Art Industry News: After Lawsuits, Boy Scouts May Have to Sell Off Norman Rockwell Paintings to Pay Their Accusers + Other Stories
Plus, an Isamu Noguchi installation in a New York office building is in peril and the Terra Foundation for American Art has a new president.
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, February 27.
Isamu Noguchi Artwork in Midtown Is in Peril – The artist’s large sculptural installation, which Noguchi himself described as “a landscape of clouds,” is under threat of demolition. The Japanese-American artist designed the piece in 1957 for a skyscraper’s twin lobbies at 666 Fifth Avenue, but it has not received landmark status. Now, developers want to remodel the lobbies and potentially remove the work, which they say no longer merits preservation because of previous renovations. The Isamu Noguchi Foundation says it is aware of the situation and is working to ensure that the installation remains in place. (New York Times)
Met Acknowledges Jewish Heritage of Painting on Display – The Met has updated the provenance of an important painting to acknowledge its troubled history. The Rape of Tamar, a large work from the 17th-century by French painter Eustache Le Sueur, was once owned by Jewish dealer Siegfried Aram, who fled Germany when the Nazis came to power in 1933. The painting ended up in the hands of the man who bought his home, and Aram tried for decades to retrieve the painting. The truth, uncovered by a local researcher in Germany, came to light earlier this month. The Met has declined to comment on whether a restitution claim has been made for the painting. (NYT)
Bankrupt Boy Scouts May Sell Off Rockwell Paintings – For decades, Norman Rockwell’s art helped shape the image of the Boy Scouts of America. The illustrator created artwork for the covers of Boys’ Life, the organization’s magazine, for more than 50 years. Now, his art might be sold to help pay back creditors of the now-bankrupt Boy Scouts. In a filing last week, the organization—which is facing an estimated 1,700 lawsuits over alleged sexual abuse going back decades—listed “original Rockwell paintings” as an asset that could be sold to pay victims. A Boy Scouts spokesperson declined to comment further on the fate of the art. (USA Today)
Hermitage Reacts to Barcelona’s Rebuff of Its Satellite – A month after the Barcelona city council rejected the Russian State Hermitage Museum’s application to build a branch in the Spanish city’s port, the Hermitage director has responded. “The Hermitage is ready to show its collections and share its experience of museum work around the world, but never forces it on anyone and is used to being treated politely,” Mikhail Piotrovsky said. On January 27, the council raised concerns over the desired site’s accessibility, questioned the museum’s economic viability and its private funding sources, and cited skepticism of the quality of the project and fear of over-tourism. (The Art Newspaper)
Prison-Made Art Goes on Sale at Sotheby’s – Eight contemporary artists, including Ai Weiwei and Wolfgang Tillmans, have lent their designs to a project called Human Touch, organized by Fine Cell Work, a charity that sends embroidery instructors into prisons. A selection of prisoner-made embroideries designed by art stars will go on sale online today at Sotheby’s. (Telegraph)
Original “Flash Gordon” Comic Art Headed to Auction – The original artwork for the “Flash Gordon” comic strip is going up for sale on March 31 at the auction house Profiles in History. The pencil-and-ink drawing by artist Alex Raymond was first published in January 1934 and inspired later science-fiction stories like Star Wars. It carries an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. (Boston Globe)
COMINGS & GOINGS
Terra Foundation Names New President – The Terra Foundation has named Sharon Corwin as its new president and chief executive. Corwin will join the nonprofit, which is dedicated to supporting research and exhibitions of American art, in September. She arrives from the Colby College Museum of Art, where she has been director and chief curator since 2006. (Press release)
Seattle Art Museum Curator Retires After 30 Years – Chiyo Ishikawa is stepping down from her post as director for art and curator of European painting and sculpture at the Seattle Art Museum this summer. During her 30 years at the museum, she organized shows dedicated to French Impressionism, Picasso, and Yves Saint Laurent, among many others. (Seattle Times)
French Auctioneer François Tajan Dies – The deputy chairman of the Paris-based auction house Artcurial has did at age 57 after suffering from food poisoning. Trajan oversaw the house’s expansion to Belgium, Italy, Austria, and Morocco. A spokesman said: “He took the first French auction house to a new level, as much through his vision for the business as through his intellectual curiosity.” (TAN)
FOR ART’S SAKE
Norway Authorizes Demolition of Building With Picasso Murals – Officials in Oslo have granted permission to demolish a bomb-damaged building that has Picasso drawings sandblasted onto its walls. The government will relocate the murals, which were created by Norwegian artist Carl Nesjar in collaboration with the Spanish master. (AFP)
A Critique of Kara Walker’s Turbine Hall Commission – Kara Walker’s much-lauded Turbine Hall commission at Tate gets a dressing-down in ARTnews. Joining a group of Walker detractors that includes prominent African-American artists Howardena Pindell and Betye Saar, the author declines to partake in a “blind allegiance to Black artists, especially women,” and suggests that only a “disappointing and offensive lack of understanding… would allow for such a flattening of Black British life and history.” (ARTnews)
A Chance to Buy Postcards by Women Artists, Including the Guerrilla Girls – The nonprofit Art on a Postcard is selling postcard-size artworks by women in order to raise money to eliminate Hepatitis C in women’s prisons. The works by artists including the Guerilla Girls and Genieve Figgis will be on sale at Paddle8 for around $65 each through March 11. (Hyperallergic)
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