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Blacklists, inappropriate patrons, and “degenerate art” 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.
LAYING DOWN THE LAW: BLACKLISTS IN NEW YORK, FINANCIAL TRAINING IN L.A., AND ANIMAL CRUELTY IN COURT
In an inside glimpse of the high-stakes art market, a noted collector has filed a $8 million suit against dealer David Zwirner for allegedly disclosing a sale. The collector, Craig Robins, claims that after selling his Marlene Dumas painting, he was blacklisted from purchasing any more works by the artist including three paintings he wished to buy from Dumas’s recent show at the gallery. It’s all about money—in California as well, where the Attorney General’s office has ordered the board of MOCA to undergo financial training, following a series of dubious financial choices that almost led to the museum’s bankruptcy in 2008. Up the coast in Fresno, a court ruled that the bankrupt Fresno Metropolitan Museum must return six Ansel Adams prints to the late-photographer’s son, rather than liquidate them. The younger Adams donated the prints to the museum in 1983 but complained that he had never granted permission for them to be sold. In a move that’s sure to irk animal rights activists and has apparently pleased lobbyists for certain artists and museums, the Supreme Court overturned a law banning video depictions of cruelty to animals, noting that the law was too broad and therefore a threat to free speech. And museum-visitors in New York put a new spin on ‘don’t touch the art.’ Nude performers at the MoMA’s Marina Abramovic retrospective have been complaining to guards about groping patrons.
FUNCTIONAL DECISIONS: MUSEUMS IN SCHOOLS AND SOFA IN NEW YORK
The University of California, Berkeley scrapped expensive plans for a new museum last fall but is now approaching the issue more practically. Ten architecture firms are competing to come up with the best plan for converting an old printing plant into the new museum. But for many schools in this era of budget cuts, even going to museums has become unaffordable. So some museum educators have started a new trend—taking the museums to the schools through computer and video based learning programs. And New York’s Sculptural Objects and Functional Art Fair (SOFA) reported strong sales and record-breaking crowds, while the furniture at the Milan Furniture Fair lost the spotlight to Iceland’s volcano which left collectors more concerned about making it home rather than making final purchases.
REPRIMANDS: HIRSHORN, POLAROID, AND DAVID CHOE
D.C.’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is being reprimanded by the public via Twitter for planning to fund their new bookstore with money from their acquisitions budget. Artist Doug Aitken was commissioned for the store’s re-design which is expected to cost at least half-a-million dollars. Meanwhile, the fight to save Polaroid’s extensive collection of photographs from the auction block heats up as Chuck Close agrees to be one of the 56 artist-plaintiffs on the case. Some of the photographers claim that they donated their work under the condition that it would never be used for commercial purposes. In the U.K., five men accused of extorting $6.9 million for the safe return of a stolen Leonardo da Vinci were cleared of charges and are now insisting on their finder’s reward. In a new architectural twist, LAVA or the Laboratory for Visionary Architecture, is proposing to encase unfavorable buildings with high-tech coverings that have some coining the phrase ‘condom architecture.’ The Sydney-based designers say that the Barbican in London should receive such a treatment. And David Choe, whose collectors include Damien Hirst, returns to L.A. after six years with a solo show titled “Nothing to Declare" at a Beverly Hills pop-up gallery. The show is sponsored by Steve Lazarides and marks Choe’s growing status as an internationally recognized artist after previous hardships and arrests for petty crimes.
MUSEUMS MARK NEW TERRITORY: RECORD ATTENDANCE, A BAMBOO ROOF, AND ANTONY GORMLEY IN ALASKA
With 250,000 visitors, the “Masterpieces of Paris” exhibition, featuring artists such as Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Cezanne, set a new attendance record for the National Gallery of Australia. In New York, a climbable bamboo sculpture by artists Doug and Mike Starn is being constructed on the Met’s rooftop. At 25-feet now, construction will continue as visitors watch it reach 50-feet high by the exhibition’s end in October. Antony Gormley, who just made headlines in New York for his life-sized sculpture figures poised atop buildings (police responded to ten calls from concerned citizens), now tackles Alaska. This week, his 24-foot tall sculpture Habitat debuts at the Anchorage Museum. The commissioned work weighing 37,000 pounds is comprised of fifty-seven stainless steel boxes stacked to depict a seated person. The size of a house, the public sculpture is intended to be a meditation on the condition of urban man in relation to nature and marks Gormley’s first permanent U.S. public art installation.
PRESERVATION: PICASSO, DEGENERATE ART, AND HOPPER’S VIEW
A repaired Picasso, ripped a few months back by a teetering woman, returns to its rightful place in the Met—albeit, encased behind plexiglass. Berlin’s Free University has launched an Internet database of 21,000 works of “degenerate art” seized by the Nazis. And in Cape Cod, Edward Hopper’s inspirational view from his former studio window has been temporarily spared. The cottage’s current owner won a construction halt, pending further zoning deliberation, on the multi-million dollar mansion going up next door.
SCHOLARSHIP, HUMILITY, AND SOCCER
Recently a meeting of art scholars convened at the Met to discuss what they will do now that the Getty Research Institute has slashed funding for the Bibliography of the History of Art, a scholarly database second in popularity only to JSTOR. The Guardian reports that, despite increased public paranoia, street photography is enjoying a revival. And, in a self-deprecating move, London’s National Gallery opens an exhibit of forgeries accidentally purchased over the years. While South Africa is busy preparing for the World Cup, artists such as William Kentridge, Marlene Dumas, and Julie Mehretu are busy preparing limited-edition commemorative posters for the event.