Wet Paint: David Zwirner Goes Downtown, Dealer Flips Amy Sherald Work He Pledged to Donate, & More Juicy Art-World Gossip
Which Dia board member banned "Succession" from filming on site? What mega-collector partied late with the downtown crowd? Read on for answers.
Every week, Artnet News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops reported and written by Nate Freeman. If you have a tip, email Nate at [email protected]
A MEGA-GALLERY GOES TO THE LAND OF THE ODEON
Regular Wet Paint readers know all about the migration of galleries to the tony Manhattan neighborhood of Tribeca, a place replete with wall-less lofts upstairs and tall-ceilinged storefronts downstairs. The appeal is obvious: As one neighborhood dealer said the other day, all the kids of the canonical contemporary art collectors on the Upper East Side moved downtown—and they moved to Tribeca.
But there’s yet to be a true flashpoint for the neighborhood, an aha moment when a world-conquering art concern puts down roots there. That moment has now come. Wet Paint can confirm that David Zwirner is building out a new gallery space in Tribeca, on Walker Street between Broadway and Church Street.
The mega-gallery’s first downtown outpost won’t be a typical space—it’s a kunsthalle-style venue run by Ebony L. Haynes, who has pledged to hire a staff of people of color to run it. While the project was announced last year, no location was named. Little is known about the programming, though sources tell Wet Paint that one artist who will be featured prominently is the rising artist Kayode Ojo, with whom Haynes worked when she was the director of Martos Gallery.
The presence of David Zwirner in the neighborhood is a harbinger of the mondo foot traffic that is likely to descend upon the three-block radius once regular gallery-going resumes. (Current occupants include Bortolami, Alexander and Bonin, Kaufmann Repetto, and James Cohan.) The exodus of one-percenters during the pandemic has allowed for the arrival of galleries that could have never afforded Manhattan rents in 2019—for example, Theta, which opens tomorrow in a small sub-level space on Franklin Street.
Zwirner, though, will not be taking a small sub-level space. Sources say demo and build-out has already begun at 52 Walker Street, the cavernous den that was once home to M1-5 Lounge, a kind of low-rent bottle-service club that in recent years became a popular, if slightly fratty, 20-something birthday party spot. (We cannot confirm or deny whether Wet Paint spent an afternoon at M1-5 Lounge in 2016 playing many games of Dartmouth Pong.) M1-5 announced its closure in March 2020, and regulars could not have expected that the next tenant would be an art gallery with locations in Chelsea, Mayfair, and Hong Kong.
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On a recent stroll through sunny Tribeca, the windows of the old lounge were covered with brown construction paper, obscuring the progress inside. The door was locked and an electrician working next door said he had not seen anyone there that day. Expect signs of progress to appear in the coming weeks.
Zwirner declined to comment, and Haynes could not be reached.
FIRST LADY’S PORTRAITIST GETS FLIPPED
The National Museum of Women in the Arts is a spectacular little Washington, D.C. institution housed in a former Masonic Temple blocks away from the White House. And while it lacks the firepower of its neighboring Smithsonian museums, it’s got a notable collection, one bolstered greatly by a 25th anniversary celebration in 2012 during which board members donated a hefty amount of cash and art.
Two of those works were paintings by the Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald, one donated outright and one given as a “promised gift” by the longtime Charm City art dealer Steven Scott. This week, it was announced that Scott would be selling the latter, It Made Sense … Mostly In Her Mind (2011), at Phillips New York in June.
Curiously, auction house literature refers to the work as a “loan” despite the fact that NMWA materials clearly call it a “promised gift.” The page for the artwork on the NMWA website has been deleted since the consignment announcement, but a cached version states that Scott gave the work as a gift, and a spokesperson for NMWA confirmed this. “Donors sometimes ask for promised gifts to be returned to them,” the rep said. “This is the case with It Made Sense … Mostly In Her Mind.”
Sherald makes so few paintings that it’s rare for them to appear at auction, and Scott knows an opportunity when he sees one. Phillips has set the estimate at $500,000 to $700,000, though the windfall for the consignor is set to be much higher, as another Sherald painting offered at Phillips in December sold for $4.3 million after being estimated to sell for $150,000 to $200,000.
According to Scott, a large portion of the proceeds from this sale will return to the museum. “I am selling this painting primarily to benefit NMWA’s acquisitions, exhibitions, and endowment funds,” he said.
Complicating matters is the fact that this exact painting is not only a favorite of Sherald’s—but also a favorite of a very powerful Sherald fan, Vice President Kamala Harris. In May 2018, Harris tweeted that she had visited the NMWA and was taken by the painting. “Had the chance to see this beautiful painting by Amy Sherald, the Baltimore artist who painted Michelle Obama’s powerful portrait,” Harris wrote. “Inspiring artists and cultural leaders like her should remind us of the profound impact representation can have on our society.”
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After Harris was elected VP, Sherald posted the picture of Harris with her work, and said in the caption that it is “one of my favorite paintings.”
Sherald could not be reached for comment.
MURDOCH PUTS KIBOSH ON SUCCESSION SCENES AT DIA
HBO’s Succession is one of the hottest shows on television, that rare universally beloved program that cuts through the glut of so-so streamers to capture the full absurdity of contemporary corporate culture. Presumably, if the show’s producers were to ask to shoot at, say, an arts organization’s Chelsea headquarters, that arts organization would be elated.
And yet! According to sources within the production of the show, when Succession asked Dia if the Emmy winner could shoot scenes at their soon-to-be-open West 22nd Street HQ in Chelsea, the museum brass declined. I wonder who at Dia made that call?
Well, if you’ve ever watched Succession, you may have noticed that, at times, the show is a hardly veiled not-so-flattering portrayal of brothers Lachlan Murdoch and James Murdoch, who have both sought to take the place of their father, Rupert Murdoch, as the head of NewsCorp. And who is on the board of Dia but… none other than James Murdoch?
Sources tell Wet Paint that James personally intervened to make sure that Dia had no involvement in Succession whatsoever.
A Dia representative said in a statement that the organization has a long-held and permanent policy against allowing commercial film, television, or editorial shoots at all Dia facilities.
James has previously said that he doesn’t watch the show. Nobody believes that, pal. Still, it’s safe to bet that Succession won’t be filming at Art Basel anytime soon, either.
Murdoch did not respond to a request for comment.
Many of you knew that the answer to last week’s clue was Wade Guyton’s Untitled (2017), on five panels, made for the Ludwig Museum in Cologne as part of the Schultze Project series. As a few pointed out, the work is technically owned by the city of Cologne, per a donation agreement with the museum’s founder, German chocolate baron Peter Ludwig. If you said it’s owned by the Ludwig Museum, that still counts.
Here are the first 10 respondents—you have to be quick! Brussels-based curator Louis-Philippe Van Eeckhoutte; the artist and curator Diego Diez; the collector Arjuna Rajasingham; Cyprien David, exhibition coordinator at Gagosian Geneva; collector and patron Scott Lorinsky; Pavel Pyś, curator of visual arts at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; Rachel Wetzler, associate editor of Art in America; Lauren Young, curatorial assistant at the Whitney Museum of American Art; Meredith Darrow, founder, Darrow Contemporary; and Lucas Casso, founder of the gallery Sweetwater, Berlin.
Congrats to the winners! Here is this week’s clue. Name the artist, artwork, location, and the organization that facilitated the installation. One hint: It’s not an NFT!
Send guesses to [email protected] You know what you get if you win—you get a hat!
Alex Israel is now designing surfboards for Louis Vuitton that come with cologne … Cecily Brown will be the subject of the next iteration of Bortolami’s Artist/City project, taking place in Buffalo, New York, this summer—Stefania Bortolami broke the news on NOTA BENE, the podcast hosted by advisor Benjamin Godsill and yours truly (listen here) … Emily Segal is crowdfunding her next novel through Bitcoin, and it sounds incredible: Burn Alpha is a “homoerotic teen thriller about a group of three girls at an elite New York City private school who stumble into busting a global sex-trafficking ring”; it’s inspired by an out-there sci-fi book by Donald Barr, the former headmaster of the Dalton School who creepily gave Jeffrey Epstein a job despite him having zero qualifications …
… The Grand Hotel Trois Rois will reopen April 12 after being closed for four months due to lockdowns in Switzerland … Fridman Gallery, on the Bowery since 2013, will open an outpost in Beacon … Speaking of Succession: we revealed a few months back that actress and Red Scare co-host Dasha Nekrasova filmed an appearance on the HBO show, and it turns out that creator Jesse Armstrong liked her performance so much he turned her character—a PR rep doing damage control after Willa’s Broadway play bombs—into a multi-episode arc … Grear Patterson is the latest artist to leave the white cube for the multiplex (or, um, the streaming service) with a new indie baseball flick, Giants Being Lonely, out this week … The Drunken Canal has a jam-packed issue out today, pick it up at the newspaper box in Dimes Square while supplies last … Maybe take your issue to Scarr’s—New York’s best slice shop has reopened for indoor dining for the first time in more than a year …
Julie Mehretu giving a lecture at the Whitney in what was the museum’s first in-person program in 14 months—only 10 people were present, but hey, nature is healing *** Gagosian’s Sophia Cohen at a particularly hopping Balthazar on Monday, which also happened to be opening day for the Mets, the team owned by her dad, mega-collector Steve Cohen—the Amazins lost in Philly 5–3 *** How Long Gone co-host Chris Black at Dr. Clark with writers Naomi Fry, Joe Coscarelli, Sam Hine, and yours truly, as well as photographer Cobey Arner, who plays drums in downtown cool-kid band Rebounder … X Museum founder Michael Xufu Huang Instagramming away while exploring the autonomous territory Xinjiang province, nothing to see there ***
*** A large swath of the downtown demi-monde at Mr. Fong’s—now back open, thank god!—to celebrate Jo Messer’s debut New York solo show at 56 Henry, including gallery owner Ellie Rines, artists Cynthia Talmadge, Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Cecily Brown, Adam McEwen, LaKela Brown, Monsieur Zohore, and many others *** Single and mingling David Mugrabi arriving at the afterparty for the first show at The Hole’s Tribeca gallery at 1 a.m. *** Skater and style icon Evan Mock at Lucien, on a break from shooting the new Gossip Girl reboot ***
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