Lévy’s eponymous New York gallery, which opened in 2013, currently occupies the top two floors of a historic bank building at Madison Avenue and 73rd Street. This summer, however, the dealer announced an upcoming expansion—as of January, the newly-christened Lévy Gorvy will occupy the entire 9,000-square-foot building. It will also operate out of Lévy’s current London location. According to a statement from the two founders, Lévy Gorvy will boast a “bespoke advisory and collections management service.” It will also place priority on growing its business in China, a region whose wealth and appetite for art Gorvy successfully used to line Christie’s coffers during recent years. Gorvy’s announcement comes as the latest in a string of high-profile departures from both Christie’s and Sotheby’s. During the summer alone, Christie’s watched as four executives bid their farewells: global managing director of post-war and contemporary art Lori Hotz, senior vice president and director of trusts, estates & appraisals Paul R. Provost, international head of Old Master paintings and 19th-century art Nicholas Hall, and head of 20th- and 21st-century design Cathy Elkies.
03 Oakland announced a $1.7 million grant to develop affordable spaces for arts organizations on Tuesday, less than a week after a deadly warehouse fire in the city’s Fruitvale district killed 36 people.
Although the grant has no direct ties to the December 2nd blaze, the timing is sobering. The Oakland warehouse, known as the “Ghost Ship,” housed an artist collective and had offered respite from the city’s skyrocketing rents (the trade-off being hazardous and illegal living quarters). The $1.7 million combines contributions from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, and the nonprofit Community Arts Stabilization Trust to fund a two-year pilot program. In a statement, Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf noted: “This public-private collaboration and investments are aimed at preventing displacement, growing the capacity of the city’s artists and cultural organizations, and enhancing municipal resources for the cultural sector over the long haul.” In that vein, the program will purchase real estate and lease it at reduced rates to local artists and work to ensure that artists can remain in their current spaces or move into affordable alternatives. To further address these issues, Schaaf has appointed a cultural affairs manager—who will administer $900,000 in grants to arts groups—and created a new position focused on strategies to reduce displacement.
04 Sotheby’s has acquired Orion Analytical, a scientific research firm specializing in high-tech forgery and provenance investigation.
The auction house announced Monday that it will establish an in-house scientific research department, directed by Orion’s head James Martin. The scientist has earned a reputation for his ability to spot forgeries, even those convincing enough to fool other experts. Government agencies and museums have called upon Orion’s expertise in the past; Martin even played a major role in identifying forgeries attributed to
during the high-profile Knoedler case. While Martin will continue to devote 20 percent of his time to outside work, Sotheby’s will have unparalleled access to Orion’s services. Auction houses and collectors alike will no doubt welcome the added layer of certainty his research can provide in determining a work’s authenticity. Like the acquisition of Art Agency, Partners in January, this new department is part of a broader effort by Sotheby’s CEO Tad Smith to bolster the in-house services the auction house can offer collectors and consignors.
05 French-Algerian artist Kader Attia filed a plagiarism lawsuit against Universal Music France, and was admonished for it in an open letter written by fellow artist Kendell Geers.
filed his suit over the music video for French rappers Dosseh
’s song Putain d’époque
, which includes a segment that the artist claims too closely resembles his 2007 work Ghost
—an installation of 102 tin foil figures kneeling in prayer. In the video (which has been removed from YouTube), Dosseh and others are similarly configured, wearing silver survival blankets, to represent “the times through which we’re living [...] the world is so hard,” the rapper wrote on Facebook
. In a statement
sent to Hyperallergic
, Attia emphasized that the suit was against the music label, not the musicians: “Universal are responsible; they perfectly know how to defend copyright when fighting against illegal downloading. Each artist […] has to fight for the integrity and the respect of his work.” This week Amatuer d’art (a blog of the French newspaper Le Monde
) published South African artist ’s open letter
to Attia, arguing the gesture is merely appropriation and “a huge compliment.” Geers also accused Attia of appropriating his own work. “One artist’s plagiarism is another’s sampling and yet another’s Appropriation Art,” Geers wrote. Attia was reportedly
“appalled” by Geers’s letter, remarking that artists should be united on this front. Given that the French artist Orlan brought similar charges against Lady Gaga in 2013 and lost, Attia’s chances of success are dubious.
06 The director of Berlin’s Polish Culture Institute has been fired, allegedly due to programming that focused too heavily on Jewish content.
After Katarzyna Wielga-Skolimowska was fired last Tuesday, newspapers Berliner Zeitung and TAZ reported early this week that the director’s dismissal came from Poland’s conservative government officials. The reporting found that Andrzej Przyłębski, the Polish Ambassador to Germany, had criticized the director in a private memo dated October 17, in which he wrote that the institution placed too much emphasis on Jewish themes. On Tuesday, the Polish Embassy denied these claims. In a letter to the two Berlin newspapers, Polish Embassy press attaché Jacek Biegala requested a correction and called the claims “misleading and wrong.” Berlin’s Jewish Museum has come to Wielga-Skolimowska’s defense; deputy director Cilly Kugelmann sent an open letter to Polish officials calling the dismissal “an unjustified and inexplicable decision” and naming Wielga-Skolimowska an “excellent representative” of Poland. The scenario reflects the right-wing views of PiS party leaders, including culture minister Piotr Gliński, who came to power in Poland in late 2015. Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reported that 13 Polish institute directors in various countries were fired over the summer.
07. Two heirs of the prominent Jewish art dealer Alfred Flechtheim have sued the German federal state of Bavaria seeking the return of eight works of art they say were looted by Nazis.