OpinionWeekend

Required Reading

The 225 seat auditorium ‘Teatrino’ by architect Tadao Ando has just opened in Venice, Italy. (via Design Boom)
The 225 seat auditorium ‘Teatrino’ by architect Tadao Ando has just opened in Venice, Italy. (via Design Boom)

This week, Banksy speaks, a Russian artist fools London dealers, art historians are scared to give opinions, street artists in Palestine, the Met’s “primitive” heritage, a forgotten Lynda Benglis sculpture, and more.

 The Village Voice got an exclusive “interview” with Banksy, who is doing a “residency” in New York this month. There are lots of interesting nuggets but I’m not sure what to believe and what not to. Five notable quotes:

  1. “The plan is to live here, react to things, see the sights—and paint on them,” he writes. “Some of it will be pretty elaborate, and some will just be a scrawl on a toilet wall.”
  2. “I’m not defacing my own pictures, no,” he says. “I used to think other graffiti writers hated me because I used stencils, but they just hate me.”
  3. “I started painting on the street because it was the only venue that would give me a show,” he writes. “Now I have to keep painting on the street to prove to myself it wasn’t a cynical plan. Plus it saves money on having to buy canvases. But there’s no way round it—commercial success is a mark of failure for a graffiti artist. We’re not supposed to be embraced in that way. When you look at how society rewards so many of the wrong people, it’s hard not to view financial reimbursement as a badge of self-serving mediocrity.”
  4. “Obviously people need to get paid—otherwise you’d only get vandalism made by part-timers and trust-fund kids,” Banksy says.
  5. “New York calls to graffiti writers like a dirty old lighthouse. We all want to prove ourselves here,” Banksy writes. “I chose it for the high foot traffic and the amount of hiding places. Maybe I should be somewhere more relevant, like Beijing or Moscow, but the pizza isn’t as good.”

 Russian artist Petro Wodkins fooled some of the biggest art dealers in London by transforming himself into:

… the shady luxury consultant Petr Fomin, dressed up accordingly, created a fake web site, business cards and a cell phone, even hired a couple of assistants. After setting up meetings with the art dealers he proposed a very lucrative deal. Five to ten million dollars investment in art, the catch was that the buyer was President Rahmon, one of the worst dictators in the world, oppressing Tajikistan for over 20 years.

What do you think happened?

(h/t Art Market Monitor)

 Fear of litigation makes art historians even more reluctant to give their opinions:

The crisis around fake Abstract Expressionist works sold in New York — around 40 of which were handled by the now-defunct Knoedler Gallery — has sent shockwaves through the art market and is having a chilling effect on scholars.

 Artists How and Nosm’s visit Palestine and their projects are featured on Vandalog:

Over the next two days they produced three murals around Bethlehem – the largest ‘Lost Conversation’, as well as ‘In Mother’s Hands’ and ‘While Drinking Tea’ – and one in East Jerusalem, ‘Split Identities’. Locals would stop and talk to them, as usual, asking where they’re from, why they’re here, what the intricate images mean. But with four murals done, it was down to other serious business.

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How & Nosm in the West Bank. (via Vandalog)

… and Brooklyn Street Art:

But the brothers say they will think twice as artists if they would recommend others to go paint there. Instead of just hitting a wall, they say they would want people to be sensitive to the impact it may have on the populations who live there. “It’s such a difficult situation here politically. We believe that just coming here and tagging, doing pieces, would be inappropriate and selfish,” says How. Nosm continues, “We felt an obligation to bring more than just our names so we brought some messages. If you’re an artist you should take that into consideration.”

 Ever wonder how the Metropolitan Museum of Art decided to acquire works from Africa, Oceania, and the Pre-Columbian era? Art News takes a look at Nelson A. Rockefeller, the man who helped change the museum forever:

From our current vantage point, it’s shocking that before 1982, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the nation’s premier encyclopedic museum, had no galleries devoted to the cultural achievements of Africa, Oceania, or pre-Columbian art. … The story behind Rockefeller’s campaign to bring what was still called Primitive Art to the museum’s galleries is the subject of “The Nelson A. Rockefeller Vision: In Pursuit of the Best in the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas,” a yearlong exhibition that opened inside the Rockefeller Wing on Tuesday. With some 50 masterpieces along with archival documents, the show is timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Museum of Primitive Art, the institution Rockefeller established on 54th Street to showcase his holdings. It took decades of lobbying for that collection, along with Rockefeller’s own holdings, to make its way to the Met.

 Why the hell is this major sculpture by Lynda Benglis at a sewage plant in Louisiana? The Times-Picayune reports:

For almost 30 years, a fountain sculpture by the world-renowned avant garde artist Lynda Benglis has sat out of sight in the storage yard ofKenner‘s old sewage treatment plant.

And this might (unfortunately) be the only thing that saves it:

It is also very valuable, priced at $200,000 in 1984 and worth potentially much more, now that Benglis’ career has soared. Without a formal appraisal, one collector guessed it could be worth around $1 million.

 Now that the new Barnes Foundation has been open for a year, LA Times art critic Christopher Knight, who has never been a fan of the move, is taking another look:

Philadelphia Inquirer art critic Edward Sozanski recently wrote that the Barnes used to be “a completely integrated experience involving architecture, horticulture and the presentation of the art.” That was when its great Post-Impressionist, early Modern and African art collection was in its historic home five miles away in suburban Merion. Now, as just one more downtown tourist site lined up on the Ben Franklin Parkway, the Barnes “presents itself more as a historical artifact in an artificial, and not especially resonant, environment.”

 One Californian reviewer comes down hard on Doug Aitkin’s Station to Station project, and while may of the points are valid, the tone is hyperbolic:

All night I heard people asking, “Where is the art?” What little art on display was presented in a cluster of four pop-up yurts that looked as time-worn as circus tents. I stood in line for forty minutes to see Urs Fischer’s all-white installation, now dingy from travel, featuring a white carpet, a white bed, mirrored walls, a disco ball and a fog machine. The line of people on the other side of the door made it feel tawdry and awkward. There was also an unlabeled photo exhibit of five or six mysterious images in a breezeway next the station’s main room, but their textural quality was no match for the patina of the walls on which they hung. They looked small and insignificant, as did all of the art, what little there was, on display.

 Native Americans are asked their opinions on the use of Native American images and symbols as sports team names, and as you can imagine, many are displeased.

 Comic Con is in New York and there are many great costumes to see, as CNN demonstrates.

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

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