A1 News Roundup

Art Basel Hong Kong Taps Asia's Riches With Whirlwind Debut

Art Basel Hong Kong Taps Asia's Riches With Whirlwind Debut
The city of Hong Kong is the latest destination of the international Art Basel juggernaut.

— THE BIG STORY — 

Pity the poor art dealer. First, in March, there's the Armory Show; then, just two months later, you've got Frieze New York, now followed in rapid succession by the new Art Basel Hong Kong fair that opened this week. Add on top of that next week's Venice Biennale opening—a can't-miss opportunity to promote a gallery's program—and then mid-June's Art Basel in Basel (as that fair has hilariously rechristened itself) and you have a gantlet of high-intensity events that would give the hardiest decathlete pause.

So why do it? Aside from the wealth of frequent flyer miles to be racked up, the chance to drill down into China's increasing appetite for Western contemporary art is too enticing for dealers to ignore. As a result, there are now 245 galleries hawking their wares to Hong Kong's confluence of Asian, Middle Eastern, and Western buyers—and business, by all appearances, is booming. In the opening hours of the fair Marian Goodman Gallery reportedly managed to sell off a 16-panel Gerhard Richter painting (apparently the German is in demand by top Chinese collectors), while Paul Kasmin quickly parted ways with a pair of Ivan Navarro sculptures and Lehmann Maupin dispatched a fresh-from-the-studio work by Tracey Emin, among other major transactions. 

Now under the guidance of Art Basel's Marc Spiegler—though still under the directorship of Magnus Renfrew, who ran the Art HK fair the the Swiss juggernaut acquired—the Hong Kong event has a new luxuriousness that has attracted a crowd of international luminaries, from Kate Moss to local Chinese celebrities to designer Stella McCartney to prominent collectors like Uli Sigg and Debra and Dennis Scholl. And the market festivities weren't confined to the fair itself, either: Western galleries that had opened outposts in the city held high-profile openings to catch stray collectors, from the Jake and Dinos Chapman at White Cube to Murakami at Perrotin. — Andrew M. Goldstein

Click here to see our Art Basel Hong Kong collection.

— QUOTE OF THE WEEK —

“Of course I’m nervous. This is center stage and it’s difficult because it comes with so many expectations and so much history.... Right now I wish there was another me.” — Venice Biennale curator Massimiliano Gioni, the youngest to organize the art world's biggest exhibition in a century, on the anticipation for the opening of his show next week 

— MUST READ —

A James Franco Sighting! — While it's rare to see James Franco actually creating visual art, it was just this opportunity that the denizens of Williamsburg had last weekend when the actor, photographer, writer, and performance artist was there in the flesh to paint a mural of himself and his fellow co-stars in his upcoming film, This Is the End. (Gawker)

Towards an Object-Based Art History — Artinfo's Julia Halperin talks with Inge Reist, the director of the Center for the History of Collecting at the Frick Collection in New York, about her project that archives the oral histories of prominent collectors in an effort to track the trends and tastes that were popular at certain moments. (Artinfo)

An Art Fair for the Tech-Minded — The Hamptons Expo Group, host of shows like ArtHamptons and the Houston Art Fair, are responding to the recent revelation of a pocket of tech entrepreneurs—that are intrigued about art collecting, but are too intimidated to start—by opening the Silicon Valley Contemporary 2014 fair, targeted at the "intellectually curious and visually oriented" crowd, which will gather 60 exhibitors featuring 'cutting edge but accessible" work from 1980 to the present. (Artinfo)

Pope Francis Sighting! — Italian actor Barbato De Stefano will present the newly elected head pontiff next month, the 76-year-old pope's first-ever statue, which is located in a potato field near Naples, as a tribute to his family's farming background in Northern Italy. (Artdaily)

Free Museums for Military Families — The National Endowment for the Arts, the Department of Defense, and Blue Star Families, have partnered to offer free admission to the families of active and deployed member of the Armed Services to over 2,000 museums across the country, including MoMA in Manhattan, LACMA, and the MCA Chicago, as well as countless other fine arts, science, and children's museums. (Washington Post)

Ai Weiwei Drops First Hit Single — The controversy-laden Chinese artist has made his musical debut, releasing the first song, "Dumbass," and accompanying music video from his forthcoming album, Divine Comedy, which will launch on June 22nd, the second anniversary of his release from an 81-day detention at the hands of Chinese government, a topic that the song touches on prominently, though it's not quite as "heavy metal" as promised—from Ai: "After I said it would be heavy metal I ran back to check what heavy metal would be like. Then I thought, oh my god, it's quite different." (Guardian)

The Muppets Take Queens — In an official announcement last Tuesday, Oscar the Grouch, Gobo Fraggle, and Miss Piggy—who got a smooch from the also present Mayor Bloomberg—proclaimed that the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, (which is really worth visiting, if you haven't already been) will be opening a permanent exhibition dedicated to the work of master puppeteer Jim Henson in the winter of 2014 that will featuring puppets, sketches, storyboards, and other props from his numerous shows and movies. (DNAInfo)

Switzerland Selected as Manifesta Host — Though the European-based biennial typically selects remote or contested regions as host cities, the Manifesta board recently declared that the bustling urban city of Zurich will hold the 2016 event, following the upcoming 2014 Manifesta 10, which will be hosted at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, the biennial's first placement in a historical institution. (Artdaily)

Constable's Cathedral Painting Set to Stay — One of the most beloved paintings at the National Gallery, John Constable's Salisbury Cathedral from the Water Meadows, which was surprisingly not owned by the institution, but on loan from the Ashton family, was purchased by the Tate for £23.1 million—a conservative estimate of its open market value—following a large fundraising campaign, after the descendants of its late original owner decided to sell, ensuring its place in the UK. (Guardian)

Guess Who's Back? — Finally emerging from semi-retirement after co-running Chelsea's Family Business Gallery with Massimiliano Gioni, Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan will be opening a new solo show, "Kaputt," at the Beyeler Foundation in early June, which is scheduled to run in conjunction with this year's Art Basel fair, and will feature a single work inspired by a "classic subject in art history" that may or may not involve a horse. (NYT)

Collectors Rejoice! Picasso Raissoné Returns — The gold standard of catalogue raissonés, Christian Zervos's 33-volume Picasso Catalogue, which details (on a near hourly basis) the tens of thousands of works produced by Picasso throughout his lifetime, will be republished by Cahiers d'Art, though only available exclusively through Sotheby's auction house for the very prohibitive price of $15,000. (NYT)

Lyon Biennale Raises Profile — The Biennale de Lyon, opening on September 15, announced a pared-down, but glitzed-up artist list for its 12th-annual event, including 52 big-name artists like Jeff KoonsMarina AbramovicTom SachsNate LowmanMatthew Barney, and Bjarne Melgaard. (Press release)

— ART MARKET —

Paul Schimmel Joins Hauser & Wirth — The powerhouse New York, London, and Zurich gallery Hauser & Wirth confirmed plans to open a Los Angeles outpost—more a museum than a gallery, according to the official statement—helmed by new partner Paul Schimmel, who was a star curator at the Los Angeles MOCA until his resignation last year. (Press release)

Harry Potter and the Sotheby's Sale — After a spirited bidding war between two potential buyers, a rare first edition of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, complete with annotations and over 20 original illustrations by the author herself, sold for £150,000 (over $225,000), making it the second most expensive Rowling book sold at auction—a handwritten copy of Tales of Beedle the Bard sold for £2 million in 2007. (BBC)

Dream Art-Fair Spending Spree — See what "imaginary billionaire" and accomplished photographer Danielle Levitt spent a pretend $3,247,000 on at the Frieze Art Fair (hint it included work by Ivan Navarro, Jack Pierson, and Nick Cave). (Standard Culture)

— IN & OUT —

The Asia Society recently announced that Josette Sheeran, the current vice chairman of the World Economic Forum, will replace Vishakha N. Desai as the organization's president and CEO. (Press Release)

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