In the Air
Art News & Gossip

In the Air – Art+Auction's Gossip Column

“Woman in Gold” Paints Nazi-Looted Art in Hollywood Strokes

If you are even a cursory follower of art news, you are by now likely more than familiar with the term “Nazi-looted art.” The restitution of ill-gotten works to Jewish families has been making headlines for the better part of a decade — from the multi-year saga surrounding art dealer Cornelius Gurlitt and his 1,400-work trove, from which artworks are just now beginning to emerge, to Tuesday’s news that the Dutch Royal Family is looking to return one of its paintings to a rightful heir. In the beginning, however, there was Maria Altmann of aristocratic Viennese family the Bloch-Bauers, whose uncle commissioned a gold-smattered portrait of his wife Adele from Gustav Klimt, which was then seized during World War II and ultimately became the crown jewel of the Galerie Belvedere. In 1998, Altmann enlisted the help of lawyer E. Randol “Randy” Schoenberg, and in 2006, her request was finally granted against all odds and at the expense of a certain amnesiac nationalism — one of those momentous cases in which an individual situation ends up standing for something sweeping. In fact, it’s such a good story that it’s already been made into a film: “Stealing Kilmt,” a 2007 documentary featuring interviews with the real Maria Altmann, who passed away in 2011 at the age of 94. The Weinstein Company promptly optioned the story to be reworked into a narrative — and reworked it has been, to within an inch of collapsing under the Hollywood strain.

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Isabella Stewart Gardner Heist Suspects Revealed

The thieves allegedly behind one of the most brazen art thefts in American history, perpetrated 25 years ago on Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, have been revealed as two members of a local organized crime syndicate. The controversial right-wing website Breitbart News first reported their names Sunday as George Reissfelder, then 49, and Lenny DiMuzio, then 42, citing sources within the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Breitbart story appears to follow-up on a segment produced by WCVB TV of Boston, which states that the FBI has known the suspects’ names for some time, but has not released them publicly.

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Artsy Registers Wine Business Trademark, Forms LLC

Artsy has secured the trademark to “The Wine Genome Project,” ARTINFO has learned, raising the possibility for a new business area in the same month the art sales platform announced a $25 million investment from a consortium of venture capitalists. The technology company, which has raised $51 million in three funding rounds to date, created a new entity in December 2014 to hold the wine classification trademark, according to Delaware limited liability company records reviewed by ARTINFO. A website, registered anonymously in 2011, appears to host a barebones version of the underlying product — a classification and description of grape varietals — though no revenue-generating offerings are advertised and no affiliation with Artsy is stated. Continue Reading

Black & White Gallery Celebrates 84-Year-Old Henry Khudyakov

In the 1960s, he was a Concrete Poet in the Soviet Union; after immigrating to New York, in 1974, he became a painter, devoting himself to intricate collage pieces made of found objects: pennies, crushed cans, and glitter. Lots and lots of glitter. But Henry Khudyakov — a now 84-year-old artist living today in Jersey City, with work on view at Bushwick’s new Black & White Gallery — never completely abandoned the written word. Over the course of decades, he has documented his every artistic move on the paintings’ back sides. Some of these works showed with New York’s Eduard Nakhamkin gallery in the 1980s. However, the artist mostly worked outside the art world’s radar, as back then, explicitly political art dominated the Russian-émigré scene. Continue Reading

Met Museum Releases “Artists-on-Artists” Series

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has launched a webseries of artist conversations about works in its collection, with the first “season” of 20 videos released this week. Called “The Artist Project,” the effort features a diverse set of practitioners — both established and emerging, represented in the museum’s collection and not, all selected by the museum’s curators of contemporary art. The initial cohort of 20 artists includes Mickalene Thomas, John Baldessari, Kehinde Wiley, and Natalie Frank, among others.

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Instagrams of the Art World: #TBTs, Good Reads, and More

Designer Tracy Reese (tracy_reese) dug out this decade-old Vogue shot of Studio Museum director Thelma Golden wearing one of her gold dresses, posing for Lorna Simpson and shot by Annie Lebowitz.

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A TEFAF Postscript: First-Timer Cardi Sells Two Major Works

First time TEFAF exhibitor Nicolo Cardi of Milan’s Cardi Gallery sold two impressive, Post-War Italian sculptural works by Arte Povera star Giulio Paolini and the more classic Fausto Melotti at the Maastricht fair which ended on March 22. Paolini’s large-scale assemblage, “L’Indifferent” from 1992, a kind of Duchampian confection of empty picture frames, an easel and a reproduction of a classical painting, sold in the region of its €250,000 asking price, and Melotti’s beautifully composed, freestanding work, “L’Ariete” from 1976, executed in brass, copper, and wispy fabric, sold in the region of its €300,000 asking price.

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MAD Names Shannon Stratton New Chief Curator

Shannon Stratton has been named chief curator at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design (MAD). Stratton will assume the new role in June, succeeding MAD’s retiring chief curator, Lowery Stokes Sims. “Shannon brings a bold curatorial vision to MAD, combining energetic new thinking with leadership skills honed over twelve years as the founder of a non-profit art space,” Chairman Lewis Kruger said in a statement, referring to Stratton’s work as the executive director of Threewalls, a contemporary art organization in Chicago.

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Guggenheim Foundation Elects Two New Trustees

In an unprecedented marriage of art with commerce, the Guggenheim foundation has announced the addition of Goldman Sachs senior partner Valentino D. Carlotti and private investor David Shuman to its board of trustees. Carlotti, also head of Goldman’s Securities Division Institutional Client Group, previously served as president of the Brazil branch; “his experience in Latin America and as an avid art collector will be a great asset to the Guggenheim,” said foundation chairman William L. Mack and president Jennifer Blei Stockman in a joint statement. Shuman, meanwhile, founded New York–based fund Northwoods Capital Management LLC, and is, according to the statement, “an in-depth collector of both Abstract Expressionism and contemporary painting” with “a thorough understanding of the international art market.”

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Picasso Sculptures Hit MoMA in September

Right on the heels of Christie’s record-price Picasso offering, MoMA has announced a fall 2015 exhibition for the Cubist master — but this time, it’s all about his sculptures. Beginning on September 14, “Picasso Sculpture” will bring together around 150 pieces from international institutions and private collections — including a notable contribution from the Musée Picasso Paris, who are co-presenting the show. Though primarily known for his canvases, Picasso apparently experimented with sculpture throughout his career — and, given that side-project playfulness, “approached the medium with the freedom of an autodidact,” according to the announcement. The works were first exhibited in 1966 at Paris’s landmark “Hommage à Picasso” retrospective at the Grand Palais, then shortly thereafter made their stateside debut at MoMA in 1967; “Picasso Sculpture” marks the artists’s first US sculptural survey since.

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