The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles acquired “Two Boys with a Bladder” (1769-70), a significant work by English landscape painter and portraitist Joseph Wright of Derby. The painting features two boys inflating a pig’s bladder by candlelight (animal bladders were used as children’s toys in the 17th and 18th centuries). There is some contention around the acquisition. The Getty purchased the painting from Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd., a gallery in London, in March last year. This past October, however, the UK placed an export ban on the work, deeming it a masterpiece that should not leave the country. The export license was granted after no UK buyer came forward.
Howard University in Washington, DC received a donation of 152 artworks by African American makers, including important works from the Harlem Renaissance and pieces by Norman Lewis, Kerry James Marshall, and Kehinde Wiley. The donation, which came from art collector and patron Patricia Turner Walters, is valued at $2.5 million.
The High Museum of Art in Atlanta announced a major gift of 24 artworks from local philanthropists Doris and Shouky Shaheen. The donation, which comprises the entirety of the couple’s Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Modernist painting collection, marks the first time that works by Henri Fantin-Latour, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, and Alfred Sisley have entered the collection. The New York Times quotes museum director Rand Suffolk calling the donation “a godsend.”
After a long search for the right recipient, the Aaron Siskind Foundation in New York donated over 8,000 photographs to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. It is the biggest donation that the museum has received to date. The foundation is also handing over the job of managing its prestigious Fellowship program.
Museu de Arte São Paulo rounded off a year of programming dedicated to female artists by acquiring 296 artworks by women, made from the 19th century to the present day. “Composition, Lonely Figure” (1930), a painting by influential Brazilian Modernist Tarsila do Amaral, numbers among the new additions.
The Vancouver Art Gallery has reported a nice handful of donations. Photography collectors Claudia Beck and Andrew Gruft, who have donated 552 pieces to the museum to date, donated 36 works by 26 artists including Lee Friedlander and Alfred Stieglitz. The institution also received 15 works by six Asian artists including Koki Tanaka and Qiu Zhijie (gifted by the family of Jack and Maryon Adelaar), five works by former Haida chief Charles Edenshaw (gifted by Donald Ellis), and several works by Gareth Moore and Johannes Wohnseifer (gifted by Ann and Marshall Webb).
As civil unrest in Hong Kong persists, Art Basel Hong Kong is losing exhibitors. Luxembourg & Dayan, Tyler Rollins Fine Art, and SCAI The Bathhouse have pulled out of this year’s fair, joining two unnamed galleries that withdrew this past fall. The protests are not expected to ultimately make the fair untenable, but if they do, participating galleries will be refunded 75% of their fair fees.
Artnet has released a summary of sales prices relayed by exhibitors at San Francisco’s Untitled Art Fair and FOG Art + Design Fair. As Caroline Goldstein notes, it is worth taking any sales prices reported by dealers with a grain of salt. At Untitled, Marc Straus took the lead, selling two works by Chris Jones for $14,000 each. Meanwhile, Hauser & Wirth set the record at the higher-end FOG, garnering $350,000 for Jenny Holzer’s “THOUGHT” (2019).
In restitution news, the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin returned Hans Baldung Grien’s 1537 painting of the biblical patriarch Lot to the descendants of Hans Purrmann, a German painter who was declared degenerate by the Nazis. Nazi persecution put Purrmann in a financial bind, which led him to liquidate his art collection; his sale of the 16th-century painting to the Gemäldegalerie in 1937 qualifies for restitution as the sale was made under duress. The work is a fragment of a larger painting that depicts Lot with his daughters.
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