anna weyant

Last Year’s Art Stars Make Way for Even Younger, Cheaper Debutants in London’s Auctions as ‘Voracious’ Speculators Seek New Blood

Where is Jadé? Where is Anna? Where is Christina? 

The familiar artist names that have regularly set off fireworks at recent high-stakes contemporary-art auctions are conspicuously missing from the lineup of London sales that are scheduled to kick off February 28. Their absence is all the more intriguing given that London’s auctions are the first public market test of the year, offering an important snapshot of the trends that are crystalizing as the season progresses to Hong Kong and New York.

One thing is clear: There’s a noticeable drop in the offerings of Black portraiture, bro-primitivism, and Spanish New Wave at Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips. (Where are you, Otis, Jordy, and Rafa?)

Sotheby’s will offer the week’s only Nicolas Party painting, and Christie’s will present the sole canvas by Amoako Boafo—two artists whose works used to be ubiquitous. There’s not a trace of Matthew Wong, whose $48.5 million auction total in 2021 was halved last year. 

Tastes change fast in the investment-driven art market. One of the first places to reflect a shift is the speculative ultra-contemporary segment, where prices for some artists were recently moving up-up-up with lightning speed. The sector’s auction sales grew 500 percent in five years, peaking at $741.4 million in 2021, when they surpassed the Old Masters, according to the Midnight Publishing Group Price Database. Now, ultra-contemporary is on the downswing. Last year the broader segment declined by 10 percent, to $668.2 million.

And because the feeding frenzy for many of these market darlings has subsided, speculators have begun testing new-to-the-scene artists. Auction houses are only too eager to offer the stage. Welcome to the Flip Class of 2023.

“There’s a voracious and enduring appetite among collectors for the new,” said David Galperin, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art for the Americas and co-head of marquee sales. “They are constantly seeking out new names. The auctions have become a place where a lot of collectors are introduced to new artists for the first time, and we tailor our sales meticulously to try to really paint a picture of what are the most interesting works being made today.”

Mohammed Sami, <i>Family Issues I</i> (2019). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Mohammed Sami, Family Issues I (2019). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Aptly titled “The Now,” Sotheby’s evening sale will begin with Mohammed Sami, an auction newbie whose 2019 painting of a carpeted room is estimated at £50,000 to £70,000. Born in Iraq, the London-based Sami is gaining curatorial attention, with a solo show up now at the Camden Arts Centre in the U.K. capital. His New York debut at Luhring Augustine gallery will feature paintings currently included in the 58th Carnegie International survey.

“Impossible to get primary,” an art advisor told me this week about Sami’s new works. It’s a perfect scenario to stage a multi-phone bidding war and set the mood for the evening auction.

In the same vein, Christie’s will start its 20th/21st Century evening sale with Michaela Yearwood-Dan, a young Londoner of Caribbean heritage, whose large and lush floral tableau is estimated at £40,000 to £60,000. Her prices surged to $388,798 at Phillips in December. A recent addition to Marianne Boesky Gallery, she has a show coming up in April in New York.

Phillips positioned Belgian artist Ben Sledsens as its opening act on March 2. Looking stylistically like a cross between Party and Scott Kahn, the painting Wanderer With Dog is estimated at £80,000 to £120,000.

The new crop of artists represents a change of guard from the earlier, pandemic-era cohort; their lower prices and greater resale upside is just what the flippers crave.

“There’s a huge pack of speculators,” said an auction executive. “It’s all pump and dump. And then they are on to the next thing. And auction houses just reflect what artists are being actively sought-after.”

Emerging-art speculators typically don’t buy half-a-million-dollar artworks. Instead they look for things under $50,000 and then create hype.

“They’d resell this work for $150,000 and it would be considered a great result,” said an auction specialist. “Then somehow $350,000 became the new $150,000, and then $600,000 became the new $350,000. It’s just like a product of this frenzied environment for young, contemporary.”

Christina Quarles, The Night That Fell Upon Us Up On Us (2019). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Christina Quarles, The Night That Fell Upon Us (Up On Us) (2019). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

It’s a lucrative but risky game. Avery Singer’s art reached its high total of $21.5 million at auction in 2021—and then dropped 28 percent in 2022. Christina Quarles peaked at $10.7 million in 2022, with an auction record of $4.5 million for Night Fell Upon Us (Up On Us), sold by collector Howard Rachofsky in May. Since then, not a single price has come even close.

“Yes, there haven’t been any paintings that have matched the price that we were able to achieve,” Galperin acknowledged of the Quarles market. “But I would also say that there haven’t been any paintings that have come up that matched the quality of this work.”

Ironically, the higher the auction results, the less attractive artists become to speculators. Their markets may remain robust (auction houses would kill to get an A+ Quarles or Jadé Fadojutimi), but trading volumes typically decline when primary prices catch up to secondary values and arbitrage goes away.

A new painting by Anna Weyant and Fadojutimi at Gagosian would set you back $500,000 or more. Hauser & Wirth was asking as much as $1.2 million for large-scale Quarles canvases in her New York exhibition last year, even as most of her older works were fetching $600,000 to $800,000 at auction.

“There are a lot of people who want a painting at $100,000,” an auction expert said. “There are a lot fewer who can pay $1 million. Instead of 20 bidders you get one or two.” 

Meanwhile, new paintings by these artists are still too fresh to be resold. (Stringent non-resale agreements don’t help either.)

“You don’t wanna get blacklisted,” the auction executive said. “Especially since they put the prices at around the level that they were selling secondary. Where is the real upside? Why ruin your relationship with the gallery?”

Other speculative bubbles are getting deflated because of the overproduction by artists and taste changes among collectors.

The frenzy over Black figuration, for example, has subsided dramatically, advisors and auction specialists said. Auction houses are putting brakes on what they take. For example, there’s suddenly a lot less work by Isshaq Ismail, whose seemingly endless supply of heads flooded the market in the past year, selling for as much as $367,541 a pop last March.

Michaela Yearwood-Dan, <i>Love me nots</i> (2021). Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

Michaela Yearwood-Dan, Love me nots (2021). Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Bro-primitivism is another area of contraction. There’s just one painting by Robert Nava going under the hammer in London, at Christie’s evening sale. Auction houses are saying no to countless works by Jordy Kerwick, a stark reversal from October when his painting fetched $242,967 at Phillips in London. Ditto Susumu Kamijo, a Japanese artist whose poodle paintings have sold for as much as $274,724 since his auction debut in 2020, according to Midnight Publishing Group Price Database.

“People don’t have the confidence that they’ll make more than they paid,” the auction specialist said.

When the Zombie Formalism bubble burst, collectors watched how their investments plummeted at auction. The houses learned their lesson and came up with a new strategy.

“When the results start going down, we get really selective,” an executive said. “I don’t want it in my evening sale, I’ll put it in the day sale and off-season sale. So these things just get downgraded or they disappear.”

Others see this as a natural market evolution, from gluttony to refinement.

“The highest-quality artists rise to the top, and the public market starts to reflect that,” Galperin said. “You have extraordinary artists like Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, who has an incredible show at the Tate right now, or Njideka Akunyili Crosby, who’s going to open with Zwirner next year. These are artists  who are making Black portraiture and who are in extraordinary demand.”

But supply of top-quality work is always tight. Which is why auction houses are constantly on the lookout for new names whose work is related but less expensive and easier to get.

“You’ll get somebody who’s similar, an artist who’s like the B-version or Johnny-come-lately,” the auction executive said. “You see this in music, too.”

Ben Sledsens, <i>Wanderer with Dog</i> (2017-18). Courtesy of Phillips.

Ben Sledsens, Wanderer With Dog (2017-18). Courtesy of Phillips.

That’s what Sledsens (estimated at £80,000 to £120,000) may be to Nicholas Party (estimated at £900,000 to £1.3 million); and Angela Heisch’s Egg White Blue (estimated at £20,000 to £30,000) to Loie Hollowell’s Split Orbs in purple, ochre, and… (estimated at £400,000 to £600,000) at Phillips.

“If you can’t get a Marlene Dumas, you can get Claire Tabouret,” an advisor said about two female artists, one generation apart.

Tabouret’s market will be tested by her 2014 painting, Les débutantes (blanc lunaire), estimated at £250,000 to £350,000 at Christie’s. Another version of the painting fetched $388,454 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in October 2021.

“It was just truly mindless for a while,” the auction executive said about the feeding frenzy in the ultra-contemporary market. “I feel like there’s a tiny, tiny bit of sense creeping in, people questioning why they’re spending so much on these things.”

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High-Flying Charity Auctions Help the Causes the Art World Supports. But Who Do They Actually Benefit?

It was a high-wattage night at the Norton Museum of Art in Palm Beach on Feb. 3, with a live auction by Sotheby’s, billionaire attendees like Julia Koch and John Paulson, and such celebrities as polo player “Nacho” Figueras, race car driver Jimmie Johnson, and Victoria Secret model Lorena Rae. The 800 tickets sold out in a blink, with prices ranging from $1,500 for individuals to $100,000 for sponsors.

By the time the dust settled, the Norton had raised $3.8 million for its curatorial, educational, and community-engagement programs. It was so much fun some guests forgot to eat.

“A lot of times at these galas you sit, it’s quiet, you have your rubber chicken,” said Sue Hostetler Wrigley, a Norton trustee. “This was not. This was the next level.”

Much of the event’s electricity resulted from the presence of 20 artists from as far afield as the Netherlands and Brazil. The six lots of the live auction totaled more than $700,000. One of the star artworks was an abstract painting by Marina Perez Simão that fetched $140,000 (her primary market prices range from $35,000 to $250,000). A painting depicting two nudes by George Rouy went for $160,000 (his primary prices top at $100,000).

The results are noteworthy—and not just because they blew past the presale estimates. Both artists are represented by blue-chip galleries: Perez Simão is at Pace, Rouy at Almine Rech. There are waiting lists for their primary market works. Not a single piece by either artist has appeared at auction, according to the Midnight Publishing Group Price Database.

“I gotta call my mom,” London-based Rouy could be overheard saying excitedly after the gavel fell.  

Artist Marina Perez Simão, right, with Eva Al-Thani and Ambassador Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al-Thani at the Norton Museum of Art gala. Photo: Carrie Bradburn/CAPEHART

Artist Marina Perez Simão, right, with Eva Al-Thani and Ambassador Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al-Thani at the Norton Museum of Art gala. Photo: Carrie Bradburn/CAPEHART

Charity auctions have long been places to find deals and steals—and potentially write off some of the purchase cost (more on that later). In addition to helping the institutions we love and causes we support, these glamorous fundraisers are also a breeding ground for future market stars. They create a virtuous cycle—not dissimilar to the curse of BOGO—where everyone seems to benefit, but which is based on the asymmetry of access and information. While galleries and artists don’t directly profit from these sales, many find ways to indirectly monetize them to build up publicity and justify steep primary market prices.

But there’s also a risk. Many moons ago, a painting by Jacob Kassay, estimated at $2,000 to $8,000, fetched $94,000 at Kitchen benefit, unleashing a speculative craze for the silvery, shimmering paintings and leading to the young artist achieving an auction record of $317,000 at dizzying speed. Then prices fell off the cliff.

That number—so shocking at the time—looks almost quaint now, a decade later, when new works by untested artists like Anna Weyant sell for more than a million dollars at auction. Which is precisely the point. Emerging art is a high-stakes game. Those who can afford to play may get access to coveted works by artists too hot to obtain through galleries, which prioritize institutions over mere mortals, no matter how rich.

In this dynamic, artists who offer up fresh work for a charity auction know it can reap big rewards for the cause in question—while also potentially throwing their market out of whack. It’s a risk that buzzy artists are frequently enjoined to undertake. 

Nicole Wittenberg Sunset 36 (2023) is slated for amfAR’s charity auction in Palm Beach on March 11.
Courtesy of the artist, The Journal Gallery, New York, and Acquavella Galleries, New York, Palm Beach.

“The ask is constant on any big artist these days,” said Michael Nevin, owner of the Journal Gallery in New York. “It’s pretty tricky to get top works from top artists.”

Nevin would know. As the curator of amfAR’s auctions, he goes hunting for art donations all the time. He’s good at it. The nonprofit’s upcoming gala in Palm Beach on March 11 will include a brand new work on paper by George Condo, which would be priced at $750,000 on the primary market, and a sunset painting by Nicole Wittenberg, that typically retails for $42,000.

“A lot of artists give to give,” Nevin said. Some, like Eddie Martinez, are just generous, he said. Others, like Kenny Scharf, lost friends during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and want to support amfAR, which has raised millions of dollars for AIDS research. There are countless others.

Museums often tap artists they have championed—and these artists often step up. In 2013, Jasper Johns created a work specifically for the Whitney Museum of American Art to auction in order to raise money for its new building. It fetched $2.85 million, part of a group of other works benefiting the Whitney that Sotheby’s included in its marquee May sales of contemporary art that year. Altogether, the group totaled $19.1 million—eclipsing the estimate of $8.8 million to $12 million.

Auctioneer Robert Woolley, left, at Gay Games Auction in 2001. Photo: Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images.

Auctioneer Robert Woolley, left, at Gay Games Auction in 2001. Photo: Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images.

That sale was a turning point for charity auctions, according to Nina del Rio, Sotheby’s head of advisory and museum services. Up until then, charitable auctions were separate events. The New York Times obituary of Sotheby’s auctioneer Robert Wooley, who died in 1996, described him as “witty and tart-tongued pitchman who wheedled, needled, cajoled and shamed his society friends into spending millions of dollars at charity auctions.” In 2008, the Red auction, championed by Bono and Damien Hirst, made headlines, raising $42 million for AIDS research.

But the Whitney sale’s collaborative approach—incorporating the charitable works into a blue-chip evening auction—changed the game, and its success led to more collaborations, including with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, in 2015 and the Hammer in 2019. All surpassed their high estimates.

“You got a couple of drivers,” del Rio said about the success of this approach. “You are celebrating an institution and you are giving buyers access to this great primary-market material.”

Works solicited by Thelma Golden to raise money for the new home of the Studio Museum in Harlem set off a feeding frenzy at the start of Sotheby’s contemporary art evening sale in May 2018. Mark Bradford, who has credited Golden with his career takeoff, created a painting, Speak, Birdman, for the sale. Estimated at $2 million to $3 million, it soared to $6.8 million. A painting by then relative newcomer Njideka Akunyili Crosby fetched $3.4 million.

A street-level view of the forthcoming Studio Museum in Harlem. Courtesy Adjaye Associates.

A street-level view of the forthcoming Studio Museum in Harlem. Courtesy Adjaye Associates.

The Studio Museum group raised $20.2 million, obliterating the estimated range of $6.8 million to $9.9 million. It was a perfect storm for the market, which was just starting to revalue the contribution of Black artists.

“I don’t remember anything quite like that,” del Rio said about that auction. “There were 20 people on each object. It was bananas.”

Since the pandemic, new works by in-demand artists have routinely appeared in the marquee auctions as the art world has rushed to cash in on the explosive global demand for contemporary art.

Many of the top auction prices for sought-after artists—including Rashid Johnson, Nicolas Party, and Dana Schutz—were set at Christie’s evening sales of 21st-century art.

Johnson, who has emerged as a leading voice (and one of the most commercially successful artists) of his generation, has been donating a painting to benefit sales almost every six months, resulting in ever-higher auction results over the past two years.

In May 2021, he donated Anxious Red Painting, which fetched $1.95 million at Christie’s to benefit Community Organized Relief Effort—more than six times its high estimate of $300,000. Six months later, in November 2021, he smashed this result with the $2.55 million sale of Bruise Painting “Or Down You Fall, sold to benefit ClientEarth, an environmental law charity. In November 2022, Johnson consigned Surrender Painting “Sunshine” to raise money for the Right of Return Fellowship to support and mentor formerly incarcerated creatives; it was a new auction record yet again, at $3 million (the prices include Christie’s fees).

Rashid Johnson at Hauser & Wirth Menorca. ©Rashid Johnson. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Daniel Schäfer.

Rashid Johnson at Hauser & Wirth Menorca. ©Rashid Johnson. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Daniel Schäfer.

Johnson’s primary-market prices have increased as well during this period. His large “Bruise” paintings, shown at David Kordansky Gallery in 2021, were priced at $600,000 to $1.2 million. Last June, large new paintings exhibited at the Hauser & Wirth branch in Menorca were offered from $975,000 to $1.75 million, according to a person familiar with prices.

Representatives for the galleries didn’t respond to my requests for comment on whether the increase in Johnson’s primary market prices were influenced by these results.

In addition to generosity and access, there’s another big consideration when it comes to the lofty prices achieved at charity art sales: their potentially tax deductible value. Opinions on this topic vary.

“There may be circumstances when buyers could seek a deduction,” a Christie’s spokesperson said. “But they should always consult a tax advisor.” (The house sold more than $2 billion work of art for charitable causes in 2022, in large part thanks to the estates of Paul Allen and Doris and Thomas Ammann.)

Auction houses also defer these questions to the charities themselves. The Norton Museum, which raised $1.5 million from its most recent live and silent auctions, encourages donors to consult with their tax advisors.

“That said, yes, we do provide buyers with a fair market value and note that any amount paid in excess of that may be tax deductible,” a Norton spokeswoman said via email. 

That doesn’t sit well with Ralph Lerner, co-author of Art Law, a must-have opus on the subject that is now in its 5th edition.

“That’s nonsense,” Lerner said by phone this week. “Some people argue that if the artwork’s market value is $400,000 and he paid $500,000, he would have been entitled to a charitable deduction of $100,000. Absolutely not. You can’t claim a charitable deduction because you bought it at a charity auction. The auction price is the fair market value. It’s not a cruise.”

The IRS will have to sort this one out, I guess. But it is telling that none of the museums that raised money for charity at Sotheby’s offered buyers supporting documentation for tax deductions. Caveat emptor, folks.

So, how do these auctions benefit the artists whose donations set the machinery in motion? Visibility, marketing, access to wealthy new fans, potentially higher primary-market prices, and a new benchmark for secondary sales. Dealers use these prices to pitch clients and sell out shows. Charitable works that are included in regular auctions are recorded alongside other results in the Midnight Publishing Group Price Database for posterity (unlike live and silent auctions conducted by nonprofits, which are not recorded).

“It’s just part of the cumulative impact,” said Marc Glimcher, president of Pace gallery, which represents Perez Simão and has a branch in Palm Beach. “This was a gift to a museum. We haven’t had a single piece come back for sale. Nobody wants to part with her paintings. The impact comes with where the secondary market is going.”

Auctioneer Simon de Pury conducts an auction on May 26, 2022 during the annual amfAR Cinema Against AIDS Cannes Gala at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Cap d'Antibes. Photo: Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP via Getty Images.

Auctioneer Simon de Pury conducts an auction on May 26, 2022, during the annual amfAR Cinema Against AIDS Cannes Gala at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Cap d’Antibes. Photo: Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP via Getty Images.

Kennedy Yanko made a star debut at amfAR’s Cannes gala in 2021, where her sculpture soared to $415,000 in bidding and was purchased by music entrepreneur and mega-collector Swizz Beatz. Her career has since skyrocketed. Next month she’ll have a solo show at Jeffrey Deitch’s gallery in New York, a coup for any artist.

Artists get celebrated. At amfAR, they walk the red carpet with celebrities and are called out by auctioneer Simon de Pury during the gala. The Norton put together a program for the attending artists, including private tours of its collection, which now includes billionaire Ken Griffin’s treasures, and of Beth Rudin DeWoody’s private museum, The Bunker. Hostetler Wrigley, a Norton trustee, hosted a cocktail reception for the 20 artists and 30 art dealers at her home.

“I can’t tell you how thrilled the board, the museum, and the community was that all of these artists and dealers not only agreed to donate works but also to come down to Palm Beach and celebrate with us,” said Hostetler Wrigley. “The energy they bring is critical.” 

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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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Artist Anna Weyant Paints the Indignities of Being a Young Woman—and Collectors of All Ages Can’t Get Enough

If you have ever been a young woman, Anna Weyant’s works will feel eerily familiar.

The 26-year-old paints her baby-faced subjects as they roll through the motions of daily life—enduring heartbreak, doing pilates, stuffing bras, and finding strangeness in their own faces while passing a mirror. Like so many in that stage of not-yet-womanhood, her figures put great energy into outward appearances while keeping their interior lives at bay.

Everything is fine, projects a posturing, grinning girl—who looks remarkably like Weyant, though the artist has said it isn’t her—in one work. She chats over a glass of wine with a friend, coolly resting her head on a bent wrist encircled by a pearl bracelet. 

It is this brand of, as Weyant calls it, “low-stakes trauma” of girlhood that interests the artist. Her sometimes-frightening ability to capture these experiences in ways that resonate with fully grown women has made her one of the most sought-after young artists working today.

Anna Weyant, Loose Screw (2020). © Anna Weyant, Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo.

Anna Weyant, Loose Screw (2020). © Anna Weyant, Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo.

Weyant’s work “doesn’t rely on knowledge of insider references, but it kind of has a language that can be widely understood, widely legible,” said George Newall, cofounder of Winter Street Gallery in Edgartown, Massachusetts, which is presenting a sold-out show of Weyant’s drawings (through September 26). “We’ve witnessed that in peoples’ reactions and in the spread of where people are writing from, which is really global—every continent that I can think of.”

Weyant’s admirable technique is inextricable from her subjects: her luminous compositions recall Dutch Golden Age masters and 20th century painters of the corporeal and surreal like Balthus and John Currin. Through Weyant’s eyes, these subjects are unsettling—but not in a voyeuristic way as much as a knowing one. 

“I didn’t have the tools to process these sorts of experiences when I was living them, at those ages,” Weyant said last week from her apartment on the Upper West Side. As she reflected on her adolescence, “I started going back and saying to myself, ‘That was really weird,’ or ‘That was really funny.’ It became therapeutic.”

Anna Weyant, Drawing for “Dinner III,” (2019-21). Courtesy Winter Street Gallery.

Anna Weyant, Drawing for “Dinner III,” (2019–21). Courtesy Winter Street Gallery.

From Being a Girl to Painting Them

Weyant grew up in Calgary, Alberta, in Canada. She describes her childhood as “idyllic in a lot of ways,” spent with her parents, her brother, and their dog. She did not have much exposure to art, although her early years inspire much of her work now. “It’s something I’ve been going back to through art over the last few years,” she says, “my childhood and teen years and getting to where I am now.”

Where she is now is a fast-rising artist who landed in New York after studying painting at the Rhode Island School of Design. Following graduation, she spent the summer as an event planner for Lincoln Center (“It was great, but I just could not do the 9 a.m. mornings,” she says).

After that, she took a sharp turn back to art, studying traditional painting at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou for seven months. “I really loved being there,” she recalls. “I just could not get a grasp on Mandarin, so I had to finally call it.”

After China, Weyant moved back to New York, where, with the help of a former professor, she secured a job as a studio assistant. It was a time that she describes as “fresh and glittery” but also discombobulating, marked by foggy subway rides and long hours.

She would return home every evening to paint in the Upper West Side apartment she still lives in, despite the light having gone out and the better work hours spent. “I remember it being fun, but just kind of a little depressing,” she says.

Anna Weyant, Buffet (2020). © Anna Weyant, Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo.

Anna Weyant, Buffet (2020). © Anna Weyant, Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo.

The artist she was assisting (whom she doesn’t name) introduced her to what would become her gallery, the hip downtown star-maker 56 Henry. Her first solo show opened there in fall 2019.

Entitled “Welcome to the Dollhouse”—a reference to Todd Solondz’s 1995 tragicomic film about a teen who suffers a series of humiliating misfortunes while trying to fit in at school—the show centered on depictions of a literal dollhouse occupied by a group of young girls. The dollhouse in the paintings is modeled after one that Weyant had as a child. 

“I just recently found this old diary that I had written when I was like 13,” Weyant tells me, reflecting on the little injustices of youth she loves exploring. “And like every other 13-year-old, I was a monster in so many ways. One of the entries said something to the effect of, ‘I had just been asked out by some boy, and then the next day he dumped me, and he was the love of my life and I was so heartbroken.’ And then I signed it by saying this girl—we’ll call her Stacey—’looked so fat today.’ Then, ‘Xo, Anna.’ Woe is me, I have this horrible breakup and then I burn someone down in the same breath.”

Anna Weyant, Put Yourself in My Shoes (2019). Courtesy of 56 HENRY.

Rising Profile

Weyant’s outing at 56 Henry earned her invitations to show at other high-profile galleries. This spring, an exhibition of paintings at her new Los Angeles gallery Blum & Poe, titled “Loose Screw,” sold out. In an interview with the dealer Bill Powers, Weyant notes that her mother chided her for the title, saying, “Honey, don’t ruin your show with such an ugly name.”

But the knife edge between sweet and sour, beautiful and foreboding, is where Weyant’s art lives. Her latest body of work, informed by the malaise that tints many memories of spring 2020, reflects lives lived with a little less color. Her figures are rendered with claustrophobic yellows, inky blacks, and army greens.

Weyant has cited influences as wide-ranging as painter Ellen Berkenblit’s screaming woman series, Frans Hals’ Two Boys Laughingcartoons from the New Yorker and the Grinch, as well as a particularly gruesome book by Edward Gorey. (“It’s an ABC book, but for different ways that children die,” she says matter-of-factly.)

Her unique perspective has found an eager audience—and driven considerable demand. Like many young artists, Weyant feels ambivalent about her fast-rising prices at a moment when she’s still finding her feet artistically.

“I’m starting to see a lot of resale,” she says. “Things that I sold 10 months ago for $2,000 being sold for much, much, much more than that. It’s hard not to feel in some ways betrayed because I feel like I’ve given up this thing that was very intimate. But it was in exchange for money so… I don’t know.” 

Anna Weyant, Cloud Hill (2020). © Anna Weyant, Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo.

Anna Weyant, Cloud Hill (2020). © Anna Weyant, Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo.

Weyant’s gallerists at Blum & Poe and Winter Street Gallery declined to share price information at the request of the artist. A crayon-on-paper portrait she donated to New York’s Drawing Center this year lists its retail value as $10,000, though her work has already brought more than twice that at auction. Her first and only work to hit the block fetched $27,720 at a Phillips day sale in June, almost four times its high estimate.

“There’s this element of selling myself or selling something that is very important to me that then becomes a stock or currency of sorts, and I don’t have any control over it,” Weyant says. “That’s a new anxiety for me.”

This trend, Weyant knows, will likely only continue. At the same time, she and her team are doing what they can; George Newall of Winter Street said that putting the work in “thoughtful places” is an “important part of the mission,” especially since they could have sold each work in the current show “many times over.”

Blum & Poe declined to share the size of the wait list for Weyant’s work, but did not deny its existence. “Her practice is just getting started, with an exciting career unfolding ahead,” the gallery said diplomatically in a statement. “Given her talents, there are many great collectors worldwide seeking out her work.”   

Anna Weyant, Unconditional Love (2021). © Anna Weyant, Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo.

Anna Weyant, Unconditional Love (2021). © Anna Weyant, Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo.

What’s Next

When I ask what’s feeding her artistically at the moment—what’s breaking through the interminable blur of the last year—Weyant tells me about Lifetime movies.

“They’re incredibly problematic, but I’m fascinated by them, the strangeness of white America,” she says. “They’re always set up the same way. There’s always an opening with a woman sitting with a glass of wine, and then there’s some murder.” She considers the “fear of a foreigner coming to town” that drives these films to be “very American.” It’s something she is turning over in her head as she plots new work.

As a white woman, Weyant says she has spent the past year thinking about her privilege, the “frivolity” of her paintings, and the act of being a painter in general. These concerns, she suspects, just might push her work around a corner. She is considering leaving behind the indignities of early adulthood to explore the more adult problems that plague white America. (One of her newest paintings reworks a scene from the film American Psycho.)

“I feel like I’ve dipped my toe in there, in these newer themes, and the water’s been too hot and I just want to figure out the best way to approach it,” she says. “So I’ve been walking around the edge of it. And I hope to get there.”

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