Wet Paint: Inside a Museum Director’s Shocking Departure, Noted Dealer Swaps Shows for eBay Collabs, & More Juicy Art-World Gossip
What budding collector got between Katie Holmes and her new boyfriend? Who flew in for Berlin Gallery Weekend parties? 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].
SCULPTURECENTER DIRECTOR CARVED OUT OF SPOT
Last week, an announcement was made regarding SculptureCenter, the small but deeply influential art space in Long Island City, Queens—an announcement that rattled the art scene just as fall exhibitions were getting set to open (to mask-wearing social-distancers, of course). Director Christian Rattemeyer was stepping down, having just begun his duties in November 2019—one of the shortest-lived directorship stints at a major institution in years. Something didn’t quite add up. Rattemeyer was hailed as a worthy successor to Mary Ceruti, who announced in November 2018 that she would leave SculptureCenter to become the director of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Rattemeyer had the right pedigree. Prior to joining the pioneering art space, which in recent years boosted the careers of artists such as Rashid Johnson, Jessi Reaves and Cosima von Bonin, he spent a dozen years at MoMA in the drawings and prints department, and before that did stints at New York’s Artists Space and Documenta, the high-water mark of exhibitionary clout held in Kassel twice a decade.
But there were issues from the start, sources said. To match Rattemeyer’s MoMA salary, the board had to agree to pay him significantly more than Ceruti, rubbing some of the brass the wrong way. And then, just a few months into his tenure, the pandemic hit, forcing the institution to close and chomping into its operating budget. A source close to the institution said that Rattemeyer “dropped the ball” during the pandemic, some of which he spent in the Catskills, where his wife, former Art Basel artistic director Cay Sophie Rabinowitz, runs an art space, OSMOS Station. It didn’t help that curator Sohrab Mohebbi announced in the middle of July that he would be leaving for Pittsburgh, as he had been named curator of the Carnegie International, one of the longest-running contemporary art surveys on earth. (Mohebbi remained on staff at SculptureCenter as curator-at-large.) When staffers tried to get Rattemeyer to sign off on participating in the Hauser & Wirth fundraising exhibition “Artists For New York”—which is raising money for New York arts institutions through the sale of works by more than 100 artists—Rattemeyer initially waffled, and then dealt with technical issues stemming from the gallery—though SculptureCenter did end up being a beneficiary of the sale, which was announced Thursday.
Sources also said that Rattemeyer, who took the job after several others turned it down, had his own battles with the board—and that the decision to leave was as much his as it was the museum’s. Others noted that the institution made it through the shutdowns without the staff layoffs seen at other museums. In a statement, Carol Bove, chair of SculptureCenter’s board, said: “On behalf of the entire board and staff of SculptureCenter, we thank Christian for his leadership, curatorial excellence, and global perspective. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.” In his statement, Rattemeyer said: “I want to thank the incredibly talented staff and leadership at SculptureCenter. I have enjoyed being part of an independent and artist-driven institution leading the conversation on contemporary art.” Rattemeyer and SculptureCenter didn’t respond to additional requests for comment. OSMOS opens a show of work by the Los Angeles artist Robert Russell in Stamford, New York, this Sunday.
LOS ANGELES ART SELLER SENDS SPACE-Y PRESS RELEASE
Last week, Michele Maccarone sent out an email that kinda buried a pretty big lede—it appears that she’s closing her Los Angeles gallery and moving away from live exhibitions, ending, at least in one real way, an institution that defined an era of downtown New York and established the careers of Carol Bove, Nate Lowman, and many others. She maintains the closure is temporary, but did not give a date for when in-person shows would resume, apart from saying 2021. (In something of a cosmic sign that this kind of thing would happen, the once-ratty Chinatown space where Maccarone started out—a ramshackle Dimes Square building at 45 Canal Street that once housed an old forgotten electrical store—was converted into a mansion and bought by Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner‘s son, Theo Wenner, for $2.35 million.) Instead, Maccarone will create digital experiences alongside an array of unexpected partners, à la Maccarone’s team-up with PornHub late last year. First up is a show with the musician and artist Grimes, who Maccarone teamed up with in May to auction off her soul to the highest bidder—but this time work is being presented as an online show alongside eBay, that original online marketplace that still boasts, per its flack, “182 million active users.” I wonder if, say, one or two—three, maybe?—can be swayed to buy a drawing Grimes made of a fairy crying blood with butterfly wings sprouting out of its back.
But perhaps most intriguing is the extravagantly crafted press release, which sounds like it’s coming more from a Silicon Valley tech guru than an art dealer. Maccarone refers to the gallery as an “incubator for innovation” and drops straight-faced assertions like “society has become more global and mediated.” But what arched more than a few eyebrows was when she referred to real-life shows as her “terrestrial operations.” As opposed to… extraterrestrial operations? Perhaps the next move for Maccarone is to team with Grimes’s partner, SpaceX founder Elon Musk, and plan some collaborative exhibitions in space. There’s speculation she already has teamed up with him in some capacity—but Maccarone herself didn’t confirm anything over email.
As many of you guessed, the screen shot included in last week’s Pop Quiz was indeed from the spectacular HBO show Succession. I know, I know, the swoop of Siobhan Roy’s hair as she walks down the stairs gives it away. More difficult to solve was the artwork. But a few eagle-eyed readers recognized the work as a painting by the great Jacqueline Humphries. A few even knew that the work is actually installed in that same spot at the Hamptons house which doubled as the Roy family’s Summer Palace on the HBO show: Jule Pond, the 42-acre multi-house estate built for Henry Ford that’s owned by portfolio manager and art collector Brenda Earl. (It’s currently on the market for $145 million.)
First, a big shout out to Alex Glauber, the founder of AWG Art Advisory, for coming up with the clue and generously offering it up for the Pop Quiz guessers to puzzle over.
And then, without further ado, the winners are: Cromwell Art LLC founder Wendy Cromwell; Kirby Kane from the consultancy Riggs Cooper Art Partners; Sara Friedlander, deputy chairman of Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s; and Ellen Swieskowski, founder of the essential gallery-going app See Saw. Congrats to the winners!
Here is this week’s clue. This is once again a screenshot of a current television program. And what program might that be? With that answered, please name the artist who made the sculpture in the top right corner, and its current location.
You know the drill, shoot a line over to [email protected] with a guess. Winners will receive first dibs on the merch that is being made in collaboration with someone extremely exciting—more on that to come…
Downtown is buzzing about the unexpected pairing of Emilio Vitolo, Jr.—the face man at Houston Street red-sauce art-world hang Emilio’s Ballato, as his dad owns the joint—and Katie Holmes; but the real drama comes from the fact that Vitolo dumped live-in fiancée Rachel Emmons, a budding collector who’s dated a few art scensters over the years, right as he started dating Holmes … Many are trying to figure out what gallery-world figure wrote this week’s extra-salacious New York magazine Sex Diary, as it’s written from the point of view of a married Manhattan gallery owner who is sleeping with her best friend’s boyfriend—while her husband sleeps with that best friend!—but the only time she mentions the gallery is to say she’s opening a show on a Monday, when galleries are usually closed … Jose Martos may have said goodbye to Martos Gallery director Ebony Haynes, who departed last month, but in happier news in the Martos-verse, he’s opening another iteration of his funky peripatetic pop-up side project, Shoot the Lobster, this time in London, and it will be run by former MoMA PS1 curatorial assistant Samantha Ozer… Floral designer Pat Kepic has been given the grave responsibility of refilling the flowers in Jeff Koons’s Hulk (Yoke) (2004–14) in Aby Rosen’s Southampton house … Gagosian’s Sophia Cohen has officially joined us and converted—what a mitzvah! …
Manhattan’s young new pretty-people love-birds, model Kaia Gerber and Euphoria star Jacob Elordi, dining as a duo outside at Lucien late on Tuesday before leaving together in a giant SUV *** Loïc Gouzer ditching the Montauk coastline for Berlin, where he swung by the absolutely legendary hang Paris Bar after selling a Julian Schnabel painting via his Fair Warning app for $725,000 *** Art Basel global director Marc Spiegler also in Berlin, but opting to dine at Grill Royal, the swank boite flanking the Spree *** Michael Cohen promoting his book by going on MSNBC from his apartment, where he had a Miró print behind him on the wall *** Joe Bradley hanging out at the Elaine de Kooning House in East Hampton with fancy-tamale-frying fit legend Bobby Flay ***
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