—Bob and Richard Together Again: We hear the artist Richard Prince is working on another semi-secret art collaboration with music legend Bob Dylan. The new works follow the mysterious Dylan paintings that were shown at Gagosian last year, which the singer reportedly made together with Prince, who is also repped by Gagosian. Prince remained mum on the subject but put his name on an essay about Dylan's art for the New York Review of Books.
—Word on the street is that Paula Cooper Gallery has sold out the current show featuring Christian Marclay's new paintings and drawings that join onomatopoetic comic-book exclamations like slllurrp! and whoomph! with sumptuous abstract splashes that seem to transmute the sounds into visual effects. Stop by before January 18th to see the works before they all disappear into private collections.
BY THE NUMBERS
—At Berlin's Villa Grisebach auction house, Isa Genzken's concrete-and-steel sculpture Wiese (1990) bested an estimate of $272,000-340,000 to take $433,000, including buyer's premium. This artist's record, which remains low compared to artists of her generation held in similar high esteem by the art cognoscenti, has been on the climb recently. Three new highs in the last 18 months might be chalked up to a growing field of admirers thanks to the current retrospective at MoMA.
—In Phillips London's Under the Influence sale, a seasonal event that focuses on emerging artists as well as multiples and smaller works by more established names, notched up 11 new artist records. The top lot in the $3 million sale, going for just over $200,000, was Antoposhere (1990) by the Bali-based artist Ashley Bickerton. The next spot, however, went to a rising stars of a younger generation. Belgian video artist David Claerbout's The Algiers Sectionof a Happy Moment (2008), focused on a soccer match on the roof of a building in the kasbah, brought $197,500 against a high estimate of just $57,500.
—Chinese Contraindications: Recent news out of the Chinese art market is as paradoxical as, well, the news coming out of segments of the Chinese economy. On the one hand, the glowing reception for the Rubell Collection's new "28 Chinese" show seems like it may signal a resurgence of Western interest in young artists there. And Sotheby's first major sale of art on the mainland, held December 1, exceeded the high estimate by taking in slightly over $37 million for a selection of modern and contemporary Chinese works. Twentieth-century painter Zao Wou-Ki achieved a new world auction record that day when his Abstraction, consigned by the Art Institute of Chicago, fetched $14.6 million.
Yet, all is not rosy. TEFAF, the organization behind the world's most important non-contemporary fair, held each spring in Maastricht, the Netherlands, canceled its much-ballyhooed plans to stage a similar fair in Beijing, which was supposed to be a partnership with Sotheby's. The same week an investigative profile of Beijing Poly International Auction raised questions about the possibilities for real reform in the market said to be rife with fakes and corruption. The New York Times article confirmed the house's oft-repeated claim to be the "world's third largest auction house" while at the same time drawing attention to the country's lack of transparency and the unreliability of numbers coming out of its arts scene.
A statistical report compiled by Artnet and the China Association of Auctioneers did little to clear up the matter. The numbers covered 2012, limiting the light they could shed on such a quickly evolving market. Moreover, the top-level tally pointed both to greater global interest—signaled by a 10 percent growth in the number of auctioneers hawking Chinese works to 593—as well as to contracting demand—with total value of all sales reaching just $6.9 billion in 2012, compared with $10.6 billion in 2011.
—Sotheby's stentorian auctioneer Tobias Meyer exits after more than 20 years at the firm. “Its time for the next chapter in my career,” he says, with no mention of tart-tongued activist investor Daniel Loeb's attacks on company management, which come despite the fact that Sotheby's stock is $52, a recent high. Meyers departure brings the end to an auctioneering era dominated by men with foreign accents, as the Teutonic Meyer follows his colleagues, Christopher Burge of Christie’s (British), and Simon de Pury of Phillips (Swiss), out the door into private life. It is hard to see how his departure will benefit Loeb and Sotheby's, which is said of come to a mutual decision with Meyer to part ways. But recent history bodes well for Meyer, who can follow a host of leading specialists who recently have launched top-tier private dealerships after throwing off their corporate shackles. Speculation is that such a path is being followed by Amy Cappellazzo, the rainmaker with 13 years tenure at Christie's, most recently as chairman of postwar and contemporary art development. She will be taking her leave after the firm's mid-season New York sales in a long-planned and wholly amicable split of her devising.
—Valuing Detroit: Christie's this week finally released a long-awaited report on the valuation of the holdings at the Detroit Institute of Arts, which the city's emergency manager Kevyn Orr has stated he might consider selling as part of the ongoing bankruptcy proceedings—a proposal that has caused much hand-wringing in the art world. The tally reached from $454 million up to $867 million, but perhaps more significantly limited its scope to just 2,781 works from the collection totaling roughly 66,000 items. The auctioneer only considered works the city had clearly purchased, noting that donated works may have come with strings attached and would require considerable research before they could be valued, thereby limiting Orr's ability to liquidate the museum. Still some jewels were in danger: On top of the heap is Pieter Bruegel the Elder's The Wedding Dance (1566), which the appraisers believe might bring up to $200 million.
—Mark Your Fair Calendars: From May 8 through 12 Frieze Art Fair will return to Randall's Island for the third edition of its New York City spinoff, featuring more than 190 international exhibitors, including 53 galleries based in New York.
AWARDS AND KUDOS
—Artadia /NADA Miami 2013: Photographer Ryan Foerster was selected by MoCA North Miami interim director Alex Gartenfeld.
COMINGS AND GOINGS
—Conceptual photographer Walead Beshty, who has not had a solo gallery show in New York since his 2009 outing with Wallspace, has joined Petzel.
—Okwui Enwezor, the world's most famous expert in African art, was named director of the 2015 Venice Biennale. He is only the second curator, after Harold Szeeman, to helm both the Biennale and dOCUMENTA.
—Julia Kaganskiy has joined the New Museum as director at the new incubator for art, technology, and design, coming from her much-lauded tenure as the editor of the Intel-sponsored Creators Project.