A1 News Roundup

Remembering Richard Artschwager, Protean Ironist of Minimal Art

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Remembering Richard Artschwager, Protean Ironist of Minimal Art
Richard Artschwager (photo by Peter Sumner Walton Bellamy)

— THE BIG STORY —

Richard Artschwager, the intellectual free agent who filled his artistic career with a body of work that bounced pinball-like between Minimalism, conceptual art, architectural interventions, and furniture design (often mocking these approaches in the process), has passed away at the age of 89. His recent survey at the Whitney, titled with typical exuberant/un-self-serious verve "Richard Artschwager!", recently brought his sculptural jabs—from his trompe l'oeil furniture pieces to his famous BLPs, oblong felt works that pop up in unexpected corners like gremlins in the art system—to the attention of new audiences, and it will tour to museums in Los Angeles and Munich. What follow are a few appreciations of Artschwager's sui generis contribution:

"Only an artist as preternaturally acute and copacetic, as oddly visionary and just odd as Richard Artschwager would be able to lay out the whole course of human evolution and have it make some kind of sense while also seeming like a dazzling insight…. Artschwager's art always involves looking closely at surfaces, questions what an object is, wants to make you forget the name of the thing you're looking at so that it might mushroom in your mind into something that triggers unexpected infinities." — Jerry Saltz, New York magazine

"At a time when most artists worked in clearly determined styles, Mr. Artschwager slyly confounded the usual categories…. He once said: 'Sculpture is for the touch, painting is for the eye. I wanted to make a sculpture for the eye and a painting for the touch.'" — Ken Johnson, New York Times 

"Given Mr. Artschwager’s thrillingly diverse output, it’s difficult to pin his fame to any particular series. He made haunting grayscale paintings, often of domestic scenes and architecture, on textured Celotex and sculptures with Formica—'the great ugly material,' he said of the stuff—and wood that often resembled functional objects like pianos, chairs and tables, betraying the artist’s work as a furniture maker in the 1950s." — Andrew Russeth, Gallerist NY 

"He was an exceedingly kind and bright gentleman who always hewed a personal and specific vision of Art, one that neither dallied with fads nor succumbed to hype of any sort." — Todd Levin, Levin Art Group

— QUOTE OF THE WEEK —

"The bottom line is that if artists/art workers can’t make at least a modest living there will be little challenging art. I hate to think that the art world is doomed to remain a playground where anything goes until we exit into the 'real' world and have to pay our bills. But I suspect that real revolution (hardly in the forecast), not just “paradigm shift,” is the only thing that would shake everything up enough to create true alternatives. In the meantime, Occupy Everything and see what happens." — Art critic and historian Lucy Lippard on the need for new models and revenue streams in the art world that can democratize the market 

— MUST READ —

It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way — Under the inspired direction of splendid art critic Martha Schwender, this month's edition of the Brooklyn Rail's Artseen section engages a range of art luminaries—from Lippard, quoted above, to David Robbins, Chris Kraus, and former MOCA curator Paul Schimmel—to propose various ameliorating "alternatives" to the way that the art world operates today. (Brooklyn Rail)

Is George Bush a Brilliant Painter? — The whole art-critical establishment is in a tizzy over what are purported to be George W. Bush's own post-presidential paintings—which we know he makes since he recently posted a beautiful elegiac portrait of his late dog, Barney—and if they are real it's frankly shocking because the two bathroom self-portraits actually show remarkable sophistication in terms of perspective, conception, composition, and painterliness that would suggest he is conversant with trends in contemporary painting (and the shower mirror even could be read as a reference to the mirror in Van Eyck's Arnolfini Wedding Portrait). (NYM

Nutty Vandal Defaces Delacroix's Lady Liberty — A 28-year-old woman was apprehended after jotting a foot-long piece of graffiti related to a 9/11 conspiracy theory on the bottom of the 1830 historical masterpiece Liberty Leading the People at the Louvre's outpost in Lens, and museum officials say the damage can be easily cleaned away. (BBC

Courbet's Outrageous Nude Regains Her Head? — For years the only thing that notoriously provocative 1866 Origin of the World left to the imagination was the woman's head, but now the long-lost panel showing her visage has reported been discovered as a $1,900 find in an antiques store, and may be valued at as much as $55 million if authentic (though there is some ardent doubt on the matter). (Daily Mail)

Meet New Photographic Prodigy Olivia Bee — In the second most exciting art discovery of the week (after GWB), New York mag spotlights an 18-year-old photographer who creates remarkably good pictures and has landed high-profile commissions from companies from Nike to Hermès. (NYM

Hauser & Wirth's Megagallery Gives Roberta Smith the Willies — Upon touring the new 24,700-square-foot Chelsea space that was formerly occupied by the Roxy, the New York Times critic writes that "art and money are always connected, as they almost inevitably have to be. But lately the money side of the equation, underscored by scale, has become overbearing." (NYT

File Under Cute — In their latest "Sweet Spot" buddy video, media critic extraordinaire David Carr and film critic A.O. Scott tour MoMA's "Inventing Abstraction," ruminating on the show with curator Leah Dickerman and art reporter Randy Kennedy. (NYT

Jacob Kassay Talks Art, Money, and Fame — On the occasion of his show of new work at The Kitchen, the 28-year-old art star is asked whether the fact that his work is selling for "hundreds of thousands of dollars" impacts his art-making ("of course it has to," he replies). (Bloomberg

C Is for Criminal — In one of the more bizarre recent art thefts, a man dressed as the "Sesame Street" character Cookie Monster reportedly absconded with a 44-pound golden cookie statue in Hannover, Germany. (HuffPo

Freud Donates Corot and Degas — In a posthumous expression of his gratitude to Britain for welcoming his family as they fled Nazi Germany, the late great painter Lucian Freud has donated three bronze statues by Degas and a painting by Corot to the National Gallery, which incidentally also absolves his heirs of over £2 million in inheritance tax obligations. (Guardian)

Michelangelo Goes Behind Bars — While its permanent home at the Castello Sforzesco undergoes modern renovations, Michelangelo’s great unfinished sculpture La Pietà Rondanini will be temporarily moved to the Carcere di San Vittore, a jail in Milan where it will be on view for both prisoners and public alike. (TAN)

— ART MARKET —

Sotheby's London Imp/Mod Sale Fetches $190.5 Million — The auction kicked off the 2013 market festivities in earnest with a slew of 21 so-hot-right-now Surrealist works and 40 other tony lots that sold like hotcakes (just nine were bought in), led by the massive $45 million success of the third-party-guaranteed 1932 Picasso Femme assise pres d'une fenetre depicting his mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter. (Artinfo)

Christie's Brings In a Whopping $213 million — The sale was a record for a London mid-season Imp/Mod sale, with the top lot being a 1919 Modigliani of his mistress Jeanne Hébuterne (someone should do a study on why "mistress" portraits do so well) that went for $42.3 million. (Artinfo

China's Art Market Comes Crashing Down — After growing at an exponential rate over the last four years, the Chinese art market appears to have cooled significantly as both of the country’s leading auction houses report that their total sales have more than halved during 2012. (TAN)

But Don't Count Asian Buyers Out — In fact, the Picasso at Sotheby's went to a telephone bidder from Asia, and buyers from the region also bought work by Schiele, Magritte, Sisley, and Morandi, suggesting that their influence is not receding from the market for Western art. (WSJ)  

The Bigger They Are, the Bigger They Get — Lee Rosenbaum interviews David Zwirner and discusses how other Chelsea galleries have positioned themselves to capitalize on the “headline risk” now afflicting Gagosian Gallery, while Zwriner reveals in the video that he plans to open his giant new exhibitions space with a definitive exhibition of early work by Richard Serra, yet another (cough) Gagosian artist. (CultureGrrl

Adam Lindemann Weighs In — The collector discuses a number of topics in his latest column, from an imbalance in the market that makes flipping irresistible (though "soon we will see a shift in values") to why he finds the recent New York Times story on auction shenanigans naïve and his take on the flux at Gagosian. (Gallerist NY)

Sotheby’s Quits Canada — One-upping the exodus of rival auction house Christie’s from Chelsea, Sotheby’s will cease holding live auctions throughout all of Canada after a 45-year history of holding events in the country (with the intent being to refocus resources to the increasingly important private-sales division, which was also the impetus behind Christie's decision to dump Haunch). (Globe and Mail

Ceci N’Est Pas un Hors d'Oeuvre — To celebrate its upcoming sale of Surrealist art, Sotheby’s partnered with the Hill Food Company to create a traditional English tea service inspired by the art movement, replete with visual puns like melting-clock cupcakes and paintbrush-shaped breads. (TAN)

How Banksy Built His Market — A new biography of the celebrity street artist, Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall by Will Ellsworth-Jones, reveals how the mystery man worked with dealer Steve Lazarides to make his perishable stenciled pieces salable. (Artinfo)

— IN & OUT —

It's official: Japanese art legend Yayoi Kusama has jumped from Gagosian to David Zwirner, as she relates on her rather unique website (try staring into her eyes Marina Abramovic-style and see what feelings of existential dread crop up). (Yayoi Kusama

Kate Moss commissioned street artist Bambi—whom you may not have heard of, but has been tapped for commissions by Brad Pitt, Rihanna, and other celebs—to paint a portrait of her in the style of Warhol's Marilyn Monroes. (Sky News)

Jacob Kassay, who in the Bloomberg interview talked about not having gallery representation, now does—he's joined the stable at Lisa Spellman's 303, which will be moving to a new two-story space on 24th Street until planned construction at its current 21st Street space (which is being turned into a 19-story residential tower) is completed. (Gallerist NY and Bloomberg

Street-art duo FAILE has built a stunning tower of dance-inspired paintings for the New York Ballet's David H. Koch Theater that is being shown in conjunction with a dance series called "Les Ballets de Faile." (Artinfo)

Juergen Teller's traveling survey "Woo!" has opened at the London ICA. (Artinfo

Museums Say “Thanks, But No Thanks” — The recent hiccups surrounding the Brooklyn Museum’s attempts to deaccession donated works has sparked a debate about how best to balance donor intent with the interests of the arts institution. (NYT

LACMA director Michael Govan has been tapped to co-curate an exhibition at PPR founder François Pinault's luxe Punta della Dogana museum in Venice that will be on view during this summer's Biennale. (TAN

 

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