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The Whitney Biennial opens, Chinese artists face violent eviction, an Austrian gallery has a sexy night job, and Kirsten Dunst goes anime — these were among the week’s 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.
ARGUMENT AND ACCOLADE: WHITNEY, AQUA, AND AN EMBASSY
Critics weigh in on the Whitney Biennial, historically a show that everyone loves—to hate. 2010’s offerings are panned in the Boston Globe (“a debacle overburdened with art about art and arcane conceptualism”), lauded on Artnet.com (“This is not only the greatest of Whitney Biennials, it is the greatest show ever produced by the Whitney”), and approached with tentative optimism by the New York Times and New York Magazine. Meanwhile, Brian Gahona’s anti-catalogue is making rounds on the internet. The School of Visual Arts student, also known as John Xero, released a pdf of exhibit images even before the press preview. Each image includes snarky commentary—“Yeah, I have Photoshop too.” KieranTimberlake won the design bid for a new U.S. Embassy in London. British jury members complained that the $1 billion cubic design was “not world class and was unfit to represent the U.S. in Britain.” Chicago’s 81-story Aqua Building, the fifth tallest in the world, is more unequivocally appreciated. It recently picked up the Emporis Award for Best Skyscraper of 2009, complimenting its 2008 American Architecture Award and a PETA Proggy—short for progressive—for alleged bird-friendliness. The White House announced a dozen recipients of the government's highest arts honor, the National Medal of Arts. Maya Lin, best known for designing the Vietnam War Memorial while an undergrad at Yale, and multimedia artist Frank Stella were among the recognized.
A painting purchased for around $2,000 in 1975 by the deceased museum founder Dirk Hannema has been revealed as a genuine Vincent van Gogh. Hannema always argued the painting’s authenticity, but art scholars snickered at the insistence of a man who thought he owned seven Vermeers. Maybe those will be tested next? But even experts can make mistakes, as the folks at Christie's admitted this week. Seventeen years ago a family asked Christie's to appraise an antique painting. Christie's labeled it “from the school of Titian” but not an actual Titian, so the family sold the piece for $12,000. A few years later, an Italian art collector claimed that “Salome with the Head of St. John the Baptist” was a lost Titian masterpiece previously owned by Charles I. It landed on the Sotheby’s auction block with a $4 million price tag—and, had they not reached a last minute settlement, Christie's would have landed in court.
COLLECTORS AND THE COLLECTED
ARTnews compiled the world’s top 200 collectors, while Artinfo.com released a speculative list of the world’s seven wealthiest artists. On the collectors list Americans are most heavily represented, followed by Spaniards, Swiss, French, and Germans. Recognizable surnames include Schwab, Rockefeller, and Pulitzer, while Damien Hirst found his way onto both lists. Other well-compensated artists include Brice Marden, Jeff Koons, Julian Schnabel, Jasper Johns, Anish Kapoor, and Takashi Murakami. Murakami is doing some collecting of his own—celebrities! After recent collaborations with music stars Kanye West and Pharrell Williams, he produced a video featuring Kirsten Dunst as an anime princess. Originally part of the Tate’s "Pop Life" exhibit, the video was released on YouTube this week. And if you’re planning to round off the old comic collection, it’ll cost you. The auction house ComicConnect sold a $1 million copy of Action Comics #1, which introduced the Man of Steel in 1938, tripling the record for the world’s most expensive comic.
DEBUT AND CONTROVERSY
South African artist William Kentridge had his operatic debut this weekend. He co-directed the Metropolitan’s “The Nose,” based on a Nikolai Gogol story. And next week “Skin Fruit,” Jeff Koon’s first curatorial attempt will open at New York’s New Museum. Vienna’s right-leaning Freedom Party is aghast at the Secession Museum’s current show. By day, visitors peruse Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze, sidestepping the mattresses and whirlpools that are called into service each night, when Secession becomes Element6 sex club. A project designed by Swiss artist Christoph Buechel, the museum is attempting to recreate the uproar that surrounded Klimt’s 1902 unveiling of the Frieze. In a more dramatic controversy, Chinese officials have violently disbanded artists protesting forced eviction due to rezoning. A few artists have even committed suicide in protest.