Tate Sued by Neighbors Disgruntled over Lack of Privacy—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  Residents of a luxury building neighboring the Tate Modern have filed suit against the institution, arguing that the view offered by the museum balcony into their apartments violates their human rights.

(via The Guardian)

Five residents of London’s Neo Bankside flats have filed suit against the neighboring Tate Modern for breaching the European Convention on Human Rights by placing them under “near constant surveillance.” Last June, Tate opened its Switch House extension, replete with a viewing deck the neighbors say allows museum visitors to peer into their glass-walled homes. Outgoing Tate Modern director Nicholas Serota has proposed that unhappy neighbors purchase curtains, while residents in turn offered to pay for a screen for the viewing platform, potentially rendering sections of it the regular, non-viewing kind of platform. Other homeowners’ attitude to the suit is ambivalent, The Guardian reports. While some are sympathetic to the lawsuit, others feel it is an overreaction. One anonymous resident commented on the platform, saying, “When I heard about it I said ‘Ok, that’s fine.’”


02  Singapore’s highest court ruled on Tuesday to stay proceedings against Swiss art dealer and freeport owner Yves Bouvier—the latest development in a years-long international legal dispute.

(Artsy)

In Bouvier Affair’s Latest Twist, Court Halts Lawsuit in Singapore

Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev had been seeking civil claims against Bouvier in Singaporean courts for fraud and breach of fiduciary responsibilities, arguing that proceeding in Swiss courts would deprive them of “substantial justice.” But the Court of Appeal found that Switzerland is the more appropriate forum for the dispute. The decision sides with the arguments made by Bouvier’s lawyers, who asserted that the transactions were governed by Swiss law, as specified in contracts for the pair’s initial four sales together. The case sheds light on the informal nature of high-stakes art dealing, where even nine-figure transactions can be executed with barely more than a handshake. Though the stay is a victory for Bouvier in Singapore, legal proceedings against him continue in Monaco. And the ruling heightens the possibility of a suit in Switzerland—Bouvier’s preferred jurisdiction.


03  Painter Barkley L. Hendricks, famous for his realist portraits of African Americans, has died at age 72.

(via the Atlantic)

Hendricks died from natural causes early Tuesday morning. Hailed as one of the most influential and talented figurative painters of his generation, he was known for his postmodern and realist portraits of African Americans. Born in Philadelphia, Hendricks began producing his signature paintings in the 1960s and ’70s and continued through the present day. In Artforum, Huey Copeland wrote that his works “illuminate the crisis of blackness within representation—a crisis everywhere shaped by an engagement with and an opposition to those persistent forms of reification, high and low, that transform liberatory self-fashioning into co-opted cliché.” In recent years, Hendricks’s work has been exhibited at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington and at the Studio Museum in Harlem. It will also be on view at an upcoming exhibition on art and black power at the Tate Modern.


04  New York auctions this May will offer a test of the market’s health, with a Jean-Michel Basquiat “head” painting estimated to go for more than $60 million at Sotheby’s.

(via Bloomberg)

The sale of Basquiat’s Untitled (1982) is expected to top the record $57 million fetched by another of the artist’s untitled works sold at Christie’s in May of last year. The work is backed by a guarantee of an undisclosed amount from Sotheby’s, which is betting on the continued strength of Basquiat’s market following the Christie’s sale. The piece—which has been held by one family for over three decades—was first purchased for just $19,000 at an auction in 1984 and has not been loaned to an exhibition since. The only image of the work until now has been a small photograph in the artist’s catalogue raisonné. Among the other notable works hitting the auction block next month is a Peter Doig landscape estimated at over $25 million. The painting is likely to set a record price for the artist when sold at Phillips on May 18th. The work is secured by a third-party guarantee of an undisclosed amount. A highlight at Christie’s is Constantin Brancusi’s sculpture La muse endormie (1909–10), which is estimated to fetch $20–$30 million.


05  Following a judge’s ruling, a controversial painting depicting police officers and protests in Ferguson, Missouri, will not return to the walls of the U.S. Capitol anytime soon.

(Artsy)

Judge Upholds Removal of Student’s Controversial Painting from U.S. Capitol

On Friday, a federal court ruled against artist David Pulphus and Democratic Missouri Congressman William Lacy Clay. The congressman had filed a First Amendment lawsuit to immediately rehang the work after the Architect of the Capitol (the government office which oversees that building), took it down in January. Painted by Pulphus while he was a high school student in Missouri, the painting depicts a scene of civil unrest in Ferguson, which erupted in 2014 following the police killing of unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown. While hailed by some critics as a thoughtful and powerful work, Pulphus’s portrayal of law enforcement as warthogs—with one officer pointing a gun at an unarmed protester—drew ire from conservatives. Republican representatives repeatedly took the piece down without authorization, before successfully filing for its official removal. “We are obviously disappointed by the judge’s ruling,” said Leah J. Tulin, one of the attorneys representing Pulphus and Clay. The pair will appeal the judgement.


06  Three months after joining Sotheby’s, Marc Porter is returning to Christie’s to serve as chairman of Christie’s Americas.

(via the New York Times)

Although Porter left Christie’s in December 2015, the terms of his one-year noncompete clause kept him from immediately assuming his new role at Sotheby’s. Then, in a surprising move that rearranged the upper echelons of the auction house, Sotheby’s acquired Art Agency, Partners (AAP) in January 2016. As a result of this acquisition, the status of chairman was spread between multiple staffers, including Porter. In January 2017, Porter joined the Fine Art Division of Sotheby’s—created following the acquisition of AAP—as chairman. He would not stay at Sotheby’s long; Christie’s announced Porter’s return on Wednesday. Porter will resume the post he held when leaving the auction house in 2015, with additional responsibilities that will see him report directly to CEO Guillaume Cerutti (who replaced Patricia Barbizet in January). Porter did not sign a noncompete agreement with Sotheby’s and will take up his post soon.


07  Heritage groups in a southern French town have successfully lobbied to ensure that a newly discovered Roman mosaic will not be permanently relocated.

(via The Art Newspaper)

Last year, local authorities in Uzès purchased a parcel of land on which to construct a boarding school. During preliminary excavations of the site, archeologists unearthed a portion of the ancient Roman city of Ucetia—previously known only by name. Their most significant discovery was that of a well-preserved floor mosaic, which has now been transferred to nearby Nîmes for cleaning, conservation, and study. Local groups were concerned that the ancient artifact might never return to Uzès and launched an online petition; since then, the authorities have publicly stated that after conservation is complete (a roughly two-year process) the mosaic will return to the town and be presented to the public.


08  Thomas Heatherwick’s London Garden Bridge faces mismanagement, funding challenges, and possible abandonment.

(via The Guardian)

A report by Member of Parliament Margaret Hodge recommends abandoning Thomas Heatherwick’s costly London Garden Bridge, which has used £37.4 million of public money, if private funds cannot be raised. Heatherwick, who is no stranger to controversial, large-scale public art, designed the greenway to link central London’s Temple neighborhood to the city’s south bank. London mayor Sadiq Khan commissioned Hodge to determine the project’s return on investment. In her report, she found a number of budgetary issues, as well as indication that former mayor Boris Johnson had unfairly influenced selection of the project’s designer and engineering company. Hodge reported that initial cost estimates ballooned from £60 million to more than £200 million. A representative of Khan’s office confirmed, “The mayor has been absolutely clear that he will not spend any more of London taxpayers’ funds on the Garden Bridge.”


09  Peggy Guggenheim’s great-grandchildren claim that an exhibition at the Guggenheim in New York violates the collector’s wishes.

(via The Art Newspaper)

The charge centers on the museum’s current exhibition, “Visionaries: Creating a Modern Guggenheim,” which includes 21 works from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. According to three great-grandchildren, the collector stipulated that none of the works on view in the Italian city should be moved between Easter and November 1st, ensuring the collection would be in full view during peak tourist season. Though this term was outlined in a 1969 letter (and appears in several subsequent documents), the Guggenheim Foundation argues that the legally binding document is instead a 1976 “deed of gift”—which does not prevent the transfer of works from Venice during tourist season. The accusation is the latest in a long-running feud between family members descended from Peggy Guggenheim’s daughter, Pegeen Vail, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. They have filed several unsuccessful lawsuits in France alleging mismanagement on the Foundation’s part, with judges consistently rejecting the allegations on the grounds that the 1976 deed does, in fact, govern the donation. Other members of the family, including those descended from Guggenheim’s son—sole heir and executor of the estate—have not joined these suits.


10  CEO May Xue has left Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art as the museum seeks a buyer.

(via The Art Newspaper)

Xue joined in 2008 as director of the museum’s gift shop, becoming CEO in 2011. The Art Newspaper reported she will move to the K11 Art Foundation, citing sources close to both institutions. The Ullens Center has been seeking a buyer since last June and Xue’s departure is one in a string of high-profile losses for the museum. Ullens Center director Philip Tinari, COO Ada Zhang, and deputy director You Yang are still on staff. Last month the a spokesperson for the center said it was “in advanced stages of discussion with a number of potential buyers and the talks are progressing well,” in response to a rumor that Taikang Insurance was in the final stages of negotiations to buy it.


—Artsy Editors

Cover image: Photo by @woodsie_, via Instagram.