The Best and Worst of the Art World This Week

The Met Meets American Fashion – The long-awaited Met Gala took place in September this year, and we’ve got all the celeb-art lookalikes from the red carpet.

Art History Prof Makes Mega Discovery – An art history professor visiting a church in Westchester spotted a canvas that is now being hailed as a rare Italian Baroque painting.

Philadelphia Museum Carries Out Czech Restitution – The Philadelphia Museum is returning a looted ancient “pageant shield” to the Czech Republic.

A Triumph at the Arc de Triomphe – The Parisian landmark has been swathed in fabric, fulfilling the posthumous dream of artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

Judd Foundation Jumps Ship – In a major market merry-go-round move, the Donald Judd foundation has left David Zwirner for Gagosian Gallery.

Porcelains Shatter Estimates – A Sotheby’s auction of restituted Meissen porcelain far exceeded expectations, raking in $15 million.

Germany Gives Aid – As part of a $35 million aid package, cultural institutions will now get help in recovering from the summer’s historic floods.

White Male for Sale at Christie’s – Artist Dread Scott is selling video art as an NFT depicting a white man on a slave auction block.

Stonehenge Gets a Makeover – For the first time in decades, Stonehenge will undergo a major restoration of toppled and cracked stones.

Outcry Squashes Indigenous Women Statue – Artist Pedro Reyes has stepped away from a project to replace a Christopher Columbus statue with one of Indigenous Women after activists said a woman should have the job.

You Can Buy a $3 Million Avocado Sculpture – An artist is selling a gilded sculpture of avocado toast, a symbol of the millennial lifestyle, for $2.9 million.

Beeple Gets the Immersive Art Treatment – Beeple’s $69 million NFT artwork is set to star in an immersive experience—with a whopping $150 entrance fee.

History Sold to the Highest Bidder – An Osage cave containing prehistoric art was sold for $2.2 million at auction, in a “heartbreaking” act.

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The Back Room: Once Upon a Time in the West

Every Friday, Midnight Publishing Group News Pro members get exclusive access to the Back Room, our lively recap funneling only the week’s must-know intel into a nimble read you’ll actually enjoy. 

This week in the Back Room: A former LA textile mill churns out art stars, the law catches up to a scandalous SoCal dealer, Gagosian goes big online (again), and much more—all in a 6-minute read (1,824 words).


Top of the Market

LA, LA, Big City of Dreams

Canyon Castator, courtesy of the artist.

Canyon Castator, courtesy of the artist.

The international art market’s next step out of the COVID riptide landed in Los Angeles this week, as the city hosts its first gallery weekend (organized by Gallery Association Los Angeles), the third edition of the Felix art fair, and a beach bag overflowing with associated art happenings. You can even scroll through Frieze’s LA-focused OVR while you crawl along the freeway from event to event!

But one of the city’s most exciting new art hubs will impact the industry well after the limelight turns to the next destination on the events calendar. Welcome to Mohilef Studios, a former downtown LA textiles factory now housing four stories of workspaces for an ensemble cast of rising art stars.

As Katya Kazakina reports, the driving force behind Mohilef Studios is the buzzy transplanted New York painter Canyon Castator. Six years after renting an 800 square-foot space to share with his sculptor father in what was then an arts-bereft building, Castator has grown into a hybrid curator, community builder, and entrepreneur tending what tastemakers increasingly feel is a can’t-miss hive of emerging talent.

Those tastemakers include local dealer and artists’ manager Niels Kantor, Hollywood producer and veteran collector Neal Moritz, and K-Pop supernova T.O.P. (Choi Seung-hyun). Among the fans on the gallery side are Bill Brady (who maintains spaces in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles) and Carl Kostyál (London, Stockholm), both of whom have now exhibited works by multiple current and former Mohilef tenants.

Who are some of those tenants, you ask?

  • Simphiwe Ndzube, now boasting a solo show at the Denver Art Museum and representation by Nicodim and Stevenson galleries.
  • Jess Valice, whose one-person exhibitions at Brady’s New York and Miami spaces sold out in January at prices ranging from $5,000 to $18,000.
  • Austyn Weiner, a Mohilef alum whose works have soared as high as $90,000 at auction and anchored shows at the JournalKohn Gallery, and Carl Kostyál.

Yet these successes have been refreshingly organic. Castator says the vision was always for Mohilef to be an affordable resource for artists, with a sense of community and a self-made spirit. The reality is living up to his expectations.

The two Castators have personally renovated every space and selected every new resident. Each floor has a different layout fit for different career stages, from smaller open-plan studios to about 3,200-square-foot private spaces. Prices are around $1.25 per square foot. Since neither Castator nor several of the tenants went to art school, the studio also doubles as a homegrown support network.

It has paid off for everyone, including Castator himself. His paintings now sell for $25,000 to $35,000 to buyers including KAWS. And as the buzz around Mohilef keeps mounting, his clout will only increase as an artist, talent scout, and maybe even a new SoCal cultural kingmaker.


The Bottom Line

From the market’s perspective, Mohilef Studios is the right thing in the right place at the right time.

The COVID financial boom continues to send upside-minded buyers hunting for promising young artists, drastically juicing prices and opportunities for exactly the types of talent Mohilef welcomes. Merge this dynamic with the larger cultural and financial push toward Los Angeles in recent years, and its surging profile makes perfect sense.

No wonder Castator just rented 4,000 square feet on the top floor of an industrial building on Washington Boulevard to convert into more artist studios. You know LA loves a sequel…


[Read More]


Paint Drippings

The Henderson, Hong Kong by Zaha Hadid Architects for Henderson Land. Rendering by Arqui9, courtesy of Christie's.

Visualization of the Henderson, Hong Kong by Zaha Hadid Architects for Henderson Land, where Christie’s will move in 2024. Rendering by Arqui9, courtesy of Christie’s.

Wet Paint is on hiatus this week, but here’s what else made a mark around the industry.


Art Fairs

  • Volta will debut in downtown Miami during Miami Art Week, replacing Pulse. (Both events are now owned by Ramsay Fairs.)

  • The Seattle Art Fair will return next summer, from July 21–July 24 at the Lumen Field Event Center.


Auction Houses

  • Christie’s Hong Kong will be an anchor tenant in the Henderson, a new Zaha Hadid Architects-designed tower in Central. The move (slated for 2024) quadruples the house’s showroom space, enabling it to hold a yearlong sales program in HK for the first time.



  • Mike Egan, founder of the tastemaking Ramiken gallery, has teamed with respected Upper East Side dealer Meredith Rosen on a joint venture called (what else?) Egan and Rosen. The new business opened its inaugural show, “Otto Dix / Andra Ursuţa,” last night in its home at 11 East 78th St. (Both dealers will also continue running their pre-existing galleries separately.)

  • Andrew Kreps announced the representation of Hong Kong-based painter Henry Shum (in collaboration with Empty Gallery). Kreps will stage Shum’s first solo show in North America in fall 2022.

  • Nara Roesler added painter André Griffo to its stable (in alliance with Rio’s Galeria Athena); his first one-person exhibition with the dealer will bow in São Paulo next year.

  • Multidisciplinary artist Nicholas Hlobo has joined Goodman Gallery. (He will also continue to be repped by Lehmann Maupin.)

  • König Galerie expanded its artist ranks with painter Conny Maier, a recipient of Deutsche Bank’s 2020 Artist of the Year Award.

  • JTT added James Yaya Hough, whose work is currently on view in a solo show at the gallery (and was also featured in MoMA PS1’s “Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration” last year).

  • New York’s Tina Kim Gallery now reps installation artist Mire Lee, a nominee for the PinchukArtCentre’s Future Generations Art Prize.

  • Angela Cuadra and Laura F. Gibellini became the latest artists to join Madrid’s NF/Nieves Fernández gallery.



  • Starting October 1, the next director of the Centre Pompidou will be 39-year-old Xavier Rey, who has helmed the Musées de Marseille for the past four years.

  • The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum named Ty Woodfolk its first ever chief culture and inclusion officer; it also promoted Trish Jeffers to deputy director of human resources.

  • New York’s Museum of Arts and Design chose Timothy R. Rodgers, formerly of the Phoenix Art Museum, to be its 11th director in eight years.

  • Tate Liverpool will host the fall exhibition of artists shortlisted for the 2022 Turner Prize. The artists will be selected next May, and the winner will be announced in December.

  • The Institute of Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University selected Sarah Rifky to be its senior curator and director of programs. It also promoted Amber Esseiva from associate curator to full curator.

  • The Seoul Museum of Art accepted a gift of 141 works from the heirs of late Korean sculptor Kwon Jin-kyu.

  • MoMA PS1 announced the 47 artists in its upcoming “Greater New York” exhibition, set to debut on October 7. ARTnews has the full list.


NFTs and Misc.

  • The Whitworth gallery in Manchester is partnering with versatile online art platform Vastari Labs to auction a William Blake NFT whose proceeds will fund “socially beneficial projects.”

  • A New York Supreme Court judge tossed out collector Michael Steinhardt’s lawsuit against Hirschl and Adler gallery and its president, Stuart Feld, over the sale of a $12 million portrait of another president, George Washington.

  • Jeremy Stowe, who had previously taken a leave of absence from his role as leader of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, has stepped down.


CORRECTION: Last week’s edition included a rumor that Blum & Poe’s Los Angeles headquarters would show collaborative works by Mark Grotjahn and Jonas Wood in September. In reality, the gallery will be presenting a solo show of works by Grotjahn, his first at the space since 2016. 


Data Dip

Asia Outbuilds Everybody

Graph from AEA Consulting’s Cultural Infrastructure Index 2020.

Auction sales weren’t the only metric where the Eastern art industry fought off the pandemic more ably than the West in 2020. For the first time ever, Asia completed more cultural infrastructure projects above $10 million than any other region, finishing 34 to North America’s 32 per a new report from AEA Consulting.

The study covers new builds, renovations, and expansions of museums, galleries, performing arts centers, multifunction arts venues, and cultural hubs or districts. Like Asia, Australia/New Zealand, the Middle East, and Africa all saw either flat or increased numbers of new institutions open in 2020. Equivalent figures in North America and Europe both declined in a big way.

Still, this could be more anomaly than trend. North America announced 53 new cultural infrastructure projects last year—almost twice as many as anywhere else. But only time will tell whether the West will win the construction race, or just win the initial press conferences.

For more takeaways from the AEA report, click through below.


[Read More]


“We try everything. Since NFTs exist, we need to try them.”

Mikhail Piotrovsky, general director of Russia’s State Hermitage Museum, on its imminent fundraising auction of NFTs linked to works by Giorgione, Kandinsky, Leonardo, Monet, and van Gogh.


Express Checkout

The Feds Wage War on Chrismas + Three More Market Morsels


The FBI arrested notorious LA dealer Douglas Chrismas on charges of embezzling upwards of $260,000 from the bankruptcy estate of the now-shuttered Ace Gallery, which he founded in 1967 and lost ownership of in 2013. (The Los Angeles Times)

  • Chrismas, age 77, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on all counts. He pleaded not guilty, with his trial scheduled to begin in September.


Marian Goodman gallery became the latest blue-chip gallery to announce a robust new leadership structure without mentioning the phrase “succession plan”; the headline moves include its namesake moving to CEO, and Philipp Kaiser becoming president and partner. (Press release)


The Artists Pension Trust, once seen as a promising new vehicle to stabilize artists’ finances, has provoked accusations of mismanagement, an official complaint to British regulators, and at least one lawsuit from its members. (The New York Times)


An insider’s look at the ascendant dealers and agents making Accra an art-market hotspot. (Midnight Publishing Group News Pro)


Work of the Week

Chris Burden’s The Hidden Force

Chris Burden, <i>The Hidden Force</i> (1995). © 2021 Chris Burden / licensed by The Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Courtesy Gagosian

Chris Burden, The Hidden Force (1995). © 2021 Chris Burden / licensed by The Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Courtesy Gagosian


Date:                      1995

Seller:                    Gagosian

Price:                     $2.25 million

Selling at:              Frieze Viewing Room, Los Angeles

Sale Date:              Through Sunday, August 1


Still believe a savvy dealer would only post modestly priced, easy-to-sell works in an online viewing room? Gagosian is challenging that myth yet again in its Frieze Los Angeles OVR dedicated to the late California visionary Chris Burden. Standing out amid an ambitious array of genre-crossing works is The Hidden Force, an outdoor sculpture consisting of three partially in-ground concrete pools  that function as monumental compasses. Thanks to one magnetized end, the elliptical object floating in each pool always bobs back to due north, giving viewers both literal and metaphorical guidance on their life’s journey.

Originally commissioned for the McNeil Island Corrections Center via the Washington State Arts CommissionThe Hidden Force was decommissioned when the prison closed in 2011. The Burden estate recently secured the right to recreate the piece and will consult with an acquiring collector or institution to ensure it integrates with its new home in a site-specific, site-responsive way true to the artist’s intent.

So why offer it here and now? “2021 would have been Burden’s 75th milestone year,” said Yayoi Shionoiri, the estate’s executive director. “While Burden created The Hidden Force in the 1990s, this work feels as timely as ever, and serves to remind us all of the power of art.” That it’s being made available in this context should also remind us that both west-coast collectors and the OVR are stronger than ever.


Thanks for joining us in the Back Room. See you next Friday.

The post The Back Room: Once Upon a Time in the West appeared first on Midnight Publishing Group News.

Get an Exclusive Look at the Totally Wacky NFTs Urs Fischer Is About to Sell Through Pace (And Do Your Best to Make Sense of Them)

Next week, half a dozen newly minted NFTs by artist Urs Fischer will go on view in a digital exhibition hosted by Pace, another step in the gallery’s full-fledged commitment to crypto-art.  

The show, presented in collaboration with the Loïc Gouzer-founded Fair Warning auction app and the digital market platform MakersPlace, will live on Pace’s website. 

Each of Fisher’s NFTs features two quotidian objects floating in a blank white space like a trippy screensaver, constantly converging with one another to form Frankensteinian compound-sculptures: a broccoli stalk bisecting a green sponge, a showerhead merging with a red Nike shoe. Weird stuff. 

The works belong to “CHAOS,” a larger series of 501 NFTs produced by the Swiss artist.

For buyers, each piece comes with a reference rendering, access to the raw data behind the visuals, and instructions for how to exhibit it.

“The individual objects selected for ‘CHAOS’ are engineered, cultured, or manufactured by humans and sourced from the physical world and transformed into a 3D digital model through 3D scanning,” the project’s website explains. They’ll be offered up for $50,000 a pop, according to the gallery. 

The artist will offset the carbon emissions involved in the minting of each work through a partnership with the nonprofit Conservation International

Urs Fischer, <i>CHAOS #23 Splendor</i> (2021). Courtesy of Pace Gallery.

Urs Fischer, CHAOS #23 Splendor (2021). Courtesy of Pace Gallery.

Fischer debuted “CHAOS” in April when he partnered with Pace to sell the first entry in the series, CHAOS #1 Human, which depicts a lighter colliding with an egg.

The work sold through Fair Warning for $97,700. (The collaboration reportedly caused a rift between the artist and his longtime dealer, Gagosian.) Pace did not disclose the prices for the new NFTs.

The first 500 “CHAOS” works will be unveiled over the course of several months. After that, a capstone 501st artwork, composed of all the objects in the pieces that came before it, will be minted. 

Among mega-galleries, Pace has been perhaps the most ardent embracer of the crypto art wave. Earlier this month, the gallery announced that it would accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment for all artworks, physical or digital. And in September, it will launch its own dedicated platform for selling artists’ NFTs.

See more examples from Fisher’s upcoming show below.

Urs Fischer, <i>CHAOS #20 Sashay</i> (2021). Courtesy of Pace Gallery.

Urs Fischer, CHAOS #20 Sashay (2021). Courtesy of Pace Gallery.

Urs Fischer, <i>CHAOS #22 Simulacrum</i> (2021). Courtesy of Pace Gallery.

Urs Fischer, CHAOS #22 Simulacrum (2021). Courtesy of Pace Gallery.

Urs Fischer, <i>CHAOS #24 Analysand</i> (2021). Courtesy of Pace Gallery.

Urs Fischer, CHAOS #24 Analysand (2021). Courtesy of Pace Gallery.

Urs Fischer, <i>CHAOS #25 Gratis</i> (2021). Courtesy of Pace Gallery.

Urs Fischer, CHAOS #25 Gratis (2021). Courtesy of Pace Gallery.

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The Back Room: Go Figure

Every Friday, Midnight Publishing Group News Pro members get exclusive access to the Back Room, our lively recap funneling only the week’s must-know intel into a nimble read you’ll actually enjoy. 

This week in the Back Room: The flagging(?) market for figurative art, Hunter Biden as artist’s rights case study, Christie’s private-sales surge, and much more—all in an 8-minute read (2,133 words).


Top of the Market

Figuration Fatigue?

Emily Mae Smith, Revenge of the Flowers (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin Gallery.

Emily Mae Smith, Revenge of the Flowers (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Simone Subal Gallery, Perrotin Gallery, Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, and Contemporary Fine Arts Berlin.

During the mid-2010s dominance of Zombie Formalism, more than a few art-world citizens would have descended into the underworld like mythical heroes for the chance to bring back figurative painting.

But the two genres have fully swapped positions in the years since—and now some market players are asking whether the industry has nearly burnt itself out on figuration, writes Katya Kazakina.

All sectors of the industry were already saturated with imagery of the body before the pandemic, yet the genre’s presence has only become harder to escape since March 2020. Human figures appeared in all but three of the top 30 contemporary and ultra-contemporary artworks sold at auction in the first half of 2021, according to Midnight Publishing Group Analytics, as Asian collectors chased works by artists like Amoako BoafoEmily Mae Smith, Dana Schutz, and Amy Sherald.


What Caused the Figurative Flare-up?

  • Museums and private collectors’ rush to fill gaps in their holdings of works by women artists and artists of color (especially Black artists).
  • Portraiture’s tendency to depict the overlooked identity groups said artists belong to (“proving” to viewers that the owners are rebalancing the scales).
  • The art audience’s longing for human connection during a year (or more) of isolation.
  • Figuration’s perfect fit with the visual strengths of Instagram.

But now there are signs that at least two non-figurative genres are on the rise as in-person exhibition-hopping returns—and major galleries in Chelsea are championing both via works by artists of color.


Installation Work 

Major must-see-IRL installations can currently be found at…

  • Lisson, where Hugh Hayden has created three chapel-like spaces filled with meticulously sculpted, sawed, and woven object (see: reclaimed church pews, basketball hoops, school desks).
  • Gagosian, where the Antwaun Sargent-curated “Social Works” focuses on community engagement in Black art practices via monumental sculptures (see: 5,000 records by 1980s House music legend Frankie Knuckles, assembled by Theaster Gates), video installations, and even a functional farm.



While pure abstraction still mostly remains out of fashion, landscape could be a natural bridge between it and the figurative works the market has been flocking to, as can be seen in…

  • Marianne Boesky’s group show “A Thought Sublime”
  • Lisa Schiff’s group show “Ridiculous Sublime” (in Tribeca, but still!)
  • Matthew Marks’s solo show of 31-year-old Julien Nguyen, whose works fusing portraiture and allegorical scenery sold out at prices from $30,000 to $50,000.
  • Cheim and Read’s solo show of Matthew Wong’s ink drawings depicting lone figures in mystical environments. (“Several” sold, at prices from $275,000 to $450,000.)


The Bottom Line

Figuration won’t fade out overnight, experts agree. There is simply still too much demand on the buy side, as results from Phillips’s New Now sale in London reminded us this week.

But whether the change is led by the return of live viewing, a hunger among audiences for deeper (or at least different) discourse, or artists’ inevitable attraction to other means of communicating, nothing lasts forever… no matter how much it sometimes feels like it.


[Read More]


The Week in Gavels

Hunter Biden’s Art Ethics Oddity

Hunter Biden. (Kris Connor/WireImage)

Hunter Biden (duh). (Kris Connor/WireImage)

The only thing in the art market less avoidable than figuration this week was news of the ethics agreement finalized between the White House and Georges Bergès Gallery, the dealership managing Hunter Biden’s blossoming art career.

But while the conversation so far has fixated on how the pact could harm the Biden administration politically, it also raises questions about artist’s rights that every studio should consider.

Here are the two key dynamics relayed by the Washington Post‘s Matt Viser, who spoke to two officials familiar with the agreement.

__________________________________________________________________________________1. “Purchases of Hunter Biden’s artwork… will be kept confidential from even the artist himself,” and the gallery “will withhold all records” from him, “including potential bidders and final buyers.”

The Idea: 

What Hunter doesn’t know about his collectors can’t hurt his family. No one can buy influence through the artwork if the Bidens stay blind, deaf, and dumb to who is doing the buying—and for how much.

The Problems: 

Setting aside the bizarre verbiage (“potential bidders” in a gallery-sector context?)…

  • By law, Bergès cannot withhold all records of sales, because every artist must know when their works have been sold by their dealer, and at what price, to ensure accurate compensation and tax reporting.

So the gallery must only be blockading the identities of buyers and of parties who make sales inquiries (the latter being those “potential bidders”). But even if so…

  • Hunter could lose his works’ provenance forever, as when a living artist’s work is sold at auction (where neither the house nor buyer is required to disclose the latter’s identity).
  • The void hurts young artists down the line if they need to locate pieces for important later-career CV milestones such as museum exhibitions or a catalogue raisonné.


2. Bergès has “agreed to reject any offer that he deems suspicious or that comes in over the asking price.”

The Idea: 

The gallery will short-circuit any attempts at impropriety by sticking to a clear price list, from $75,000 for works on paper to $500,000 for large paintings.

The Problems: 

Forget coming in over the asking price. By traditional industry standards, those prices are so high for a first show that market players and ethics watchdogs alike have suggested it would be “suspicious” for buyers just to meet them as listed. However…

  • I think this concern is exaggerated, because artists with no pedigree in the art establishment now regularly sell for prices in this range based purely on pop cultural awareness.
  • Just look at the gonzo results for Edward SnowdenParis Hilton, and a slew of crypto-native talents in the NFT market.

Instead, my worry is the gallery-sector standard that an artist’s prices must rise at every subsequent show of new works. Even if Hunter can secure half a million dollars for a large painting this fall, will he be able to get, say, $700,000 in 2024 or $1 million in 2028, especially when his father is just another ex-president?

Maybe so… but lofty initial prices create major pressure that most rising talent fails to overcome.


The Bottom Line

Much of the pandemonium around Hunter’s ethics agreement hinges on the assumption that the art market is uniquely susceptible to grifters and dark dealings. As you know all too well, dear Pro reader, artwork has no fundamentals and thus no quantitative basis for its pricing, and the industry built around it is notoriously arcane to outsiders.

Yet any good or service is ultimately worth whatever a buyer will pay for it. Even fundamentals are only ever a guide—and one that is often disregarded. This means every business can be gamed by bad actors seeking financial gain or presidential influence, from finance and tech, to food and beverage, to (ahem) real estate and apparel.

What the art world should focus on in Hunter Biden’s ethics agreement is the way it disadvantages an aspiring artist within an industry that is unforgiving at even the best of times. No matter what happens with his career, we can learn from its strange beginning.


[Read More]


Data Dip

Christie’s Private Sales Explosion

© Artnet News.

© Midnight Publishing Group News.

Amid the selection of first half results Christie’s reported this week, one of the standouts was the continued, propulsive growth of private transactions. The house raked in more than $850 million in private sales in the opening six months of the year—a 41 percent increase on the equivalent period in 2020, and an almost 240 percent gain compared to the first half of 2019.

The chart above reverse-engineers the gains into U.S. dollars. (Christie’s declined to confirm my calculations, but I got straight A’s in algebra so I think we’re good.)

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that H1 private sales at the house last year walloped their predecessors in 2019. After all, public selling events across the auction sector had to be put on ice from mid-March through June of 2020 due to, you know, that whole epochal plague situation.

The real news is that between January 1 and June 30 of this year, Christie’s stacked roughly another $243 million in private deals on top of the $607+ million worth it generated during the six months when private sales were the only game in town.That’s an impressive feat regardless of the circumstances.

Click through below for Eileen Kinsella’s full rundown of the earnings call.


[Read More]


“As an art dealer, I was never aware of the diversity. There are collectors in Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tokyo. It’s coming from so many places that it’s hard to make a comparison to New York in the ‘80s or whatever. It’s its own thing, and maybe it’s a new paradigm that is going to drive the global market. But again, what do I know?”

Joel Mesler on what he’s learned about the Asian collecting circuit since becoming a full-time artist, during an expansive interview with Henri Neuendorf.


Express Checkout

Is Noah Horowitz Going for the Gavel? + Three More Market Morsels


Rumors are that the next gig for outgoing Art Basel director of the Americas Noah Horowitz will be at an auction house, according to Melanie Gerlis. (Financial Times)

  • Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips declined to comment; Horowitz stayed respectfully mum.


Lehmann Maupin signed an exclusive partnership allowing it to accept 40+ cryptocurrencies via Gemini, the crypto exchange founded by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. (Midnight Publishing Group News Pro)


When Jeff KoonsMaurizio Cattelan, or Vanessa Beecroft wants a sculpture honed from Carrara marble, they now call an Italian robot. (The New York Times)


Here’s why Friedrich Petzel, whose expansion simply swaps one Chelsea space for a larger, more versatile one, “[doesn’t] need to have a global empire.” (ARTnews)


Paint Drippings

Here’s what else made a mark in the latest Wet Paint (and elsewhere).

Art Fairs

  • This fall’s FIAC (October 21–24) will once again be an in-person affair, with 160+ galleries showing at the Grand Palais Ephémère and another 50 exhibitors strictly online.

Auction Houses

  • Christopher Wool’s If You (1992), bought by Larry Gagosian (with a phone pressed to his ear) for $23.7 million in 2014, recently appeared on the wall of Steve Cohen’s East Hampton home in an Instagram post by his daughter Sophia.
  • YiXiao Ding, the Shanghai-based collector who recently spent $1.4 million on an Emily Mae Smith canvas at Phillips, snapped up Salman Toor’s Visitation (2016) at Christie’s this month.
  • American collector Thomas Kaplan consigned the Leonardo study of a bear’s head sold for £8.8 million with fees at Christie’s Exceptional Sale last week, per The Art Newspaper.


  • Anton Kern now reps multidisciplinary artist Yuli Yamagata alongside Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel (São Paulo) and Galeria Madragoa (Lisbon); her first solo show with Kern will debut in September, simultaneous with a presentation in Art Basel’s Parcours section.
  • Eva Presenhuber expanded its roster by adding painter Amy Feldman, whose gray-on-gray abstractions resonate with this writer for obvious reasons.
  • Almine Rech announced it represents painter Scott Kahn.
  • Pace named Jessie Washburne-Harris, a former executive director of Marian Goodman, vice president of its NY headquarters.
  • Postmasters is looking to hire a new associate director as Manan Ter-GrIgoryan moves into a role as strategic advisor at large.


  • A coalition of nearly 50 art industry pros signed a petition condemning Francesco Bonami, director of Hangzhou’s By Art Matters museum, for responding to his inclusion in an Art Newspaper piece on white Western males winning top positions at Chinese institutions by Instagramming that he sometimes feels like “a 35-year-old Iranian lesbian.”
  • Ann Demeester will depart the Frans Hals Museum’s directorship to helm the Kunsthaus Zürich in January 2023, replacing long-serving director Christopher Becker.
  • The MCA Chicago elected philanthropist and longtime trustee Cari Sacks as its new board chair.
  • Socrates Sculpture Park appointed Suzy Delvalle, ex-president and executive director of Creative Capital, as its interim executive director.
  • Collectors Nancy Dorman and Stanley Mazaroff are gifting 90 works and $5 million to the Baltimore Museum of Art, which will open a center for prints, drawings, and photos named in their honor this December.
  • The Louvre Abu Dhabi partnered with luxury watchmaker Richard Mille on an annual prize that will award one emerging artist a solo exhibition and $50,000.
  • The Pérez Art Museum Miami acquired Gisela McDaniels’s Speaking Seeds (2020) from Pilar Corrias.
  • Glenstone is adding a new building dedicated to a recent work by Richard Serra, set to open in spring/summer 2022.

Work of the Week

Oli Epp’s Whistleblower

Oli Epp Whistleblower (2017). Image courtesy Phillips.

Oli Epp Whistleblower (2017). Image courtesy Phillips.


Date:                      2017

Seller:                    Private Collection

Estimate:               £10,000 to 15,000 ($13,900 to $20,800)

Sale Price:             £144,900 ($200,800)

Sold at:                 Phillips’s New Now (London)


Prior to this spring, the only works by 27-years-young Oli Epp to reach the auction block were 41 separate prints that each sold for under $4,500 with fees. Then his painting The Magician (2018) more than quintupled its high estimate at Christie’s Hong Kong on May 25, selling for a premium-inclusive HK $1,000,000 (roughly $129,000).

That record lasted all of about seven weeks. When bidding closed on Whistleblower—a canvas fielding another of Epp’s blobby, faux-naive human figures (this time, a referee)—it had surpassed the most optimistic estimate roughly 10 times over, resetting the artist’s hammer high at £144,900 ($200,800).

Simon Tovey, head of Phillips’s New Now in London, said of the competition for the piece, “There has been strong demand on the primary gallery level for Oli Epp’s work, and clearly the subject of Whistleblower chimed with recent football fever,” a nod to the Euro 2021 tournament that ended Sunday with Italy triumphing over England on penalty kicks. Hopefully the painting’s breakaway success helped soothe the sports heartbreak surely suffered by at least a few of the house’s homegrown footie fans just a few days earlier.


Thanks for joining us in the Back Room. See you next Friday.

The post The Back Room: Go Figure appeared first on Midnight Publishing Group News.

See Socially Engaged Works by Carrie Mae Weems, Titus Kaphar, and Other Artists in Antwaun Sargent’s Curatorial Debut at Gagosian

Last week, as the streets of Chelsea were bathed in the golden light of early evening, a line wrapped around the block as creative types queued up to be admitted to the night’s hottest event. It wasn’t a restaurant or club, it was the opening of “Social Works,” a group exhibition at Gagosian’s West 24th Street gallery.

Curated by writer and newly appointed Gagosian director Antwaun Sargent, “Social Works” features art by Kenturah Davis, Theaster Gates, Titus Kaphar, Rick Lowe, Carrie Mae Weems, and others, all of whom in some way reflect on Black communities and social engagement.

“Given the last year of the pandemic and protest and the history in which Black artists operate, the work does more than just sit quietly on the wall,” Sargent told the New York Times.

Christie Neptune, <i>Untitled</i> (2021).© Christie Neptune. Courtesy of the artist and Grant Wahlquist Gallery, Portland, Maine, and Gagosian.

Christie Neptune, Untitled (2021).© Christie Neptune. Courtesy of the artist and Grant Wahlquist Gallery, Portland, Maine, and Gagosian.

Linda Goode Bryant, founder of the gallery Just Above Midtown and Project EATS, an urban farming organization, grew vegetables in the gallery and a video made in collaboration with architect Elizabeth Diller titled Are we really that different? (2021).

Theaster Gates, meanwhile, pays homage to DJ Frankie Knuckles, the “Godfather of house music” and an icon of the Black and queer music scenes of the 1980s. Rick Lowe, founder of the Project Row Houses organization in Texas, presents a new series of works documenting the Tulsa Race Massacre.

See more images of the show below.

Social Works, installation view, 2021. Artworks © artists. Photo: Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian.

“Social Works,” installation view, 2021. Artworks © artists. Photo: Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian.

Alexandria Smith, <i>Iterations of a galaxy beyond the pedestal</i>, (2021). © Alexandria Smith. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates. Courtesy the artist and Gagosian.

Alexandria Smith, Iterations of a galaxy beyond the pedestal, (2021). © Alexandria Smith. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates. Courtesy the artist and Gagosian.

Social Works, installation view, 2021. Artworks © artists. Photo: Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian.

“Social Works,” installation view, 2021. Artworks © artists. Photo: Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian.

Carrie Mae Weems, <i>The British Museum</i> (2006–). © Carrie Mae Weems. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York and Gagosian.

Carrie Mae Weems, The British Museum (2006–). © Carrie Mae Weems. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York and Gagosian.

Rick Lowe, <i>Black Wall Street Journey #5</i> (2021). © Rick Lowe Studio. Photo: Thomas Dubrock. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian.

Rick Lowe, Black Wall Street Journey #5 (2021). © Rick Lowe Studio. Photo: Thomas Dubrock. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian.

Social Works, installation view, 2021. Artworks © artists. Photo: Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian.

“Social Works,” installation view, 2021. Artworks © artists. Photo: Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian.

Lauren Halsey, <i>black history wall of respect (II)</i> (2021). © Lauren Halsey. Photo: Rob McKeever. Courtesy of the artist, David Kordansky Gallery, and Gagosian.

Lauren Halsey, black history wall of respect (II) (2021). © Lauren Halsey. Photo: Rob McKeever. Courtesy of the artist, David Kordansky Gallery, and Gagosian.

Kenturah Davis, <i>the bodily effect of a color (sam)</i> (2021). © Kenturah Davis. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio. Courtesy of the artist, Matthew Brown Los Angeles, and Gagosian.

Kenturah Davis, the bodily effect of a color (sam) (2021). © Kenturah Davis. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio. Courtesy of the artist, Matthew Brown Los Angeles, and Gagosian.

Theaster Gates, <i>A Song for Frankie</i> (2017–21). © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gaosian.

Theaster Gates, A Song for Frankie (2017–21). © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gaosian.

Social Works, installation view, 2021. Artworks © artists. Photo: Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian.

“Social Works,” installation view, 2021. Artworks © artists. Photo: Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian.

“Social Works” is on view through August 13 at Gagosian, 555 West 24th Street. 

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