The new Snøhetta building at SFMOMA. Dezeen has a great slideshow. (via Dezeen)

The new Snøhetta building for SFMOMA. Dezeen has a great slideshow. (via Dezeen)

This week, the new SFMOMA, artist-gallery breakups, Obama and the Churchill bust, portraits out of data, Moscow’s tacky art problem, and more.

 Über-gallerist Larry Gagosian was profiled by the Wall Street Journal, and there are a lot of choice quotes and facts:

Gagosian makes no apologies about pricing. It’s “a laissez-faire form of business,” he says. “I don’t think the art market is for everybody. Yeah, of course, we have a global gallery. But we’re like the one-tenth of the one-tenth of the one-tenth. OK? Not just who’s buying but who’s really seriously engaged with art. I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. I believe in the popularizing of art. But when you get right down to it, it’s a bit of an elitist world. Not just economically elitist—how many people read poetry?”

… “You might call it risk-taking, you might call it river gambler,” adds Serra. “But Larry doesn’t frighten easily. If he sees an opening, he takes it.”

… Broad, who recently opened a museum in L.A., estimates that he and his wife, Edythe, have acquired about 40 percent of their nearly 2,000-piece collection from Gagosian.

… “I don’t think there’s anybody in history who’s sold more unfinished artworks,” says art collector Bill Bell of Gagosian. “It’s almost unimaginable.”

… “It’s about the quality of the work, and it’s about, also, can you sell it?” he says. “Because believe me, that’s what artists want: They want their work to sell. It’s a big responsibility, because you’re their main source of income. So you’ve got to make sure you can do the job. You know, they’re buying their country houses and they’re putting their kids in private schools and they need money, and that makes the world go around.”

 There is so much manufactured drama about the bust of Winston Churchill that was removed from the Oval Office:

“There are only so many tables where you can put busts. Otherwise, it starts looking a little cluttered,” the president explained. “And I thought it was appropriate, and I suspect most people here in the United Kingdom might agree, that as the first African-American president, it might be appropriate to have a bust of Dr. Martin Luther King in my office.”

 Christopher Hawthorne of the LA Times says SFMOMA’s new Snøhetta-designed expansion tries but …

The contrast between that attitude and the way the other new towers in San Francisco’s thickening skyline carry themselves is extreme. As you look east from the higher of the two terraces, on the seventh floor, you are confronted with the aggressively large and broad-shouldered dark-glass form of a new 26-story office building at 2nd and Howard streets, designed by Thomas Phifer and leased by LinkedIn. The SFMOMA tower is by comparison all stooping form and retreating volume.

The unfortunate symbolism of this relationship — the cultural building practically tripping over itself to stand down and out of the way, the new commercial buildings blithely taking up as much space in the sky as they can — seems typical of the balance of power in the new, money-drenched San Francisco. (The arts are not so much on the run here — how could they be, when there is so much wealth on so many boards of trustees? — as keenly aware of their place in the pecking order.)

 Who gets what when artists and galleries split up?

“Nobody wants their disputes in the public domain,” says a senior art world source who has witnessed difficult breakups between artists and galleries. “When long-established relationships break down, it’s a bit like a divorce. There are lots of emotions flying around and you have to divide the assets. Generally speaking there isn’t a written contract, so the issues are typically: what does the gallery have in terms of inventory? What are the sales in progress and to what extent can the gallery close these sales? What costs of production have been invested? And who is entitled to what? What happens if the gallery has put money into a museum show that is two years’ away?”

 A little over the top (greatest scandals, really?) but a fun read about the soap opera of the Knoedler trial:

The trial unearthed one of the greatest scandals the art world has ever seen and laid bare the chain of suspicious decisions that brought down what had once been a storied gallery. The details of Knoedler’s collapse offer a kind of clarity that is typically nonexistent in this business, raising all sorts of questions about whether the lack of transparency at the high end of the art market will be viable in the future.

 Is the new Beyoncé video a tribute to Pipilotti Rist?


 Very talented artist R. Luke Dubois creates portraits out of data, and here’s his story:

YouTube video

 I think the story is quite interesting, but it’s really disturbing how much it ties neatly into the stereotype of tacky Russians … Masha Gessen asks: Why is Moscow currently filled with lots of terrible art?

The aesthetic assault is a logical part of Moscow’s—and Russia’s—political progression. Until about a year or two ago, Moscow, at least its central part, had spent half a decade or so refashioning itself as a town of hipsters. Its pose was a highly stylized recreation of Soviet life, as represented by old black-and-white films. Places like Gorky Park had been cleaned up and filled with faux Soviet shops and beach chairs, in order to create some magical Soviet land of peace and plenty, complete with artisanal sandwiches and WiFi. But peaceful as the hipsters were, they were also unmistakably Western and urban—precisely the demographic on which Putin blamed the mass protests of 2011 and 2012. They have been swept out of city government and its cultural institutions.

 This year, Congress banned funding for oil paintings of public servants, and the result is women and minorities are being inadvertently kept out of government art:

But if you’re not a white man, gay or straight, good luck getting a portrait painted before you die. The first Asian American in congress, Dalip Singh Saund (D-CA), served as a representative for four years until a stroke ended his political career in 1962. Saund had come to the U.S. by way of Ellis Island and earned both a M.A. and PhD in mathematics from the University of California-Berkeley. He was instrumental in the fight to allow South Asians to become naturalized citizens; Saund himself did not become a citizen until 1949. Saund died in 1973, but his portrait wasn’t commissioned until 2007, over 40 years later, and it shows him standing in the Capitol rotunda, bordered by the places and people that influenced his career: India, California, Gandhi, and Lincoln.

 Introducing the White Savior Review 😉 :

The White Savior Review is a biannual literary journal showcasing the best writing from people of color and from indigenous underrepresented groups. We want fiction, nonfiction, poetry, cross-genre, and shit carved on flutes. We want people from obscure backgrounds that we accidentally thought were tribes from Game of Thrones. Maybe editors told you that they didn’t connect with the Colombian transgender protagonist in your short story. Maybe you were in workshops and people stopped reading your piece because they didn’t know what a durian tasted like. Well, we know what a fucking durian is. Because we googled it. And we went to find our Cambodian grocer, Davuth, and fact-checked it. And now, we want your voices for our journal!

 The story of what happened to the 43 missing Mexican students is more gruesome than people thought:

As late as 3 a.m., the bodies of the two young men still lay in the street, uncovered, in the pouring rain.

By dawn, the situation had calmed down, and the surviving students who had been hiding across the city received word by telephone that it was safe to come out. Over the course of the morning, they gathered at the local offices of the attorney general, where they met with the authorities.

That morning, the authorities also found the body of another student, Julio César Mondragón, who had been at the news conference. He had fled when the shooting began and had become separated from the group.

His facial skin and muscles had been torn away from his head, his skull was fractured in several places, and his internal organs were ruptured. His condition, the investigators wrote, “shows the level of atrocities committed that night.”

 And someone asked Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz to sign a copy of the Communist Manifesto, and this is what he wrote:

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

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.