Art Industry News: Elusive Icon Jasper Johns Offers a Peek Into His Bucolic Studio + Other Stories

Plus, mega-collector Tony Salamé buys seven apartments in Hudson Yards and a petition takes aim at the Morgan's all-male 2019 program.

Japser Johns. Courtesy Patrick McMullan.

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 Tuesday, February 19.


Alpha Collectors Snap Up Hudson Yards Apartments – New York’s Hudson Yards will be bigger and more expensive than any private development in the US. Prominent Lebanese collector Tony Salamé is among the mega-rich who are snapping up its luxury apartments in the area—in fact, he’s buying seven of them. Though at first the developers thought he was joking, he did in fact take seven apartments on the 80th floor of 15 Hudson Yards for him and his friends. “It’s not only a building—it’s a whole community, with stores and amenities, and a short walk takes me directly to all the art galleries in Chelsea,” Salamé says. (New York Magazine)

Petition Targets the Morgan’s All-Male Program – New York’s Morgan Library and Museum has released its 2019 program—and writer Jillian Steinhauer pointed out on Twitter that every show is devoted to the work of a white man. The Morgan responded that “scheduling of select traveling exhibitions has created a gender disparity in the 2019 cycle” that would be addressed in 2020 and 2021. Some observers want to see proof, however: One woman launched a petition calling on the preeminent New York institution to rectify the gender imbalance by showing only women from diverse backgrounds in 2020. To date, 104 people have signed. (

Jasper Johns Gives a Rare Interview – The 88-year-old American artist rarely gives interviews—in fact, the curator John Elderfield called him “the hermit of Sharon,” after the Connecticut town where he lives in relative seclusion. But on the occasion of an exhibition of new work at Matthew Marks and ahead of an unprecedented two-city retrospective at the Whitney Museum in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2020, he spoke—reluctantly—to T. He opened up about his upbringing in the South; how the first art he ever saw belonged to his dead grandmother; and about his former lover, Robert Rauschenberg, who got Johns’s help designing window displays for a department store. And he even allows a peek at his new paintings and drawings, which feature a shadowy silhouette of a man wearing a tiny fedora, his skeleton visible like an X-ray. (T Magazine)

Why Are Blisters Popping Up on O’Keeffe’s Paintings? – American scientists have developed a 3D image-capturing computer program that helps conservators spot the microscopic “metal soaps” in Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings that form blisters on the surface of the canvas. Metal-soap blisters are a lesser-known but significant conservation problem caused by chemical reactions in paint used by many artists, including Rembrandt, Goya, and Vincent van Gogh. (Science News)


UK Auctioneer Accused of Selling “Fake Hitler Paintings” – Adolf Hitler did paint, but he had no distinctive style, nor was he very good. As a result, fakes proliferate on the market. Over the years, many works attributed to Hitler have popped up in the UK at Mullock’s Auctions—but now, a Dutch journalist is questioning all 77 lots as potentially fake paintings. (The Times)

Is Frieze Bad for Los Angeles? – The first edition of Frieze Los Angeles came to a close Sunday, with reports of largely healthy sales. But critic Catherine Wagley wonders if Frieze LA is just “selling a fantasy.” At Paramount Studios, where the event was held, artists’ projects were hosted in a fake city with fake skyscrapers, fake townhouses, and fake bars. “LA-centrism bleeds into the fair aesthetic, which flattens everything into commodity,” she writes, recalling that, in the run-up to the fair, anti-gentrification protesters accused organizers of erasing marginal artistic scenes in the city. (Hyperallergic)


Memphis Nonprofit Organizes a Pop-Up in an NBA Locker Room – A nonprofit called the Collective has a organized pop-up show in the locker room the NBA team the Memphis Grizzlies. The show included works by Kehinde Wiley, Norman Lewis, and Carrie Mae Weems lent by ex-NBA player Elliot Perry and his wife Kimberly. The nonprofit, which is run by and for the members of the city’s African American creative community, has also opened its own exhibition space and artists’ studio. (The Art Newspaper)

Royal Academy School Gets a $13 Million Gift – The Royal Academy of Art’s school has received the largest donation in its 250-year history. Hans Rausing, heir to the food-packaging company Tetra Pak fortune, and his wife, Julia, have made the £10 million ($13 million) gift to fund the restoration of the historic school where postgraduates study for free. (Guardian)

Alfred Eisenstaedt’s VJ Day Sailor Has Died – The American sailor who was photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt kissing a “nurse” in Times Square the day that the US declared victory over Japan during WWII has died at age 95. George Mendonsa grabbed Greta Zimmer, who was actually a dental assistant, amid the celebrations. Featured on LIFE magazine’s cover, it became a defining image of the end of the war. (USA Today)


Looted Antiquities Smuggled Under Diplomatic Immunity – The brother of Egypt’s former minister of finance and a former Italian diplomat are alleged to have helped smuggle a trove of Egyptian antiquities out of the country. They are being questioned in an ongoing investigation after Italian police discovered the illicitly exported antiquities inside a diplomatic shipping container in 2017. (ARCA)

Why a Street Painter From Benin Is Big in Helsinki – Benin-based artist Louis Houenoude used to paint signs for barber shops. Now, his series of satirical portraits, “Bad Hair Day Leaders,” which includes depictions of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Pope Francis I, is making waves in Finland. The artist’s solo show in Helsinki came about after the Finnish artist Riiko Sakkinen encountered his work on a trip to Benin last year. Now, new commissions are flooding in, and Houenoude is expanding his studio. (BBC)

Marina Abramović Pens a Self-Portrait – Who needs VR or augmented reality when you have a pen, paper, and access to the one and only Marina Abramović? The Serpentine Galleries’ artistic director Hans Ulrich Obrist posted on Instagram a shot of the artist posing with a low-fi self-portrait she scribbled on a piece of paper. A much higher-tech portrait of the artist will appear in Life, Abramović’s first “mixed-reality performance,” which debuts at the London museum this week. (Instagram)  


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