Art Industry News: A Talented Prankster Replaced Donald Trump’s Presidential Portrait With a Painting of Putin + Other Stories

Plus, Hirst rides the market bust and boom and Georgina Adam examines a tumultuous decade in the art market.

Colorado State Senator Steve Fenberg captured this indelible moment in history. Photo courtesy of the senator's Twitter.

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 Monday, July 30.


Hirst Rides the Market Bust and Boom – Damien Hirst’s boundary-breaking decision to sell his works directly at Sotheby’s at the dawn of the Great Recession and the unveiling of his spot paintings and one of his shark sculptures at a Las Vegas casino this spring provide bookends for a turbulent decade in the art market, Georgina Adam writes. “The blurring of art, luxury goods, and entertainment sectors” is among the most significant changes the market has witnessed between 2008 and 2018, she notes. (Financial Times)

Josephine Meckseper Responds to Flag Art Controversy – After weeks of remaining mum while her work became a lightning rod in debates over patriotism and campus censorship, the artist has issued a statement about her controversial contribution to Creative Time’s “Pledges of Allegiance” project. She points out that the work—which was removed by the University of Kansas following blowback from Governor Jeff Colyer and other Republican politicians—is not “an actual desecrated American flag,” but rather a collage. “There is a long tradition of artists working with the iconography of the flag, creating new perspectives and interpretations of aesthetics, but also addressing the paradoxes inherent in politics to enter a collective discourse,” Meckseper says. “My contribution… comes out of this tradition.” (Timothy Taylor)

Putin Portrait Subs In for Trump’s at Statehouse – After a Colorado art group had failed to raise a single dollar toward creating a painted portrait of Donald Trump to add to a gallery of US presidents in the state Capitol, a puckish artist (or art patron) took advantage of the empty space to instead install a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, slyly rendered in the same manner as the other American leaders. The painting was discovered during a tour and was swiftly taken down by Capitol staffers—but not before Colorado State Senator Steve Fenberg (a Democrat) took a photo and tweeted it out to his followers, with the hashtag “#putinpotus.” Since then, $45 has been donated to commission the missing Trump portrait. (CNN)

Hope for Rosa Parks’s House After Auction Flop – The artist Ryan Mendoza, who bought and reassembled the Civil Rights hero’s Detroit home in Berlin, came up short last week when he sought to sell the home for $1 million to $3 million. Nevertheless, Guernsey’s in New York insists it will find a buyer. (One interested collector had trouble entering a bid live online, according to the house.) The Berlin-based artist told the AP: “I thought I had failed America and American history, and instead it looks like we’re going to have a happy ending.” (The Item)


Fernanda Gomes Will Be Represented by Peter Freeman – The Brazilian artist known for minimalist sculptures and architectural interventions will now be represented by Peter Freeman, Inc. in New York. Gomes, who currently has a show at the Museo Jumex in Mexico City, is also represented by Galeria Luisa Strina in São Paulo and Alison Jacques Gallery in London. (ARTnews)

Jack Rutberg Fine Arts Seeks New Home – The Los Angeles gallery is looking for a new space after its home since 1981 on La Brea Avenue has come under new ownership. It may close temporarily as Jack Rutberg continues the hunt for a new venue. Its current space will shut down after its final show closes on August 31. (Artforum)

Phillips Will Tour a Raoul Dufy Collection – Ten works by the French artist that have been in a private collection in France for the past 25 years will go on view in Paris before traveling to London, Hong Kong, and New York. They will hit the auction block in November as part of the auction house’s day sale in New York. Estimates for the works have not yet been disclosed. (Art Daily)


Frick Curator Gets Italian Honor – Xavier F. Salomon, the chief curator of the Frick Collection in New York, was named a knight of the Order of the Star of Italy by the Italian president for his contribution to his home country’s artistic heritage. He was given the honor by the Italian ambassador to the US, Armando Varricchio. (Art Daily)

Boston Receives Gift of Qing Dynasty Scroll – To celebrate his 100th birthday, American-Chinese collector Wan-go H.C. Weng presented the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, with Wang Hui’s 1699 scroll painting 10,000 Miles Along the Yangzi River. “This masterpiece by the greatest painter of the Qing dynasty is a transformative addition to our collection,” the museum’s director Matthew Teitelbaum says. The work will be on view until September 30. (Boston Globe)

Hello Studio Gallery Space to Close – The artist-run gallery in San Antonio, Texas, is closing its doors after seven years. Its founder Amada Miller announced in an open letter that she plans to focus on her own artistic practice and larger projects on the horizon. Between 2011 and 2018, Hello Studio staged 48 projects and showcased the work of 105 artists. (Glasstire)

Studio Drift Drones Head to Amsterdam – Design duo Studio Drift will bring FRANCHISE FREEDOM, an elaborate drone performance that premiered at Art Basel Miami Beach last year, to Amsterdam between August 10 and 12. The performance, which involves 300 luminous drones flying in a formation modeled after starling flight patterns, is part of its retrospective at the Stedelijk Museum, which has so far received record-breaking attendance. (Press release)


Museum Cracks a Decades-Long Art History Mystery – The 60-year-old puzzle of who painted Mrs. Thomas Pelham, a beloved, unsigned work at the Spencer Museum of Art in Kansas, has been solved. The museum’s curator Susan Earle and art history doctoral student Tyler York have identified the artist as British portraitist John Vanderbank. The sleuths solved the mystery by identifying connections between Vanderbank and the painting’s subject. (Lawrence Journal-World)

Gormley Tree Becomes a Political Stage Set – As part of an arts festival in Ireland that aims to highlight the cultural impact of a return to a hard border after Brexit, the Samuel Beckett play Waiting for Godot will be staged under an 11.5-foot-tall tree sculpture by Antony Gormley. The tree sits on the dividing line between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. (Guardian)

Behind Michael Rakowitz’s FRONT Project – The Iraqi-American artist is working to redact the color orange from the city of Cleveland to honor Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy who was fatally shot by local police in 2014 while playing with a toy gun with its orange safety cap removed. Visitors to institutions around the city have donated orange objects to the installation. Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, has also been involved with the project, which is part of the FRONT Triennial. (New York Times)

Artist Makes a Memorial to Opioid Victims – Pennsylvania-based artist Maria Maneos has installed a sculpture at the State Museum of Pennsylvania that highlights the local impact of the opioid crisis in the US. The work, titled 5577, is made up of an eponymous number of pill baggies hanging from the ceiling in tribute to the number of deaths from opioid overdoses in the state in 2017. (WITF)

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