Anicka Yi Wins America’s Most Prestigious Art Award—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 Anicka Yi has won the prestigious Hugo Boss Prize.
(via the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum)
Yi is the 11th artist and the fourth woman to win the annual Hugo Boss Prize, which honors artists for a “significant achievement in contemporary art.” Announced on Thursday evening at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Seoul-born, New York-based artist will receive $100,000 and a solo exhibition at the museum, set to open in April 2017. Yi beat out five other artists shortlisted for the prize —Tania Bruguera, Mark Leckey, Ralph Lemon, Laura Owens, and Wael Shawky—and was chosen by a jury of esteemed international art professionals. Yi is best known for her conceptual sculptures and installations that employ perishables and bacteria, often with a strong emphasis on olfactory elements. In 2015, she drew broad acclaim for her sensory exhibition at Kunsthalle Basel, “7,070,430K of Digital Spit.” The director and chief curator of Kunsthalle Basel, Elena Filipovic, who served as one of this year’s Hugo Boss Prize jurors, told Artsy last year, “At a moment when so many artists are looking to the so-called post-digital, Yi manages to reflect on our contemporary condition and how we are transformed by digital technologies without forgetting that, as beings, we live and love and die—and rot along the way.” Since the prize was established in 1996, winners have included major contemporary artists such as Matthew Barney, Tacita Dean, and Paul Chan, among others.
02 The 186 galleries from 27 countries spread across the historic Grand Palais for this year’s edition of FIAC have seen steady sales and strong attendance during the fair’s opening days.
For over four decades, the art world has descended on Paris for its annual rendezvous at FIAC. Following the closure of its emerging satellite fair Officielle (due to high cost and its remote venue), FIAC launched a new sector, On Site, with some 40 sculptures and installations extending across the street into the Petit Palais. The fair opened after weeks of speculation as to how this outing would unfold, intensified by the nine-day gap between Frieze and FIAC to avoid conflicting with the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. The lead up to this year’s edition—perhaps one of the most significant in its 43-year history—was a nervous one for dealers. Many worried of a downturn in attendance, given that it is the first edition of FIAC since the Paris terror attacks on November 2015. While talk of the lowered number of Americans across the fair was impossible to ignore, it appeared the solidarity of the European collectors did a fine job at filling in the gaps and kept sales steady. “The fair is quite good for us because we are home,” said Marie-Laure Gilles of Parisian gallery Chantal Crousel, adding, “even if there are less collectors here this year, in terms of sales we haven’t really seen a difference.” Any expectation of a bust at FIAC this year and that Frieze would take the crown on the fall fair lineup has proven false.
03 The 15th edition of the ArtReview Power 100 was published Thursday, listing the contemporary art world’s most influential figures, which we broke down by gender, race and ethnicity, and region of birth.
Year after year, the list features the curators, collectors, dealers, and artists who provide the mixture of money, institutional support, and ideas that drive the global art world. We broke apart the data using a few different criteria to see the bigger picture of who’s shaping art today. And while the top 10 is typically static (art-world power changes hands slowly, like the art world itself, ArtReview notes), this edition has a few shakeups. It’s notably more art- and less art market-focused than in recent years. The world’s busiest curator, Hans Ulrich Obrist, leads the Power 100 this year, unseating eminent dealers Iwan and Manuela Wirth. The list is inherently a matter of opinion. But it’s useful as a benchmark, as a way to learn who the art world thinks the most powerful people in the art world are.
04 The Italian Mafia is reportedly sending weapons to the Islamic State in Libya in exchange for looted antiquities, according to an investigation conducted by an Italian newspaper.
(via the International Business Times)
Although ties between the Italian crime syndicate and jihadist groups have long been suspected, they were reportedly confirmed by an Italian La Stampa reporter who posed as a collector in deals with the Mafia. According to the paper’s investigation, the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta and the Neapolitan Camorra, two branches of the criminal group, work together to purchase firearms and rocket-powered grenade launchers from Russian smugglers. These weapons are then used to barter with ISIS for artifacts which the group has looted from ancient archeological sites. After the transaction occurs, the Mafia then goes on to sell these looted objects to collectors in Asia and Russia. Confirming this black-market chain, a journalist working with La Stampa was escorted to a salami factory in southern Italy, where he was offered a €60,000 head of a Roman statue that had been removed illegally from Libya. The Camorra crime family recently made art-world headlines when, earlier this month, two van Gogh paintings, stolen 14 years ago in Amsterdam, were uncovered in an Italian farmhouse linked to the group.
05 The Museum of Modern Art has received a major gift of 102 works of Latin American art along with funding for a new research institute, both from the esteemed collector Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.
(via the New York Times)
The gift to the New York museum includes works by Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Pape, Jesús Rafael Soto, and 33 other artists from Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, and Uruguay—21 of whom who will be new to MoMA’s collection. Cisneros allowed for the museum’s curators to take their pick from her collection provided that they presented a rationale for what each work would add to MoMA’s collection, that the donated works be shown to the public regularly, and that requests for exhibition loans be accepted frequently. Cisneros has served on the board of MoMA since 1992 and has given the museum 40 works in the past. The gift also includes funding for a research institute to be based at MoMA that will further the study of modern and contemporary Latin American art. “My big frustration in Latin America is, we’ve always been on the back burner in many areas, certainly in art,” Cisneros told the New York Times. Cisneros, whose family possess a multi-billion dollar media fortune, established her foundation in the early 1970s, with a mission of better education within Latin America and of bringing greater visibility to its culture abroad; she started collecting art around the same time. Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros was established in the ’90s, and has since grown into a world-class collection of Latin American art, best known for modernist geometric abstraction. This recent gift, which MoMA director Glenn D. Lowry called “transformative,” highlights the integral place that Latin American art has assumed in MoMA’s permanent collection and exhibition program.
06 A Wall Street trader has sued an art historian and her son for selling him dozens of forgeries attributed to painter Leon Golub.
(via the New York Times)
Prominent oil trader Andrew J. Hall has amassed a collection of more than 5,000 works, including many by German artist Golub. Since 2009, Hall purchased a total of 24 Golub pieces (either directly or through auctions) from the collection of Lorettann Gascard and her 34-year-old son. Lorettann, a professor at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire, claimed to have known Golub during his lifetime. When Hall attempted to exhibit the works in his small private museum, investigation into their provenance revealed that all 24 of the paintings, together worth $676,250, were forgeries. Hall’s lawsuit against the pair, filed last month, claims they engaged in a “a prolonged and fraudulent scheme” to pass fakes off as the real thing. The Gascards have not responded to Hall’s lawsuit, and their whereabouts are currently unknown. Between 2009 and 2011, the duo consigned multiple works to Christie’s and one to Sotheby’s, all of which sold. The auction houses said they are in the process of investigating the authenticity of the pieces in question.
07 The former director of Knoedler gallery has settled a lawsuit over a fake Mark Rothko painting, the eighth of ten cases filed against the gallery involving forged Abstract Expressionist and Modernist works.
(via The Art Newspaper)
The settlement, filed in Manhattan last week, was reached between former gallery director Ann Freedman and billionaire collector Frank Fertitta, who had purchased the forged Rothko painting from Knoedler in 2008 for the price of $7.2 million. Feritta discovered that his painting was among the dozens of forged Modernist paintings sold by Knoedler between 1994 and 2008 after reading an article in The Art Newspaper. Though he had resold the painting in 2011 prior to the realization, he offered to buy the work back. Former employees of Knoedler, which closed in 2011, remain defendants in the case, as does curator and Rothko expert Oliver Wick. Wick was paid $300,000 by Knoedler in addition to receiving a $150,000 “introductory commission” from Fertitta for consulting on the sale of the forged Rothko. Two other lawsuits against Knoedler and Freedman—involving a “Rothko” and a “Pollock,” respectively—are still pending.
08 Art dealer David Nahmad has claimed to be the sole owner of a Monet painting which the Department of Justice is attempting to seize as part of a civil suit against Malaysian financier Jho Low.
(via the Wall Street Journal)
The DOJ brought their suit against Low in July, looking to seize nearly $1 billion in assets he purchased with public money believed to have been stolen from Malaysia Development Bhd., a government investment fund. Among those assets are multiple works of art, including Monet’s Waterlilies With Reflections of Tall Grass (1914-17). But in a move that is likely to stall seizure efforts, Nahmad filed an affidavit in federal court on Wednesday asserting that he, not Low, owns the work. Nahmad states that he bought the painting for $13.6 million at a Sotheby’s auction in February 2013. Though records included with the affidavit indicate that he subsequently agreed to sell the work to Low for $22.5 million and that an initial deposit was paid, Nahmad’s court filing argues that the deal was never actually completed. Nahmad called the DOJ seizure attempts “a mistake” and said he plans to challenge them in court with a formal filing sometime before November 7th.
09 NADA New York is moving to coincide with Armory week in March, citing the “needs and requests” of members and exhibitors.
(via the Art Newspaper)
On Thursday, the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) announced that they are shifting the dates for their 2017 New York fair. Since its launch in 2012, NADA New York has been held in May to coincide with Frieze New York. The new timing of the 2017 edition, now set for March 2nd to March 5th, moves it forward two months to run in tandem with the Armory Show. The change, unanimously approved by the Alliance’s board, comes after nearly two years of consideration. According to a spokesperson, the crowded nature of the art world’s spring calendar—which next year includes the Venice Biennale and Documenta 14—motivated the shift, not just the Armory Show. A March opening date will also allow the fair to coincide with other events, including the Whitney Biennial, Independent, and the ADAA—all likely to bring collectors, galleries, and artists to the city. “It has historically been a time when collectors in New York have been motivated to come out and buy art,” said the fair’s spokesperson. NADA will also change venues from Basketball City, the fair’s home for the past two years, to West SoHo’s Skylight Clarkson North. Given the two spaces are roughly the same size, the number of exhibitors is expected to stay static at around 75 along with 30 projects.
10 Following a high-profile authenticity dispute involving artist Lee Ufan, the South Korean government is seeking to pass a major new law to fight art forgery.
(via The Korea Times)
South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism detailed the sweeping law earlier this month, which will break art sellers into three categories: galleries, auction houses, and other distributors. Those operating within the first two categories must obtain a license from the government, with all unauthorized dealers facing fines, while independent dealers must report to the ministry. The legislation mandates that all art transactions be recorded, though it allows for aspects of a sale typically kept secret, such as the identity of the buyer, to remain so. The record of a transaction must be made available to tax authorities if they should request it. The government will also work to establish a public agency of art authentication and appraisal that can work to determine if works believed to be counterfeit are real or not. The law is meant to instill confidence in a market rocked by forgery scandals, including a recent case in which Lee Ufan authenticated works that government investigators deemed forgeries.
Cover image: Anicka Yi, image courtesy of BFA Images.