August 7, 2020
A blue neon sign reading "You Belong Here" has become a new kind of beacon in Long Beach, California recently. The light sculpture by artist Tavares Strachan exists to welcome visitors to Compound, a soon-to-debut multidisciplinary space fusing wellness and contemporary art. But it also serves as a mission statement for what aims to be a new nexus of belonging for the community. Housed in a freshly renovated, 15,000-square-foot Art Deco building in the city's Zaferia neighborhood, Compound is about as prototypically SoCal as a venture could be. On one hand, the space will feature contemporary-art commissions, a sculpture garden, and an exhibition program partly drawn from the collection of its founder, cultural philanthropist and Scripps media heir Megan Tagliaferri. But Compound will also team those elements with a farm-to-table restaurant and an ambitious events program encompassing outdoor yoga, meditation sessions, healing workshops, live-music performances, and more—all of it free to the public. On this week's episode of the Art Angle, Compound's curator and artistic director, the LA art juggernaut Lauri Firstenberg, calls in from the West Coast to discuss the venture's ethos, the surprising synergy between the wellness movement and rigorous artistic practice, and the role Compound hopes to play in a near future wracked by crises large and small.
July 31, 2020
It's not often that you find an art critic—or anyone, for that matter—who can claim upwards of 400,000 Instagram followers, a Pulitzer Prize, and appearances on an original Bravo reality series as achievements of the past decade. But Jerry Saltz can. A look at his unlikely biography helps explain his ability to connect with a such wide audience through so many media: after leaving college without a degree, Saltz spent 10 years working as a long-haul truck driver before willing himself back into the art world by the power of the pen. From 2006 to the present day, he has held sway as senior art critic and columnist for New York magazine, where he passionately extols his belief that art can be for anyone. In March, just before galleries, museums, and newsrooms around the world were forced to shutter for safety's sake, Saltz published his fifth book, How to Be an Artist. Expanded from a mega-popular column he wrote for New York  back in 2018, the handbook provides practical tips, memorable quotes, and plenty of motivation that you too can enjoy "a life lived in art." Shortly after the release of How to Be an Artist, Saltz joined the Art Angle's Andrew Goldstein for a frank discussion organized by the National Arts Club, about the book, the precarious state of the current art world, and the need to create its successor. For this week's episode, we're presenting an edited version of that talk. (You can find a recording of the full chat online, courtesy of the NAC.)
July 24, 2020
Just days into the start of 2020, CityLab published an article analyzing which major American cities are the best, and the worst, for Black women residents. The report took into account a variety of metrics measuring "livability," and the consensus was that Midwestern metropolises including Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Detroit were the among the most inhospitable in the nation. Despite the systemic sexism and racism reflected in the bleak findings, however, Black women artists within these same cities have been driving growth and change in their local art communities—often by rejecting conventional thinking about funding, institutions, and the market. In a recent piece for Artnet News, journalist Melissa Smith spoke to some of these trailblazing Black women artists about their histories, triumphs, and continuing challenges living and working in the Midwest. On this week's episode, Smith joins Andrew Goldstein to discuss these issues, primarily through the lens of Pittsburgh-based artists Alisha Wormsley and Vanessa German. By navigating around (or outright ignoring) philanthropic systems all but designed to exclude them, leveraging crowdfunding platforms and grassroots networks, and developing alternate forms of patronage based on a more community-centric role for art, their approaches speak volumes about the possibilities and pitfalls of a different kind of art world.
July 17, 2020
Each May, as the flowers bloom and the evening light lingers, the world's largest auction houses hold their marquee spring sales in New York, enabling perennial market leader Christie's, its arch-rival Sotheby's, and insurgent Phillips to collectively bring in well over $1 billion in one so-called "gigaweek." But this spring, the COVID-19 shutdown left the Big Three's salesrooms unnaturally quiet in the Empire City and around the world. Starved of vital cyclical revenue, Sotheby's cut hundreds of jobs, while Christie's both restructured and downsized—with all of these moves indicating that blockbuster replacements for the major sales be staged as soon as possible, in whatever form they must take. Cue the screens. In late June and early July, the major auction houses made an unprecedented pivot from IRL to URL with uncharacteristic speed. Auction paddles were replaced with mouse clicks, and some international offices stayed open as late as 4 a.m. to help stage transcontinental, hours-long hybrid sales. As usual, the duopoly of Sotheby's and Christie's provided the overwhelming majority of the action. At Sotheby's, a three-part sale saw auctioneer Oliver Barker seamlessly manage a futuristic bank of monitors ping-ponging in bids from cities around the globe, and the star lot—a triptych by Francis Bacon—brought in a staggering $84 million en route to $300 million in total sales. But Christie's—not usually known for its technological prowess—got the final word with the "ONE" sale, a four-city, four-hour "relay" auction that set a slew of artist records while racking up $421 million overall. How did the houses manage to pull off these unexpected wins in perhaps the most challenging market in our lifetime? On this week's episode, Andrew Goldstein is joined by Eileen Kinsella and Nate Freeman, Artnet News's esteemed auction-reporting veterans, to discuss the lead-up to the history-making summer season, the blow-by-blow at Christie's "ONE" sale, and what it all means for the future of auctions.
July 10, 2020
Hank Willis Thomas is a busy man. The 44-year-old photographer, sculptor, filmmaker, and writer was already a force within the rarefied world of visual art before he decided to embrace politics on a large scale. But during the landmark presidential race of 2016, Thomas and fellow artist Eric Gottesman co-founded an "anti-partisan" political action committee called For Freedoms to empower artists to channel their creative energy into civic engagement. Along with facilitating major public artworks such as murals and artist-designed billboards, For Freedoms has since grown into a larger nonprofit organization that has held townhall meetings, organized voter-registration drives, and even assembled its own multi-day national Congress in Los Angeles. Not bad for a side hustle. The son of renowned art historian and photographer Deborah Willis, Thomas first rose to prominence for his early photography, which used the visual language of advertising to address systemic injustices such as the exploitation of professional athletes, the scourge of mass incarceration, and the original sin of American slavery. Years before the latest wave of activists began toppling statues of Christopher Columbus, Robert E. Lee, and other problematic figures in US history, Thomas also began questioning the validity of such monuments with his own large-scale sculptures, often creating alternatives to honor the individuals whose sacrifices have been overlooked by mainstream historical narratives. Thomas once said that his personal experiences prompted him to create art that could "change the world in a more intentional way," and now more than ever, he is doing just that. Through July 16, he and his Los Angeles gallery, Kayne Griffin Corcoran, are teaming with Artnet Auctions to present "Bid for Peace," a single-lot sale of Thomas's striking sculpture Peace (2019). All proceeds from the auction including the buyer's premium will be donated to G.L.I.T.S, Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society, a non-profit organization that protects the rights of transgender sex workers. A few days before the opening of "Bid for Peace," Thomas joined Andrew Goldstein on the Art Angle to discuss the evolution of his studio practice, artists' importance to bringing about civic transformation, and whether you might someday see his own name on a ballot near you.
June 26, 2020
In cities across the world over the past month, activists have been taking aim at symbols of oppression in the form of monuments: splashing them with paint, tagging them with graffiti, and most importantly, tearing them down. Among the most targeted statues in the US are those of Christopher Columbus. While he is still portrayed in American elementary schools as a folkloric hero responsible for "discovering the New World," the grim facts behind the legend have recently led to Columbus monuments being toppled and trampled, tossed into bodies of water, and even beheaded. But there's much more to the story than a broad-strokes whitewashing of one colonialist's anti-Indigenous brutality. In an essay for Artnet News earlier this month, national art critic Ben Davis teased out the complexities of the Columbus myth by delving into the history of the monument towering over New York City's eponymous Columbus Circle. Built in the late 19th century as a concession to Italian immigrants subject to eerily familiar forms of racist violence, the monument shows how the Columbus myth helped ingrain white supremacy into the nation's foundation—and set the stage for unquantifiable injustices still afflicting the country today. On this week's episode of The Art Angle, Davis joins Andrew Goldstein to discuss the Columbus Circle statue's long history as a political pawn, its link to other monuments commemorating problematic historical figures, and what it all means for whether these symbols should be preserved or destroyed.
June 19, 2020
Although 2020 isn't even halfway done yet, the worldwide health crisis and the global uprising over civil rights already guarantee that this year will be one historians study forevermore. As challenging as it will be to sort through such monumental events in hindsight, some institutions and individuals are doing an even more difficult job: preserving this history as it happens. One person at the forefront of this effort is Aaron Bryant, a curator of photography, visual culture, and contemporary history at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. Bryant leads the institution's rapid-response collecting initiative, which seeks to secure the objects, images, and stories that will allow historians—and the public at large—to eventually make sense of the events that shaped American life in pivotal moments, including the tumultuous one we are living through right now. On this week's episode of the Art Angle, Bryant joins Andrew Goldstein to discuss the historical importance of everyday people, how t-shirts and rakes can capture the essence of a major protest, and how this year's upheaval is similar to—and different from—previous chapters in American history.
June 12, 2020
In fall 2019, a new app called ImageNet Roulette was introduced to the world with what seemed like a simple, fun premise: snap a selfie, upload it to a database, and wait a few seconds for machine learning to tell you what type of person you are. Maybe a "teacher," maybe a "pilot," maybe even just a "woman." Or maybe, as the app's creator warned, the labels the system tagged you with would be shockingly racist, misogynistic, or misanthropic. Frequently, the warning turned out to be prescient, and the app immediately went viral thanks to its penchant for slurs and provocative presumptions. Long since decommissioned, ImageNet Roulette was part of a larger initiative undertaken by artist Trevor Paglen and artificial intelligence researcher Kate Crawford to expose the latent biases coded into the massive data sets informing a growing number of A.I. systems. It was only the latest light that Paglen's work had shined onto the dark underbelly of our image-saturated, technology-mediated world. Even beyond his Ph.D. in geography and his MacArthur "Genius" grant, Paglen's resume is unique among his peers on blue-chip gallery rosters. He's photographically infiltrated CIA black sites, scuba-dived through labyrinths of undersea data cables, launched art into space, and collaborated with NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, all as a means of making innovative art that brings into focus the all-but-invisible power structures governing contemporary life. On this week's episode of The Art Angle, Paglen joins Andrew Goldstein by phone to discuss his adventurous career. Although the episode was recorded before George Floyd's murder sparked nationwide demonstrations for racial justice, Paglen's work is more timely than ever for its probing of surveillance, authoritarianism, and the ways both are being simultaneously empowered and cloaked by A.I.
June 5, 2020
As American citizens entered Memorial Day weekend this year, the nation was already in turmoil. Nearly 100,000 lives had been lost to a colossal public-health crisis, with a disproportionately high number of the victims being African American; tens of millions of people had filed for unemployment since mid-March; and many states central to the US economy remained largely locked down, with few solid indications of when they would resume anything resembling business as usual. Then, after a Minnesota deli owner accused George Floyd of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill on Memorial Day itself, the four police officers who responded to the call suffocated Floyd on camera during his arrest—and the national conversation immediately pivoted to America's original and deadliest sin: institutional racism. Although Floyd's death has now become the centerpiece of perhaps the broadest-based US protest movement since the Vietnam War, the tensions between (mostly) white authorities and communities of color has been building for centuries. In fact, another unarmed black American, 26-year-old healthcare worker Breonna Taylor, was killed in her own bed by Louisville police just days before Floyd's murder. The fatalities offer fresh proof of the lethal discrimination that has shaped American history since its beginning. But they have also quickly shifted widespread concerns for safety from COVID-19 to widespread demands for justice and systemic change from police and all levels of government. On the first Friday of the demonstrations sparked by the Floyd tragedy, Artnet News's art and design editor Noor Brara sought out a wide variety of artists willing to share their stories from the protests (and beyond). By the following Monday morning, she had gathered personal accounts from 18 artists that ranged from the painful, to the terrifying, to the uplifting as they joined (or continued) in the movement for action. On this week's episode of the Art Angle, Brara brings four of those stories to our listeners, in their own words. Artists Ebony Brown, Candy Kerr, Marcus Leslie Singleton, and Darryl Westly—all black Americans—spoke to Artnet News about the devastating repetitions of history, the fatigue of trying to educate white America, and how their protest experiences shape their artistic practices.
May 28, 2020
Picture this: a doughy, apple-cheeked infant nestled in between the soft petals of a dew-kissed flower, sound asleep, like the start of a real-life fable. Almost everyone who conjures that mental image will do so using a nearly identical aesthetic—and whether you realize it or not, that's almost entirely because of the work of legendary baby photographer Anne Geddes. After her debut photography book, Down in the Garden, soared to number three on the New York Times Bestseller list in 1996, Geddes's wholesomely surreal infant images became inescapable. Oprah went on air to declare Down in the Garden the best coffee-table book she'd ever seen, and by late December 1997, Geddes's publishing partners had sold more than 1.8 billion (yes, with a "b") calendars and date books of her photography for the upcoming year. Her dizzying success soon spurred the artist to ramp up production, with a standard Geddes shoot requiring six-to-eight months of planning and a budget between $250,000 and $350,000. But who could blame her for going big? Geddes's empire of adorable infants seemed unstoppable. Cut to 2020, however, and the picture has changed dramatically—not just for Geddes, but for an entire creative economy driven by analog photography, print publishing, and the high barriers to entry formerly associated with both. Years after smartphones first began putting increasingly high-quality cameras in nearly everyone's pocket, and Instagram began providing masses of self-trained shutterbugs a free and wide-reaching distribution platform for their images, it's not hyperbole to say that the pillars on which Geddes built her career have crumbled. So what's the Queen of Baby Photography to do when her kingdom becomes unrecognizable? In this week's episode, Andrew Goldstein chats with Noor Brara, Artnet's art and design editor, about her recent profile of Geddes. Together, they discuss the artist's rise, fall, and reckoning with culture's digital evolution.
May 21, 2020
In late January, Philip Tinari, the director of Beijing's pioneering UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, was in Davos, Switzerland for the latest outing on the non-stop international carousel of events that has defined the art world for much of the 21st century. It was there, on a ski lift, that he began receiving frantic messages from his team back at the museum: a mysterious disease had begun afflicting an alarming number of Chinese residents, and the government was beginning to shut down borders, cities, and businesses—including museums like theirs—to try to stem the spread. That mysterious illness was, of course, COVID-19, the lethal respiratory disease that roared to life in Wuhan, China and went on to grind much of the global economy and the art industry to a halt. Its emergence gave Tinari, a Philadelphia native who has led the UCCA Center since 2011, a rare front-row view to the societal and cultural impact of the virus near its point of origin, as well as the considerable damage it has done to the already-strained relationship between the United States and China. But just over three months later, China's extreme response to the virus has proven effective enough for the country to begin resuming some semblance of normal life, including visiting art museums and galleries. On May 21, the UCCA Center reopened with "Meditations in an Emergency," a multipart exhibition created in response to the virus, making Tinari and his staff among the first to have to adapt the in-person art experience to a post-pandemic world. On this week's episode, Tinari joins Andrew Goldstein to discuss how the crisis has changed the art landscape in China, the practical challenges of shutting down and restarting museum operations in a crisis, and what the future may hold for the art world at large.
May 14, 2020
How many times have you heard someone in a museum scoff "I could do that" in the presence of a solid-black canvas or an obtuse conceptual installation? You're not alone, and frankly, curator-turned-YouTube-star Sarah Urist Green understands the disconnect between art enthusiasts and art skeptics. But she wants to fix it by guiding all of us, from truck drivers to art historians, into tapping our own inner wells of creativity using the biggest video platform on the planet. After grad school and a curatorship at the former Indianapolis Museum of Art (renamed Newfields in 2017), Urist Green was well-versed in the ins and outs of the contemporary-art scene. But she eventually began to tire of the insular world built up around the work itself and longed for a way to expand art's audience. When her husband, the novelist John Green, mentioned off-hand that PBS was developing new educational programming, she took the plunge and pitched a show called "The Art Assignment" centered on projects designed by avant-garde artists that everyone, everywhere could complete themselves. Now a weekly digital web series, the YouTube fixture has some 500,000 subscribers, and it has branched out from its core concept to include travel episodes, art-history-themed cooking lessons, and much more. After six years helming the wildly popular series, Green published her first book, You Are an Artist: Assignments to Spark Creation, in late March, just as millions of people around the world were being forced to retreat indoors for weeks on end. The timing was uncanny. Born out of her YouTube series, the book is brimming with projects dreamed up by such critically acclaimed talents as Alec Soth, Michelle Grabner, and the Guerrilla Girls—each one engineered to be feasible from home with the materials available. It's a perfect solution for our long days of sheltering in place.  On this week's episode, Urist Green joins Andrew Goldstein by phone to discuss her unexpected art-world journey, the serendipitous appeal of her new book, and how you—yes, you—can be an artist, too.
May 7, 2020
Just when you thought the spring of 2020 couldn't get any weirder, a Microsoft ad starring performance artist Marina Abramović caught the attention of conspiracy peddler Alex Jones and his followers, sparking accusations that the artist was practicing satanism and reigniting the "pizzagate" controversy that ensnared Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman John Podesta four years ago. It all began with a seemingly innocuous commercial put out by Microsoft to advertise a product called HoloLens 2, a newfangled set of mixed-reality smart glasses, which Abramović used to create her augmented-reality artwork The Life. Hours after the ad debuted online, an onslaught of exceedingly negative comments drove the tech company to scrub it from the Internet completely. Abramović, a native Serbian artist who has come to define a certain brand of physically and psychologically exhaustive performance, helped chart a new path for contemporary art over the course of her 50-year career. In the process, she's become a fashion icon and a friend and muse of such celebrities as James Franco and Lady Gaga. But, as it turns out, a certain corner of the Internet has also seized on her early work engaged with Eastern European politics and religious traditions—which involved dousing herself in gasoline inside a flaming pentagram and spending hours scrubbing blood off animal bones—as a sign that she, well, worships Satan and is the high priestess of a cabal formed by the Hollywood and political elite. Confused? So were we. On this week's episode of the Art Angle, Artnet News's chief art critic Ben Davis joins host Andrew Goldstein by phone to break down the controversy—and explain why this moment of turmoil is proving to be an exceptionally fertile one for conspiracy theorists to reach an audience.
April 30, 2020
In his 2019 essay "The Art of Dying," acclaimed critic Peter Schjeldahl describes Patsy Cline's voice as "attending selflessly to the sounds and the senses of the words... consummate." The same could be said about Schjeldahl's incomparable writing about art, most notably during his 22 years (and counting) as the art critic for the New Yorker. And no one expected this outcome less than Schjeldahl himself. A Midwest native who beamed to New York at the dawn of the 1960s with little more than a high-school diploma, Schjeldahl was an aspiring poet who began reviewing exhibitions to pay the bills. More than five decades later, he is almost universally regarded as one of the most respected and beloved art critics alive. His signature first-person reckonings with art—several examples of which were recently collected in his latest book, Hot, Cold, Heavy, Light: 100 Art Writings, 1988-2018—balance accessibility, lyricism, and wit in a style that he has been painstakingly refining for nearly six decades. Schjeldahl hasn't always led a charmed life. Over the course of the past year, he experienced an almost unbelievable series of misfortunes. First, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and given just six months to live; next, the apartment in the East Village he shared for 47 years with his wife, Brooke, caught fire and took his papers with it; and most recently, of course, the Schjeldahls were forced into lockdown along with much of the rest of humanity by the global health crisis. Yet the tide recently turned in Schjeldahl's favor: miraculously, his cancer is in remission thanks to treatment. His brush with the end has also enriched his perspective on art and life in new ways, which the inimitable writer was gracious enough to discuss in a phone conversation with Artnet News's own renowned critic, Ben Davis, from his country home in the Catskills. On this week's episode, Andrew Goldstein gives the floor to the critics for a free-wheeling, candid, and refreshingly upbeat conversation about subjects ranging from the intellectual gymnastics of art reviewing, to the chaotic '60s art scene in New York, to why you can't really understand Rembrandt before age 40. It's an indelible reminder of why no one else has ever done it quite like Schjeldahl—and why no one else ever will.
April 23, 2020
Ai Weiwei is not shy about tackling the big issues. Despite winning international acclaim for his interdisciplinary, boundary-pushing art, the Chinese-born artist is better known in some circles for his activism—though in his estimation, the two are inextricably linked. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak varying degrees of havoc around the globe, Ai has increasingly turned his attention toward how the illness is exposing the failures of governments and aggravating the geopolitical fault lines between world powers. Although China, where the outbreak began in December 2019, seems to have contained the virus sufficiently to begin easing its way back to some kind of normalcy, serious questions remain about how transparent Xi Jinping's regime has been about the disease. After being detained, beaten, and surveilled by party officials in 2011 in response to his investigative work, Ai knows better than most how the tentacles of China's authoritarian government can accost citizens willing to criticize the state. He believes that here, too, the bureaucracy's unwillingness to admit its own errors has created disastrous consequences for others—this time, the world over. But he also believes that leading Western nations, especially the United States, bear some of the blame for being too accommodating of China for too long, all in pursuit of profit. This week on the podcast, Ai Weiwei calls in from Cambridge, UK, where he is safely ensconced with his son and girlfriend, to discuss the pandemic, its effects on global politics, and how artists can contribute to a world in turmoil.
April 16, 2020
Today, Antwaun Sargent is known as the preeminent critical and curatorial voice for one of the most important movements in contemporary photography. Along with its accompanying exhibition, his book, The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion, stands as an important statement on a diverse set of young artists finding their own unique ways to break down the traditional boundaries separating two disciplines that have always been more intertwined than has been widely acknowledged. Yet just a few years ago, Sargent was virtually unknown to the fine-art establishment. He found his footing as an independent writer looking to spotlight rising black artists in his peer group (think: Jordan Casteel, Awol Erizku, and Jennifer Packer), then quickly expanded his scope to place their practices in conversation with a long line of artists of color whose pioneering work too often went unrecognized by the (usually) Western white male gatekeepers of their respective eras. His essays have since appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and several institutional publications, enlightening audiences on not only the work of particular photographers, but also on how their collective efforts are shifting the conventions of image-making—inside and outside the art world alike. On this week's episode, Sargent joins the podcast for a wide-ranging conversation touching on everything from Awol Erizku's instant-classic pregnancy-reveal photos of Beyoncé, to the leveling power of social media for a generation of image-makers eager to control their work's distribution, to how photography is simultaneously evolving in response to the coronavirus crisis and memorializing its effects on global culture.
April 9, 2020
Although the coronavirus pandemic is first and foremost a public-health emergency, it rapidly proved to be a deep financial emergency, too. With businesses and cultural institutions around the world forced to shutter en masse in the face of social-distancing regulations, questions loom large about how the global economy and the workforce will endure a prolonged period in which all but "essential" laborers must work from home—or not at all. This proposition is especially worrisome in the art industry, where so many artists and small businesses weather precarious conditions even in the best of times, making them especially vulnerable to financial ruin in our current extraordinary moment. Yet different Western nations are responding to the cultural crisis in very different ways. The United States hammered out a roughly $2.2 trillion rescue package that contained only $300 million specifically earmarked for arts and media causes, and conservative politicians attacked even this paltry amount as wasteful spending. In contrast, Germany announced a federal aid package featuring a whopping €50 billion ($54 billion) to be distributed to freelancers and small businesses, including those in the arts, while the country's culture minister praised artists as "not only indispensable, but also vital, especially now." Even more assistance came from the city-state of Berlin, which began funneling €5,000 payments to individual freelancers almost instantly with the promise that "there will be enough for everyone." On this week's episode, Artnet News's European editor Kate Brown calls in from her home in Berlin to discuss all sides of Germany's stunning cultural rescue plan. How did a country known for its sometimes-daunting bureaucracy manage to assemble such a generous bailout in such short order? What kind of political climate enabled it? And what does the package mean for the future of the arts in Berlin and Germany at large once the crisis finally ends?
April 2, 2020
Art history thrives on stories of fearless visionaries leaving behind the lives they've known to embark on journeys into uncertain lands for personal enrichment and artistic illumination. But few are as surprising as that of Agnes Pelton, the spiritualist painter who departed New York in 1932—alone, at the age of 50—to begin a new chapter in the California desert. There, she supported herself for years by selling realistic portraits and landscape paintings to tourists while, largely unbeknownst to others, she also pursued a connection to the divine through one of the most forward-looking painting practices of the early 20th century. A lifelong student of occult literature and unorthodox philosophies, Pelton languished in obscurity for decades before and after her death in 1961. But a handful of perceptive curators and scholars eventually recognized the importance of her otherworldly, semi-abstract canvases, which intermingle ethereal forms with a few identifiable symbols loaded with deeper meaning, such as stars and mountains. Pelton's supporters first succeeded in bringing her work to the larger art world's attention in the late 1980s, and more than 30 years later, she became the subject of a sweeping and critically admired solo exhibition that traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art this spring (before the museum, like so many others, was forced to close until further notice). On this week's episode, curator Barbara Haskell, who oversaw the Whitney's installation of Pelton's show, joins Andrew Goldstein to discuss the artist's scandal-plagued upbringing, all-consuming engagement with spiritualism, and lasting relevance in a world once again seeking greater meaning beyond the physical realm.
March 26, 2020
In the past month, the world—and by extension, the art world—has changed so drastically that it is almost unrecognizable. While the novel 2019 coronavirus continues to threaten countries around the globe and industries of all types, major and minor art institutions alike have shuttered until further notice, hundreds of galleries have temporarily closed their doors, and both artists and art lovers have been left to wonder how to respond in the social-distancing era. Like so many other staffers worldwide, the Art Angle team is now working remotely, harnessing the power of technology to bring you a comprehensive analysis of a cultural sphere beaten back by COVID-19—but not defeated. The enormity of the changes in progress demanded that Artnet News assemble an all-star cast to address how the pandemic is affecting the places we go to see art, the ways we buy art, and the nature of art itself. First, Artnet News executive editor Julia Halperin weighs in on how all museums, from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art to small regional nonprofits, are dealing with a sudden loss of income and an uncertain future as public gathering places. Then, art business editor Tim Schneider discusses the state of the gallery system and how digital platforms could help nimble dealers reckon with the temporary end of the social art-buying experience. Finally, art critic Ben Davis shares his thoughts on how art can play a role in community-building during and after a period of widespread trauma.
March 19, 2020
For its first-ever live episode, recorded at the 2020 Armory Show, the Art Angle brought on couture wunderkind Sander Lak, the creative director of the white-hot Sies Marjan, to discuss the intersection of art and fashion. The Dutch designer, who named his label after his parents, strutted out onto the sartorial landscape in 2016 with his debut collection, and he was officially anointed by the high-fashion establishment in 2018 when the esteemed Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) named him its Best New Designer. His collections are defined by deep jewel-tones and streamlined, sleek silhouettes that are beloved by celebrities and mere mortals alike—and as a longtime art enthusiast, Lak consistently finds fascinating ways to incorporate the work of boundary-pushing contemporary artists into his work. At the time of this conversation, the Guggenheim Museum in New York had just unveiled the epic exhibition "Countryside, the Future," an examination of the pastoral in an urbanized world by the visionary starchitect Rem Koolhaas and his studio, OMA. Sies Marjan, helmed by Lak, signed on as a sponsor of the exhibition, and Lak was given unrestricted access to Koolhaas and his trove of research on the show to mine as inspiration for his Fall 2020 fashion line. The result was more than a new collection of rustic accoutrement. It became a point of reckoning for Lak and his perspective on the fashion industry at large, as well as how his practice—and the discipline at large—relates to contemporary art.
March 10, 2020
Usually, the first weeks of March are intensely busy ones for the international art community, as they lead up to the Art Basel Hong Kong art fair: an unmissable event that galleries, museums, and even other cultural sectors in the region have used as an anchor to present their own very best programming to visitors from around the globe. This year, though, the staggering impact of the novel 2019 coronavirus has forced Art Basel to cancel its Asian fair, beginning a long cascade of postponed and canceled art events around the globe. For the residents of Hong Kong, life has been turbulent for much of the past year, ever since pro-democracy protests began roiling the city and its art scene in late March 2019. Although Hong Kong has been praised by the World Health Organization for its rapid and effective response to the virus—it harbors only about 115 cases of COVID-19 at this time, including just three fatalities—its ace public-health infrastructure has not exempted the city from an economic crisis first sparked by the demonstrations, then accelerated by the measures taken to protect its citizens from infection. Where does this latest upheaval leave Hong Kong's artistic community? Roughly two months after joining the Art Angle to discuss the effects of the protests, reporter Vivienne Chow calls in to this week's episode from her home in Hong Kong, where she and her fellow residents have been self-isolating for weeks. She provides a front-line view of both the challenges and the opportunities presented by the coronavirus, from the eerie reality of museums, art galleries, and auction houses devoid of people, to the ingenuity and resilience shown by the many businesses launching virtual exhibition and selling platforms to compensate for the loss of face-to-face interactions with collectors, curators, and enthusiasts. As the rest of the world tries to cope with the ever-changing conditions of the epidemic, Chow's account provides perspective, and even a measure of hope, for how life and culture can weather the crisis.
March 3, 2020
A man on the run, millions of dollars missing, major artworks with multiple claims to ownership: these aren't plot points in the latest Hollywood blockbuster, they're elements of the real-life rise, fall, and disappearance of the young art dealer Inigo Philbrick. The son of a lauded museum director and a graduate of the esteemed Goldsmiths University of London, Philbrick got his start in the art market as an intern at the world-renowned White Cube gallery at the tender age of 23. There, under the tutelage of founder Jay Jopling, he quickly rose through the ranks to lead a successful in-house private-sales division, before striking out on his own as a big-money dealer who would go on to boast permanent spaces in London and Miami, central seats at every major evening auction (where he was a frequent buyer and third-party guarantor), and a lavish lifestyle punctuated by private-jet flights around the world and even a celebrity-socialite paramour. In short, Philbrick seemed to be the art market's golden child—until in late 2019, the lawsuits against him started landing fast and furious. Suddenly, the one-time prodigy stood accused of forging legal documents, refusing to pay enormous debts, and literal double-dealing of artworks priced in the millions of dollars each. And rather than stay and defend himself in court, Philbrick instead vanished into thin air, leaving his one-time partners and clients to fight over scraps. Today, reams of legal documents point to his apparent modus operandi: selling the same partial shares of pieces by in-demand artists to multiple profit-hungry high-rollers looking for a quick-yet-juicy return on investment, as well as using art-backed loans to wring cash out of works whose true ownership may have been questionable at best. The key to these strategies? A willingness to exploit the many gray areas within an increasingly financialized art market, where handshake deals and blind faith still too often substitute for due diligence and rigorous contracts. So how did so many members of the art world's elite become unwitting co-stars in our industry's own version of The Big Short? How high might the losses climb by the time this sordid saga ends? And where, exactly, has the art market's most-wanted man gone? On this week's episode of the Art Angle, senior market reporter Eileen Kinsella unspools the twisted tale of Inigo Philbrick, which she reported on in depth for Artnet's Spring 2020 Intelligence Report.
February 25, 2020
There's a buzzy new museum taking over New York, and it boasts the types of specs that would make competitors drool. Now housed in a prime 25,000-square-foot building in the hip SoHo neighborhood, this fresh destination has welcomed more than 1.5 million visitors since it launched as a pop-up back in 2016, and its $39 ticket price is higher than any major museum in America. But it's not the Museum of Modern Art... or a traditional art museum at all. It's the Museum of Ice Cream. This magical cash cow—last year, venture capitalists valued it at more than $200 million—is a tour de force in the realm of the experience economy. It has spawned throngs of imitators hoping to replicate what co-founders Maryellis Bunn and Manish Vora have termed an "experium," or an attraction that combines a memorable (and Instagrammable) in-person "experience" with the cultural enrichment of a classical museum (or some of it, anyway). Instead of art on pedestals or in gilded frames, the MOIC presents visitors with a giant pool filled with plastic sprinkles, an ice-cream-themed slide traversing three floors, and many more sweet visual treats. Instead of erudite texts penned by a curator or academic, the walls next to the various sights boast QR-codes that allow visitors to access branded selfie filters. You get the picture. For this week's episode of the Art Angle, Artnet News national art critic Ben Davis braved the Presidents' Day weekend crowds to get a taste of the MOIC's hot-pink environments and oh-so-cool installations so he could report back with his impressions. As he identified back in 2016, Bunn and Vora's creation is one of the attractions luring visitors across demographics into a stampede toward what he calls "Big Fun Art": immersive, flashy spectacles that prize social interaction over personal edification. So what does the Museum of Ice Cream's four years (and counting) of resounding success signal for the future of museums and cultural attractions on a wider scale? Is this the solidification of a sugar-spun phenomenon, or will this trend be licked before too long?
February 18, 2020
Some 16 months after the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of state agents, the organization behind the namesake Southern California biennial Desert X announced that it would put on an ambitious new exhibition of contemporary art in AlUla, a UNESCO World Heritage Site deep in the Medina region of Saudi Arabia. Word of the show (which debuted this February) incited a firestorm of criticism from international art-world figures, including three of Desert X's own advisors—artist Ed Ruscha, art historian and curator Yael Lipschutz, and philanthropist Tristan Milanovich—all of whom resigned in protest. Mohammad Bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, has simultaneously denied ordering Khashoggi's slaying and publicly taken responsibility for it because the act "happened on [his] watch." The dissonance between those concepts parallels the dissonance playing out on a national level under his rule. On one hand, MBS (as Bin Salman is popularly known) has launched major social reforms, including curtailing the authority of the religious police and permitting women to drive, as well as continuing to pump vast government resources into new cultural initiatives such as Desert X AlUla—all with the aim of diversifying the oil-dependent Saudi economy and improving the country's dubious reputation with more progressive world leaders. On the other hand, MBS has also made several troubling moves to consolidate power in recent years, including arresting prominent opposition clerics and imprisoning more than 200 businessman, princes, and other officials in Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel for weeks under the guise of an anti-corruption crackdown. So how exactly does Desert X in particular, and art in general, fit into this high-stakes geopolitical puzzle? Is the burgeoning Saudi contemporary art scene little more than a propaganda weapon wielded by MBS? Can the kingdom's homegrown artists and projects ever be evaluated on their creative merits once they accept funding or other support from the crown? And if so, where can those lines be drawn? On this week's episode of the Art Angle, journalist Rebecca Anne Proctor called in just days after returning from her visit to Desert X AlUla to discuss the controversial show, the backlash it inspired, and what Western critics could learn from speaking with the artists involved themselves.
February 11, 2020
The Oscars may be over, but Hollywood is about to be overrun with a different kind of A-lister this week when the art world descends on Tinseltown for the second edition of Frieze Los Angeles. Despite the glut of disposable income earned from media moguls and tech startups, it has long proven difficult for East Coast dealers to make inroads with prospective clients on the country's opposite flank. In this context, the success of Frieze's southern California debut last year was a pleasant surprise. One gallery that has had no problem endearing itself to a diverse audience in Los Angeles from the start is Various Small Fires. Co-founded in 2012 by Esther Kim Varet and her husband Joseph Varet, VSF, as it's commonly known, occupies a highly coveted spot along a gallery-rich stretch of Highland Avenue in Hollywood. Its Johnston Marklee-designed Art Deco-style building boasts a 3,000-square-foot main gallery connected to two adjacent project spaces, a roofless back patio that acts as an oasis in the midst of the bustling city, and the rare eco-friendly pedigree of running on 100 percent solar energy. Though the roster is small, VSF's 12 artists hold an outsize claim on the LA art scene—and beyond—with strong institutional presences and a near-constant waiting list for new work. One key to this impressive reach? The gallery's forward-looking decision to embrace Kim Varet's Korean heritage and open a second permanent space in Seoul in early 2019, allowing VSF to connect with young collectors on both sides of the Pacific. On this week's episode, Andrew Goldstein speaks to Esther Kim Varet from her office in California about what makes VSF an outlier in the often-staid, anachronistic world of art galleries, how dealers can win their artists institutional sustainability in an increasingly market-oriented field, and why photorealist painter Calida Rawles is poised to lead a renaissance of the underappreciated genre.
February 4, 2020
Over the past few weeks, the long-awaited trial of former Hollywood rainmaker Harvey Weinstein has unfolded in harrowing fashion, with one after another of his accusers taking the stand to allege patterns of sexual and psychological abuse. The grim courtroom proceedings are only the latest shockwave from the #MeToo movement, which grew from accusations against Weinstein into a national reckoning with sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other rampant abuses perpetrated by those in positions of power. The art world has not been a safe haven from this heinous activity. In fact, one of the most notorious predators in the mainstream news cycle also cast a long shadow over this niche industry. This week on the Art Angle, Andrew Goldstein sits down with Artnet News deputy editor Rachel Corbett to discuss a serial predator whose victims inside and outside the arts will never have the chance to confront him: Jeffrey Epstein. Many questions remain to be answered after Epstein, the former financier, arts patron, and convicted sex offender who counted numerous elite figures among his inner circle, was found dead of an apparent suicide in his jail cell while waiting to stand trial for charges of sex trafficking in New York. But his alleged crimes have taken on new life in the art world due to detailed, troubling accusations made by painter and former New York Academy of Art student Maria Farmer, who claims Epstein and his associates leveraged her creative ambitions against her for their own perverse ends. Farmer's disturbing story details how Epstein turned the largely unregulated art world into a hunting ground for new victims. The issues raised by her accusations also loom large over all creative fields, where personal relationships and favors from the top of the hierarchy can make or break the careers of young, talented people striving to make their mark. Please be advised: This episode contains accounts of sexual abuse that some listeners may find disturbing. 
January 28, 2020
You don't hear the words "witch hunt" much nowadays, unless they are being deployed by a certain US President. But the term is increasingly relevant—in a much more literal sense—to any tour through the art-historical canon, where witchcraft, paganism, and the occult seem to be more important presences every day. This development is in tune with what's happening in mainstream culture, too. More than one million Americans today identify as Neopagans or Wiccans, and many businesses are riding their broomsticks straight to the bank. In the US, more than $2 billion is spent on "mystical services" each year, ranging from tarot card readings to online horoscopes, and you can find a slew of podcasts on the subject with titles like "Hippie Witch," "so you wanna be a witch?" and "The Witch Bitch Amateur Hour," to name just a few. What exactly is driving this spiritualist surge? This week, author and art critic Eleanor Heartney joins the Art Angle to divine the details of this phenomenon in art and culture. Following an article for Artnet News in which she traced the intensifying focus on artists exploring occult practices in recent museum exhibitions—most notably the Guggenheim's attendance-record-breaking retrospective of the Swedish mystic artist Hilma af Klint—Heartney discusses why spiritualism and the occult are on the rise in 2020, how feminism fits into the puzzle, and what her new book, Doomsday Dreams: The Apocalyptic Imagination in Contemporary Art, has to say about breaking through a history of cataclysm-inclined thinking.
January 21, 2020
After a period of reckoning with a less-than-inclusive art historical canon, it seems increasingly clear that viewers (and dealers) are once again ready to embrace fresh young talent from the land of the living—artists bringing new perspectives and ideas into the sometimes-staid institutional mix. Among this up-and-coming group, one name on almost everyone's lips right now is Nicolas Party. A preternaturally good-natured 38 year-old, Party has won widespread attention not for some technologically savvy mixed-reality experience, but in fact, for the opposite. The Swiss-born artist is actually a proponent of one of the oldest art-making mediums, using pastels to conjure fantastical landscapes, portraits, and still lifes that are just as colorful as the Missoni sweaters he's fond of. On this week's episode of the Art Angle, Party discusses his evolution from a teenage street artist trying (and eventually, failing) to elude authorities in his native Lausanne, to an art-school student working in digital modeling, to a hands-on figurative artist who recently became the youngest-ever member of mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth—a transformation that has propelled his works as high as seven figures at auction.
January 14, 2020
Above and beyond its well-established status as a global financial center, Hong Kong has spent the 21st century rapidly transforming into an international nexus for the art market: welcoming to both Eastern and Western collectors, appealing to institutions and artists alike for its vibrant economy and cosmopolitan character, and stabilized by its unique embrace of democratic values just a stone's throw from state-dominated mainland China. But since March 2019, Hong Kong has been rocked off its axis by ongoing and increasingly violent political protests, all sparked by what the demonstrators read as aggressive moves by Xi Jinping and his agents to accelerate the so-called "handover" of the former British colony to Chinese control several years earlier than scheduled. With free speech and free governance hanging in the balance, art and journalism have become pivotal forces in the battle for Hong Kong's future. In this episode of the Art Angle, Artnet News contributor Vivienne Chow—a Hong Kong native—gives a moving firsthand account of what it’s like to cover these volatile events from the front lines, where artists fit into the protests, and how the experience has challenged her perception about nothing less than the meaning and importance of art. And all of this while she simultaneously has to process how her home morphed into a place she could not have imagined only a few years earlier, and whether Hong Kong or its art scene will ever be the same.
January 7, 2020
Whether you ascribe to the centuries-old Georgian Calendar or slept through the clock striking midnight, ushering in a new year is often a time for reflection on what's past, and what is to come. Here at Artnet News, resident business editor and part-time soothsayer Tim Schneider embraces his mystical powers to peer into the future and offer a slew of highly specific predictions for the art world. In this episode, Tim distills some of the broadest issues facing the art world using trend analysis to make concrete statements for 2020, which can (and will) be objectively reviewed as having been right or wrong in 12 months' time. In the days before the calendar page turned to 2020, Tim expounded on seven distinct predictions for the industry, and Andrew Goldstein grilled him about four of the most contentious points, including such thorny issues as ethical decision-making in museums, blue-chip galleries reducing their carbon footprint, the red-hot market for young artists, and whether Instagram will actually change the policies on nudity that have artists up in arms over censorship
December 31, 2019
As a barrage of retrospective pieces from countless publications (including Artnet News) made clear throughout December 2019, the opening moments of 2020 signal a new decade, not just a new year. Looking back, the 2010s seem to be defined by one intense development after another, including an ever-expanding digital revolution, an ever-widening chasm between rich and poor, the ever-heightening peril of climate change, and so much more.  The art world felt the effects of these changes throughout the decade, but it also sought to grapple with, adjust to, and even counteract them. Artists were at the forefront of this charge, whether the subject at hand was sexism, racism, classism, or any number of other systemic injustices. And the key artworks of the 2010s enhanced our understanding of the era in ways that were unforgettable, even if they weren’t always pleasant.   What were those key artworks, though? With the benefit of hindsight and a ratings system devised to reach past the simple idea of “best” pieces, Artnet News national art critic Ben Davis walks listeners through highlights of his multi-part, 100-work list. Some of his choices are almost guaranteed to surprise you. (They certainly surprised our editors!)
December 24, 2019
At the start of December, the Art Angle team had other, loftier ideas for the show's first Christmas episode. Maybe we would dig into the most important developments in the art world this past year or examine the growing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and their effect on the city's cultural community. But then, we lived through this year's edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, where superstar Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan duct-taped an ordinary supermarket banana to the wall of his gallery's booth at the fair, declared it an artwork, and priced its first edition at the eyebrow-raising sum of $120,000. From there, all hell broke loose. And after the astonishing sequence of events catapulted Comedian (the work's official title) beyond the art world and squarely into the center of pop culture, it became a stone-cold guarantee that, if your job has something—anything—to do with art, the banana will be one of the first topics of conversation your friends and extended family bring up during your holiday celebration. So we caved to the inevitable and made this episode your banana survival guide, covering everything you need to know about this (in)famous artwork in just over 20 minutes. First, Artnet News senior writer Sarah Cascone, who broke the story of the banana's initial sales from the floor of Art Basel Miami Beach, charts how this once-anonymous fruit duct-taped to the wall became an obsession for the world at large. Then, Artnet News national art critic Ben Davis parachutes in to explain what it all means in the context of art history, and why, as a sculpture, Comedian is both slightly more—and much, much less—than meets the eye.
December 17, 2019
Six decades ago, an editor at Newsweek magazine summoned a young journalist named Calvin Tomkins out of the foreign-news department to interview the legendary conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp, who had allegedly left art-making in favor of playing chess and... simply breathing. Although it would be years before Tomkins discovered Duchamp had in fact already been at work on his magnum opus, Étant Donnés, for years before their first meeting, this chance encounter altered the trajectory of his career and life. Duchamp was the gateway to what would become a prolific collection of artists—many of them eccentric or otherwise challenging, all of them great (or at least noteworthy)—that Tomkins went on to profile in the pages of the New Yorker beginning in 1962. Dozens of those profiles have now been compiled into a lavish new multi-volume set, titled The Lives of Artists, published by Phaidon. The collection joins 18 other books that Tomkins has previously published on artists and the art world, including an essential biography of the man who started it all for him: Marcel Duchamp. In the process, Tomkins has arguably become known as the world's authority on not only many of the most consequential postwar and contemporary artists in the canon, but also on the art of profiling itself. To celebrate the release of The Lives of Artists, Tomkins joined Artnet News editor-in-chief Andrew Goldstein in studio to discuss his one-of-a-kind journey, what David Hammons shares with Duchamp, and even the editioned banana that took over the world, AKA Maurizio Cattelan's Comedian.
December 15, 2019
For our latest episode, team Art Angle traveled to Art Basel Miami Beach to examine a much thornier and more urgent issue than the glamorous trade show's business: the art world's impact on Mother Earth. From thousands of deep-pocketed collectors flying in to south Florida for the week's festivities, to the hundreds of black cars and Ubers ferrying attendees from event to event, to the (literal) tons of artworks shipped by air, land, and sea to Miami's convention centers for a scant five days of exposure, the ecologically punishing realities of the art fair demand that we take a hard look at their sustainability for the planet—and ask bigger questions about the art world's responsibility to address the climate crisis. The need for action only intensifies in light of the fact that Art Basel Miami Beach is just one of nearly 300 art fairs held around the globe every year, and that many of these events take place in the coastal destinations most imperiled by climate change. Art Basel Miami Beach is held just a few blocks from the waterfront where the sea level has tripled over the past decade, causing the city to ship in imported sand to keep its coastline from disappearing entirely. And this is just a prelude of things to come in other crucial art hubs like Hong Kong, London, New York, and Los Angeles. Given the art world's cherished progressive reputation, how long can it justify the extraordinarily outsize habits of its fairs, institutions, and jet-setting elites? In what ways could the various players in the global art market minimize the damage they do to Mother Nature? And how are artists, as well as climate-activist groups like Extinction Rebellion, foregrounding the need for change in the cultural sphere? In the middle of Miami Art Week, Artnet News's European editor Kate Brown joined Andrew Goldstein by phone from Germany to tackle these urgent questions, and more.
December 10, 2019
For our latest episode, team Art Angle traveled to Art Basel Miami Beach to examine a much thornier and more urgent issue than the glamorous trade show's business: the art world's impact on Mother Earth. From thousands of deep-pocketed collectors flying in to south Florida for the week's festivities, to the hundreds of black cars and Ubers ferrying attendees from event to event, to the (literal) tons of artworks shipped by air, land, and sea to Miami's convention centers for a scant five days of exposure, the ecologically punishing realities of the art fair demand that we take a hard look at their sustainability for the planet—and ask bigger questions about the art world's responsibility to address the climate crisis. The need for action only intensifies in light of the fact that Art Basel Miami Beach is just one of nearly 300 art fairs held around the globe every year, and that many of these events take place in the coastal destinations most imperiled by climate change. Art Basel Miami Beach is held just a few blocks from the waterfront where the sea level has tripled over the past decade, causing the city to ship in imported sand to keep its coastline from disappearing entirely. And this is just a prelude of things to come in other crucial art hubs like Hong Kong, London, New York, and Los Angeles. Given the art world's cherished progressive reputation, how long can it justify the extraordinarily outsize habits of its fairs, institutions, and jet-setting elites? In what ways could the various players in the global art market minimize the damage they do to Mother Nature? And how are artists, as well as climate-activist groups like Extinction Rebellion, foregrounding the need for change in the cultural sphere? In the middle of Miami Art Week, Artnet News's European editor Kate Brown joined Andrew Goldstein by phone from Germany to tackle these urgent questions, and more.
December 3, 2019
This week, what seems like the entire art industry, every luxury company, and every celebrity or status-seeker available will be traveling to south Florida for the 18th edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, the final stop on the annual art-market calendar—as well as a champagne-soaked playground for the rich and famous. And while people love to complain about this particular fair, Art Basel matters to the art business in an enormous, almost existential way. Since its founding in 1970, Art Basel has evolved from a bespoke trade fair for German-speaking art collectors near its namesake Swiss city into a commercial Colossus linking Europe, Asia, and the Americas via three supersized fairs. Each event doesn't only draw buyers and sellers of art who regularly transact in the millions of dollars, or even just the broader constellation of curators, journalists, and art lovers. It has also become a beacon for almost anyone hoping to ride the cultural wave that is contemporary art and its clientele, from major corporations to micro-influencers. And in its wake, literally hundreds of other art fairs have risen up around the world hoping to do something similar. But have Art Basel and its competitors done more to help the art world, or to hurt it? How have trade fairs warped the way we value artists and their work? And if big fairs have become a big business, why are so many starting to either branch out... or die off? Just in time for Art Basel Miami Beach 2019, Artnet News executive editor Julia Halperin weighs in on the past, present, and future of art fairs.
November 26, 2019
The 90-year-old Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is an international sensation. Exhibitions featuring her ongoing series of “Infinity Mirrored Rooms” consistently draw tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of visitors from all walks of life, with many enduring multiple-hour wait times for the opportunity to spend as little as a single minute inside the installations (and almost undoubtedly using much of that hard-won time to snap an obligatory selfie).  Now, the Kusama phenomenon is electrifying New York once again this holiday season—and at an unprecedented new scale. David Zwirner is currently in the midst of “Every Day I Pray for Love,” a solo show by the artist that has been magnetizing nearly 2,000 visitors a day to its West 20th Street gallery in Chelsea. And later this week, Kusama’s work will be beamed to an estimated 23 million viewers around the globe in the form of a monumental artist-designed hot-air balloon that will soar through the streets of Manhattan as a part of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Yet such widespread popularity seems even more incredible to the much smaller group of aficionados familiar with Kusama’s artistic and personal trials, as well as the often challenging, even unsettling, themes under the Instagram-friendly surface of her works.  So how did a career that began with guerrilla performances and protest pieces wind its way through voluntary commitment to a psychiatric facility and crescendo in family-friendly social-media ubiquity? Artnet News national art critic Ben Davis unwinds the unlikely history and undeniable resonance of Kusama’s groundbreaking practice.
November 19, 2019
Normally, the week following Art Basel in June sees the art market begin its downshift into the summer doldrums. But this year, on what nearly everyone expected to be a quiet Monday, the usual cycle was disrupted by a breaking-news earthquake: Sotheby's, the world's oldest auction house, had struck a deal in principle to be acquired for $3.7 billion by a mysterious telecom magnate named Patrick Drahi. Even more jarring than Drahi's status as a largely unknown quantity in the art world was the announcement that he planned to return Sotheby's, which had been publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange for the previous 31 years, to private control. News of the deal triggered an avalanche of questions among art-world observers: Who exactly was Drahi, as a man, an entrepreneur, and a patron of the arts? What did his entrance portend for CEO Tad Smith and the rest of the house's existing leadership structure? What would it mean for the market to lose access to the detailed financial information that Sotheby's was required to regularly disclose to the public by Uncle Sam? And what were the larger implications for the art industry overall? Roughly five months later, Drahi's acquisition of Sotheby's is official, and an elite group of his trusted confidantes can now be found in the house's C-suite. But with so many big changes still so fresh—and with so many questions still left to be answered—Artnet News art business editor Tim Schneider came on the Art Angle to make sense of this seismic event in auction history.
November 12, 2019
Hans Neuendorf had already built a storied career as an art dealer by the late 1980s, helping to bring Pop art from the United States to Germany, co-founding the first-ever art fair (Art Cologne), and putting his resources behind homegrown star-to-be Georg Baselitz when the artist was still roundly dismissed.  But nothing Neuendorf did earlier changed the art market as drastically or irreversibly as when he founded Artnet in 1989, on the belief that a shared database of the prices achieved by artworks at auction would bring transparency and newfound efficiency to the opaque, antiquated art market. Today, as we know, the once-quaint art business has evolved into a global art industry. Even as purists continue to cry out that any thought toward money destroys the bridge art can build to transcendence, data-driven art flippers chase astronomical returns on investment, as if paintings were just a prettier asset class—and none of it would have been possible without Artnet’s data.  Is this what Neuendorf had in mind? And either way, how have the past three decades at the helm of Artnet altered his viewpoint on where the art market might go in the next 30 years? Artnet News editor-in-chief Andrew Goldstein sat down with Neuendorf to find out these answers and much more.
November 5, 2019
Already one of the world's most renowned and visible artists, Anish Kapoor is entering new territory by opening multiple major exhibitions on opposite ends of the Earth within a few weeks of each other this fall. On October 25, he debuted twin shows of new work at Lisson Gallery's two spaces in New York. And on November 10, he unveils a significant solo exhibition split between Beijing's Central Academy of Fine Arts and the Taimiao Art Museum of the Imperial Ancestral Temple, making him only the second non-Chinese artist to show at the threshold of the Forbidden City. In the midst of this historic whirlwind, Artnet News editor-in-chief Andrew Goldstein sat down with Kapoor inside Lisson's New York headquarters to discuss his newest perception-defying sculptures, the relationship between his activism for human rights and his decision to exhibit in the heart of China, and the ongoing controversy around his work with "the blackest material in the universe," Vantablack.  Special thanks to Lisson Gallery for hosting this episode of the Art Angle.
October 30, 2019
To mark the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci's death, the Louvre pulled out all the stops to present a blockbuster exhibition of some of the Old Master's greatest works, along with a few technological surprises to help viewers see his contributions in a whole new way. But do these moves manage to contextualize Leonardo in our contemporary moment? And what role is—or isn't—played by Salvator Mundi, the painting sold at Christie's for a record-annihilating $450.3 million before disappearing from view for almost two years? Associate editor Naomi Rea phones host Andrew Goldstein to discuss the masterpieces on view, the Louvre's attempt to take Leonardo into virtual reality, and the seemingly never-ending intrigue around Salvator Mundi.
October 27, 2019
After over $400 million in renovations and a multiple-month closure to the public, the Museum of Modern Art is back. National art critic Ben Davis sits down with host Andrew Goldstein to address the curators' attempts to decenter the Western canon, what the changes might mean for MoMA's hordes of tourists, and whether a museum this hallowed can ever be a sanctuary from the larger cultural conversation.
October 22, 2019
A weekly podcast that brings the biggest stories in the art world down to earth. Go inside the newsroom of the art industry's most-read media outlet, artnet News, for an in-depth view of what matters most in museums, the market, and much more. 
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