Wet Paint: Artist Ryder Ripps and Azealia Banks Go Public as a Couple, Artist Accused of Stealing From His Mentor, & More Art-World Gossip
What Chelsea gallery poached a director from an uptown rival? Which artist shot Bella Hadid for the new Givenchy line? 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]
CUPID STRIKES HEARTS OF BANKS AND RIPPS
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, an artist who’s known for toying with his audience on social media has found love with a musician who is an expert in the art of the Twitter feud. That’s right: It’s 2021 in Pandemic America and Ryder Ripps is dating Azealia Banks. According to a spree of Instagram stories, the two have been frolicking through sunny Miami Beach, staying at the Versace Mansion, and running happily through parking garages and museums.
Who are these charming lovebirds, and what makes them a bonkers-unlikely couple that is somehow perfectly suited to these dystopian times? Ripps is a vaguely post-internet artist who’s largely abandoned showing at traditional galleries such as Postmasters in favor of doing design work for such zeitgeist-y brands as Soylent and Pornhub. He’s also a kind of post-modern meta-troll. (He recently took credit for designing the new logo for the CIA, sending the internet into a tailspin; he did not actually design it.)
And what of Azealia Banks? In 2011, she released a pulsating song called “212” later named one of the best singles of the decade by Pitchfork and Billboard. But alas, she’s perhaps best known for taking potshots at a dizzying array of pop culture figures ranging from Pharrell to Russell Crowe to Nicki Minaj. In 2018, she accused Lana Del Rey of doing “little Lolita chola cosplay,” leading Lana to respond via tweet that she “won’t not fuck you the fuck up.” There was also that time she live-streamed hanging out solo at Elon Musk’s house after his partner Grimes invited her over, but never showed up.
And so it was somewhat surreal to see these two forces of nature collide. Last week, Banks posted an image to her Instagram stories of her next to a shirtless Ripps, and then a picture of them underneath the gigantic Keith Haring at the Rubell Museum in Miami. Ripps posted to his stories an image of them embracing in masks, and then reposted another person who had added the caption “power couple.”
Will the romance last? That remains to be seen. But in the spirit of the holiday, let’s hold out hope. We did not hear back from reps for Banks, and Ripps didn’t respond to an email.
EVERYTHING’S COMING UP ROSAS
Two weeks ago, Wet Paint unspooled a twisted and strange tale of a friendship undone by an alleged forgery. Sources detailed allegations that young artist Christian Rosa had taken an unfinished work from the studio of his mentor, the legendary Raymond Pettibon, finished it himself, and then attempted to sell it for more than $1 million. Advisors with knowledge of the deal indicated that the work came close to selling—which makes sense. A large Pettibon wave painting for a million bucks would be a steal… that is, unless the work itself were stolen, as multiple sources suggested.
In the weeks that followed, nearly a dozen additional sources close to both artists came forward with more information about Rosa’s long relationship with Pettibon. Four of them indicated that, based on information they have, rather than an isolated alleged incident, the tainted wave painting may have been one of at least three said to have been taken from Pettibon and later put on the market.
The relationship between the two artists began over a decade ago, when Pettibon met Rosa through artist Daniel Richter, who was teaching the rising star at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna. In 2010, Rosa took a road trip out west to visit Pettibon and crash at his Venice Beach home, which doubled as a studio. A source present at the time said that, in his recollection, Pettibon had works on paper around the studio and Rosa took some unfinished works from the studio—the unfinished works that he would later finish himself and offer for sale.
In a statement to Wet Paint, a representative from Raymond Pettibon’s studio said that the artist never purposefully gave any works to Christian Rosa, and had no knowledge of Rosa having the works.
According to sources, the two artists maintained a relationship—“this super loose, boozy, casual/informal, trusting friendship,” as a source put it—until Pettibon found out that Rosa was allegedly trying to sell the works he took from the studio. At that point, the studio alerted authorities about the allegations, which is how the case came to be directed to the FBI. (The FBI has not responded to requests for comment.)
Another source suggested it was an open secret in Vienna that Rosa had taken a Pettibon from the apartment of one of Pettibon’s former girlfriends and sold it to a collector in town. A different source directed me to a video of Rosa in a what almost became a physical brawl with the collector Stefan Simchowitz at an opening at Ibid Gallery in Los Angeles. But perhaps that’s a story for another day.
Pettibon’s studio declined to comment beyond that one statement, and his New York gallery, David Zwirner, did not respond to an email. Christian Rosa did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
PAULA COOPER LURES DIRECTOR FROM UPTOWN POWERHOUSE
This year has already been a big one for Paula Cooper Gallery. The legendary shop known for championing a generation of minimalist and conceptual artists has expanded beyond New York for the first time in its 53-year history with a new outpost in Palm Beach. Now, it’s making power moves on the staff side as well. Wet Paint can reveal that Alexis Johnson, long a secret weapon at Lévy Gorvy, will be leaving her job to become a senior director at Paula Cooper.
It marks a homecoming for Johnson—she worked at the gallery for six years starting in 2010. “She is an indefatigable advocate on behalf of art and artists, and we are excited to see her resume longstanding relationships with our artists, as well as forge new bonds,” said Steven Henry, senior director of the gallery. She’ll be working out of Chelsea, while Henry will be manning the ship down in Palm Beach, where the gallery snagged a clutch space on the tony stretch of Worth Avenue.
Just in time for all that GameStop commotion in the markets, the last Pop Quiz was a still from the film Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps; the work in question is an Antony Gormley in Gordon Gekko’s London office. Here are those who sent in correct answers: Cyprien David, exhibition coordinator at Gagosian Geneva; Sofía Silva, the curatorial & education fellow in US Latinx Art at the Whitney; Chloe Nanshu Yang, assistant at the Hive Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing; Nicole Berry, executive director of The Armory Show; Queenie Wong, director of Sonnabend Gallery; Brian Balfour-Oatts, director of postwar and contemporary art at Archeus / Post-Modern; and Lexi Bishop, founder of the Pittsburgh gallery Here. Congrats to you!
Now for this week’s clue. What is this work, specifically where is it installed, and who owns it?
Send guesses to [email protected] Winners get eternal glory and will be that much closer to getting one of the fabled hats that may or may not be arriving at a certain Chinatown apartment in the next few hours…
Aby Rosen, mega-collector, has made an endorsement in the New York mayor’s race: Citigroup executive Ray McGuire, a fellow mega-collector who serves as chairman of the board at the Studio Museum in Harlem … Emily Mae Smith has been picked up by Petzel just days after her work was cited as an example of “Zombie Figuration” in Dean Kissick’s essay in The Spectator, which was the talk of art-world dinners late last month … Hamza Walker is dating Kim Gordon, who happens to be on the board of LAXART, the nonprofit of which Walker is director … Per Skarstedt is closing the space on 64th Street that he inaugurated just two years ago in a building once owned by the Wildenstein family and now owned by collector Len Blavatnik, and will be expanding operations at the 79th Street space—as Per Skarstedt personally told Wet Paint: “An unexpected opportunity arose at our 79th street gallery, allowing us to renovate & utilize all 5 floors of the historic mansion for the first time since our opening there in 2008” … Keith McNally’s grand and glorious downtown treasure Balthazar is reopening soon after nearly a year of hibernation, for both indoor and outdoor dining … Mark Grotjahn makes his own self-branded hot sauce, and the artist Grant Levy-Lucero puts it on his tacos …
*** Star ballerina Misty Copeland at Half Gallery, looking at a work by Chaz Guest, an artist who boasts such esteemed collectors as Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, and Beth Rudin DeWoody *** David Beckham—who is primarily known for soccer and his fashion-designer wife but also collects Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst, as well as younger artists such as Jamian Juliano-Villani—at the Miami Design District spot Mandolin *** A long line around the block to see new work by Matt Copson at High Art in Paris *** photog Talia Chetrit shooting the new Eckhaus Latta campaign *** Heji Shin shooting Bella Hadid for the new Givenchy line, having been handpicked to oversee the campaign by the French fashion house’s creative director Matthew Williams, who happens to be dating David Zwirner staffer (and daughter) Marlene Zwirner ***
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