Art Industry News: Painter Adrian Ghenie on the Downside of Being a Market Phenomenon + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, Shepard Fairey teams up with Adidas to create a pair of skate shoes and a protest artwork at Purdue Pharma's HQ leads to an arrest.

Adrian Ghenie
Courtesy Tim Van Laere Gallery

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, June 25.


Artist Arrested for Oxycontin Spoon – On Friday, sculptor Domenic Esposito unloaded a 700-pound sculpture of a bent heroin spoon outside the headquarters of Purdue Pharma in Connecticut. Art dealer Fernando Luis Alvarez, who represents Esposito, was arrested when he refused to move the piece. (New York Times)

Baselitz Bombs at the Hirshhorn – It’s rare to read a thoroughly negative art review, but Sebastian Smee has panned the Hirshhorn’s Georg Baselitz show, the artist’s first US retrospective in 20 years. “Quite simply, too many people have paid too much for Baselitz’s blowzy work over too many years for his reputation to undergo the correction it warrants,” Smee writes. The artist is “like the bore at a party who, determined to create a stir by smashing decorum, tries one gambit after another.” (Washington Post)

The Dark Side of the Adrian Ghenie Boom – Prices for work by the Romanian artist have increased 160-fold over the past decade, and now fetch around $1 million at the gallery and even more at auction. But in a rare email exchange, the artist says the market mania has a downside. “If you ask me what I wish for the future, I would say that I would like to go back to a sort of normality,” he says. “I don’t really have many colleagues of my age to ask ‘how did you survive this tsunami?’” (The Art Newspaper)

Artist Works to Shift the Gun Debate – The artist Shaun Leonardo organized a one-night performance, Primitive Games, in the Guggenheim’s rotunda last week. When we wrote about the project, the subject of the performance was still under wraps. In the end, Leonardo invited veterans, recreational gun users, police officers, and citizens affected by street violence to take part in an Italian Renaissance-era game called calcio storico—and in the process, reckon with the gun debate. (NYT)


The Newest Collecting Trend? Dinosaurs – French auction houses are cannily marketing dinosaur skeletons and fossils as design objects, not natural history specimens—and collectors are snapping them up. “Dinosaurs have become cool and trendy,” says Iacopo Briano, a fossil specialist at the auctioneer Binoche et Giquello. (Financial Times)

Is Taiwan the Next Hong Kong? – Magnus Renfrew, the former Art Basel Hong Kong director, offers a preview of his new Taipei Danghai fair, which launches next January with the help of the former backers of Art HK. Why does he think it’s a smart bet? Taiwanese collectors are among the most active in Asia on the international market, “but there is still considerable scope for developing that audience further by bringing an exceptional offering to them on their doorstep,” Renfrew says. (South China Morning Post)

Han Solo’s Jedi Blaster Gun Sells for $550,000 – The New York-based curiosity showcase Ripley’s Believe it or Not! has added to its Star Wars collection, buying a gun used by Han Solo at Julien’s Auctions.  The seller was the art director on Return of the Jedi, James L. Schoppe. (Reuters)

AucArt Online Founder Trawls Degree Shows – The founder of AucArt, Natasha Arselan, aims to connect collectors with graduating art students or artists who have graduated in the past three years. They receive more than 50 percent of the proceeds of online auctions, which also have a “buy now” option. Arselan says that sales of works ranging from £250 ($330) to £6,000 ($7,970) have been “consistent.” (FT)​


Deputy Director Out at the Brooklyn Museum – Jennifer Y. Chi has left the Brooklyn Museum after just nine months. She was appointed deputy director and chief curator in September, taking over from Nancy Spector, who left for the Guggenheim in early 2017. Chi was previously exhibitions director and chief curator at NYU’s Institute for Study of the Ancient World. (ARTnews)

Museum Folkwang Staffs Up – The German museum’s incoming director Peter Gorschlüter is filling up vacancies in its senior management. Nadine Engel will oversee the museum’s collections of 19th- and 20th-century art, while Thomas Seelig will handle its collection of photography. He takes over from Florian Ebner, who left last July to become chief of photography at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. (Monopol) 

Here Are the Nominees for the John Moores Prize – The five paintings shortlisted for the Walker Art Gallery’s 60-year-old prize are by Billy Crosby, Jacqui Hallum, Tom Howse, Joseph O’Rourke, and Shanti Panchal. Their works will be shown at the Walker between July 14 and November 18, and the winner will receive £25,000 ($33,000). (Press release)

New Director for Tel Aviv Museum of Art – Tania Coen-Uzzielli, who previously served as head of curatorial services at Jerusalem’s Israel Museum, will direct TAMA after Suzanne Landau retires at the end of this year. Coen-Uzzielli was approved by the museum’s board of directors after being recommended by a search committee. (Press release)



Statue of Nick Cave Gets the Green Light for His Hometown – A life-sized bronze statue of the musician (not to be confused with the artist of the same name) bearing a torch, astride a horse, and clad in a loincloth has been approved for the town of Warracknabeal, Victoria in Australia. Cave has dubbed the sculpture by Corin Johnson “a rather beautiful piece of homoerotic art” and the local arts council is crowdfunding $200,000 to make it. (Happy)

Shepard Fairey Teams Up With Adidas – The street artist is collaborating with Adidas Skateboarding and the LA street art show “Beyond the Streets” to create a limited-edition signature Samba ADV skate shoe. “I’ve been rocking Adidas for work and play since the ’80s,” Fairey says. A collectible bundle including a custom skateboard and Montana spray paint can is on sale at the exhibition’s gift shop for $300. (Obey Giant)

Jamie Botín Lends Work to Santander – The banker has loaned eight works by 20th-century masters, including Francis Bacon, Juan Gris, and Henri Matisse, to the Botín Center in Santander for five years. He is also donating €1 million per year to maintain them. Conspicuously absent is Picasso’s Head of a Young Woman, which was seized from Botín’s private yacht in 2015 and is staying in the Reina Sofia until an investigation into its alleged smuggling out of Spain concludes. (El País)

Paintings of Soccer Players Go on Show in Saint Petersburg – Italian artist Fabrizio Birimbelli has created 40 digital paintings of soccer legends depicted as 19th-century generals in the Russian Imperial army. The portraits of players—including Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo—are on view in a show titled “Like the Gods” at the Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg until July 5. (Le Figaro)

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