From Mona Lisa’s Secret Obsession to Meryl Streep’s ‘Brush’ With the Alt-Right: The Best and Worst of the Art World This Week

Plus, we honored Marian Goodman on her gallery's 40th anniversary and a new task force is targeting art traffickers.

Pavel Floresco demonstrates the significance of the number 2 in Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

The holidays have arrived, but the news never takes a vacation. Here are the stories that made headlines this week in the art world.


Conspiracy Theorists, Rejoice – Ben Davis took a deep dive into the shadows of art history’s mysteries, and the secrets left behind by masters from Leonardo da Vinci to Dürer, from poisoned paint to hidden messages to the strange obsession Mona Lisa has with the number 2.

Four at Forty – Sarah Cascone investigates why 1977 was such a pivotal year for New York’s blossoming contemporary art scene, giving rise to progressive institutions like the New Museum and the Public Art Fund that continue to shape the city 40 years later.

Qi Baishi’s Auction Boom – The painter’s work sold for a staggering nine-figure sum at auction; he is the first Chinese artist to join the elite $100 million club.

How Marian Goodman Does It – The beloved gallerist to Gerhard Richter and other modern masters has been a staple of the New York art scene, and on the occasion of her gallery’s 40th anniversary, artnet News spoke to some artists from her loyal cadre for a few revealing (and endearing) anecdotes about how she works her magic.

Putting a Stop to Stolen Goods – Manhattan’s District Attorney is taking a major step in the fight against antiquity trafficking; a new department dedicated to cases involving looted cultural objects.

Nan Goldin Is Instagram Gold – The photographer made her debut on the picture-sharing platform, posting images that capture the intimate and often deeply personal nature of her oeuvre.

Motor City’s Cosmopolitan Chickens for Change – artnet News’s Brian Boucher travelled to Detroit to see how local communities are reviving the city with creative projects, including urban chicken coops.

Once Overlooked, Now Getting Her Due – The estate of artist Mildred Thompson is now part of the powerhouse stable of Galerie Lelong & Co., earning the posthumous recognition that eluded her in life.


Chowaiki’s Checkered Business – The art dealer Ezra Chowaiki is facing multiple charges for swindling art collectors, auction houses, and his own business partners. The gallerist has an interesting history, and this is not his first brush with the law regarding his professional practices.

Jens Hoffmann’s Official Response – The once internationally sought-after curator issued a statement regarding the allegations of sexual harassment made against him by members of the Jewish Museum staff.

Landesman’s Legal Battle Continues – The ex-Artforum publisher is fighting back against a lawsuit brought by ex-staffer Amanda Schmitt. Knight Landesman resigned from his position at the magazine after several allegations of sexual harassment emerged earlier this year.

Street Art Targeting Meryl Streep – A street art campaign made in the style of Barbara Kruger’s text-based banners are reportedly the work of a far-right-wing artist, who is targeting actress Meryl Streep for speaking out against President Trump.

Austria’s Alt Right Rises – The far-right conservative party has appropriated a slogan that originated with artists of the Vienna Secession, much to the chagrin of the independent organization, who deny any affiliation with the governmental program.

A Mural of Tribute Leads to Turmoil – The artist Hu Jiamin and his wife Marine Brossard were taken into police custody for a mural that Jiamin painted to honor the Chinese dissident and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died a political prisoner.

A Printer’s Predicament – Master printer Gerhard Steidl is world-renowned for publishing singularly beautiful photography books, but now he is at the center of a legal battle for allegedly losing some of those photos.

LA Art Book Fair Bows Out for 2018 – Printed Matter Inc. announced the cancellation of the fair’s 2018 edition, just weeks before its scheduled debut. The organization is still reeling from the sudden death of Shannon Michael Cane, who brought the wildly popular book fair to the West Coast.

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