historic Bequest to the Metropolitan Museum of Art appeared first on ARTnews.

Shhhhh! Engineering Tricks Provide Secret Spaces for Peace and Quiet at the New MoMA

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 10:00

The acoustic engineering firm Cerami & Associates has designed innovative ways to dial down the sometimes-crowded institution. Read More

The post Shhhhh! Engineering Tricks Provide Secret Spaces for Peace and Quiet at the New MoMA appeared first on ARTnews.