Wet Paint

More Details on Peter Doig’s Defection from Michael Werner Gallery, the Rubells’ Next Artist in Residence Revealed, and More Juicy Art World Gossip

Every week, Midnight Publishing Group News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops. If you have a tip, email Annie Armstrong at [email protected].


Geez, did you all read my colleague Kenny Schachter this week? I gotta hand it to him, there’s a lot of wild gossip in there, from a $45 million Basquiat going up for auction at Christie’s courtesy of fashion mogul Giancarlo Giammetti, which is good news for the house after, as Schachter writes, it had to eat several works from the Paul Allen sale. I also enjoyed the affirmation I felt when he said my hunch about Elizabeth Peyton going to David Zwirner was a bullseye. But there was one part where Schachter didn’t nail down the whole story, Wet Paint can confirm. 

As I read through the section where he reveals that Peter Doigwho, in a surprise move, just left Michael Werner after 23 years with the gallery—would be effectively managed by high-profile lawyer Joe Hage, my eyebrows raised. As it turns out, there were two gossip-ravenous raccoons sniffing around the same trash can, and what I made out with tells a different story of Doig’s defection. 

What seemed to put the final nail in the coffin was the gallery’s decision to cut financial ties with Doig’s wife, Parinaz Mogadassi, who runs the London and New York gallery Tramps, and who had curated a show for Michael Werner before. According to sources close to both galleries, tensions rose when Michael Werner Gallery stopped supporting Tramps in 2021—and ceased paying Mogadassi a salary. It would be easy to stop and think, “Hm, well why would Michael Werner pay Mogadassi a salary in the first place?” But if you look into Tramps’s programming, it’s in plain sight that it’s a feeder gallery for Werner’s roster, with several artists—including Florian Krewer and Raphaela Simon, both of whom studied under Doig at Kunstacademy Dusseldorf—getting funneled up to the blue-chip operation. 

Asked about this tangled little set of affairs, Michael Werner Gallery declined to comment other than to confirm that Doig had indeed left the gallery (duh). Personally, my eyes will remain firmly on the gallery’s roster to see what happens to the artists who came over from Tramps, and will keep you posted. 


Basil Kincaid's <i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Dancing The Wind Walk</span></i> at VIP Preview Day of Frieze Los Angeles at the Santa Monica Airport on Thursday, February 16, 2023. Photograph by Casey Kelbaugh

Basil Kincaid’s Dancing The Wind Walk at VIP Preview Day of Frieze Los Angeles at the Santa Monica Airport on Thursday, February 16, 2023. Photograph by Casey Kelbaugh

Well, my friends, another marquee art fair week has come and gone. You’d think that the incessant pa-pum of the art market might slow down a few beats per measure in the lag between fairs, but of course it doesn’t! Onwards and upwards, always. 

So far onwards and upwards, in fact, that Wet Paint already has a scoop for you about Art Basel Miami Beach 2023. Provided that the city hasn’t sunk into the Atlantic by next December, the next artist to slot into the star-making Rubell Museum residency is Basil Kincaidand the 37-year-old artist is currently at work on his solo show for the private institution. 

I caught wind of this news outside of Frieze Los Angeles, where Kincaid presented Dancing the Wind Walk, a large-scale public art installation via the Art Production Fund that consisted of textiles from Ghana made into a quilt and wrapped around an airplane. (It was a very appropriate piece for the fair’s location at the Santa Monica Airport.

I gave Mera Rubell a ring to confirm the news, and she said that it was too early for her to say anything officially—but Kincaid’s studio did confirm for me that he is indeed mid-residency. Also, not coincidentally, I had received an email that week which read, in all caps, “AMIR SHARIAT congratulates Basil Kincaid.” If you don’t know, Shariat is the notoriously enterprising artist manager and collector who, has worked with several artists to receive the residency with the Rubells (and if you don’t know, those are some pretty big names, like Amoako Boafo, Kennedy Yanko, and most recently, Alexandre Diop). I asked Mera why she the relationship between Shariat and the residency remains so strong, and she replied coolly and/or ominously, “Well, that’s a story in itself,” before declining any further questions. I’m sure it is! Mera, you’ll be hearing from me again soon. 

Anywho, Kincaid hardly comes out of nowhere for his plum Miami perch. Last year, he had a solo show with Venus Over Manhattan, and Legacy Russell curated his quilt work into “The New Bend,” her highly acclaimed textile-based group show at Hauser & Wirth—both of which gave him exposure to a high-falutin’ class of collectors who are bloodthirsty for new, hot artists. Now the question is: where will his quilts fly off to next?


Nicodim is now representing South Korean painter Yoora LeeJackson Fine Art, a gallery in Wet Paint’s now bustling hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, is moving to a new custom-built, 4,000-square-foot space in Buckhead (the previous gallery was in a charming old house, which I will miss, but congratulations to them)…  Loriel Beltrán has joined Lehmann Maupin’s roster… Downs & Ross have not changed their name to Tara Downs Gallery, as indicated a few months ago following a rather ugly scandal involving Alex RossPerforma has tapped Katherine “Kat” Bishop as the president of its board of directors… George Mickum, a writer for the deliciously gauche publication Guest of a Guest has apparently been selling fake Birkin bags to New York City elite, while tryin to “get in the mix with the New York arts community” (Are you one of the arty, bag-loving elite in question? Please get in touch via the email at the top of this page)… While some agreed with my coverage of a defanged Stefan Simchowitz last week, others did not, writing to me that, “I have worked in the art world now for over 40 years and he stands alone as the most incredible jackass I have every had the displeasure of dealing with,” and “The stunt he pulled on me will never be forgiven or forgotten,” aaaand “literally hate [him] more than anything” … 


Milla Jovovich, Devendra Bernhardt, Gaia Matisse, Maya Rudolph, Natasha Lyonne, and Rufus Wainwright at Tara Subkoff’s buzzy performance at The Hole in Los Angeles, which starred Jaime King *** Honey Dijon, Carl Craig, Nazy Nazhand, and noted collectors Jimmy Iovine and Liberty Ross at Daniel Lee’s debut with Burberry during London fashion week (are there more fashion weeks than there are art fairs? It’s highly possible) *** Molly Baz, Eric Wareheim, and Mia Moretti sipping on weed-infused cocktails at art gallery/my Barbie Dream Home the Goldwyn House in Los Angeles to celebrate the inimitable Gaetano Pesce *** Tobey MaguireRichard PrinceAdam Alessi, Jack Black, and Benny Blanco all showed up to partake in the annual Art World Poker tournament, which poker pro Jason Koon ended up winning *** Hugh Hayden and Max Hollein both posing as pepperoni slices in Gelatin’s elaborate performance at the new O’Flaherty’s *** It seems that David Hockney jumped the gun and made his own immersive experience? *** Alex Marshall may have hosted the best party in Los Angeles during Frieze week, and a certain prominent employee of a midwestern museum was kicked out for unruly behavior *** 


I love when these questions yield enthusiastic responses. Last week, I asked you all who is the best dancer in the art world, and I was not expecting Marilyn Minter‘s name to pop in to my inbox to suggest none other than Mickalene Thomas, but I love it! Louis-Philippe Van Eeckhoutte, meanwhile, piped up to tap in David Zwirner director Thor Shannon, and Matthew Higgs nominated Pauline Daly of Sadie Coles HQ, “No competition!”

Wet Paint is taking a quick break next week, but until then, I ask you all to ponder: What is the biggest faux-pas you can commit at a gallery dinner? Email your response to [email protected]

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What You Need to Know About the Art World’s New Reality TV Show, Lucas Zwirner and Elizabeth Peyton’s Friendship Sparks Chatter, and More Juicy Art World Gossip

Every week, Midnight Publishing Group News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops. If you have a tip, email Annie Armstrong at [email protected].


The new and inventive ways that enterprising artists go about getting museum recognition is ever-expanding. One particularly unique way—which worked for such artists as Kymia Nawabi and Abdi Farah during the two-season run of “Work of Art: The Next Great Artist” back in the early 2010s, and more recently worked for Deborah Czeresko, the glassmaker who won “Blown Away” in 2021 and now shows with Hannah Traore Gallery—is to go on national television and compete against your peers on a reality show. This past summer I reported on rumblings about a new art reality show in the works, which apparently tried and failed to recruit artists like Chloe Wise, Peter Zohore, and Jamian Juliano-Villani to compete on national TV, with the prize being a solo show at D.C.’s Hirshhorn Museum. Now, Wet Paint can exclusively reveal which artists did take the bait. 

Come March 3, art lovers will be able to tune in to MTV right after RuPaul’s Drag Race at 9 pm and watch “The Exhibit,” a paint-splattered battle royale where artists Jamaal Barber, Frank Buffalo Hyde, Misha Kahn, Clare Kambhu, Baseera Khan, Jillian Mayer, and Jennifer Warren will duke it out for that sweet, sweet solo show in our capital city. 

Pretty stacked cast, if you ask me! Among these artists you have a sculptor whose worked with Dries Van Noten (Kahn), a video artist whose had a solo show at Pérez Art Museum (Mayer), a painter with the golden ticket of a Yale MFA (Kambhu), and a rising star with a High Line commission underway (Khan), just to drop a few names. And the list of judges is no slouch, either. Alongside Hirshhorn director Melissa Chiu you’ve got sociologist and Seven Days in the Art World author Sarah Thornton, arts educator Sammy Hoi, collector/Hirshhorn trustee Keith Rivers, and… two of my favorite voices in the art world: high-powered art consultant JiaJia Fei and on-again-off-again-and-now-on-again Midnight Publishing Group News columnist Kenny Schachter. (I guess they had to cast a Simon Cowell type! Schachter told me that his signature Adidas track pants are covered by a piece of gaff tape in each episode, which reminds me of Juliano-Villani’s proposed idea for the show). Rumor has it that Nathaniel Mary Quinn was set to be a judge, but bowed out at the last minute. 

So why did these folks decide to go the reality route? “When Melissa approached me, I was honored that we are able to give an artist a real pathway forward,” Rivers told Wet Paint, adding, somewhat ominously, “This feels like a critical juncture, both for the institution and the artists in front of us.”

Chiu elaborated further on the museum’s decision to proceed with the show: “The television series is a continuum of the Hirshhorn’s radical approach to expanded accessibility to the art and artists of our time.” She also slipped it in that recent popular exhibitions, like “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors,” have doubled their annual attendance up to a million visitors. (Compare that to season one of “Work of Art,” which reportedly drew 1.12 million viewers in 2010.)

Let’s see if a decade and a third of explosive art-industry growth can make an art reality show an actual mass phenomenon (or not).


Elizabeth Peyton
Photo via: zimbo

I know I shouldn’t be surprised by this—because it’s kind of my whole raison d’être here at Midnight Publishing Group News—but it always shocks me how much a mere rumor can turn the art market’s wheels. For the past week, I’ve been sleuthing out some well-sourced chatter that painter Elizabeth Peyton, who has shown with Gladstone Gallery since 2007, is moving south to the kingdom of David Zwirner. After numerous unanswered calls and emails to everyone involved, all parties remained silent on the matter, and the rumor is still unconfirmed, floating around nebulously, but not powerlessly. 

Let me explain what I mean. 

When I first heard this rumor, it has come with some eye-popping details. For one thing, there’s been talk that Peyton is switching for David Zwirner because she’s been dating the beloved bibliophilic playboy heir, Lucas Zwirner. (They have been hanging out a lot.) On the other, I can confirm that at least one powerful art-market dealmaker has already been speculatively snapping up works by Peyton in case the whispers turn out to be true. Welcome to the art world, people. And the rumor mill is still whirring on high steam.

As I said before, no one will confirm or deny any of this to me, no matter how hard I press. All I have for you is what I hear from those close to the matter at hand. 

“Oh, that rumor has been going around for months now, but no, it’s not true,” one prominent New York gallerist, who is close to both parties, told me in reference to the romantic aspect of the Peyton-Zwirner combine. “They hang out, they go to museums together, but no, I do not think they’re dating.” Though, it would be kind of ironic if they were dating and that’s what brought Peyton into the fold. If you’ll recall, Lucas’s romantic entanglements have been bandied about as one reason why his gallery lost representation of Harold Ancart to Gagosian about a year ago. (Ancart has been dating Zwirner’s ex, Dianna Agron, since he left the gallery.)

As far as Peyton’s gallery future, however, anyone’s guess is as good as mine. Again: neither gallery responded to my requests for comment. But Peyton’s work is hot-hot-hot, as she made her auction record this past November at Sotheby’s “The Now” auction, wherein Nick With His Eyes Shut sold for more than double its low estimate of $1 million, bringing in $2.4 million. So, for whoever she’s showing with going forward, well done.


That Baffler Magazine has tapped Matthew Shen Goodman, former editor of Triple Canopy, as its new editor-in-chief… Jessica Silverman has picked up representation of St. Paul-based artist Julie Buffalohead… The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum has tapped architect Eduardo Andres Alfonso as its associate curator… Peter Doig has been having some fun with Harry Styles’s clowncore outfit for this year’s Grammy Awards… Yudai Kanayama, owner of the beloved art-world watering hole Dr. Clark’s, finally met his hero, sculptor Tyler Hays, as evidenced by a very endearing Instagram post… A high-ranking employee at Simchowitz suggested that a collector, instead of selling their Shaina McCoy piece to the gallery at the current primary price, bring the artwork to auction instead … As prophesied in last week’s column, a selection of work by Ernie Barnes will be on display jointly by Ortuzar Projects and Andrew Kreps at Frieze Los Angeles next week…


Monsieur Zohore offered up a painting in exchange for Beyoncé tickets on his Instagram *** The annual Fifteen Percent Pledge’s gala hosted a real who’s-who, like Alteronce Gumby, Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, Hannah Bronfman, Thom Browne, and Tyler Mitchell *** Stefan Bondell’s opening at Vito Schnabel Gallery was also quite the see-and-be-seen scene, with Zac Posen, Arden Wohl, Anthony Haden-Guest, Jeanette Hayes, and David Rimanelli roaming around the gallery before an afterparty at the fabled Palazzo Chupi *** Alison Roman, Susan Alexandra, Naomi Fry, and pretty much every cool downtowner at 56 Henry’s opening for sculptor Ohad Meromi *** Nina Chanel Abney, Derrick Adams, Harold Ancart, Nicolas Party, and Ewa Juszkiewicz at Ninę Orchard for RxArt‘s annual gala *** Olivia Smith, Carlo McCormick, and Aleksandar Duravcevic enjoying some dry-aged prime rib at Balvenera in the Lower East Side to fête Alex Sewell’s new show at TOTAH *** 


It seems to come with the job of museum director to be well-heeled. Last week, I asked readers who the most stylish museum director is, and here’s what people said:

Thelma Golden is it, hands down.” said collector Suzanne McFayden Smith. She wasn’t the only one to write in Golden, as Claire de Dobay Rifelj, associate director of Sprüth Magers, also volunteered her name with “no competition,” and Louis-Philippe Van Eeckhoutte, director of dépendance gallery in Brussels, also agreed. According to artist Lynn Hershman, the accolade goes to the Tate Museum’s Maria Balshaw. Arthur Peña, gallery liaison with Penske Media, wrote in: “Although not tied to a physical museum, if we consider the city itself as an institution (and don’t we??) I think Justine Ludwig, director of Creative Time is a clear winner. I mean, have you seen her nails at any given moment?” 

My question for my readers next week: Will I see you at my party in Los Angeles? Send in your RSVP and I’ll see you next week.


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Wet Paint in the Wild: Performance Artist Miles Greenberg Transforms Into St. Sebastian—Arrow Piercings and All—at the Louvre

Welcome to Wet Paint in the Wild, the freewheeling—and free!—spinoff of Midnight Publishing Group News Pro’s beloved Wet Paint gossip column, where we give art-world insiders a disposable camera to chronicle their lives on the circuit. To read the latest Wet Paint column, click here (members only).

On the heels of his remarkable outing in the New Museum’s atrium, performance artist and sculptor Miles Greenberg is beginning to seize the art world by storm.

The 25-year-old artist, who has studied under such legends of performance art as Marina Abramović and Robert Wilson, was invited to the Louvre to perform and film his new work Étude Pour Sébastien (2023), which sees the artist engage with a durational performance at night in the storied museum, painted and pierced with real arrows.

I am truly beside myself that I get to share a preview of the making of the film, which premieres at the Louvre on January 19, and online January 26, here in Wet Paint in the Wild for you fine folks. Take it away, Miles!

We set up shop in the Hotel Du Louvre. I was happy they’d given us the room that was behind the letter “L” in Louvre on the sign on the façade facing the Comédie Française. You could see the big letter from the bed and that felt like a good omen. I started getting into paint around 3 p.m., and I bought a €20 hoodie from the tourist shop across the street (“PARIS” embroidered on the chest) to avoid fucking up the hotel bathrobe too severely.

I also bought myself some roses. €4.

To put in sclera lenses, you have to imagine shoving a Canadian $2 coin into your eye socket like a vending machine. They’re about two and a half centimeters across and cover every visible bit of white. Your eye just vanishes.

At around 5:06 p.m. we rushed out of the hotel; my boyfriend, Viðar Logi, my best friend in Paris and former roommate Rachel Halickman (she’s a vintage fashion archivist who moonlights as my stage manager for all my shows in France), two journalists, two makeup artists, a piercer, a filmmaker, and then me, wearing a bathrobe, slippers, a hoodie, and sunglasses. We brought our own food and water in two massive Monoprix bags.

We arrived at a secret side entrance at exactly 5:10, where the camera crew and the curator’s assistant were waiting for us with our badges. We made our way down through winding corridors until we got to a wide passageway where the last tourists were slowly filing out. The museum was still open until 6 p.m. The camera crew went ahead to load in gear while I sat behind a large Egyptian column and waited until the coast was clear. When it was, I was escorted to Cours Marly. Now, the museum was closed, and we were locked inside.

Cours Marly is my favorite room at the Louvre. It’s so grandiose in its proportions yet still feels incredibly quiet. Each piece in it is full of movement. All statues originally came from the garden of Louis XIV’s second home west of Versailles called Chateau de Marly.

Two of the larger marbles are personifications of river spirits representing the Seine and the Marne rivers, respectively. A third one depicting Neptune sits between the two.

The piercer, whom I found through a friend of a friend of a friend of Ron Athey (legend), set up her tools in the security guards’ break room nearby. Her job was to mark the spots we’d be piercing the arrows through my body (pec, hip, shoulder, ribs), disinfect the area, and run the sharp tip through my skin.

After some camera tests and light stretching, we started the hard part. Océane, our piercer, began prepping the area.

Getting stabbed is a very frightening kind of pain. I wouldn’t recommend it. Your body knows that when a large-ish sharp object punctures your skin, there’s a good chance it might kill you, so your whole body just floods with adrenaline. Both my sight and my hearing all but disappeared for about 20 solid seconds. I later learned that this sensory shutoff is a natural response your body produces when it thinks you might be about to die. It’s so that you can avoid feeling a painful death. I somehow find that kind of comforting. Our bodies take really good care of us.

Anyway, I felt like I was dying for about a minute, slumped over in the sofa and dripping with cold sweat. After that minute passed though, a total transformation took place. My body became light and strong. It was just like the feeling of breaking a fever, times 1,000. I sat bolt upright with a flash of energy. It felt like my peripheral vision expanded by an extra 1,000; I could feel every inch of my body so acutely; I was so laser focused that I could count the hairs in someone’s eyebrow.

I barely felt the second one.

I thought that blood trickle looked so hot.

The blood is done coagulating, so we do some paint retouching.

7:30, I head into the main space. The cameras are ready and I’ve peed at least thrice.

I really liked this guy with his goat.

I performed about five hours as Saint Sebastian. Starting completely immobile, I very, very slowly would shift into every pose of his I knew from every painting, sculpture and etching in my memory. I felt the arrows like beams of light shooting through my body while I felt my heart rate slow in the freezing cold empty stone room. I became a stone, too.

After about an hour of quasi-stillness, I gradually began to ambulate through the space. Eventually I started going up and down stairs, interacting with the other sculptures, lying down, playing with the arrows, even running. My brain began to shut off then and everything was intuitive—I barely remember what I did.

After five-ish hours were up, the Océane came back down and we took out the arrows, one by one. I suddenly felt very cold. She patched me up as they started to pack the equipment. I called cut, the crew wrapped, and while I sprinted up to the break room, sat down absolutely giddy and ate half a loaf of rice bread. I asked the curator if I could go see the Mona Lisa, I was flatly denied.

We were led out of the Louvre through the glass pyramid. The security guards escorted us all with a flashlight out into the moonlit atrium, where we were greeted by the sound of german shepherds (!!!!!!) gnashing their teeth, ready to run after us. We hurried out of the building, all laughing and out of breath. The outer fence was closed for the night, so we had to toss all the camera equipment over and scale it to get out. I lit up a celebratory cigarette, like someone who’d just had sex. We all lingered a bit after having shared such a surreal experience, but eventually said our goodbyes.

Viðar and I got back to our hotel room around 1:30 or 2 a.m. I took three long showers (the bathtub looked like we’d performed an exorcism in it by the time I was finished), and then we crawled into bed and watched Hunter x Hunter until we passed out. I slept for about 10 hours.

The scarring was very minimal the next morning, you could barely see them. I felt fine the next day, just a bit sore.

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The Truth About Anna and Larry’s Relationship Status, Jens Hoffmann and His Imaginary Friends Start a Gallery, and More Juicy Art World Gossip


If I had a dollar for every rumor I’ve heard about Anna Weyant and Larry Gagosian that isn’t true, well, let’s just say drinks on me next time.

In the year-and-a-halfish that their relationship has been semi-public, there’ve been rumors that they broke up and got back together ad infinitum—rumors that, if I were to put them into writing, would surely result in me getting sued and never being able to afford a round of drinks again—plus, of course, endless fluff from a circus of characters trying to take credit for the power-couple’s meet-cute. 

Most recently, the buzz has been that the two broke up. I’ve heard this from a multitude of sources. One such source told me the breakup happened the day after Weyant’s first show at Gagosian opened uptown last November—“She got her bag, then she got out!” that source told me. A since-scrapped Page Six report had gathered different intel, concluding that the breakup had happened at some point in December. Apparently the rumored split has been quite the conversation topic du jour among the upper echelons: Mary Boone was overheard dishing about the rumored split, I heard about at least one prominent dealer with plans to ask Weyant out on a date, and apparently it even got a mention at a recent internal meeting among Jack Shainman’s staff—the professional impetus for which remains unclear. The takeaway, however, is certain: people sure love to pretend like they have insider knowledge about the art world’s most talked-about couple. 

I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but you’re, um, all incorrect. According to sources extremely close to the couple, Gagoyant is still holding firm in the new year. In fact, the two even rang in 2023 together at Gagosian’s beach house in the 1%-er enclave of Saint Barts, where he’s holidayed before.

A representative speaking on behalf of the gallery declined to comment on their boss’s current relationship status, shockingly, and Weyant didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. So, I can really only confirm it up to the minute that my sources close to them last spoke to me. As it stands now, Weyant remains listed on the Gagosian roster, and the winds haven’t changed direction in New York City, which I imagine they would once that partnership terminates. Until then, the art world’s buzziest merger remains status quo, do not be alarmed. 


Hoffmann+Maler+Wallenberg. Courtesy Jens Hoffmann.

It’s been a while since we heard from curator Jens Hoffmann. The curator has been pretty low-key since he was removed from his role as a curator of the Jewish Museum in 2017 following an investigation over allegations of sexual harassment leveled against him by former colleagues. As it turns out, though, Hoffmann has still been fairly active in the art world, penning an essay on Anna Weyant (I mentioned her again! Drink!) and helping start up a gallery in Bogota, Columbia. Most compelling to me, however is his new appointment-only gallery in Nice, France, called Hoffmann+Maler+Wallenberg. Why’s that? Well, because his other two partners in the gallery don’t exist. 

“Well, really they’re my spiritual co-pilots,” Hoffmann told me over the phone of his fictitious  co-founders, Gustaf Maler (Like the composer? “Nope”) and Esther Wallenberg

“It was a bit of a joke. It’s like, say, Hauser & Wirth or Sprüth Magers. When there’s two names involved with the gallery, people like the sound of that,” he explained further. “There’s more weight to it.” So, presumably, to add that much more oomph to his gallery name he added not one but two cosmetic surnames. Adopting a fake persona as a business strategy isn’t such a distant idea to Hoffmann either, as his partner Emily Sundblad is a director of Reena Spaulings, the famous pseudonymous artist-run-gallery. “It’s in a similar vein to that, yeah,” Hoffmann said. 

In the year and a half since the space opened in France, the gallery has opened an office in Greenwich Village, and there are apparently plans to open up shop in Stockholm and Palm Springs. Thus, if the “grow or go” valuation of success means anything, Hoffmann’s deceptive little plan seems to be working. He explained, “It’s in its early phases so I’m waiting to see where it goes. I’m just happy to set this up and figure out a program that makes sense. We’re in a beginning phase, an experimental phase.”


Opening night of Tchotchke’s space in Brooklyn. Courtesy of the gallery.

That he formerly digital Tchotchke Gallery opened its first ever physical space in East Williamsburg at 311 Graham Avenue this week… That when Sam Orlofsky was still at Gagosian, apparently he had a special mandate that no female assistant of his could be above a size six… That Jessica Silverman has picked up representation of painter Chelsea Ryoko Wong… That Ruttkowski 68, which has spaces in Paris and Dusseldorf, has opened its third location in New York City in Cortland Alley… That a painting by up-and-coming artist Sally J. Han was acquired by the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami… That Lena Dunham mentioned in her Perfectly Imperfect essay that Lisa Yuskavage is quite the SoulCycle maven… that, speaking of art world nepo-babies, Max Werner has left his father Michael Werner’s eponymous gallery to work with TOTAH… that the Whitney has acquired one of Hugh Hayden’s fabulous basketball-hoop sculptures, Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum (2021)… That Lehmann Maupin has added Ken Tan as the director of their Singapore space…



Thomas Houseago, Henry Taylor, Albert Oehlen, and Brad Pitt took a boys trip to MoCA Los Angeles *** Speaking of mensches, Jay McInerney rang in the New Year at the Mercer Kitchen with his old pal Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten *** Christine Brache, Charlie Kaufman, Gideon Jacobs, and Natasha Stagg read poems from the late Silver Jews frontman and former Met Breuer security guard David Berman’s book of poetry “Actual Air” at a tribute performance organized by Caveh Zahedi *** Ellie Rines hosted a dinner party at Anna Delvey‘s apartment, and Al Freeman Jr.Scott LorinskyAlissa BennetChrissie Miller, and Jamian Juliano-Villani all stopped by for pizza and gossip (fun fact: Delvey has not watched the Netflix show about her life, but has been enjoying the series about Bernie Madoff!) *** Kembra Pfahler seems to be a new face of Batsheva *** Apparently Marc Spiegler received an inquiry that was meant for Mark Spiegler, a porn entrepreneur behind “Spiegler Girls” ***


It’s been a while since I’ve seen you folks. To ring in a New Year of Wet Paint, I ask you: Who in the art world is the most addicted to TikTok? Email your response to [email protected]

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Top Tennis Player Fined Over Gallery Sponsorship, Art Basel’s Last-Ditch Effort to Keep Dealers From Fleeing + More Art-World Gossip

Every week, Midnight Publishing Group News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops by our crack team of reporters. This week, we welcome Julie Baumgardner into the mix… 


Usually fashion lays claim to tennis as its sport, but there’s news out of the U.S. Open that crashes into the art world. American singles player Reilly Opelka recently was fined by the United States Tennis Association for sporting a pink tote bag from Belgium’s Tim Van Laere Gallery.

No, the problem wasn’t that tote bags are contributing big time to the climate crisis. It was that the branded bag was “unapproved” (under USTA rules, players cannot wear any gear on the court with logos that exceed four square inches). Opelka—the highest ranking American men’s player in the U.S. Open, who has been deemed the “next great hope” for U.S. men’s tennis—was summarily slapped with a $10,000 fine.

It didn’t take long for the situation to catapult this little pink tote into a blurry confluence of art project, practical object, cult status symbol… and, as Venus Williams joked on Instagram, a $10,000 asset for which she got in at the “seed round.” (In reality, Reilly gave her one of the now-cult bags as a gift.)

Opelka is the only professional tennis player with a gallery as a sponsor—and his tote marked the first time an art organization has been visible on the court.

The partnership derived from the two men’s shared passion for art and tennis. While Opelka is a dedicated collector, Van Laere played tennis professionally for two years after playing in college (“at a lower level,” the dealer clarifies). The only other art-collecting men’s tennis player to come to mind is, of course, John McEnroe. And the comparisons between the two Americans have already started, with McEnroe himself calling Opelka “a dangerous” player.

Under the terms of their arrangement, Van Laere sports a gallery patch on his shirt sleeve and uses the branded tote to carry necessary equipment (like shoes for third, fourth, and fifth sets, we’re told).

The gallery pays Opelka in exchange—Van Laere declined to state how much, but assured us it’s not at the level of a sportswear brand. Opelka and Van Laere “prefer to call it a partnership not a sponsorship,” the gallerist says, seeing it as an opportunity to elevate the arts through tennis. “It’s not about money, it’s about being creative in our collaboration and finding more opportunities to mix both worlds,” Van Laere explains.

Both men were scandalized by the pricey slap on the wrist. “Reilly was just in Toronto for the Open final. He brought it [the tote] in the French Open, everyone thought it was cool,” Van Laere recounts. “He didn’t have a problem. Only in the U.S. Open did he get fined.” (Opelka, for his part, groused on Twitter: “U.S. open ticket sales must be strugglin this year.”)

The art-tennis crew may have gotten the last laugh. Van Laere rallied some of the artists Opelka collects, who also happen to be tennis players themselves—Rinus Van de Velde and Friedrich Kunath—to toss in a bit of performance-protest.

Kunath, who traveled from L.A. to watch his friend play, turned the bags inside out and scribbled in marker, “UNAPPROVED.” Opelka debuted the modified version in his match against Lloyd Harris in the Round of 16. Sadly, Opelka is now out of the Open, but the pink bag will live on (and it’s probably already tripled in value).


A visitor arrives at the 2019 edition of Art Basel, the last in-person version of the fair. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images.)

A visitor arrives at the 2019 edition of Art Basel, the last in-person version of the fair. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images.)

While the flurry of fair activity descends upon New York as the Armory Show settles into its new home at the Jacob Javits Center and Independent sets up shop at Cipriani South Street, the buzz around town isn’t just about the revival of these fairs and how weird it is to see people from the top of the nose up. Instead, Basel is the word on everyone’s lips—and speculation about who’s going and who’s not has become a guessing game with deeper implications. Last weekend, a reliable tipster urgently told Wet Paint, “a mega-gallery is pulling out of Basel, expect the news to drop on Monday.”

Around the same time, a group of galleries—led by Lisson—sent a letter to Basel organizers asking that the show not go on. (The gallery did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

We spent all weekend furiously texting the majors to get ahead of the news. A representative for Gagosian said, “We are packing and shipping works as we speak, so it would seem we are going.” A sales director for Hauser & Wirth responded, “We’re packed and have our hotel rooms booked, so yes I am definitely going.” A representative from Pace flat-out denied any rumor, and while David Zwirner’s official channels have yet to comment, an employee said, “I’m looking at a shipping list so if we aren’t going, that would be weird?”

We went further afield. With the news that Lévy GorvyAmalia Dayan, and Salon 94 are forming a conglomerate and pulling out of all fairs but those in Asia (all the better to reach newer, younger collectors), it would seem rather obvious that one gallery (or all three!) wouldn’t be attending. Last we checked, Europe isn’t Asia—but LGDR also doesn’t formally debut until next year. Salon’s Jeanne Greenberg, who apologized for being occupied with Rosh Hashanah dinner, said, “we’ve shipped the works, so we better be there!” while a rep for Lévy Gorvy assured us that their original Basel plans have not changed. Denials also came in from more than half a dozen other dealers.

In the end, Basel may have managed, by the skin of its teeth, to keep dealers in line with the announcement of a $1.6 million “Solidarity Fund” designed to help participants offset some of their potential losses after the fact (but only, of course, if they don’t pull out).

In a conversation with Wet Paint, Art Basel’s global director Marc Spiegler confirmed that more than a handful of galleries had the intention of calling it quits. But “every single gallery,” he said proudly, “is now confirmed. We met fears with facts and we stepped up in an uncertain moment to calm the market. That came from being in dialogue with our galleries, and the ones who were planning to cancel or had reservations about attending are now enthusiastic and on board.”

With only two weeks ’til the show goes up—and many artworks already in transit—the window for any gallery on the fence to play Humpty Dumpty is closing fast.


A screen shot of Cynthia Talmadge's work on Platform.

A screen shot of Cynthia Talmadge’s work on Platform.

***When word got out that work by in-demand artist Cynthia Talmadge, who has an impossibly long wait list at 56 Henry, had sold out within 20 minutes of going live on Platform, the David Zwirner-backed e-commerce initiative, it perplexed some buyers who logged onto the site the minute the batch went live, only to find them unavailable. Mystery solved: Wet Paint has learned that Zwirner provides participating galleries with VIP pre-sale codes so that preferred buyers can get in early. One dealer likened the arrangement to “an art fair where you pre-sell works” —which sure is all fine and dandy, except that Zwirner himself told the New York Times back in May, “We’re not sitting there and saying, ‘You get to buy it and you don’t.’ It’s first come, first served.” The gallery did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

*** Speaking of Platform, the art world’s hottest bachelor appears to be gallery scion (and Platform honcho) Lucas Zwirner—who was apparently dodging suitors at former Wet Paint scribe Nate Freeman’s recent wedding, with one reveler calling it “the groomsmen effect.” Another insider revealed that Lucas has been spotted multiple times a week at his family-backed restaurant Il Buco with “a different brunette” (the exception being recent dinner companion/ex Sienna Miller, who is blonde).

*** The gallery [On Approval], which has space in San Francisco‘s Minnesota Street Project gallery hub, is—appropriately for Silicon Valley—pivoting to an app. Founder Andrew McClintock, who also runs Ever Gold [Projects], has developed an online platform for “communal ownership” of contemporary art. Currently the app is in beta, and we hear they’re being particularly picky about which collectors they’re letting test out the concept.

*** In June, Wet Paint discovered that Mendes Wood is slated to open an upstate gallery in Germantown—turns out, they’re not going alone. They’re partnering with frequent collaborators Blum & Poe on a shared space a few doors down from the famed tavern Gaskins.


A sculpture by the artist Hugo Farmer at the Glastonbury Festival in the U.K. (Photo by Barry Lewis/In Pictures via Getty Images)

A sculpture by the artist Hugo Farmer at the Glastonbury Festival in the U.K. (Photo by Barry Lewis/In Pictures via Getty Images)

*** Which untouchable Minimalist master (who would’ve rejected that moniker) had a torrid affair with the country’s now-top art critic just back when they were getting their start? *** Which power dealer had a Rashid Johnson installed in their child’s New York University freshman dorm—which, according to a classmate, the spawn didn’t even like? *** Which 57th Street dealer has earned the nickname “Son of Sam” due in part to his father’s name, and also to his reputation for being rather terrifying to deal with? ***


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