Shop the Show: Galerie Lelong’s Miami Pop-Up Shows a Shifting Set of Global Artists

Every month, hundreds of galleries showcase new exhibitions on the Midnight Publishing Group Gallery Network—and every week, we shine a spotlight on the exhibitions we think you should see. Check out what we have in store, and inquire more with one simple click.

What You Need to Know: Galerie Lelong, a longtime Art Basel Miami Beach exhibitor, has opened a winter outpost in the Miami Design District through January 2022. There, the gallery is presenting “Common Borders,” a rotating group exhibition of gallery artists including Etel Adnan, Petah Coyne, Leonardo Drew, Ficre Ghebreyesus, Alfredo Jaar, Samuel Levi Jones, Ana Mendieta, Hélio Oiticica, Jaume Plensa, Zilia Sánchez, Tariku Shiferaw, Nancy Spero, Michelle Stuart, Antoni Tápies, and Juan Uslé.

Why We Like It: “Common Borders” brings together historical and contemporary works that expand upon the gallery’s longstanding commitment to artists from Latin America and the Global South. The works in the exhibition are meant to reflect on the shared experiences between individuals through ancestry, language, cultural traditions, and spiritual practices. Taking an almost ecumenical approach to identity, the exhibition attempts to transcend the concept of physical borders that so often inform our understanding of identity. The Lelong gallery outpost has some good neighbors, too: Goodman Gallery and Mitchell-Innes and Nash also have locations in Paradise Plaza, and all three galleries are collaborating on public programming. 

What the Gallery Says: “Within the U.S., Miami has been and continues to grow as a diverse community, coalescing stories and traditions from around the world. The selection of works by the international and multi-generational artists in the program invites the Miami community to reflect and discuss themes of identity and borders that continue to speak to our social histories,” wrote Mary Sabbatino, vice president of Galerie Lelong.

Browse works from the exhibition below.


Ana Mendieta
Untitled (Facial Hair Transplants) (1972–79)
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Ana Mendieta, Untitled (Facial Hair Transplants) (1972–1979). Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co.

Ana Mendieta, Untitled (Facial Hair Transplants) (1972–1979). Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co.


Leonardo Drew
Number 312 (2021)
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Leonardo Drew, Number 312 (2021). Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co.

Leonardo Drew, Number 312 (2021). Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co.


Alfredo Jaar
A Logo for America (1987-2014)
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Alfredo Jaar, A Logo for America (1987-2014) (2016). Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co.

Alfredo Jaar, A Logo for America (1987-2014) (2016). Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co.

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Phillips London Just Set Nearly 20 Auction Records for Emerging Artists in Its $8.8 Million ‘New Now’ Sale

Phillips’s “New Now” contemporary art sale in London on July 13, which featured an eclectic mix of artworks by emerging, buzzed-about artists alongside established blue-chip names like Andy Warhol, Banksy, and KAWS, pulled in a sturdy £6.4 million ($8.8 million), the highest total for a Phillips London sale in the category.

The intermingling of well-established with new names in a single auction tends to lead to a clear split between the top prices, with the more recognizable stars bringing in more cash.

But the Phillips sale was something of an exception: while the top lots of the night were by Warhol and KAWS, much buzzed-about figurative artists like Genieve Figgis also made big splashes, and nearly 20 auction records were set for living artists, including Josh Smith, Ryan Gander, and Oli Epp. 

Andy Warhol Flowers (1964-65). Image courtesy Phillips.

Andy Warhol Flowers (1964-65). Image courtesy Phillips.

Of 224 lots offered, 198, or 86 percent, were sold. By value, the auction was 94 percent sold, a reflection of the number of lots that brought over-estimate prices. 

“The strength of the market was demonstrated through the enthusiasm and depth of bidding from bidders across 48 countries worldwide,” said Simon Tovey, the London-based head of the sale. He noted that six artists made their debut onto the secondary market.

The top lot was Warhol’s Flowers (1964–65), a classic image by the artist, which sold for a mid-estimate £1.35 million ($1.9 million) with premium.

The second-highest, though far lower, price was for an untitled painting by KAWS featuring Star Wars character C3P0 sporting a signature KAWS animated head with X’s for eyes. It sold for £352,800 ($488,804), just a notch over the high £350,000 estimate.

Banksy’s Love Is In The Air screenprint (2003), depicting one of the artist’s best-known images (a masked figure about to launch a bouquet of flowers as though it were a molotov cocktail) sold for £214,200 ($296,774), also meeting its estimate including the premium. (Final prices include buyer’s premium unless otherwise noted; estimates do not.)

A new record was set for Josh Smith, an artist who works with collage, sculpture, and printmaking in a style that mixes abstraction and figuration. Though he first became recognized for canvases that depicted his own name in expressive loops and swirls, many of the recent works are of Expressionist-style palm trees against sunset backdrops.

Oli Epp Whistleblower (2017). Image courtesy Phillips.

Oli Epp Whistleblower (2017). Image courtesy Phillips.

An untitled example of this subject matter from 2014 sold for a record £214,200 ($297,000) today, clearing the high £150,000 estimate by a wide margin. The previous record of $262,500 was set in May 2019, at Sotheby’s New York, also for a palm tree and sunset image.

Whistleblower (2017), a painting by Oli Epp, a London-based artist known for his deformed and quirky figures, shattered its modest estimate of £10,0000 to £15,000 to sell for £144,900 ($200,800), and was the seventh-highest price of the night.

The sale featured a number of African artists and artists of the African diaspora, some of whose works were sold to benefit the Africa First Artist Residency Program, with almost £220,000 ($305,000) raised in total. 

As part of this group, a record was set for Simphiwe Ndzube, who is originally from Cape Town and is based in Los Angeles. Figure With a Whip Leg (2019) sold for £37,800 ($52,372).

Ndzube’s work is inspired by the South African working-class Black men’s tradition of swenking, informal competitions that are part fashion show and part dance-off. He appeared on Midnight Publishing Group News’ 2018 list of Armory Show artists to watch.

Zimbabwean artist Moffat Takadiwa’s Land of Money and Honey (2017), an assemblage of metal bottle caps and plastic on plastic cord, sold for a record £12,600 ($17,457). 

Outside of that group, there were a number of works by African artists painting in the last half decade that were sold from galleries on the primary market not long ago.

Josh Smith Untitled (2014). Image courtesy Phillips.

Josh Smith Untitled (2014). Image courtesy Phillips.

These included a painting by Zimbabwe-born, South African artist Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, KWEKWE x HARARE x CAPETOWN WHEREVER YOU’RE FROM (2015), which sold for £81,900 ($113,000), far above the high £50,000 estimate. Meanwhile, Lady in Orange (2020) by Nigerian artist Chiderah Bosah, which was acquired directly from the artist by the consigner, sold for a double estimate £17,460 ($24,000).

The sale also featured a special charitable component organized by fashion designer Stella McCartney, who, during lockdown, reached out to 26 artists, colleagues, and friends to select and visualize letters from the alphabet to create a “McCartney A to Z Manifesto.”

Each artist was given absolute freedom to reimagine their own letter and to select their own charitable cause. Hajime Sorayama selected Médecins Sans Frontières Japan and Cindy Sherman supported Planned Parenthood.

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The British Museum Has Set Out to Prove in a New Show That Infamous Roman Emperor Nero Wasn’t So Bad

The name Nero, like Madonna or Voltaire, needs little introduction. Even if you didn’t know that the Roman emperor’s full name was Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, or that he succeeded the throne at the tender age of 16 (only to die by 30), one of the best-known sayings about Nero is that he “fiddled while Rome burned.”

The callous personality that the phrase conjures is in keeping with the broader historical narrative of “one of Rome’s most infamous rulers, notorious for his cruelty, debauchery, and madness,” according to the press release for the British Museum’s new exhibition dedicated to Nero.

A few of the notable deeds associated with Nero include executing his mother and at least one wife (though likely two), competing publicly in chariot races, acting on stage, and having his likeness reproduced in statues around Rome—thought to be evidence of his megalomania—and, of course, starting the Great Fire of Rome and “fiddling” as it raged.

The Nero of our common imagination is an entirely artificial figure, carefully crafted 2000 years ago,” curator Thorsten Opper, who specializes in ancient Rome at the British Museum, said in a statement. He added that the exhibition, which includes more than 200 objects, “reveals a society that was prosperous and dynamic, yet full of inner tensions, which erupted in a violent civil war after Nero’s death.” 

So, how did the Nero of history morph into the caricature of evil taught in schools today?

A marble head of Nero (AD 50Ð100), on loan from the Musei Capitolini in Rome. Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images.

“Our aim is not to reveal a ‘good’ Nero behind the clichéd ‘monster’, but to show that there were very different perceptions and narratives,” project curator Francesca Bologna told Midnight Publishing Group News in an email. “We do so by looking critically at ancient sources and using archaeological evidence.”

Through historical documents and artifacts, the record shows that “Nero’s actions enjoyed broad popular support, but were rejected by parts of the elite. His memory was contested, but in the end one particular, very hostile elite view won out.”

Some of the objects on display in the exhibition are examples of anti-Nero propaganda, like the famous marble head depicting the emperor with hollow eyes and a blunt haircut. As happened with many busts of the maligned emperor, the top half of the sculpture was re-shaped after his death from the idealized likeness to what Opper once described in an interview as “a stereotype, an artificial image” that differs from those created during his rule.

Other research, such as excavations of the Palatine in Rome, offer “a radical reassessment of the historical sources,” Bologna said. “With this comes an urgent need to challenge traditional preconceptions and explore what the ancient elite narrative on Nero tells us about the inner conflicts of Roman society.”

See more objects from the show, below. “Nero: The Man Behind the Myth” is on view at the British Museum through October 24, 2021. 

The Fenwick Hoard, England, AD 60–61. © Colchester Museums.

The Fenwick Hoard, England, AD 60–61. © Colchester Museums.

Head from a copper statue of the emperor Nero. Found in England, AD 54– 61. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Head from a copper statue of the emperor Nero. Found in England, AD 54–
61. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

: Miniature bronze bust of Caligula, AD 37–41. © Colchester Museums.

Miniature bronze bust of Caligula, AD 37–41. © Colchester Museums.

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Former Met Staff and Others Say the Museum Would Set a Dangerous Precedent by Selling Art to Cover Costs

The practice of deaccessioning has never failed to incite controversy. But the stakes are even higher now that the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York—one of the wealthiest, largest, and best-attended museums in the world—has suggested it is considering selling off some of its art as it faces a $150 million shortfall.

The fact that a leading professional organization relaxed its guidelines surrounding deaccessioning last spring, which means that the Met would draw no official censure from the move, is of no consequence to the many experts and observers—including former museum leadership—who swiftly voiced their opposition.

On Friday, the New York Times reported that the museum had initiated conversations with auction houses and department heads about selling artworks to pay for care of the collection.

“This is the time when we need to keep our options open,” the Met’s director Max Hollein said. A representative for the museum declined to comment further to Midnight Publishing Group News, as did spokespeople for Sotheby’s and Christie’s. The museum’s board is due to vote on whether to continue with the plan next month.

Metropolitan Museum of Art director Max Hollein. Photo by Eileen Travell, courtesy of the Met.

If the Met were to proceed, it would become the most high-profile institution to take advantage of the Association of Art Museum Directors’s decision to loosen its guidelines on how members use the proceeds of art sales. In light of the challenges posed by the pandemic, the AAMD has permitted museums to use the funds for the “direct care of the collection” for two years (until April 2022), as opposed to exclusively reinvesting it back into art acquisitions.

“Based on the information that has been reported in the New York Times, the Met’s steps are in line with AAMD’s April 2020 resolutions,” AAMD president Christine Anagnos confirmed to Midnight Publishing Group News. The Met is not alone: at least nine museums, ranging from the Indianapolis Museum of Art to the Brooklyn Museum, have sold off art during this window. The latter generated $31 million from the sale of art in a matter of months.

The most notorious example, the Baltimore Museum of Art creatively interpreted the relaxed rules, planning to use art-sale proceeds to boost staff salaries and pursue a DEI plan. After backlash and a letter from former AAMD presidents opposing the move, the museum withdrew the works hours ahead of their sale.

Many have found the Met’s announcement particularly bruising considering it has an endowment of $3.3 billion and a number of billionaires on its board. (The museum also reduced is staff by around 20 percent since the shutdown through a combination of layoffs, voluntary retirements, and buyouts.)

Installation view of "A New Look at Old Masters" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Installation view of “A New Look at Old Masters” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“The pandemic has caused untold suffering across the world, but many have found creative ways to cope with its impact,” said Maxwell Anderson, one of the signatories of the Baltimore letter, in response to the recent Met news. “Selling art to pay the bills is the most short-sighted solution imaginable. Gifts and bequests account for over 80 to 90 percent of the contents of public museum collections, and exiling artworks to the private sector endangers the mechanism of tax deduction while discouraging future donations. It also treats our shared cultural heritage as fungible elements of an asset class.”

At least one Met curator, Ian Alteveer, recognized that desperate times might call for desperate measures: “We’ve tried for years to get more robust funding for conservation, one of the prime things related to collections care,” he told the Times.

But another former staff member is less sanguine. “I would consider it shameful if the museum sold anything that is not a duplicate print,” said George Goldner, a longtime curator in the Met’s drawings and prints department who retired in 2015. “There is no such thing as a duplicate painting or duplicate sculpture or embroidery. I would consider it shameful and misguided, and a poor example to the field and completely unnecessary to sell works of art from the collection.”

Former Met director Thomas Campbell, who is now director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF), had harsher words on Instagram: “The danger is that deaccessioning for operating costs will become the norm, especially if leading museums like the Met follow suit. Deaccessioning will be like crack cocaine to the addict—a rapid hit, that becomes a dependency. I fear that the consequences could be highly destructive to the art museum industry.”

Campbell’s post prompted other prominent art-world figures to weigh in, most of whom agreed with his stance. Artist Vik Muniz wrote: “Museum acquisitions tell a story that can be undone by deaccessioning, thus affecting the meaning of a collection as a whole.”

Paul Schimmel, the former chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and a former partner at Hauser & Wirth, commented on Campbell’s post: “Been there done that and it’s the devil’s answer to a godly challenge!!! No one should ever give art for operation!!!”

Writer Tyler Green initiated a petition opposing the Met’s actions, which has drawn 140 signatures as of press time. “The Met’s board is responsible for the institution… Billionaire wealth alone increased $1 trillion during the first nine months of the pandemic,” Green wrote. “We call on the Met’s board to do the job they signed up for: to give, to support the institution. We call upon the Met’s senior staff leadership to resist any attempts to sell off the art the Met holds in the public trust.”

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