Art Industry News: Metropolitan Museum of Art Hires Marie Kondo to Deaccession Works That Don’t ‘Spark Joy’ + Other Stories
Plus, David Zwirner volunteers to replace the NEA and the Louvre Abu Dhabi finds 'Salvator Mundi' in an unexpected place.
Art Industry News is normally a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know this April Fool’s Day, 2019.
Louvre Abu Dhabi Finds Salvator Mundi in Sofa Cushions – “Look, this has happened to all of us before, am I right?” said Mohamed Khalifa al-Mubarak, chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development & Investment Company. After months of speculation and consternation over its whereabouts, the Louvre Abu Dhabi found Salvator Mundi just as soon as it stopped looking. Reached for comment, renowned conservator Dianne Dwyer Modestini, who performed extensive work on the painting before its sale, audibly groaned and hung up. Also recovered from the depths of the lavish sofa were two sets of Lamborghini keys, a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, and White House “innovation director” Jared Kushner. (Narativ)
Sotheby’s to Invest in Improving Its Evening Sales – Following the auction house’s strong 2018 earnings report, Sotheby’s CEO Tad Smith announced in a letter to shareholders that he plans a new round of investments intended to create “service-focused upgrades for the in-person buyer experience.” Now, beginning in Q3 of 2019, the house’s marquee evening art auctions will include such amenities as an automatic break after the 35th lot for a performance by Sotheby’s new cheerleading squad, the Picassettes; food offerings from a suite of “locavore” concession stands run by renowned restaurateur Danny Meyer; and a state-of-the-art scoreboard adding graphics, animations, and audience-cam footage to the auction stats. Smith, who joined Sotheby’s from New York’s Madison Square Garden, also plans to acquire a fleet of Zambonis to return the sales floor to a state of auction-readiness after each sale. (Bloomberg)
To ‘Responsibly’ Slim Down Its Storage, the Met Hires Marie Kondo – The best-selling author and decluttering maven will guide curatorial staff in determining which of the museum’s roughly 1.5 million undisplayed objects should be deaccessioned based on whether or not they “spark joy.” In a statement, the museum’s CEO Daniel H. Weiss said, “Marie’s hire ensures that the Met will continue to lead the way on museum practices that sound truly innovative until you think about them.” Among the items feared to be in danger of sale are the Met’s Egyptian funerary objects, Christian crucifixion imagery, and practically every artwork by a Russian or German. (New York Times)
David Zwirner Steps in to Replace the NEA – Following its gesture in March to save the displaced Volta art fair in New York by throwing its massive gallery open to exhibitors, Zwirner has now stepped in to absorb all public funding of art in the United States into its programming. “What is it, like, $150 million a year or something?” wondered Zwirner of Trump’s recent threats to cut the NEA budget. “Let me just sell a Richard Serra and a Kerry James Marshall—there, all done.” (The Art Newspaper)
KAWS Activates ‘Kill’ Protocol, Bringing His ‘Companion’ to Horrible Life – “You fools, this was my plan all along!” declared art-market phenom Brian “KAWS” Donnelly, as his 115-foot-long sculpture, previously floating in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor, shuddered to life to terrorize the metropolis. “I have conquered Instagram, street art, and the art market—but all this was but a prelude to my greatest conquest of all: the world!” (South China Morning Post)
New Study Proves That Artificial Intelligence Can Make Bad Art – In a new milestone for “AI Art,” a team at Rutgers University has proven that their state-of-the-art Powerful Adversarial Network (PAN) technology can generate images that can fool observers into thinking they are actually human-created bad art. “This work is devoid of all meaning or context in ways that most human soulless hacks only aspire to,” Dr. Ahmed Elgammal enthused. Elgammal claims to have already licensed the underlying proprietary technology for $2 million to power an art-market forecasting application that aims to use machine learning to actually predict future trends in bad art. (Atlantic)
Peter Brant Says Shutting Down Interview Was a Tribute to Warhol – Art collector and former publisher Peter Brant has revealed that his decision to shut down Interview magazine last year, declaring bankruptcy to discharge $3.3 million in debts owed to hundreds of employees and freelancers before washing his hands of the project and letting his daughter Kelly Brant open it up again, to be the culmination of an homage to his idol and the magazine’s founder, Andy Warhol. “Andy always said, ‘Making money is the best art,'” Brant explained. “But I say ‘not paying people is the best art.’ In the end, it’s almost the same thing.” (Women’s Wear Daily)
COMINGS & GOINGS
At Night, Hudson Yards Developers Meet for a Blood-Soaked Ritual Sacrifice in the Heart of Vessel – Architect Thomas Heatherwick and 12 other shadowy figures gathered in the dead of night to participate in an unholy rite in the belly of the towering, nightmarish repeating spiral staircase construction known as Vessel on Sunday in Hudson Yards. Amid unspeakable acts, the “final name” of the diabolical Heatherwick sculpture was spoken, breaking the ultimate seal on the hellmouth beneath. “It is a private development so they can do whatever they want, I guess,” said one passerby. “I’m just upset that they had to drag Big Bird into it.” (Gothamist)
To Honor Kanye West, Turrell Renames Roden Crater the Poopity Scoop – In gratitude for the rapper’s recent $10 million donation to support his 40-years-in-the-making Land Art project, James Turrell has rechristened Roden Crater after West’s most famous lyric from his track “Lift Yourself.” “At first, it’s going to seem weird and inappropriate,” Turrell said. “But trust me, once you keep hearing it, it starts to get into your head.” (New York Times)
Velvet Buzzsaw‘s Sequel, Velvet WordPress, Sees Online Art Critic Haunted by ‘Killer’ SEO – The Dan Gilroy-directed art satire and horror Netflix film is spawning a sequel. Jake Gyllenhaal has signed up to return as Artweb critic Morf Vanderwalt, who this time out is said to face off with a shadowy, sinister presence that symbolically represents the terrifying Google News discovery algorithm, as well as a skin condition that is supposed to be a metaphor for “link rot.” (Variety)
FOR ART’S SAKE
‘Unauthorized’ Banksy Show Is the ‘Most Street Shit Out There,’ Says Miami Banker – Leo “The Dealkiller” Roarke stopped by the Live Nation-produced “Banksy by Banksy—or Is It?” show in Miami yesterday and was interviewed by WLRN, declaring it the “rawest” show of art he had seen in some time—though to be fair it was also the only show of art he had seen in some time. “Definitely worth every penny of the $53 I paid for VVIP access—and it comes with a free drink at the Banksy Bar!” (WLRN)
Meow Wolf’s Nemesis, Ruff Lynx, Declares War – The mega-popular, Santa Fe-based entertainment art collective Meow Wolf may be opening up spectacular new fantasy-themed immersive art environments all across the United States, but it may now have met its match. Ruff Lynx, a team of rival artists, has their own magical universe, and their guns, stationed at their own sci-fi mountain fort, are bigger. Upon hearing the news, Meow Wolf immediately deployed the Meow Wolf Hover-Copter, and summoned an army of space dinosaurs from its installation House of Eternal Return, vowing that the Ruff Lynx challenge would not go unmet. (Santa Fe New Mexican)
Super Bowl 2020 Ads Appeal to Elusive Football-Feminist Art Crossover – Hot on the heels of Burger King’s Andy Warhol commercial for Super Bowl LIII, the International Meat Trade Association is already planning to spend some $5 million to air 30 seconds of unedited footage of beloved performance artist Carolee Schneemann’s 1964 performance piece Meat Joy. “Nothing can represent our message to viewers better than the two words ‘Meat Joy,’ and if the video captures any of that, then we think this ad is a guaranteed touchdown,” said one ad exec. (AdAge)
Last Picture: Ethel Gamerman Returns – Known internationally by art critics as the “William Wegman of Cats,” 82-year-old photo-conceptual artist Ethel Gamerman is back with a new series, “The Lives of the Paw-tists,” at the Upper East Side’s Fleury Gallery. Check out a preview, below:
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