— THE BIG STORY —
The Nahmad family is reputed to be responsible for 5 percent of the sales at New York's evening art auctions, and to chase a third of all lots that hit the block. Steven A. Cohen is believed to account for about 5 percent of sales at Art Basel Miami Beach (when his legal-affairs schedule allows him to attend). These are figures whose influence on the art market and the art world as a whole is staggering, but their impact is dwarfed by that of one man: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Which is why, with his reign coming to an end, arts groups across New York are wringing their hands. Are they right to be nervous? You bet.
In his epic 12-year mayoralty, Bloomberg has been an extraordinarily pro-art force at exactly the time that the art market and the cross-cultural visibility of the contemporary art world—with New York as its molten center—has reached unprecedented heights. As founder of Bloomberg LLC, he's a numbers guy, and the numbers can't be beat: over three terms his office has spent $2.8 billion on improving arts infrastructure across the city; his nonstop boosterism for the arts has paid off, with the cultural sector generating $21 million per year (Christo and Jeanne-Claude's The Gates, which he brought to Central Park with the Public Art Fund and art advisor Linda Silverman in 2005, yielded $254 million alone); and he's given over $200 million of his own money to the arts and other causes.
There are also obvious ways that Bloomberg has given succor to the arts. Bloomberg Muse, the arts branch of his Bloomberg News, provides some of the best art-market coverage anywhere. In an art world where 99 percent of success is just showing up, the mayor is everywhere, inaugurating events from museum groundbreakings to art-fair vernissages. And he doesn't just come to art fairs to cut ribbons—he's a shopper, touring the Armory Show and Frieze New York (as well as other international fairs) with aids who photograph favorite works for him. And his collection, though kept quiet, is known to contain work by artists from Warhol to the Old Masters—and stretches to his office in city hall, decorated by art advisor Ariel Meyerowitz.
Among his potential successors to office, not one offers even a shred of hope of such patronage. (Particularly Joseph Lhota, the pro-art-censorship candidate.) So… four more years?
— QUOTE OF THE WEEK —
"I feel insecure in this fast-changing world, and I try to conquer this feeling through my art. It comes from my experience of growing up in China. It was traumatic. I’ve experienced enough of the external world. It’s already changed enough for four lifetimes. As a result, I always have this property of drama and trauma in my work." — Beijing-born artist Xiang Jing, one half of the popular X+Q Art collective, on how her evocative sculptural portraits reflect her upbringing in China
— MUST READ —
Artists Are Doing It — This year's Manchester International Festival, opening July 4th, will include a celebration of Serpentine co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist's book Do It, featuring famous living artists creating new work based on the instructions of famous dead artists, with such friendly pairings as John Baldessari and Sol LeWitt, and Tracey Emin and Louise Bourgeois. (Economist)
Cattelan Does Kenzo — The ultra-hip fashion line, which is known for tapping savvily chosen contemporary artists like Roe Ethridge to create its ads, has now debuted a surrealistic new campaign designed by Maurizio Cattelan's Toilet Paper magazine. (NYT)
Provocative Patriotic Art — To mark Independence Day, Reid Singer compiles a few of America's most polarizing works of art celebrating our national heritage. (Flavorwire)
Your Own Personal Venus of Willendorf — For $20,000, you can have your own bottle of Dom Pérignon limited edition rosé with packaging done by Jeff Koons, and your own miniature version of Koons' fuchsia Venus of Willendorf. (Gallerist)
Paola Antonelli Talks About Why MoMA Bought Pong — The MoMA curator says she "never felt hurt at all by the criticism" in an interview following the MoMA's acquisition of Pong and five other video games. (Hyperallergic)
Marina Abramovic Made You Cry, Wants to Know Why — The famed performance artist is asking fans to e-mail her their personal experiences of The Artist is Present, possibly in preparation for an upcoming text piece. (Artinfo)
The Art of Celebrity Spending — Filmmaker and artist Miranda July is working on a new conceptual project asking her famous friends to forward emails in which they discuss money matters, and a number—including Kirsten Dunst, who talks about selling a car to a friend for $7,000, and Lena Dunham, who mulls buying a $24,000 Liljevalch Sofa—have complied. (Daily Mail)
— ART MARKET —
Online Art Market Expands — With Amazon stealthily entering the field, Randy Kennedy looks at the burgeoning business—with a special focus on Artspace's success, as related by CEO Catherine Levene. (NYT)
Christie's to Auction Kate Moss Art — Because you love Kate Moss so much, art collector Gert Elfering is curating a sale for Christie's composed exclusively of paintings, sculptures, collages, and other media that depict the model. (Vogue)
Tree Reasons to Go to Chelsea — Indispensable art journalist Linda Yablonsky discusses the new show she curated at the Flag Art Foundation, gathering together tree-depicting artworks by nearly 50 artists, including Tim Rollins & KOS, Ugo Rondinone, and Adam McEwen. (Gallerist)
Alec Baldwin May Open a Tribeca Gallery — The "30 Rock" actor, who just curated a show of rock-n-roll photography at Chelsea's Gallery 151, let slip the possibility at its opening. (WSJ)
NYC Dealers Get Some Downtime — Monday-through-Friday summer hours have hit the city, affording New York's travel-weary dealers a chance to relax on the weekends and hit the beach. (Gallerist)
— IN & OUT —
Jessica Morgan, Tate Modern's busy international art curator, has been tapped to organize the 2014 edition of the Gwangju Biennale, which leapt to international prominence in 2010 under current Venice Biennale super-curator Massimiliano Gioni. (Press Release)
Benin-born artist Meschac Gaba has signed up with Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. (Gallerist)