Reactor

Required Reading

by Hrag Vartanian on July 22, 2012

Is Robert Rauschenberg’s “Canyon” (1958) the masterpiece that can’t be sold? Here’s a close up of the bald eagle. (via srpquatro.blogspot.com)

This week, the art work that can’t be sold, China’s problems, new art neighborhoods, Sigmund Freud’s voice and more.

 Robert Rauschenberg’s “Canyon” (1959) is the work that cannot be sold. A masterpiece of 20th C. art, Rauschenberg’s combine includes a stuffed bald eagle, which means that under US law it would be a felony to ever sell the work. Sounds simple, right? Well, the IRS wants their cut of the art work, which recently passed from the estate of New York art dealer Ileana Sonnabend, who died in 2007, to her children. How do you value an art work that can never be sold? How soo very art world.

 Two arrests in China, a German art handler and his Chinese associate, are sending shockwaves through the Chinese art scene as the crime and its consequences are unlike anything art worlders tend to encounter. The New York Times reports:

In the meantime Nils Jennrich and Lydia Chu, employees of the art-handling company Integrated Fine Art Solutions, languish in a Beijing jail on suspicion of smuggling, a crime normally associated with the illegal importation of drugs or arms. The charges carry a maximum of a life sentence.

Why are the authorities doing this? It’s simply not clear and in autocratic China there really aren’t many places to turn for answers.

 In other bizarre China-related news. The state-owned China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC) has built a  new “satellite cities” 18 miles outside of the Angolan capital of Luana. The $3.5 billion “city” was designed with 2,800 apartments in 750 eight-story apartment blocks that was created to house 500,000 occupants. Sounds great, but sadly these modern units remain empty, as the price of the apartments (up to $80,000) are far too expensive for most Angolan families. Consider that two-thirds of Angolans live on less than $2 a day.

 Kyle Chayka, over at Artinfo, rounds up what he sees as five obstacles to the rise of China’s art institutions — weak local support, museum independence, mismanagement, art prices and curatorial practices.

Forbes has one of the juiciest titles of the week, “As The Truth About China’s Economy Comes Out, So Does The Truth Of China’s Art Market

 James Kalm has some thoughts over at The Brooklyn Rail on New York’s new art neighborhoods. His case study is Bushwick:

… I realized that Bushwick has more than reached the tipping point. Like Frankenstein’s monster, it has become self-actualized. Young, local hipsters are quick to point out the uniqueness of this scene but, when one steps back and takes a long-term perspective view of things (here’s where we start trotting out the clichés), one clearly sees history repeating itself.

 Today, Penn State removed the statue of football legend Joe Paterno after his assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was charged with sexually abusing 10 boys over the course of 15 years. Paterno has been harshly recriticized for protecting Sandusky from critics.

Tate and Google Launch Online Exquisite Corpse Game With Olafur Eliasson, Julian Opie, and Others

 A fascinating little article at The New Scientist asks, “Why are we attracted to paintings and sculptures that seem to bear no relation to the physical world?” But this one bit is particularly interesting:

… [a university science] recently asked volunteers to compare a series of original paintings to a set in which the composition had been altered by moving objects around within the frame. He found that almost everyone preferred the original, whether it was a still-life painting by Vincent van Gogh or Joan Miró’s abstract Bleu I.

 And the only known recording of Sigmund Freud’s voice. (h/t The Awl)

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning EST, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts or photo essays worth a second look.
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