Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
A Kerry James Marshall painting depicting Harriet Tubman with her first husband was sold at last week’s Christie’s auction, Artnews reports. The perfectly legitimate, if not strictly tasteful, sale went mostly unremarked in the cacophony surrounding the record-breaking hammer on “Salvator Mundi,” purportedly the last Leonardo in private hands, the same night.
The sale of Marshall’s “Still Life With Wedding Portrait” (2015) nonetheless raises its own sticky questions. The artist donated it to a benefit auction for Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art in 2015, where Jay Jordan, the owner of a private investment firm based in the posh Chicago suburb of Deerfield, bought it for $750,000. At Christie’s last week, the painting sold for $5.04M including fees, a record-breaking price for Marshall, which, depending on your inclinations, reflects either an exciting new level of success for the artist or the breathtakingly glib flip of a work with enormous artistic and historical significance (or both).
Flipping has long been a bit of a boogeyman for art dealers and many high-level collectors, as it can distort an artist’s market and disrupt the careful calibrations of pricing and placement that guide art career management. In a 2014 statement, however, Christie’s told the Times that, “The speculative art buyer, or ‘flipper,’ motivated purely by short-term investment potential, is the anomaly in our experience.”
While it may be anomalous, the case of “Still Life With Wedding Portrait” perfectly encapsulates how dicey the dance between cultural capital and actual capital can become. Even if there’s a boon to the artist in vaulting to a new price range, flipping the work in this way also reflects a one-dimensional view of a multifaceted artwork. Focusing purely on the transactional dimension marginalizes — and risks effacing — its non-monetary value as an aesthetic, civic, and historical contribution.
The new generation of artists and curators is eager to explore alternative organizations and to tackle current social inequalities and issues.
Her female nudes were extraordinary for the time because she portrayed female sexual desire. Her subjects defied conventional ideals of femininity.
No Vacancy, curated by Jody Graf, will be on view from October 26 through November 8 at the school’s Kellen Gallery in New York City.
Francis made over 10,000 artworks, starred in more than 100 solo exhibitions, and, in the late 1950s to mid-1960s, commanded the highest prices of any living painter.
Brian Blomerth’s Mycelium Wassonii deploys amazing graphic storytelling to share his own exploration of mushroom history
Over a century after Wright designed a workplace that borrowed features from the home, designers are at it again, but who does a homey office really serve?
Art by Athena LaTocha, Wendy Red Star, Marianne Nicolson, Anita Fields, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith & Neal Ambrose-Smith, and more is on view through January 2022.
This week, the National Gallery of Art finally acquired a major work by Faith Ringgold, the director of The Velvet Underground talks film, North America’s Hindu Nationalist problem, canceling legacy admissions, and more.
Sculptures of Oaxacan alebrijes, envisioned as guardians of the nation’s immigrant community, and catrinas, Day of the Dead skeletons, are now at Rockefeller Center.