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An Obama statue is removed from an Indonesian park, Mr. Brainwash takes on New York, Tarantino "inglouriously" rallies for Haiti, and Shaq Attack curates an art show--these were among the week's news headlines. Read on for ArtWeLove’s news digest, now also available in email form—bringing a comprehensive roundup of the week’s art developments to your digital doorstep. If you aren't signed up, click here. As always, we welcome your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIG NAMES, BIGGER ART
Is Thierry Guetta, otherwise known as Mr. Brainwash, a talentless hack or a brilliant satirist? The French artist made headlines last month with the Sundance premier of Banksy’s mockumentary, but he’s been criticized for his blatant appropriation of other artists and even suspected of being Banksy himself. Last Sunday, Mr. Brainwash threw himself a secret but well-attended opening in New York’s meatpacking district. “Icons” included Warholesque silkscreens of Kate Moss and Yves Saint Laurent, and reputedly sold works at upwards of $100,000. Fanboys who spent $47,000 removing a Banksy-stenciled wall from the streets of London have placed it for sale at $790,000, despite Banksy’s refusal to authenticate authorship—which probably serves as the best authentication of all. This weekend marks seven-foot-tall basketball star Shaquille O’Neal’s curatorial debut at Chelsea’s Flag Art Foundation. With the help of huge names like Anselm Kiefer, Jeff Koons, and Richard Pettibone, Shaq asserts that “Size Does Matter.” In another towering exhibit, Kenneth Anger and other artists hijack Los Angeles billboards, promoting art over advertising.
INGLOURIOUS HELP FOR HAITI
One month post-quake, only 2,000 of 12,000 paintings have been rescued from the rubble of Musee Galerie d'Art Nader, which housed the world’s largest collection of Haitian art. But sometimes help comes from an “inglourious basterd” with Hollywood creds. On Thursday, Quentin Tarantino held his own benefit for the Red Cross relief effort at Los Angeles’s Upper Playground. A bevy of street-turned-gallery artists, among them David Choe, Jeremy Fish, and Morning Breath, interpreted Tarantino’s latest Oscar-contending film on paper.
OPENINGS, CLOSINGS, AND ANNIVERSARIES
The 75th Whitney Biennial, one of the most anticipated events of the year, opens February 25. Historically famed for inflaming critics and propelling influential artists such as Kenneth Anger, Karen Finley, Kara Walker, and Kiki Smith, this year’s Biennial offers recognizables like Charles Ray and George Condo alongside emerging talent. An avenue over, the Guggenheim opens an exhibit that tethers its 50th anniversary celebration to the concept of designing for downsize. In “Contemplating the Void,” architects propose spectacular uses for the 90-foot-high rotunda in the museum’s Frank Lloyd Wright building. But it’s Fresno’s Metropolitan Museum that truly contemplates the void as it begins auctioning off furnishings to pay a $4 million debt. Auctioning the art has proven more controversial and may warrant investigation by the attorney general. A major Caravaggio exhibit opens in Rome, marking the 400th anniversary of the artist’s death and featuring 24 paintings—over a fourth of the known Caravaggio pieces in existence.
OBAMA, AIRPORTS, AND PROTESTED HIJABS
Art dealers everywhere are cold-sweating a new mandate from the Transportation Security Administration that allows pricy art shipped via passenger airlines to be ransacked for drugs and explosives alongside tees and socks. In Jakarta, Indonesia, public outrage led by a Facebook campaign has forced the relocation of a statue of little boy Obama from a public park to the U.S. president’s former elementary school. And a proposal to mark the entry point of London’s Brick Lane with steel gates in the shape of hijabs is being protested by Muslims, Jews, and prominent neighborhood residents, including the artist Tracey Emin.