5 Art World Updates
Just the things you should know this week
1. Basel Sells
Although the world’s biggest contemporary art fair only officially opened yesterday, the fair has already racked up big sales in the two days of its VIP preview. New York dealer David Nolan told artnet news that he hand’t “had such a good Day One at Basel in 10 years.”
Dan Flavin, European Couples (1966–71), Unlimited in Basel (Art Basel)
Our very own Head of Curation, Astrid de Maismont, was at Basel talking to collectors about the works of Danh Vo, Harold Ancart and Ugo Rondinone. From the fair’s $3.4 billion worth of art for sale this year, millions of dollars worth of artwork has already been purchased (included a $5.5 million Christopher Wool that was bought from Van de Weghe Gallery within the first 30 minutes of the preview). However, the fair’s priciest piece — a $50 million Mark Rothko work— has yet to be bought from Helly Nahmad, who is back on the fairgrounds after serving jail time for his role in an illegal gambling ring.
2. Boesky Adds Bjorn Braun
There were several changes in gallery representation this week. Notably, Marianne Boesky Gallery added Bjorn Braun to their roster of artists, signaling the establishment of career maturity.
John Altoon, Ocean Park Series #8, 1962 (LACMA)
Braun’s picture, collage and installation works incorporate naturally-sourced materials and faunal inspiration — going so far as to allow the very animals to participate in the creation of the work — as an examination of the artificiality of artistic production. Additionally, New York’s Galerie Lelong now represents self-described “rural modernist” McArthur Binion, whose abstract, highly textured compositions challenge the accepted conventions of abstract art. Los Angeles’ Kohn Gallery also became the representative of the estate of John Altoon, gaining access to the abstract expressionist oeuvre of the late painter who was a predominate figure in the Los Angeles art scene.
3. Broad Museum Spends Big on New Pieces
In preparation for the September 20 opening of their Los Angeles museum,Eli and Edythe Broad have announced new additions to their over 2,000 piece collection. The couple has added a 2014 Takashi Murakami painting, “In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow” (joining 10 Murakami works already in the museum’s collection) and a 2014 charcoal drawing by Robert Longo, “Untitled (Ferguson Police, August 13, 2014).”
Untitled (Ferguson Police, August 13, 2014), Robert Longo, 2014 (The Guardian)
This represents a recent trend in the Broads’ art acquisitions, which have focused on very new works by younger artists. However, the couple still seeks out older pieces with less recent additions of works by Ed Ruscha, Jeff Koons, Cy Twombly, Christopher Wool and Damien Hirst.
4. Rainbow Flag Added to MoMA Design Collection
In the midst of both LGBT Pride Month and the Supreme Court’s deliberation on gay marriage’s federal status, MoMA has added the Rainbow Flag — the symbolic icon of gay pride — to its permanent design collection.
The Rainbow Flag (Creative Commons)
The flag, designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978, joins other design innovations such as the Creative Commons logo, the “@” symbol and the Google Maps pin. In a statement on the addition, the museum said “We’re proud the MoMA collection now includes this powerful design milestone, and there’s no more perfect time to share this news than during global celebrations for Gay Pride Month.” The flag’s here, it’s queer and now part of design history.
5. Ai Weiwei‘s Homecoming
Although Ai Weiwei has gained incredible acclaim and attention internationally (Basel-goers can check out some of Ai Weiwei’s work on the fairgrounds), this week marked the opening of Weiwei’s first ever solo exhibition in his home country of China.
Weiwei’s temple recreation (Design Boom)
Prohibited from leaving China since 2011, the Chinese government’s response to his his politically charged artwork, Weiwei has taken a decidedly more subtle approach to his new, eponymous exhibit in Beijing. Rather than referencing China’s political present, his works revisit the country’s historical past, with, among other works, a recreation of a Ming dynasty ancestral temple.