Art Industry News: The Sacklers Hired a Private Investigator to Tail Nan Goldin and Other Activists, a New Book Claims + Other Stories
Plus, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma has taken up painting and Austria chooses two artists to represent the country at the Venice Biennale.
Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know on this Thursday, April 22.
Anonymous Artist Pak Speaks – The enigmatic digital artist, or possibly a team of artists, says they use anonymity to direct attention from the artist to the art. “When I see a name of an artist, I see a face, not the work—so I’m trying to separate the two,” said Pak, who agreed to speak to a reporter using voice-altering technology. The artist’s three-day online auction at Sotheby’s recently totaled $17 million. (Wall Street Journal)
Jack Ma Has Taken Up Painting – The co-founder of Alibaba is one of a number of Chinese businessmen opting out of the limelight as the Communist Party works to regulate the internet industry more than it ever has before. In his relative isolation, Ma has apparently taken up painting and practicing tai chi. “Sometimes, he shares drawings with Masayoshi Son, the billionaire head of the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank,” the Times reports. (New York Times)
The Sacklers Allegedly Hired Investigators to Follow P.A.I.N. Activists – Activists from Nan Goldin’s advocacy group P.A.I.N. have accused members of the Sackler family of hiring private investigators to intimidate them back in 2019. “We’ve been warned since the onset of P.A.I.N. that there could be tactics of intimidation physically or digitally, but no amount of precautions can prepare you for being followed,” the group said. Their allegations are detailed in the new book Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty; the family declined to comment to the book’s author. (Hyperallergic)
Why Do Some Picassos Deteriorate Faster Than Others? – A new study examines why one of four paintings inspired by the Ballets Russes—all of which were created at the same time and stored in identical conditions—deteriorated more quickly than the rest. Using chemical analysis, x-ray fluorescence, and other techniques over three years, researchers discovered that the damaged painting was made on a canvas with a tighter weave and coated with a thicker ground layer of animal glue, making it more vulnerable to humidity changes. The more you know! (The Art Newspaper)
Gainsborough Self-Portrait Sells for £116,460 – A portrait painted by a 13-year-old Thomas Gainsborough sold for £116,460 ($162,000) at Cheffins Fine Art in Cambridge. A London buyer secured the work, which soared past its £60,000 ($83,000) pre-sale estimate. (Evening Standard)
Yoshitomo Nara to Lead Phillips’s Asia Sale – A rare work by Yoshitomo Nara from 2000, the same year as the work that set his nearly $25 million auction record, will highlight Phillips’s Hong Kong and Beijing sale of 20th century art in collaboration with Poly Auction on June 8. Missing in Action, which depicts a sulking child, does not have a published estimate. (Press release)
COMINGS & GOINGS
Artists Announced for the Austrian Pavilion – Artists Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl will represent Austria at the Venice Biennale next year in a pavilion curated by Karola Kraus. They will create a three-dimensional multimedia installation that investigates social roles connected to gender, sexual orientation, skin color, and status. (Press release)
UOVO Expands to South Florida – As collectors continue to migrate south, the New York-based art-storage company has acquired Museo Vault, a South Florida art logistics firm. The acquisition brings the number of UOVO’s facilities to six (four in New York and one each in Miami and Palm Beach). UOVO is also opening a new facility in Delaware later this year and will soon break ground on an additional 50,000-square-foot facility in Palm Beach. (Press release)
FOR ART’S SAKE
Boy.Brother.Friend Magazine Publishes Second Issue – The second issue of the magazine that examines intersectionality, male identities, and transnational cultures focuses on the theme of power and takes Lagos, Nigeria, as the site for its exploration. Artists spotlighted inside include Nigerian multimedia artist Jelili Atiku, American artist Hank Willis Thomas, and South African artists Dineo Seshee Bopape and Sabelo Mlangeni. (Boy.Brother.Friend)
See Yoko Ono’s Billboards for Earth Day – The Serpentine Galleries and ClearChannel have mounted public artwork by Yoko Ono on billboards across the U.K. for Earth Day. Part of the Serpentine’s “Back to Earth” project, Ono’s work I LOVE YOU EARTH is meant to prompt people to think about how they are expressing their love for the earth. (Press release)
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