Art Industry News: Inside the Mind of the Sneaker Mega-Collector Who Dropped More Than $1 Million at Sotheby’s + Other Stories
Plus, Mexican art dealers prepare for a market downturn and a major retrospective of Agnès Varda's films is coming to New York.
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 this Wednesday, August 21.
Afghans Restore Art Destroyed by the Taliban – Museum employees in Kabul are working to restore precious artifacts and antiquities at the national museum that were destroyed by the Taliban, who considered them blasphemous, almost two decades ago. The museum’s staff are among those anxiously waiting for the Taliban and the United States to reach a peace deal, which has the potential to put the Taliban back in a formal leadership role. In the meantime, the museum is working with Chicago’s Oriental Institute to develop as complete an inventory as possible in an effort to track down missing objects and assemble a record of the collection in case of future threats. (CBS)
Will the Art World Reconsider Its Corporate Sponsors? – From the British Museum’s ties to the oil company BP to the Sackler family’s sponsorship of the arts to Warren Kanders’s ouster at the Whitney, cultural institutions are being scrutinized more than ever for the ethics of their corporate ties. While some institutions are afraid of having to subsidize exhibitions themselves through higher ticket prices, arts critic Rachel Spence argues that the heightened criticism of corporate giving was inevitable. Many contemporary artists are advocates of social justice, and it has never been easier to find out the source of someone’s wealth. Now, Spence says, advocates and audiences are left with a question: how far will they go? Are banks that support oil companies the next target? (Financial Times)
Visiting Sotheby’s With a Sneakerhead – Newly-established sneaker-phile Miles S. Nadal, chair of the Peerage Capital Group, snapped up 99 pairs of rare sneakers from Sotheby’s for a whopping $850,000 after he read about the sale in the New York Post—and then bought an even rarer 100th sneaker for $437,500. A longtime collector of cars and motorbikes, Nadal was looking for a new obsession. On a visit to Sotheby’s with the New Yorker, he said he believes sneakers will now become a lifelong passion. (New Yorker)
Japan’s Art World Regroups After Aichi Triennale Censorship – Organizers of the Aichi Triennale closed an exhibition about freedom of expression three days after it opened following massive public outcry over a sculpture of a comfort woman and a video “defacing” an image of a modern emperor. But now art and media experts in Japan are asking whether the public even understood the works, as the widespread anger was largely caused by out-of-context information shared on social media. “No (substantial) discussion will start unless you actually see the work,” says media studies professor Kozo Nagata. Meanwhile, a group of 11 artists participating in the show have made good on their pledge to withdraw or alter their works in solidarity with the censored artists. (Japan Times, Art Asia Pacific)
Mexican Art Dealers Fear a Market Downturn – Art dealers in Mexico are increasingly participating in international art fairs and opening US outposts in a bid to stay solvent in the face of the new Mexican president’s austerity measures. Following the election of the populist president Andrés Manuel López Obrador last July, Mexico’s arts and culture budget was slashed by the equivalent of $50 million, to the lowest it has been in the past 12 years. (Observer)
Marilyn Monroe Memorabilia Heads to Auction – Julien’s Auctions is selling some of the star’s costumes from film and television appearances beginning November 1 as part of the auction house’s Legendary Women of Hollywood series. The 115 Monroe items on offer include a red sequined dress worn by the actress in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, estimated between $60,000 and $80,000. (Art Daily)
COMINGS & GOINGS
MCA Denver Names New Director – Nora Burnett Abrams has been appointed the new director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. Abrams, who has has been a curator at the museum for a decade, succeeds Adam Lerner, who stepped down in June after leading the institution since 2009. (New York Times)
South Korean Artists Jin Shiu and Yi Joungmin Found Dead – Two members of the South Korean artist group Okin Collective were found dead last weekend in an apparent double suicide. Okin was founded in 2009 to address forced evictions from Seoul’s Jongno District. In a letter sent to friends, Jin, 44, and Yi, 48, said they were summoning “our last remaining strength to bid farewell for the last time.” (Artforum)
Brooklyn Museum Reopens Asian Galleries – The Brooklyn Museum’s Arts of China and Japan galleries are scheduled to reopen on October 25 after an extensive six-year renovation. The reinstallation will see classic masterworks paired with contemporary pieces from Chinese and Japanese artists to highlight the continuity of practices over the centuries. (Brooklyn Eagle)
Kunstlerhaus Stuttgart Names Artistic Director – Eric Golo Stone will succeed Fatima Hellberg as artistic director of the Künstlerhaus Stuttgart in Germany. Stone is an artist and writer who previously served as a curator of LAXART in Los Angeles. (Artforum)
FOR ART’S SAKE
German Panel Divided Over Max Stern Restitution – A German panel established to advise on the restitution of Nazi-looted artwork has been unable to come to a decision about the status of a painting sold by the Jewish dealer Max Stern in 1936. The panel ended up taking the unusual step of recommending a conditional restitution of Hans von Marées’ Uhlans on the March (1859), but stipulated that the work could not be sold for 10 years in case the panel received new information. It also published the minority opinion that the work should not be returned to Stern’s heirs from its current home in the Bavarian State Paintings Collections in Munich. The opposition claimed there was insufficient evidence that the dealer owned the work, which he might have sold on consignment for someone else. (The Art Newspaper)
An Agnès Varda Film Retrospective Is Coming to New York – Lincoln Center will host a major retrospective of the late French avant-garde filmmaker from December 20 through January 9. The presentation will range from her early works, like the 1954 feature debut La Pointe Courte, to her final film, Varda by Agnès. Film at Lincoln Center has also announced that the 57th New York Film Festival, which opens on September 27, will be dedicated to Varda. (Press release)
Artist Sues New Mexico Museum for Breach of Contract – The New Mexico Museum of Space History is being sued by an artist whose merchandise was sold in the museum’s gift shop. Artist Krystal Wood-Kofonow claims that the institution breached her contract by allegedly continuing to sell her products beyond the agreed-upon end date, and by denying her a final payment. (US News)
A New Documentary Goes Behind the Scenes at the V&A – A new BBC Two Arts documentary series called Secrets of the Museum will take viewers behind the scenes of the Victoria & Albert Museum. The show will follow the work of the museum’s curators, conservators, and technicians as they care for, study, and tour thousands of items usually kept in storage. (Harper’s Bazaar)
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