The Producers of Art-World Satire ‘The Square’ Apologize to Artist Lola Arias for Using Her Name in the Film Without Her Consent

A 2017 film satirizing the art world is back in the headlines after the production company behind The Square officially issued an apology to Berlin-based Argentinian artist Lola Arias. She is named in the movie, directed by Ruben Östlund, as the creator of the titular artwork, an illuminated outline of a square on a cobblestone courtyard inside which viewers must promise to treat everyone equally.

“We would like to offer an apology to Lola Arias for the way her name was used in the fiction film The Square,” Plattform Produktion said in a statement shared by Deadline.

“We understand that the use of Lola Arias’s name, which was not discussed as clearly as it should have been, created a misunderstanding connecting her work as an artist to the artwork The Square (Rutan),” the statement continued. “After meeting the artist in Berlin and discussing the misperception caused, we would like to emphasize that The Square (Rutan) is an artwork originally created by Ruben Östlund and Kalle Boman for the city of Värnamo, Sweden in 2015. All reference to the artist Lola Arias as the creator of the artwork is fictional.”

In 2017, Arias had filed a lawsuit against the company in Berlin. She claimed the film had caused some people to incorrectly think she created the artwork, or to mistake her for a fictional character.

The artist was originally set to play a minor role in the film, but Arias’s character did not make the final cut. She alleged that Plattform Produktion used her name without her consent.

Starring Claes Bang as a contemporary art curator and Elisabeth Moss as a journalist, the movie won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in France.

Arias had hoped suing would prevent the movie from being distributed unless it was edited to remove mentions of her name. It remains to be seen if Plattform with follow up its apology with a new, Arias-free edit of the film. As of press time, neither the artist nor the production company had responded to inquiries from Midnight Publishing Group News.


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Robert Colescott’s Caustic Satire of ‘Washington Crossing the Delaware’ Is Poised to Reset the Artist’s Market at Sotheby’s Next Month

The late American painter Robert Colescott’s charged satire of Washington Crossing the Delaware will hit the auction block next month—and it is poised to smash the late artist’s current auction record. 

George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook, as the artist’s landmark 1975 canvas is called, is set to highlight Sotheby’s contemporary art evening auction in New York on May 12. It’s estimated to go for $9 million to $12 million—that’s roughly 10 times Colescott’s current auction record of $912,500, set in 2018.

The Washington painting carries a financial guarantee, according to the auction house, making it certain to sell. Colescott’s profile has been on a steady incline in recent years, spurred in part by support from artist Kerry James Marshall, who has been vocal about Colescott’s influence on his work. Blum & Poe also began representing the artist’s estate in 2017. His public auction prices, however, do not currently reflect his stature. 

Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 painting Washington Crossing the Delaware, a staple of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection since 1897 (not to mention scores of American history texts) is the overt reference behind Colescott’s 20th-century masterwork. But where the former artist lionizes the general in a macho wartime scene, Colescott’s take is much more caustic: Washington and his men are replaced by inventor agricultural scientist Washington Carver and a boat full of cartoonish Black caricatures—a banjo player, a barefoot fisherman, and a mammy figure performing fellatio on the flag bearer. 

“With its social and political resonance and sheer pictorial force, today Colescott’s painting greatly rivals the iconic quality of its source image, offering a critical reckoning with the history of American art,” David Galperin, head of Sotheby’s New York contemporary evening auctions, said in a statement.

According to the auction house, the painting has remained in the same Midwestern collection since 1976, when it was purchased from John Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco. Sotheby’s declined to share additional information about the identity of the consignor, but the Art Newspaper reports that it belonged to the late Robert and Lois Orchard of St. Louis, Missouri.

George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware was included in the critically acclaimed retrospective of Colescott’s work that opened at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati in 2019 before traveling to the Portland Art Museum. The exhibition, curated by Lowery Stokes Sims and Raphaela Platow, will wrap up its tour this summer at the Sarasota Art Museum. 

Meanwhile, Colescott’s painting is on public view now through April 21 at the auction house’s Hong Kong branch. After that run, it will head to Sotheby’s New York for a May 1 through 12 exhibition leading up to the sale.

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