A1 News Roundup

Reconciling the Mideast Art Boom and the Arab Spring, Ai Weiwei Makes a Gangnam Style Video, and More Top News


Reconciling the Mideast Art Boom and the Arab Spring, Ai Weiwei Makes a Gangnam Style Video, and More Top News
A computer rendering of Frank Gehry's planned Guggenheim outpost on Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island.


It's no secret that the oil-rich emirates of the Persian Gulf have been on a galloping drive to acquire masterpieces of Western art and even whole Western museums, as in the case of Abu Dhabi's Xanadu-like Saadiyat Island, where the Louvre and Guggenheim plan to open satellites. But is this campaign to bring in art, a classic symbol of liberal thought, reconcilable with the region's authoritarian political regimes? That's the question that Noah Feldman asks in WSJ magazine this week in a feature-length article exploring how the Gulf art boom fits in with the revolutionary politics of the Arab Spring. It's tricky.

In the article, Feldman notes that the "explosion" is "astonishing when you consider that the Arabic-speaking part of the Gulf has essentially no indigenous tradition of visual or plastic arts," to which one might add that it also largely lacks a basic infrastructure—advanced art schools, say—for creating a professional art class. The art being bought up, like the record $250 million Cezanne that Qatar acquired (and here Feldman drops the usual "reportedly"), is primarily intended to act as symbols of economic clout and "homing beacons for global capital" instead of germinating a homegrown art scene. He further adds that "almost none of the art being acquired, exhibited, bought and sold in the Gulf challenges the cultural values or ideals of the royal patrons who are fueling the boom."

Here's where he brings in the Arab Spring. During last summer's uprisings, protestors used art as an instrument to challenge the authorities, creating banners and graffiti murals advancing revolutionary positions. This made several artists world-famous, like the Egyptian street artistGanzeer and Tunisia's Faten Rouissi. Will there be any room to display their work in the Gulf museums? Probably not, Feldman concludes. But the funny thing is that you could say the same thing about the United States, where museums are big business, art is equated with economic power, and political art remains a third rail (c.f. David Wojnarowicz, Blu, etc.). Have we seen any shows featuring Ganzeer or Rouissi in a New York institution—or for that matter the art of the Occupy Wall Street movement? Right now the most overtly political show at a major museum is the Ai Weiwei survey at the Hirshhorn in Washington, D.C., and that art just so happens to be fiercely critical of China, America's chief economic rival. This is not in any way to defend politically anodyne fare at museums sponsored by Gulf monarchies, just to say: big surprise.


"I have no problem with rich people. (Some of my best friends are high net worth individuals!) But amongst the biggest spenders in the art market right now are people who have made their money in non-democracies with horrendous human rights records. Their expertise in rising to the top of a corrupt system gives punch to the term 'filthy lucre.' However, the astronomical prices paid by these guys do have a positive trickle-down effect. When they buy a Gerhard Richter for $20m, the consignor of the painting will likely re-invest some of their profit in younger art (particularly if they are American and keen to defer capital gains tax). These Russian, Arab and Chinese collectors bring liquidity to the art world and allow more artists, curators and critics to make a living in relation to art."

- Seven Days in the Art World author and Economist art correspondent Sarah Thorntonexplaining her decision to quit writing about the art market, which also has to do about her distaste for "tight knit cabals of dealers and speculative collectors" and the fact that it remains the largest unregulated legal market in the world


Venice Biennale Theme and New Countries Announced - New Museum curator Massimiliano Gioni, who is organizing next year's edition of the global show, has revealed that the name of his edition will be "The Encyclopedic Palace" (derived from a Futurist work by self-taught artist Mario Auriti) and that it will feature pavilions from never-before-included-countries like Paraguay, Bahrain, the Bahamas, Kosovo, the Ivory Coast, Kuwait, the Maldives, and Nigeria. (NYT)

Watch Ai Weiwei's Gangnam Style Video - Seriously, watch it now and look out for the for the handcuffs that he twirls with the expertise of someone well acquainted with them. (Guardian)

Creative Time Summit Videos Are Up! - Watch short presentations by Slavoj Zizek, Creative Time director Anne Pasternak, dOCUMENTA curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, artist A.L. Steiner, and much more. (Creative Time)

The TED x Chelsea Talks Are Up Too! - Watch a diverse lineup of art professionals (and armageddon expert Daniel Pinchbeck) say smart things about art. (TED x Chelsea)

Dave Hickey Pulls a Marcel Duchamp - The great art critic and all-around wacky savant has a wonderfully Dada conversation with Sarah Douglas about his plans to disappear from the art world like the French conceptualist… which basically means that he's going to be busier than ever. (Gallerist NY)

SculptureCenter Expands and Spiffs Up - The beloved Long Island City institution is going to overhaul its distinctive site, notable for its quirky basement galleries, with a $5 million campaign that will expand into the courtyard and make the exhibition spaces more uniform. (Gallerist NY)

MoMA PS1 Launches Artist Halloween Carnival - The museum will host an arty Halloween party with a costume contest judged by director Klaus Biesenbach and Courtney Love, obviously. (Artinfo)

Get to Know the Hugo Boss Prize Finalists - A stellar crop of artists is vying for the Guggenheim's high-profile biannual $100,000 prize this year: Rashid Johnson, Trisha Donnelly, Monika Sosnowska, Tris Vonna-Michell, Danh Vo, and Qiu Zhijie. (Artinfo)

Beneath the Picasso, the Beach! (Actually Another Picasso) - The famous and gorgeous 1904 Blue Period painting Woman Ironing has been discovered through infrared probing to feature another portrait underneath thatPicasso made of one of his Bateau Lavoir-era cronies. (NYT)

Read an Interview With Adam Pendleton - He's a good artist and a nice guy, so get to know this 28-year-old prodigy a bit. (Artinfo)


Liz Magic Laser Picked as Next Armory Show Artist - As the rising star chosen for next spring's prestigious Armory Show commission, Laser is going to use a focus group of art experts to help her determine what the "Liz Magic Laser brand" should be, and then use that information to create her projects. (Gallerist NY)

Louise Blouin Might Buy the Armory Show - The Artinfo publisher is in talks with Merchandise Mart to purchase the marquee New York art fair, and maybe the rest of its art-fair holdings too, and dramatically veer her heretofore editorial business into the art market. (Art Newspaper)

Franz Kline Painting Heads to Christie's - The untitled 1957 canvas-in the artist's signature bold black strokes against a creamy white background, and heralded as his "most important work ever presented at auction"-was previously owned by art dealer Robert Mnuchin (and before that David Geffen) and is estimated to bring its anonymous consigner between $20 million and $30 million next month. (NYT)

Matthew Marks to Open Second L.A. Gallery - The new 5,000-square-foot space will be just steps away from the existing 3,700-square-foot gallery the dealer opened in West Hollywood earlier this year (and he's about to open a show of new work by Jasper Johns out there too). (Gallerist NY)

Nate Lowman Decries Hypercharged Art Market - The newly silver-haired artist says he gets "bummed out" when speculative buying turns artworks into "poker chips for billionaires" and "other other people's gambling habits change the meaning of paintings, or when fluctuations of value start to dictate how people perceive art because it's too expensive to be interesting or moving." (Vanity Fair)

Lindsay Lohan Painting Fetches $300,000 - One of Richard Phillips's new portraits of the starlet went for that very respectable sum at the Dallas Museum of Art and the American Foundation for AIDS Research's recent joint charity auction. (Dallas News)

Knoedler Minted a Fortune on Dubious Art - The historic Upper East Side gallery that's now mired in controversy over sales of allegedly fake artworks is now being accused of making $60 million over 12 years by selling pieces sourced from the now-notorious dealer Glafira Rosales. (NYT)

Galleries Rep Far More Men Than Women - A survey of galleries at the Frieze Art Fair found that 67 percent of the exhibitors have artist stables that are less than one-third female. (HuffPo)

Want to Rent Art Online? - That's the quirky service the art startup Artsicle offers. (NYT)

- IN & OUT -

Raoul De Keyser, a Belgian artist whom Roberta Smith remembers as "one of the most respected painters of his time" for his spare but colorful abstract canvases, has passed away at the age of 82. (NYT)

Ragnar Kjartansson's ecstatic 2011 Performa commission Bliss, a 12-hour continuous loop of a Mozart aria, will be shown in film form as part of Art Basel Miami Beach's Art Video Nights program. (Gallerist NY)

The Keith Haring Foundation has given $1 million to the Whitney Museum to underwrite programming at its new Meatpacking District building opening in 2015. (Gallerist NY)

Artist Glenn Ligon has been tapped to create a pink neon sculpture featuring text from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass for the cafe in the New School's new Fifth Avenue building. (NYT)

Literally seminal artist Vito Acconci has won this year's Designer of the Year award from the Design Miami fair in recognition of the largely conceptual architectural practice he has devoted himself to for the past several decades. (Daily Beast)

Leo Koenig gallery has signed the artist Paul Ramirez Jonas, best known for his 2010 "Key to the City" project with Creative Time, to its roster. (Gallerist NY)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has named D.J. Spooky (ne Paul D. Miller) to be its new artist-in-residence for a yearlong stint that will include music and film screenings. (NYT)

The Orlando Museum of Art has recruited Glen Gentele to be it's new director and CEO, bringing him in from the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, where he had been president. (Artinfo)

When the Judd Foundation reopens at 101 Spring Street next summer it will have new leadership, with director Barbara Hunt McLanahan stepping down to be replaced by co-presidents Rainer and Flavin Judd, the late artist's kids. (Gallerist NY)

The Prospect New Orleans not-technically-a-biennial will return for its third go-round in October of 2014 under the direction of LACMA curator Franklin Sirmans. (Prospect New Orleans)

Next year the Guggenheim will awesomely "present James Turrell's first solo museum exhibition in New York since 1980, an ambitious project that will close the museum's ramps and use its architecture to create a mass of shifting color similar to his Skyscapes." (Gallerist NY)

Guido van der Werve will screen his incredible video The Day I Didn't Turn With the World on the High Line between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. from November 1 to December 12. (High Line)


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