Art Industry News: Everyone Wants to Collect KAWS. Now KAWS Reveals the Artists He Collects + Other Stories

Plus, Lebanese artist Huguette Caland has died at 88 and the Peabody Essex Museum used neuroscience to guide its expansion.

Artist KAWS at the New York Academy of Art. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images.

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 Wednesday, September 25.


What Art Would Ansel Elgort Save? – Never one to shy away from a celebrity-Old Master crossover opportunity, Sotheby’s asked the starry cast of the movie adaptation of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch to name a great work of art they would save from a disaster. Sarah Paulson said she would save Gustav Klimt’s Woman in Gold, while Ansel Elgort picked the entire Sistine Chapel. Luke Wilson and Nicole Kidman, meanwhile, declined to name a work. The movie itself seems to have fallen flat with critics: Variety called it a “narrative mess” that is unlikely to please fans of the book or Oscar voters. Still, at least when it comes to Old Master paintings like the Carel Fabritius painting at the center of the story, there is no such thing as bad publicity. (Observer)

French Church Recovers Its Missing Art – A London-based dealer in Medieval art has voluntarily handed back four alabaster panels that were stolen from a French church 35 years ago. The reliefs, which have been called national treasures, depict scenes from the Virgin Mary’s life. They are now back in the Saint Michel basilica near Bordeaux. Russell Strachan, who acquired them without knowing that they had been stolen, was reported to have been “flabbergasted” when contacted by French detectives after an investigation that involved the FBI. The thieves had replaced the panels with plaster copies, so the crime went undetected for years. (Times

A Look Inside KAWS’s Collection – Sure, you’ve heard about KAWS, the artist and art-market phenomenon. But what about KAWS, the collector? Brian Donnelly is an avid and omnivorous buyer of art. It all started with a drawing by Raymond Pettibon that the artist bought from David Zwirner in 1999. The purchase was touched by kismet in more ways than one: Pettibon had written SWAK (“sealed with a kiss”) on it, which Donnelly realized was the reverse of his nom de spray can. Since then, the artist has added works by H.C. Westermann, Martin Wong, Carolee Schneemann, and Philip Guston to his collection. He has also set auction records for Peter Saul and David Wojnarowicz. Donnelly “sees art without prejudice and hierarchies, on a very honest level,” says Wendy Olsoff, the co-founder of P.P.O.W gallery in New York. (ARTnews)

A Fisherman Is Using Art to Protect the Ocean – The fisherman Paolo Fanciulli has teamed up with a group of unlikely allies—artists—to protect fish off the coast of Italy from illegal trawling. Fanciulli has worked with sculptors to create an underwater display that doubles as a deterrent to unscrupulous trawlers, who snag their nets on the submerged Carrara marble. Called the “House of Fish,” the environmental art project features more than 20 sculptures, including several by the British artist Emily Young. Fanciulli, who is known as Paolo the Fisherman, hopes that having “the biggest museum in the world to save the sea” will bring more scuba divers and tourists, and help put the Tuscan fishing village of Talamone on the map. (New York Times)


African Artist Ben Enwonwu Is In High Demand – The market for work by the late Nigerian painter and sculptor, who developed a distinctly African form of Modernism, is poised to take off. After Ben Enwonwu’s portrait of a Yoruba princess, Tutu (1974), sold for a record $1.49 million in 2018 at Bonhams, more of his works are heading to market this fall. (NYT)

Bonhams Names New Americas Chief – Amelia Manderscheid has been named Bonhams’s new senior director of postwar and contemporary art. Based in San Francisco, she will be tasked with expanding its presence on the West Coast. Manderscheid previously served as a partner at the venture capital firm Exponential Creativity Ventures and, before that, worked at David Zwirner Gallery. (Press release)


Artist Huguette Caland Dies at Age 88 – Lebanese artist Huguette El Khoury Caland was renowned for her semi-abstract and erotic paintings, which spoke to the liberation of the female body. Her work was the subject of an exhibition at Tate St. Ives earlier this year, and was included in Christine Macel’s central exhibition at the 2017 Venice Biennale as well as the Hammer’s “Made in L.A.” biennial in 2016. (ARTnews)

Dallas Museum Hires Contemporary Art Curator – Vivian Li will take up the role as curator of contemporary art at the Dallas Museum of Art on October 1. Li was previously an associate curator of Asian art and global contemporary art at the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts. Her arrival follows the 2017 departure of curator Gavin Delahunty, who left amid allegations of inappropriate behavior. (Artforum)

Artes Mundi Shortlist Announced – The UK’s major prize for contemporary art has revealed this year’s nominees. They are: Dominican artist Firelei Báez, South African artist Dineo Seshee Bopape, Japanese artist Meiro Koizumi, Puerto Rican artist Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Indian artist Prabhakar Pachpute, and American artist Carrie Mae Weems. A group show of the artists’ work will be held next month and the winner of the £40,000 ($49,745) prize will be announced in January 2020. (TAN)

Stan Douglas Wins a Major Canadian Art Award – The Vancouver-based photographer Stan Douglas has been named the winner of the Audain award, a major prize to support distinguished artists in the province of British Columbia that comes with a CA$100,000 ($75,345) prize. Previous winners include Rodney Graham and the late Fred Herzog. (Canadian Art)


Betye Saar at LACMA, Reviewed – Christopher Knight reviews “Betye Saar: Call and Response” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, a modestly sized show that packs a big punch. The exhibition, which includes 18 sculptures, collages, and sketches than span 25 years of Saar’s six-decade career, manages to communicate both the signature nature of Saar’s assemblage and the way she uses it to explore the legacy of racism in America. (Los Angeles Times)

Peabody Essex Uses Neuroscience to Guide Expansion – The museum in Salem, Massachusetts has completed a major expansion, including a new $125 million wing due to open on September 28. A neuroscientist on the museum’s team has helped design the displays, using scientific research to determine what visitors might be most drawn to. Citing studies that show humans intuitively respond to faces, for example, curators developed a display that juxtaposes human figures through time. (TAN)

See Holly Hendry’s Slacker at Yorkshire Sculpture Park – On view at Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a new site-specific commission by the emerging London-based artist Holly Hendry. Called Slacker, Hendry’s large kinetic sculpture comprises a synthetic skin-like band pulled around a steel structure reminiscent of a printing press. The exhibition is on view through April 19, 2020. (Press release)

Holly Hendry, Slacker (2019.) Courtesy the artist and Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Photo © Mark Reeves.

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