Chelsea Gallery Charges Artists for Representation, Dealer Drops Painter After He’s Accused of Copying, Plus More Art-World Gossip
Plus, which art collector's ex-wife got into it with Julia Fox at a Paris restaurant? And our columnist parties it up with David Mugrabi.
Every week, Artnet News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops. If you have a tip, email Annie Armstrong at [email protected].
ART WORLD AGORAPHOBIA
You’ve heard of the Castelli model. You know about gallery shares. Now, get ready for the most exploitative possible gallery model of all time!
Twitter went alight this week when critic Paddy Johnson posted about a space in Chelsea called Agora Gallery. “So, apparently Agora gallery is charging artists between $3,000–17,000 a year for ‘representation’.”
I joined in the chorus of people who saw this and immediately thought, Who has the audacity?
Artist Maya Ciarrocchi shared with Wet Paint an email sent to her from the gallery. It reads: “My name is Elle. I am a gallery representative, working with Agora Gallery, which is located in Chelsea, the art district of New York City. I came across your artwork online and I was impressed. As a gallery representative, my job is to discover talented artists who might benefit from the representation and promotion services that we offer.”
Ciarrocchi was, of course, taken aback when she looked into it further and found the gallery’s fee structure for representation. There are four levels to choose from: Digital ($3,450 per year), which offers only online representation; Basic ($5,450) which bumps you up to “10 linear feet of space” in the gallery; Standard ($9,250), which doubles your “linear feet of space”; and Premium ($17,850), which offers 40 feet of space, 500 invites to your opening, and a “full page profile in an art publication,” among other things.
To be fair(ish), 70 percent of the proceeds from a sold work go to the artist, so that’s something. But if you even want to be considered, get ready to shell out a $50 fee to get someone to look at your portfolio.
“It’s absolutely criminal,” Ciarrocchi told Wet Paint. “I was going to write her back tomorrow”—her being Elle Angeles, who is listed on the company website as an employee—”just to hear what they were proposing.” Another artist who was approached, Mark Berry, told Wet Paint that he assumed the gallery was “gearing up for an artist sweep.”
According to its website, Agora has been around since 1984. Personally, I’d never heard of it before this week, but I suppose that could very well be true. The gallery’s website does feature an incredibly long section devoted to artist testimonials—it honestly looks like there could be 150 of them (even though they’re written without full name disclosure so, uh, you know).
“You do a tremendous work of presenting artists from all over the world in New York and assist them in their career,” an artist named M. Grigoryan wrote in. “I encourage artists all over the world to cooperate with Agora Gallery, stemming from my own successful experience.” H. McConochie said one visitor to their show at Agora called it “one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.”
Agora Gallery did not reply to Wet Paint’s request for comment.
THAT HAPPENED FAST
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The longer I report this column, the more I come to realize that it really all does go down on the ‘gram. Each week, the app brings new beef to the table.
This time around, the drama came from Philadelphia-based artist Jonathan Lyndon Chase, who came in hot on Instagram with a caption reading, “D*ckhead. This is not an apology.”
Yikes! A public callout! Personally, I love to see it. The insult was directed at Mohammed Laouli, an artist Chase had accused of copying his work.
Let’s back up. This week, Chelsea gallery Yossi Milo took to Instagram to announce its exclusive representation of Laouli, which it was kicking off with an online viewing room dedicated to his work. “Inspired by the writings of bell hooks, Silvia Federici, and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson,” the gallery wrote, “he uses paint, collage, and a tender treatment of the human figure to deconstruct dominant notions of masculinity and reclaim the appropriated aesthetics of the European art historical canon.”
But Chase saw something else: a direct copy of their own style, which the artist illustrated in an Instagram post calling the imitation “disrespectful.” Chase tagged Laouli and Yossi Milo and added: “What’s good?”
Chase, who is represented by Company Gallery in New York, is known for making mixed-media, collage-style paintings that depict queer intimacy between Black people. The artworks are pretty instantly recognizable, as bodies twist, turn, and combine over colorful abstract backdrops. Recognizable enough, it seems, that Laouli felt the need to publicly reply.
“Dear Jonathan Lyndon Chase,” Laouli’s wrote in response to Chase via DM. “Although I remember having seen some of your works a couple of years ago, I really can not remember that I used them consciously as reference for my paintings. I know that this sounds weird and I understand that you feel offended.”
Laouli then suggested that two of his paintings with particular likeness to Chase’s work be removed from his upcoming show.
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But Yossi Milo took it even further, dropping Laouli from its roster, and cutting ties with him entirely—all before even hosting a show with him.
The gallery left a note on Chase’s original post: “I am a big fan of yours and I respect the integrity of your work completely. Again, I apologize sincerely for this ugly situation.”
Chase told Wet Paint the matter was done with, and Laouli could not be reached for further comment.
Adams and Ollman will now represent painter Rob Lyon … A handful of art-world influencers have been approached by a political PAC offering to pay them to post about how much Joe Biden’s presidency has positively impacted their lives… The new Netflix series about Anna Delvey has her home address as 12 George (when really she lived at Aby Rosen‘s 11 Howard) … Libbie Mugrabi and Julia Fox apparently butted heads at a restaurant in Paris … Petzel Gallery is moving to a larger space on 25th Street … Dominic Cummings, senior advisor to Boris Johnson, attempted to keep a Jake and Dinos Chapman print owned by the UK government on his way out of 10 Downing Street …
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Jordan Wolfson, Aurel Schmidt, Slayer guitarist Kerry King, Oneohtrix Point Never, Olivier Babin, Thomas Chatterton Williams, and Mills Moràn all braved the blizzard to attend Lomex Gallery‘s party in SoHo for an opening of works by H. R. Giger *** Someone’s Bored Ape has a dedicated mural in Williamsburg at the corner of Roebling and South 3rd Street, and it was apparently was commissioned by the owner *** Jacolby Satterwhite commissioned a portrait of himself by none other than Rachel Dolezal *** Facility Mag, the rag partially dedicated to publishing access codes to New York bathrooms, is back *** Works by Ruth Asawa, John Baldessari, and Ed Ruscha photographed in the Santa Barbara home of Gwyneth Paltrow—color me gooped *** David Byrne at his opening at Pace, which apparently was consumed by the smell of a particularly garlicky dinner, which Wet Paint was mysteriously not invited to ***
WET PAINT IN THE WILD
A last minute mix-up left an empty slot in this week’s Wet Paint in the Wild, so I decided I’d take it over myself. I get asked all the time how I get my stories, so here I go, showing not telling. Really, I just try to weaponize my own extraversion and nosiness, and put myself right where the action is. So behold, here is me doing that.
WET PAINT QUESTIONNAIRE
Ooh la la, last week’s question got some scintillating responses! I asked y’all what you think is the sexiest artwork in any New York museum, and what came back did not disappoint.
Curator Daisy Sanchez said Roni Horn‘s Untitled (Flannery) (1996–97) at the Guggenheim Museum was “wet and illusive and rife with tension between forms.” Writer Laura Bannister named Carolee Schneeman’s Meat Joy (1964), which lives at MoMA, even though she admitted it wasn’t necessarily sexy per se. “But in its co-opting of flesh as material, it delivers something sensuous and carnal and kinetically charged, which might be the same thing.” Is it getting hot in here?
Critic and writer Larissa Pham said she’d been “overcome by how sexy the Herakles statue at the Met is… probably because I’ve been drawing it—but the abs!” Editor Laia Garcia-Furtado pointed out Joan Semmel‘s Intimacy/Autonomy (1974) at the Brooklyn Museum, while artist Pablo Gnecco chose Constantin Brancusi‘s bronze Bird In Space (1928), which belongs to MoMA.
Alright, let’s put the sexual gaze aside for now. My question this week is: What art-world person never remembers who you are, no matter how many times you’ve met?
Send your responses to [email protected].
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