From Profound Mutations in the Art World to Iran’s Brutal Sentence for an Art Dealer: The Best and Worst of the Art World This Week

Catch up on what you missed—fast.

What the art world looks like these days from outer space. (Photo by NASA via Getty Images)



Total Eclipse of the Art – In a sweeping tour d’horizon of the crazy tech-fueled pressures reshaping art today, Ben Davis delves deep into the weirdness in his must-read “State of the Culture” series, explaining, for instance, how a dancing baby indirectly killed the traditional art review.

The Art Community Wrestles With Its Challenges – artnet News’s business guru Tim Schneider was invited to speak at this year’s Talking Galleries Symposium in Barcelona, and he reports here on the hot-button issues everyone was so agitated about at the prestigious event.

Cat Memes and VR Shows, Explained  – We looked at how the ICA Boston is picking apart the manifold themes inherent in its ambitious new exhibition “Art in the Age of the Internet.”

Museum Bowl 2018 – As Boston and Philadelphia gear up for Superbowl Sunday, the biggest art institution from the rival states’ respective metropolises have made their own game-day wager that will have the winning institution saying “Show us the Mon-et.”

Winning the Leonardo Lottery – Thanks to the megawatt sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, Christie’s reports a considerable uptick in auction sales for 2017—but not all the numbers are painting such a pretty picture, since private sales have plummeted.

MoMA Sends Masterworks to End of the Earth – While it continues its renovation, the museum is dispatching a trove of 200 pieces by the likes of Salvador Dalí, Roy Lichtenstein, and Cindy Sherman to the National Gallery of Victoria later this year .

Warm Words for a Political Art Voice – In response to the departure of Queens Museum director Laura Raicovich, an open letter praising her singular vision was signed by a number of influential curators from across the art world and published in the New York Times.

Frieze to Thaw Out in California – Just in case there weren’t enough art fairs to attend, news that Frieze may have designs on a West Coast edition could mean major changes to the LA landscape.


Closing Doors on Chuck Close – The backlash against artist Chuck Close continues; this week Seattle University removed his mosaic-style painting Self Portrait 2000 in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.

Asterisks for Artwork – In the wake of allegations against Close and others in the art world, the artist provocateur Emma Sulkowitz infiltrated New York’s top museums wearing little but a few well-placed asterisks to make a point about the new caveats some people say should be attached to the reputations of offending artists.

Iran Beats and Imprisons Art Dealer and Wife – Iranian-American art gallerist Karan Vafadari and his wife Afarin Neyssari were sentenced to a staggering 27-year prison sentence, whippings, and exorbitant fees for charges that include espionage—they consorted with Western figures—and entertaining guests with alcohol.

Syria’s Culture in Peril – Echoing past damage to cultural sites by ISIS, air strikes carried out by Turkish forces wrought destruction on the ancient Syrian site of Ain Dara, a site dating back 3,000 years.

Art Invasion or Vandalism? – Many people think the rogue street artist known as Invader took his guerrilla-style graffiti too far when he used sacred Buddhist temples in Bhutan as his canvas.

Curtains for Broadway 1602 Gallery – The gallery filed for bankruptcy earlier this week, and has shut down its physical space in Harlem.

An Unnatural Trustee – Curators and other proponents of the Museum of Natural History are calling for Trump mega-backer Rebekah Mercer to step down, citing her financial support of organizations that aim to discredit the verity of climate change.

No Gallery? No Problem – Eschewing tradition, Frieze no longer requires exhibitors to have a brick-and-mortar gallery space to participate in the fair, in yet another sign of the increasingly digitally dominated market.

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