Lost Giacometti Drawings Found in London Antique Shop—and the 9 Other Biggest News Stories This Week
Catch up on the latest art news with our rundown of the 10 stories you need to know this week.
01 Never-before-seen drawings by Alberto Giacometti have been discovered in the holdings of a London antique shop.
(via The Guardian)
The Giacometti drawings, until recently presumed lost, were unearthed amongst piles of antiques and paintings belonging to the late antique dealer Eila Grahame. The Cambridge auction house, Cheffins, cleared and sold the effects of her shop in 2016, when it found the works. The pencil-sketched portraits included a nude woman and various heads, signed and dated to 1947 but still requiring authentication. A director at Cheffins, Martin Millard, stated that “these drawings have never before been seen by the public.” While the main sale of Grahame’s antiques occurred late last year, Millard expects the pieces will garner interest from museums, galleries, and collectors around the world. The sale, with an estimated price of the drawings at £40,000–£60,000, will occur in mid-October, conveniently following the Tate Modern’s retrospective of Giacometti’s work. All proceeds will be donated to the Art Fund, an art fundraising charity.
02 Overall auction turnover for the first six months of the year is up 5.3% to $6.9 billion from the same period a year ago, according to new analysis by Artprice.
A report from the art market database showed the market turning a corner after two straight years of first-half drops from 2014’s record high. The U.S. auction market led the recovery, with sales increasing 28% to $2.2 billion in the first six months of the year from the same period in 2016. That rise gives it the largest share of the auction market at 32.4%, ahead of China, last year’s leader. China’s auction market dropped 12% in the first half of the year to $2 billion in turnover, a correction that set it back to second place with 29% of global market share. Post-war and contemporary art continued to grow their market shares in the first half of the year, the report noted. In 2000, they represented 8% and 3% of global auction sales, respectively; as of 2017, those respective shares had risen to 21% and 15%.
03 Russian police detained two members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot for participating in an unauthorized protest.
(via The Washington Post)
The rally took place outside the Siberian prison where Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov is serving a 20-year sentence for conspiracy to commit terror attacks. Sentsov, originally from the Crimean Peninsula—which Russia controversially annexed from Ukraine in 2014—has denied all charges. Sentsov maintains that his conviction by the Russian military court is punishment for his political opposition to the current government. The United States and the European Union have also called for the filmmaker’s release. After parading a “Free Sentsov!” banner during the recent protest, Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina and Olga Borisova were brought to a police station under charges that a judge later dismissed (it remains to be seen if the police will refile the charges). Pussy Riot, a mostly anonymous collective, has a history of criticizing the Russian government, with some members receiving prison time for their protests.
04 Martin Roth, former head of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, died on Monday at the age of 62.
(via BBC News)
Roth directed the museum from 2011 until last year and oversaw shows about such subjects as Alexander McQueen and David Bowie. According to chairman of the museum, Nicholas Coleridge, German-born Roth raised the V&A “to new heights.” The museum, which was founded in 1852, now boasts the title of largest museum of decorative arts and design. With Roth at the helm, it saw record-breaking numbers of visitors, won Art Fund’s 2016 Museum of the Year Award, and worked to establish a presence at the Venice Biennale. He also aided in founding the V&A Research Institute and expanding the museum to parts of Scotland and China. Former Labour Member of Parliament Tristram Hunt, who has taken over the position of V&A’s director, applauded Roth’s “prodigious internationalism & contemporary ambition.”
05 The Museum of Modern Art will deaccession 400 photographs from its collection.
The New York museum will sell the work through Christie’s, over a number of online and live auctions held throughout the next year. The first auction will occur on October 10th. The museum is selling the pieces, by artists such as Walker Evans, Man Ray, Garry Winogrand, because the prints are duplicates, a museum spokesperson told ARTnews. While the sale of work from a museum’s collection can often draw controversy since it generally violates industry guidelines that discourage museums from selling art held “in the public trust,” MoMA’s sale of these photographs falls under an exception to these rules, which permit deaccessioning in order to fund the purchase of more work. All the profits from MoMA’s sale will go to the museum's acquisition fund.
06 Protesting warehouse closures and labor conditions, B&H Photo Video warehouse workers and activists demonstrated outside of New York City mayor Bill De Blasio’s residence.
The upcoming closure of the two Brooklyn warehouses in Bushwick and the Navy Yard will reportedly force more than 300 jobs from the city and into New Jersey, where the company’s operations are set to relocate by the end of the year. The company’s warehouse workers, many of whom are immigrants, have been involved in a nearly two-year labor struggle involving mistreatment and discrimination, prompting a vote to unionize in 2015 and join the United Steelworkers (USW). While they had yet to negotiate their first contract, the USW had filed a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board arguing that B&H was violating federal labor laws. The case has reportedly been dismissed, but critics have maintained that the relocation to central New Jersey belies an effort to avoid dealing with union rights. Demonstrators have faulted de Blasio for failing to prevent the closures and complicity in a union-busting effort (as the city owns the land the warehouse has been renting in the Navy Yard). B&H spokesman Michael McKeon claimed the company is “trying to offer a rational package to those who don’t want to move [to New Jersey] or a severance package to those who don’t,” but many workers who cannot move have stated they can’t make the approximately three-hour commute to the new facilities.
07 An artist spray-painted offensive tweets outside Twitter’s Hamburg office as examples of the hate speech that often circulates on the social media platform.
(via the New York Times)
“Retweet if you hate Muslims,” one read. Another: “Let’s gas some Jews together again.” They were just two of over 300 homophobic, racist, and anti-Semitic tweets reported by artist Shahak Shapira to the company over six months. He only received nine answers from Twitter, all saying the tweets did not violate the company’s rules. Of the reported tweets, the majority, the artist said, remained on the platform. The chalk protest comes following the passage of a new law, under which social media companies in Germany will be hit with huge fines of up to €50 million should they fail to respond to requests to remove hate speech within 24 hours. Twitter declined to comment on Shapira’s protest but noted that it will “continue to review and iterate on our policies and their enforcement.”
08 Four months after Sotheby’s sold a 60-carat pink diamond for $71.2 million, the auction house is still waiting to collect.
The massive diamond, known as “the Pink Star,” was gleefully reported to have been purchased by Hong Kong-based jewelry retailer Chow Tai Fook in a sale that set a new price record for a gem at auction. The press release touted its new name, “the CTF Pink Star,” in honor of the jewelry company’s founder, the late father of its current chairman who placed the winning bid. But in its most recent earnings report, Sotheby’s included a note that the jeweler has until April 2018 to pay. The diamond is still accounted for as part of the auction house’s inventory, Mike Goss, the auction house’s chief financial officer, said in its second-quarter earnings call. The quarterly earnings report noted that the sale will only net the house $500,000 in profit, “after taking into account the associated cost of inventory sales of $70.7 million, which includes amounts due to our partner and other costs related to the sale.”
09 The Montreal Biennial owes $200,000 CAD to artists and small vendors who helped stage its 2016 edition, raising questions about whether it will return.
(via The Globe and Mail)
The 2018 edition of the biennial has been canceled, and it is unclear whether it will return in 2020. It recently released a statement saying it is facing “a precarious future financial situation.” Board chair Cédric Bisson said the deficit stems from decisions by the management team formerly run by Sylvie Fortin, who departed from her director post in January. He cited cost overruns, several sponsorships that fell through, and a failure to meet fundraising targets. Bisson, a venture capitalist, told a Globe and Mail writer that everyone will be paid, but he did not specify when. The biennial closed in mid-January, nearly seven months ago. Public support has not been renewed, since it is anathema to its mission to give grants and then see artists go unpaid.
10 Artist John Currin has painted Jennifer Lawrence for the cover of the September issue of Vogue.
(via the New York Times)
On the cover, one of four to accompany the September issue, Lawrence appears demure, wearing “a simple tan chemise and a Miu Miu patterned fur hat,” according to the Times. Currin, whose work is often erotic, stated that he was “a little scared” creating a cover for Vogue, which is also celebrating its 125th anniversary. “I do worry about decorum,” Currin added. Evoking the 1930s and 1940s pictorial style of magazine illustrations, Currin’s cover exemplifies his style, blending mannerism, absurdism, and a rococo palette. “Fashion was a huge influence on his work early on,” noted Dodie Kazanjian, Vogue contributing editor. This is not the first time Vogue has spotlighted an artist: The work of Salvador Dalí, Giorgio de Chirico, and Andy Warholhave all appeared on the magazine’s cover. Along with Currin’s painting, photographs of Lawrence by Annie Leibovitz, Bruce Weber, and the duo Inez & Vinoodh will feature on covers for the September issue.
Cover image: Swiss sculptor and painter Alberto Giacometti (1901 - 1966) at his studio on Rue Hippolyte Maindron in Paris, France, 1953. (Photo by Michel Sima/Archive France/RDA/Getty Images)