Things we’ve been reading (besides the horrific news about our shrinking healthcare, the tax overhaul, sexual assault allegations, and the ongoing shit show known as the Trump administration): Gentrification protests at Laura Owens’s Whitney exhibition, Magic Praxis podcast with Susan Bee, art classes at Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba, the most expensive painting in the world, the theme and selected artists for the 2018 Triennial at the New Museum.
Laura Owens has a huge studio/gallery complex in the Boyle Heights neighborhood in Los Angeles, and when her solo at the Whitney opened last week, anti-gentrification protestors were at the museum entrance and inside the gallery chanting and carrying signs. At Hyperallergic Ben Sutton reports on the situation, and his post includes Owens’s lengthy Facebook response to the protestors. Read more.
Check out the excellent interview with Susan Bee on Magic Praxis, an art interview podcast founded by Brooklyn artists Clarity Haynes and Kate Hawes last year. “Born and raised in New York City by artist parents, Bee is a longtime supporter of feminist art and women artists….Bee is also a co-founder, with fellow artist and writer Mira Schor, of the influential art journal M/E/A/N/I/N/G (1986 – 2016)….Bee discusses the challenging realities of being a woman artist, the heady days of 1970s feminist activism, and her longtime involvement with the Language Poets.”
Paintings produced by prisoners in art classes at the Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba are creating a controversy. “The military has decided that art made by wartime captives is U.S. government property and has stopped releases of security-screened prisoner art to the public. One attorney says the U.S. military intends to burn cellblock art.” Some pieces are on view at John Jay College in NYC through January 26, 2018, and some are saying that the Department of Defense doesn’t like the international press the exhibition is getting, nor the fact that the paintings are for sale. Read more. (via gregorg via Carol Rosenberg)
The art world is trying to wrap its mind around the fact that Leonardo da Vinci’s heavily restored painting, Salvatore Mundi, sold for $450.3 million at the Christie’s auction this week, the highest price ever paid for a painting. At the NYTimes, Robin Pogrebin wonders: “Was the price unique, or a sign of things to come? And would auction houses now mimic Christie’s strategy, one that focused less on expertise and authentication, and more on branding and marketing?” Read more.
According to the Guardian, the painting “had been owned by a consortium of dealers including Alexander Parish, who had picked it up for $10,000 at an estate sale in the US in 2005, and had had it restored and authenticated. It was first unveiled to the public at the National Gallery in London in 2011.” Read more.
At ArtNews, Nate Freeman recounts the bidding: “But it just kept climbing—to $310 million, to $318 million. ‘Are we all done in the salesroom?’ he asked. It went to $320 million. ‘We’re still not done!’ Then $350 million arrived, followed by $352 million, and Pylkkanen took a drink of water, playing it cool, apparently unconcerned….” Read more.
And Bloomberg explains the Russian connection: “The record price a Leonardo da Vinci canvas fetched at an auction Wednesday evening in New York may have a downside for its seller, Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. An unidentified buyer agreed to pay $450.3 million, including fees, for Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi at a Christie’s auction in New York, obliterating the previous record set by a Pablo Picasso work in 2015. And it far outstripped the $127.5 million Rybolovlev paid Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier for the canvas in 2013.” Sounds like money laundering might be involved? Read more.
More on Rybolovlev from Evening Standard: “Rybolovlevwas the man who bought Trump’s seaside Florida mansion, Maison de l’Amitie, for $95million, giving the now US President the accolade of having owned one of the world’s most expensive homes, and giving him a $50 million profit in just four years.” Oh. A Trump connection. Of course. Read more.
The New Museum has announced the artists selected for “Songs for Sabotage,” the 2018 Triennial. None of the names are familiar to us, so we suspect there won’t be much painting involved. According to the press release: “Together, the artists in ‘Songs for Sabotage’ propose a kind of propaganda, engaging with new and traditional media in order to reveal the built systems that construct our reality, images, and truths. The exhibition amounts to a call for action, an active engagement, and an interference in political and social structures, and will bring together works across mediums by approximately thirty artists from nineteen countries, the majority of whom are exhibiting in the United States for the first time.” See complete list of artists here.