Swann Galleries has sold a set of two books featuring the scrawled marginalia of Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick. The books are two volumes of classical poetry, one of which was signed by Melville. Both are heavily annotated in the author’s loopy handwriting, paragraph symbols, and other markings. The books are copies of Juvenal and Persius’ The Satires and Euripides‘ The Tragedies, vol. III — both purchased in 1859 as part of a 37-volume set, Classical Library, published by Harper and Brothers (the progenitor of modern-day publisher Harper, of HarperCollins). The two books sold for $106,250, while the full sale raked in $1,011,799 in receipts.
The Design Museum in London has secured a £3 million loan in the wake of a dire financial situation. The numbers in the red come from a report commissioned in March of this year; museum attendance apparently fell by 16.5% last year and paying visitors dipped by 20%. The report laid the blame at “specialist” programming, and in its wake the Conran Foundation — the charity of the museum’s founder, Terence Conran — saved it with the donation.
Japanese architect Junya Ishigami’s Art Biotop Water Garden has just won the inaugural Obel Award — a pot of €100,000 (~$111,047.00). Given by the Henrik Frode Obel Foundation, the Obel is one of the world’s richest architecture prizes and is awarded to recent projects that offer “seminal solutions to urgent problems.”
Sotheby’s Arts of the Islamic World sale brought in £3,255,000 (~$4,197,208) in sales of centuries-old Qur’an leaves, Arabic manuscripts, and more. One of the most impressive pieces was the Indian gouache, “An Illustration to the Bhagavata Purana: Kamsa Attacks Devaki During Her Wedding Procession” (1780) — attributed to a master of the first generation after Nainsukh. It sold for £225,000 (~$288,855). Similarly, Sotheby’s sale of the Shakerine Collection: Calligraphy in Qur’ans and other Manuscripts topped out at £2,223,250 (~$2,866,803).
Sotheby’s Wedgewood and Beyond: English Ceramics from the Starr Collection topped out at $1,702,750, moving scores of examples of fine porcelain and sculpture from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Sotheby’s Important Works from the Najd Collection sale closed at a whopping final receipt of £33,465,400 (~$43,152,462). The top lot of the bunch was Osman Hamdy Bey’s “Koranic Instruction” (1890), which sold for £4,640,100 (~$5,957,285).
Sotheby’s European Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture racked up a final sales ticket of $1,694,000 between its 159 lots. The top of the bunch was Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Peña’s “La Mare Aux Fées” (1868), an oil painting of an eerie wooded forest that sold for $118,750.
The Meaning of Ancient Greek and Roman Artisan Signatures
What did a signature mean in the ancient world, and how much can we trust what they seem to tell us?
Michelangelo’s Signature and the Myth of Genius
Michelangelo served as a stellar example for future artists who sought status and economic independence.
The Public Theater Explores the Hurricane Katrina Diaspora in shadow/land
Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Candis C. Jones, this lyrical meditation on legacy, erotic fugitivity, and self-determination is on view in NYC.
Uncovering the Photographer Behind Arshile Gorky’s Most Famous Painting
As we pursue photographer Hovhannes Avedaghayan a fascinating picture begins to emerge of him and the world of which he was part.
100 Years of Artist Signatures in a Detroit Club
The beams in Detroit’s Scarab Club act as a guest book of sorts, carrying a wealth of stories and history, including signatures by Diego Rivera, Marcel Duchamp, Margaret Bourke-White, Isamu Noguchi, and others.
The Rubin Museum Presents Death Is Not the End
Tibetan Buddhist and Christian works of art made across 12 centuries explore death, the afterlife, and the desire to continue to exist. On view in NYC.
The Myth of Agency Around Artists’ Signatures
In an art world built on shifting sands, artists’ signatures become symbols of agency for some, and relics of the past for others.
The Women Artists Commemorated on an NYC Sidewalk
The signatures of Rosa Bonheur, Mary Cassatt, and six other historical women artists are engraved on a small stretch of sidewalk on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
Met Museum Repatriates 15 Objects to India
The sculptures were all at one point sold by the disgraced art dealer Subhash Kapoor.
Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova Placed on Russian “Wanted” List
Tolokonnikova has long been a thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
Vivan Sundaram, Veteran Indian Contemporary Artist, Dies at 79
Sundaram is celebrated for his multidisciplinary studio practice steeped in activism and political consciousness.
What’s Iconoclastic About a Blackface Madonna?
Artist Tony Rave’s work comes to remind us that piety is not strictly White.