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Picasso breaks Giacometti’s record, the Met is promised a $10 million fountain, and architecture for the people were among this 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 email@example.com.
AT THE MARKET: GIACOMETTI, PICASSO, AND SPOTLIGHT ON ASIA
There seems to be plenty of cash in 2010’s art market so far. Barely three months after Giacometti’s Walking Man I set the bar for the highest price paid for any artwork at auction ($104.5 million), Picasso reclaims the honor. Prior to Walking Man I, Picasso’s Boy With a Pipe held the record at $104.2 million. Recently, Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust sold at Christie’s for $106.5 million. The painting was part of the estate of Los Angeles art patron Frances Lasker Brody, who passed away last fall and willed proceeds from the sale of her collection to the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino. The Huntington could be the biggest beneficiary in the entire record-breaking event. The sale fulfills the Wall Street Journal’s prediction that this spring’s auction season would be marked by exceptionally steep prices. Also noticeable at this season’s art auctions is the strong presence of Asian collectors. Four of the most hyped works from Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art sale last week are said to have been bought by Asian collectors bidding over the telephone. And as the World Expo opens to the expectation of 100 million visitors, Shanghai may be the temporary center of the art world. Costs of the Expo are estimated at $45 billion, and museums are scurrying to open on time to play host.
RECALIBRATING: AUTHENTICITY, SCAMS, AND CONCESSIONS
Did Christie’s sell a $150 million Leonardo da Vinci drawing for $21,850 a decade ago? A few scholars think so, and now the original owner of what may be La Bella Principessa is suing Christie’s for damages. Another embarrassing faux pas, a tattered painting hidden away by an Italian aristocratic family as “inferior” to the rest of their collection has been fingerprint-authenticated as a self-portrait of da Vinci, valued at about $287 million. Controversy over the archive of Medici court-artist Vasari continues—barring further investigation, the Italian government has seized the archive, sold last autumn to a potential Russian sham company. Meanwhile, Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has backed away from plans to funnel already allocated funds to pet projects, and Shepard Fairey’s Lower East Side mural, part of Deitch Project’s final show, came under attack again. This time the perpetrators are not graffitists—it’s New York City’s Department of Buildings, claiming the work is an advertisement and illegal. Jean Nouvel ran up against the City Council regarding a commercial skyscraper he designed for a midtown Manhattan site. Planned to be 1,250 feet—the same height as the Empire State Building—the Council says Nouvel must downscale to 1,050 feet, which is roughly the height of the Chrysler Building.
In the era of “starchitects,” it seems architecture has rediscovered its activist streak. New York’s Richard Meier is best known for designing art museums and second homes in the Hamptons, but 40 years ago he got his start in subsidized housing. Now he’s going back to his roots, designing low-income housing in Newark, New Jersey. Architects in the U.K. are making bold claims—that the right building design can encourage academic achievement and even help heal cancer patients. And critics in Australia wonder if urban areas are becoming too cluttered with public art.
GIFTS AND AWARDS
Columbia University Library has received at least seven hundred drawings, etchings, and posters by Edward Gorey while the Metropolitan Museum of Art received the promise of funds to renovate the fountains at their entrance. Billionaire David Koch gifted at least $10 million for the project. The Getty Foundation vowed to help restore the 600-year-old Ghent Altarpiece in Belgium’s St. Bavo Cathedral. The Altarpiece has a sordid history—it was hidden from Calvinists, seized by Nazis, transported as war booty, and dismantled by thieves. The American Institute of Architects named its 2010 Housing Award winners, and the shortlist for Britain’s prestigious Turner Prize (Damien Hirst is a former recipient) has bred critical contempt.
ARTISTS EXPLORING NEW TERRITORIES
Today’s artists are using mediums such as blood, mud, and cockroach legs in their artwork! And internationally renowned sculptor Anish Kapoor, known for his hulking, shiny, reflective surfaces, has designed a limited edition ring for Italian jeweler Bulgari. The first Kapoor ring is inexplicably named B.zero1. Fashion design icons such as Tommy Hilfiger and Isaac Mizrahi (along with a team of artists) are creating near life-sized elephants to parade around London, in an attempt to raise awareness about the plight of the endangered Asian behemoths. And a growing number of artists are now participating in their very own investment fund. By contributing their own work and allowing the Artists Pension Trust to exhibit them, the artists are insuring their future income. Now in its seventh year, the APT counts over 1,000 artists as its members and has holdings of over 4,500 works of art valued at over $45 million.