This Week’s 10 Most Important Art News Stories

Catch up on the latest art news with our rundown of the 10 stories you need to know this week.


01

After a retrial for apostasy, curator, artist, and poet Ashraf Fayadh was sentenced to death last week by Saudi Arabian courts. He has under a month to wage an appeal against the decision. Originally sentenced to 800 lashes and four years in prison, Fayadh, who has curated shows at the Venice Biennale and in Jeddah, was unable to have legal representation because his ID was taken upon his arrest. The most recent victim in the struggle between artists and hardline religious conservatives, the curator was accused of being blasphemous in his book Instructions Within. (via The Guardian)

02

In one of Italy’s biggest art heists, 17 artworks valued at $16 million were stolen from Verona’s Castelvecchio museum last Thursday. The stolen pieces include 11 masterworks by Rubens and Tintoretto, among others. Authorities have suggested that a private collector may have hired the three robbers, who tied up the security guard after the museum was closed to the public but before the alarm system was turned on. (via The Telegraph)

03 

According to an analysis by Scott Reyburn for the New York Times, though high prices attained by some works in the key sector of 20th- and 21st-century art give the impression of a booming market, overall totals are down, suggesting the possibility of upcoming challenges for auction houses. While the Contemporary and Modern Art evening sales at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips grossed $1.8 billion last May, the same sales made $1.2 billion this November—a 33% drop. Reyburn’s analysis also suggests that generous guarantees could have “artificially inflated” the market and that auction houses may now be attempting to wind down their exposure. (via the New York Times)

04

The inaugural edition of Also Known as Africa, a fair focusing on African contemporary art and design, has been cancelled following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. The fair was set to open in Paris on December 3rd. A new date for its 2016 edition has yet to be announced. (via The Art Newspaper)

05

Claiming that the painting was stolen from its original owner in 1947, descendents of the subject of Henri Matisse’s Portrait of Greta Moll (1908) are threatening the National Gallery with legal action if the work is not returned. The National Gallery denies the family’s claim, stating that there is no evidence of the theft, and that regardless, the institution has no obligation to return it. (via The Guardian)

06

Analyzing the performance at auction of Warhol’s canvas paintings over the past 15 years, Marion Maneker suggests that the Pop artist’s market may be cooling off. The data indicates that sale volumes have failed to return to pre-financial crisis levels, when 226 paintings sold in 2007. 2012 saw the greatest volume of sales with with 187 works hitting the auction block. Thus far, in 2015, only 108 Warhol canvases have sold, the second lowest sum since 2007, only outstripping 2009, when the art market was notably less healthy overall due to lingering effects of the financial crisis. The average price of Warhol’s works has moved on an upward trend over the period, but median price has hovered around $300,000 since 2007, only breaking above it in 2014. (Median prices appear to be north of $300,000 in 2015 as well.) (via Art Market Monitor)

07

Edgar Arceneaux was announced as the winner of the Malcolm McLaren Award for Performa 15. Granted to a visual artists who shows potential in the medium of live performance, the award was given to Arceneaux for his Performa 15 commission and first live work, Until, Until, Until… (via artnet News)

08

Beating out five other nominated artists, filipino Maria Taniguchi was announced as the the winner of the Hugo Boss Asia Art 2015 award in a ceremony at the Rockbund Art Museum on Wednesday. Awarded biannually to spotlight emerging contemporary Asian artist, the prize comes with a ¥300,000 stipend. Taniguchi is just the second winner of the relatively new award, following artist Kwan Sheung Chi, who won in 2013. (via e-flux)

09

Nigerian customs officials continue to impound a bus that was created as an artwork and memorial to environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa. Saro-Wiwa was executed by Nigeria’s then-military government 20 years ago this month. Made by Nigerian-born artist Sokari Douglas Camp, the blackened-steel sculpture was confiscated because of its “political views.” (via Al Jazeera)

10

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel has announced the inaugural exhibition for its downtown Los Angeles space. “Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947 – 2016” will open March 13th, with over 100 works by nearly three dozen women artists from the past 70 years. (via the L.A. Times)


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