Art Industry News: Turns Out the Success of Artist Neo Rauch Is Based on a ‘Historical Misunderstanding,’ Per the New Yorker + Other Stories
Plus, Michelangelo's Pietá returns to its original splendor after a three-year restoration, and a Basquiat "Warrior" heads to Hong Kong.
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 Tuesday, September 28.
Family Battle Over Looted Art Makes Trouble for Auction House – The heirs to a Lovis Corinth painting that was looted from their grandparents by the Nazis are battling Austrian auction house im Kinsky, which sold the work for €60,000 ($70,300) 13 years ago. The house refuses to disclose the identity of the buyer, who it says acquired the work “in good faith.” The painting’s anonymous owner has offered the family the option to buy it back (with the auction house chipping in €10,000) or to put it back up for sale, with the family getting 50 percent of the proceeds. (Times of Israel)
How Michelangelo’s Pietá Got Restored – Michelangelo’s Pietá, the unfinished marble sculpture he had been making for his own tomb, has undergone its first major restoration in nearly 470 years. Carried out over three years at an open restoration laboratory at the Opera del Duomo museum, restorers painstakingly removed layers of wax and grime to restore the work to its original splendor. (New York Times)
Neo Rauch Gets the New Yorker Treatment – In a lengthy New Yorker profile, writer Thomas Meaney traces the improbable rise of German artist Neo Rauch. His international success was sparked by a favorable line from critic Roberta Smith in her 1999 write-up of the Armory Show, but it was American collectors’ assumptions—and a “transatlantic ruse”—that really made him catch fire. “A painter who went out of his way to learn from artists beyond the Iron Curtain had been mistaken for an experimental socialist realist by a New York art world hungry for East European exoticism in the wake of the Cold War,” Meaney writes. “It hardly mattered that Rauch had been born too late for socialist realism’s heyday and had suppressed as much of his early art as possible. When American buyers came to Leipzig, Rauch became the beneficiary of this historical misunderstanding.” (New Yorker)
Two Men Arrested for Forging Japanese Art – Former art dealer Yuzo Kato and block print studio manager Masashi Kitabata have been arrested in Japan on suspicion of copyright infringement after prints aping the work of late master Nihonga painters including Ikuo Hirayama began to circulate on the market. All authorized prints must be done from blocks made by craftspeople and with permission of the copyright holder (usually the families), neither of which were the case here. (Kyodo News)
MOVERS & SHAKERS
Basquiat Warrior Could Fetch $25 Million at Sotheby’s – Perhaps hoping to replicate Christie’s success with one of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1982 “Warrior” paintings in Hong Kong, which sold for $41.7 million in February, Sotheby’s is offering a 1982 “Warrior” in its October 9 Hong Kong sale. The work is estimated to fetch HKD150 million–200 million ($19.2 million–$25.7 million). (ARTnews)
Cuban Artist Released From Prison – The Cuban artist Hamlet Lavastida has been released from prison after three months. He was accused of “incitement to commit a crime” because of a series of artworks he had created stamping local currency with images relating to two activist movements—San Isidro and 27N—that oppose the crackdown on artistic freedoms in the country. He has taken exile in Europe. (ARTnews)
Artnet Auctions’ “Thinking Contemporary” Sale Sees New Record – Artnet Auctions’s Thinking Contemporary sale was 94 percent sold by value and set a new record for a work by April Gornik, which realized $68,750 after 27 bids, significantly exceeding her previous auction high. Other highlights included a saturated work on paper by Lisa Yuskavage, which achieved $50,000, and a flower canvas by Marc Quinn, which fetched $87,500. (Press release)
Mr Doodle Drops an NFT – The much-hyped auction star Mr Doodle has dropped an NFT on the marketplace SuperRare. The work, called The Living Doodle, is an animated version of one of the artist’s signature doodles featuring some of his recurring characters. The winning bidder will also get the original canvas. (We double checked we weren’t living in an art-market fever dream before posting this, don’t worry.) (Press release)
FOR ART’S SAKE
Lubaina Himid Nabs the Government Art Collection Commission – The U.K.’s Government Art Collection (GAC) has awarded the Turner Prize winner with the 2021 Robson Orr TenTen Award. The recognition comes with an assignment: to create a limited-edition print to be shown in diplomatic buildings across the globe. Himid’s print, Old Boat, New Weather, draws inspiration from traditional seascapes and invokes the history of enslavement and imperial trade. A small number of prints will also be available for sale through Outset to raise acquisition funds for the GAC. (Press release)
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