News to Know: Must-Read Art World Headlines from April 14–18

From Matisse's cut-outs to erotic postage stamps, this week's top stories and news.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Pablo Picasso's Dora Maar Seated (1937).

Installation view of “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy” at the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
Photo: Kim Leeson for the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

Much has been written about former US president George W. Bush’s improbable painting career, but how is the work? artnet’s own Deborah Ripley was in Texas for the Dallas Art Fair and dropped by the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum to take a closer look at the amateur painter’s work, but found the accompanying displays of artifacts and trinkets more compelling than the art. Read more.

artnet published its quarterly Art Market Report on Thursday. Eileen took a sneak peak before the release to unpack the data. Buoyed by the stellar London sales, Europe’s market looks beyond bullish for 2014, with Christie’s and Sotheby’s up by 52 percent and  45 percent, respectively; French auction sales leading the table, up 45 percent by value; and a global average increase by value of 37 percent over Q1 2013. For China (down 22 percent) and US (down 7 percent) hope rests on a solid performance at the auctions this coming month.  Read more.

“From his bedroom, sick and elderly, Matisse led a blissful revolution,” writes Coline Milliard while reviewing the Tate Modern’s latest blockbuster, Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs. What amounts to the final stage of Matisse’s oeuvre, the cut-outs encapsulate the three fundaments of his work: line, color, and composition. Whether the artist invented an entirely new medium by taking scissor to colored paper, as curator Nicholas Cullinan would have his viewers believe may be up for debate. Whether the works, and the show itself, are a triumph is certainly not. Read more.

If sex sells, then the Finnish postal service will be in for a deluge of letters starting this September. Itella Posti, as the service is called announced this week that it would be releasing a stamp sheet featuring illustrations by the late homoerotic artist Tom of Finland. The images of “strong and confident male figures,” as the graphic artist who picked them describes, feature buttocks and the artist’s signature bearish cop. Read more.

Jemima Kirke has caught considerable flack as a painter thanks to her second life as one of the stars of HBO’s hit series “Girls.” Taking a look through the new portraits Kirke is currently showing at San Francisco’s Fouladi Projects, Benjamin Sutton thinks those skeptics should take a hike. But, is she the next Alice Neel? Take a look and see for yourself. Read more.

Pablo Picasso Movie to Star Antonio Banderas and Gwyneth Paltrow

FIAC Launches an Official Satellite Fair

Performance Art Great Joan Jonas Will Represent US at 2015 Venice Biennale

Los Angeles Wants to Cut Red Tape on $7.5 Million in Arts Funding

Vienna Philharmonic Identifies Heirs of Nazi-Looted Signac

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