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Week in Review: Attorney Accuses Whitney Museum of “Smear Campaign”; Met Museum Extends Closure

Also, an autographed pair of Michael Jordan’s first Air Jordans sold for $560,000 at Sothebys, and more.

Donation of KN95s masks and supplies to NYC’s badly-hit Elmhurst Hospital as part of the Masks for Docs and Nurses Campaign, now documented in MOCA’s OneWorld Collection (courtesy of MOCA OneWorld COVID-19 Collection)

Week in Review is a weekly collection of news, developments, and stirrings in the art world. Subscribe to receive these posts as a weekly newsletter.

In an IRS Complaint, attorney Neal Sher accused the Whitney Museum of participating in a “smear campaign” against the museum’s ex-vice chairman Warren Kanders. Sher was disbarred by the District of Columbia in 2003 but practices in New York after a period of disciplinary suspension.

StopDiscriminAsian and NYC’s Museum of Chinese in America are some of the arts organizations working to document and counter the rise of violence against Asians and Asian-Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ariella Azoulay, Shepard Fairey, Antony Gormley, and Tai Shani are among the growing number of artists, filmmakers, musicians, and writers calling for international pressure to impose an arms embargo and lift the siege of Gaza.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (Dustin Gaffke/Flickr)

The Metropolitan Museum will not reopen until mid-August or later. The institution, which is known as a bellwether for decision-making in the museum world, has also canceled all tours, talks, concerts, and events through 2020.

Released jointly, two studies by UNESCO and the International Council of Museums (ICOM) say that 13% of museums worldwide may close permanently due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 59th edition of the Venice Biennale, formerly scheduled for 2021, has been postponed to the following year.

Despite protests, artist and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama demolished Tirana’s historic National Theater this weekend, and has proposed to replace it with a €30 million renovation. A new open letter condemns the “artwashing” of his politics.

Pablo Picasso, “Nature Morte” (1921) (© Succession Picasso, Paris, 2019)

A son gifted his mother a raffle ticket, winning her a $1.1 million Pablo Picasso paintingThe raffle for Picasso’s “Nature Morte” (1921) raised over $5.59 million, most of which will be used to provide clean drinking water and renovate facilities in Cameroon, Madagascar, and Morocco.

Trump will likely refuse to unveil Obama’s official presidential portrait, breaking a four decades-long White House tradition and fueling years of dispute between him and former President Barack Obama.

Transactions 

(Courtesy Sotheby’s)

In an online sale at Sotheby’s, an autographed pair of Michael Jordan’s sneakers — his first Air Jordans, from 1985 — sold for $560,000, over 3.5 times the high estimate, marking the set as the most expensive sneakers sold at auction. The previous record was held by a pair of Nike Moon Shoes, sold (also at Sotheby’s) in 2019 for $437,500. The price tag on the Air Jordans was doubtless given a boost by the recent release of ESPN’s The Last Dance, a new documentary series on Jordan.

Judy Chicago’s “fireworks” archive was acquired by the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno. A vast collection of photographs, films, drawings, and more from 1967 to the present day, the archive documents site-specific performances in which Chicago used smoke machines and pyrotechnics to make environments of colored smoke: a powerful feminist interpretation of Land Art. The archive will be displayed in the museum’s exhibition On Fire: Judy Chicago’s Atmospheres Archive, which will open (or at least, is supposed to open) in October 2021.

Sotheby’s Contemporary online day sale had a solid 96% sell-through rate and garnered $13.7 million, more than twice the auction house’s previous record for a virtual sale. Two lots broke $1 million: Christopher Wool’s aluminum work Untitled, at $1.22 million, and Brice Marden’s Window Study No. 4, at $1.1 million. Angelica Villa at Art Market Monitornotes that Sotheby’s has made $100 million in online sales this year, 370% more than in 2019.

In Indianapolis, Black Art Auction, the first auction house solely dedicated to selling work by black artists, had its first sale. The auction was led by Sam Gilliam’s shaped canvas work Patched Leaf (1973), which sold for $750,000, more than doubling its low estimate. The sale featured work by a few additional notable names including Ed Clark, Alma Thomas, and Barkley Hendricks.

This Week in the Art World

Betirri Bengston, “Mexico Flora, Fauna & Football” (2018), Acrylic on Canvas, 60×48 inches (image courtesy the Pollock-Krasner foundation)

Tate announced the appointment of Neil McConnon as director of international partnerships and Katherine Montagueas director of people. | Artforum

The Pollock-Krasner Foundation bestowed its 2019–2020 grants upon 121 artists and nonprofits. | Pollock-Krasner Foundation

Galerie Lelong & Co. now represents abstract artist Juan Uslé. | Via press release

Seven new members joined the board of Independent Curators International. | Artforum

YOU Mi, Marina Otero Verzier, Lucia Pietroiusti, and Filipa Ramos will curate the 13th edition of the Shanghai Biennale. | ArtReview

Hollis Taggart announced representation of Leah Guadagnoli and Kenichi Hoshine.| Via press release

Former Oxford University provost Neil Mendoza will serve as the U.K.’s commissioner for cultural recovery and renewal. | Variety

Ron Mueck is now represented by Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. | ARTnews

The Sharjah Art Foundation awarded Production Program grants to ten artists. | Artforum

Artist-poet Etel Adnan is the winner of the international 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize. | Griffin Poetry Prize

In Memoriam

David Carter (1952–2020), Stonewall Rebellion historian | The New York Times

Frances Goldin (1924–2020), Lower East Side housing activist and literary agent | New York Daily News

Astrid Kirchherr (1938–2020), German photographer of The Beatles | The Guardian

Michael McClure (1932–2020), Beat poet | The New York Times

Michel Piccoli (1925–2020), French film actor | France 24

Susan Rothenberg (1945–2020), painter and printmaker | Sperone Westwater

Jorge Santana (1951–2020), Latin rock musician | NPR

Lynn Shelton (1965–2020), independent filmmaker | PAPER

Nanda Vigo (1936–2020), Italian artist, designer, and architect | Artforum

Fred Willard (1939–2020), comedic actor | Rolling Stone

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