Art Industry News: 50 Relatives of the Fabled Outsider Artist Henry Darger Are Suing for Control of His Art + Other Stories

Plus, the Feds are cracking down on a George Condo forgery ring, and Sotheby's gets sued over the sale of the first NFT.

Henry Darger, Untitled (after 1953). © 2021 Kiyoko Lerner. Courtesy of AFAM.

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, February 7.


George Condo Is Fighting a Forgery Ring – The Manhattan D.A. has confiscated several works purportedly by market star George Condo (including one offered for sale at Sotheby’s) that were in fact created as part of a forgery ring. The fakes were identified by Condo’s studio. All of them seem to have come from a middle-man dealer in Greece; the D.A.’s office is investigating. (Vanity Fair)

The Cube Gets the Review Treatment – That artist-made gold cube in Central Park that went viral last weekTimes critic Will Heinrich is unimpressed with the gesture as art, which he says fails to update what’s already been done by the likes of Constantin Brancusi, Donald Judd, or Christo. “What the ‘Castello Cube’ really speaks to is the self-sustaining power of capital,” he writes. “If you have the resources to get hold of $10 or $11 million dollars’ worth of gold […] you can get people to look at it, talk about it and review it—and then, in what is shaping up to be the new gold standard, sell the whole experience as an NFT.” (New York Times)

The Battle Over Henry Darger’s Art – The late Outsider artist Henry Darger’s former landlords, Nathan and Kiyoko Lerner, have long been credited with preserving and promoting the reclusive artist’s legacy (and shepherding his prices into the high six figures). But now, a group of 50 distant relatives of the artist are contesting the Lerners’ right to the work in probate court. “We’re taking any and all action to restore his legacy,” one of the relatives, Christen Sadowski, said, adding that it was “wrong” for the landlords to capitalize on Darger’s oeuvre. A hearing on the matter is slated for February 23. (NYT)

Why Leonora Carrington Feels of the Moment – Over the past decade, the art world has become increasingly infatuated with Surrealist Leonora Carrington, a fact cemented by her central role in Ceclia Alemani’s forthcoming Venice Biennale exhibition. The artist explored themes that resonate deeply today: metamorphosis, definitions of humanity, and its relationship with technology and nature. “While these seem like sort of contemporary themes, they were very much anxieties of many artists of the early 20th century,” Alemani said. “The pandemic has made them very real and concrete in another way.” (W)


Smithsonian Names Director for New Latino Museum – Jorge Zamanillo has been tapped to lead the forthcoming National Museum of the American Latino, which is due to open in 10 to 12 years. (No, that’s not a typo—these Smithsonian museums take a long time!) Zamanillo, who now serves as executive director of local Miami history museum HistoryMiami, will begin his new role on May 2. (Washington Post)

Wade Guyton Heads to Matthew Marks – The artist whose digital inkjet paintings are a favorite of collectors and institutions alike has left Petzel Gallery to join Matthew Marks. Guyton first showed with Marks in Los Angeles last summer. (Vanity Fair)

Winter Show Moves to April – The Winter Show art fair has been postponed for a second time and will now run from April 1 through April 10 at a new location: 660 Madison Avenue (rather than the Park Avenue Armory). Meanwhile, the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair—which was postponed due to concerns over Delta—has found new dates at the Armory from April 21 through 24. (New York Times)

Sotheby’s and Kevin McCoy Sued Over NFT Sale – Canadian company Free Holdings is suing Sotheby’s and artist Kevin McCoy over the $1.5 million sale of Quantum, widely considered the first NFT ever made. The company claims it is the NFT’s rightful owner because it secured rights to the work after McCoy let his ownership expire. (The Art Newspaper


Colby College Acquires Islands Linked to Andrew Wyeth – Colby College has bought two islands off Maine, Allen and Benner, that inspired painter Andrew Wyeth. The islands, bought for $2 million, will become part of the campus and host exhibitions of never-before-seen drawings by the artist. “We could have held onto the islands, but to see them frozen in amber would be a tragedy,” said J. Robinson West, president of the Wyeth Foundation for American Art. (New York Times)


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