The Art Newspapers Museum Attendance Report

Cultural institutions are facing a host of challenges according to a 2016 attendance survey from the Art Newspaper. Falling tourism against the backdrop of international terrorism, increased competition from the private sector, and rising overheads, are all issues that museums must contend with.

Terrorism knocks museum attendance in Europe

Terror attacks weighed on tourism and had a knock-on effect on museum visitors to European institutions. French institutions in particular, were negatively affected. Although the Louvre still topped TAN‘s survey with 7.4 million visitors in 2016, it was nonetheless a drop of 1.2 million people compared to the 8.6 million visitors recorded in 2015. The Musée d’Orsay also saw visitor numbers fall, to 3 million attendees in 2016, a sizable deficit compared to the 3.4 million visitors it recorded in 2015. However, at the Centre Pompidou, which is less reliant on visitors from overseas, numbers were up by 275,000 to 3.3 million.

In Belgium, terror attacks in Brussels last March also affected attendance at the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique which encompasses several venues throughout the Belgian capital. Numbers dropped by a third, falling from 776,000 in 2015 to

Get Their Day in Court Over Destruction of Murals

A judge’s order will send to trial a suit by a group of graffiti artists against a real estate owner who destroyed their murals at the 5Pointz site in Queens, New York. After a four-year battle, Senior US District Judge Frederic Block’s order, filed March 31, grants the 5Pointz graffiti artists’ right to sue under the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990.

At issue is the former site of giant graffiti murals that covered a city block’s worth of warehouses in Western Queens, across the street from MoMA PS1. They attracted tourists by the busload and featured works by artists from as far away as Australia and Japan. Graffiti artists had been plastering the walls with their works since 1993.

Curated by a graffiti artist named Meres One (Jonathan Cohen) since 2002, the colorful murals were a reminder of a grittier past in a gentrified neighborhood bustling with new high-rise construction. The owner, G&M Realty’s Gerald Wolkoff, also rented out space to artists there at low cost.

When Wolkoff resolved to destroy the buildings to make way for a new residential development, artists brought suit to

This Secret Duchampian Password Will Get You Into Museums for Free

Word is leaking out, as it were, about how a simple art-historical fact can get you free admission to more than a dozen museums worldwide on April 9, courtesy of Dada master Marcel Duchamp.

But you’ll have to know a code word.

It all relates to Duchamp’s first Readymade, the infamous Fountain (1917), a simple urinal from a plumbing supply shop that was inscribed with the faux signature “R. Mutt.” Richard Mutt was supposedly the name of the plumber who had created the urinal, which, through the simple act of calling it art, Duchamp would transform into an artwork. It was a gesture that would change art for good, paving the way for movements like conceptual art and appropriation art.

This year marks the centennial of the work, which created a scandal when Duchamp submitted it anonymously to the first juried art show organized by the Society of Independent Artists, in New York; Duchamp and other artists would resign in protest from the jury when the work was rejected.

Come April 9, the work’s birthday, all you have to do is identify yourself as R. Mutt

Court Orders Antiques Dealer to Pay

A court has ordered antiques dealer Jack Shaoul to pay gallerist Alex Komolov $1.1 million over the sale of a fake Pierre-Auguste Renoir painting.

According to Page 6, Komolov, who owns the Alskom Gallery in Manhattan, was awarded the amount he paid for the fraudulent canvas in 2010. The decision concludes a bizarre trial in which the defendant claimed in his testimony, among other things, that he bought the painting from a dead man called Joe Levy who briefly came back to life for two months, before dying again.

Additionally, Shaoul’s legal team attempted to use Komolov’s nationality to portray him as dishonest by pointing out that he’s from Russia—a baldfaced attempt to take advantage of the climate of distrust stemming from Vladimir Putin’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 American presidential election.

“Attempts to smear Alex with his Russian heritage were weak at best and deplorable at worst,” Komolov’s crisis manager Wendy Feldman told Page 6.

Komolov’s attorney, Phil Chronakis, of the law firm Budd Larner, also pointed out that Shaoul already served time in prison for art fraud. He explained, “As Alex’s lawyer, my focus is on collecting this judgment, which will be $1.8 million, because of the seven years of interest

Art Dealer Perry Rubenstein

Los Angeles art dealer Perry Rubenstein has pleaded no contest to two felony counts of grand theft by embezzlement for failing to pay clients including Hollywood tycoon Michael Ovitz, reports the Los Angeles Times. Art collector Michael Salke also claimed Rubenstein defrauded him.

Rubenstein could get up to 180 days in jail when he’s sentenced on May 22, and he’ll have to pay restitution. Variety reports that the judge will order Rubenstein to pay some $1.14 million, but that he’s expected to pay just $167,500.

At the heart of the case were works by Takashi Murakami and Richard Prince.

Rubenstein sold two Prince works for Ovitz, one for less than the agreed minimum, and kept the payment. Ovitz took insurer Chartis Property Casualty to court to get reimbursed $2.5 million for an untitled Prince painting and $1.6 million for Nobody’s Home, per court papers consulted by the LA Times.

Salke sold the Murakami work via Rubenstein. The buyer, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, had paid $825,000 for the piece, but Rubenstein told Salke that the foundation had paid just $630,000. The facts came out, as it happens, after Salke brought suit when Rubenstein tried to add $20,000 to his commission, reported the LA Times

The Art World This Week in One Minute

In a conversation with artnet News, Whitney Biennial co-curator Christopher Lew offers a spirited defense of artist Dana Schutz‘s contested painting of the disfigured corpse of Emmett Till: “I don’t think there is any blame to be laid, period.”

We’ve gotten some new glimpses of the radically dark pigment Vantablack, which eats lasers and flattens reality. Also this week in Vantablack news, in the latest installment of an ongoing feud, artist Stuart Semple sells his own super-dark artist material, which is available to all artists—unlike Vantablack, to which Anish Kapoor has the exclusive rights.

Ai Weiwei fans living in New York will be thrilled to know about an ambitious outdoor project the Chinese artist is undertaking with the city’s Public Art Fund.

Planning some museum visits this spring? Don’t miss these 25 must-see shows.

She wasn’t just Rodin’s girlfriend and muse—Camille Claudel was an artist in her own right, and now she’s getting her own museum.

In a case that pitted an art dealer against Hollywood royalty, Perry Rubenstein has pleaded no contest to charges of defrauding Michael Ovitz in a sale of two Richard Prince paintings.

Also this week in art and crime, Robert “the cook” Gentile, whom investigators have long had their eye on

Set more than a decade ago

The Upper East Side mansion of art heir David Wildenstein has just set a real estate record for a New York City townhouse at a cool $79.5 million, according to real estate newspaper The Real Deal. The previous record of $53 million was paid for the Harkness mansion, sold in 2006.

News of the sale follows several years of false starts including a failed deal with Qatar, and two separate lawsuits. The report describes the buyer as “an entity affiliated with Roy Liao, CEO of HNA Holdings Group, the same company behind the $2.2 billion deal to buy 245 Park Avenue.”

As reported by artnet News and others, in early January, billionaire investor Len Blavatnik sued David Wildenstein for $10 million, claiming that Wildenstein reneged on the sale of the townhouse. Wildenstein’s attorneys argued it was an informal handshake deal rather than a binding sale agreement. In early March, a judge dismissed Blavatnik’s suit according to Curbed, a move which appears to have paved the way for the latest deal to move forward.

The Wildensteins first tried to offload the property in 2014, arranging a $90 million deal with the Qatari royal family, who reportedly sought to use the building as a consulate. When that deal

Popular Mural in Rome

A large-scale frieze created by the South African artist William Kentridge on the bank of Rome’s River Tiber has been vandalized with graffiti.

Kentridge told AFP that he couldn’t understand why the authorities in Rome had not removed the graffiti as soon as they started to appear.

The mural—which depicts the history of Rome and is called Triumphs and Laments—was created by Kentridge by removing the dirt building up on the walls lining the Tiber, across 550 meters (1,800 feet), using a technique called “reverse stenciling.”

Located in on the right bank of the Tiber in the Trastevere district, close to St. Peter’s Basilica, the frieze was inaugurated in April 2016 and has since attracted widespread interest by tourists and locals.

Yet, since its launch, graffiti—most of them simple “tags” featuring names and initials—have been consistently appearing in the blank spaces between the images outlined by the artist.

It seems his plea has worked. According to AFP, that same day, Luca Bergamo, Rome’s deputy mayor, ordered a team from the city’s refuse department to clean the frieze and erase the graffiti, calling the vandals “stupid.”

Why this prize is different from the rest

Last Friday, the City Hall of Porto, Portugal, announced the finalists of the Paulo Cunha e Silva Art Prize, featuring a shortlist of 48 artists chosen by a top-tier network of international curators, writers, and museum directors.

Elena Filipovic, of the Kunsthalle Basel; Nancy Spector and Pablo León de la Barra, of the Guggenheim; Venus Lau, of OCAT Shenzhen; and Hans Ulrich Obrist, of the Serpentine Galleries, are among 16 curators chosen by an initial jury of four.

That jury includes curator and writer João Laia; artist Julião Sarmento; choreographer and dancer Meg Stuart; and curator, and former Tate director, Vicente Todolí.

They were selected by the Culture Department of the City Council of Porto, and in turn, handpicked four curators each from around the world, who selected three artists each as grand finalists for the prize.

“The prize is different from the others because it is a kind of networked model. It functions with successive nominations in a loop. The jury nominates curators who nominate artists, and then the shortlist goes back to the jury to choose the winner,” Laia told artnet News. “It is absolutely transparent, which is great.”

The 48 nominated artists include Olga Balema; Paul Maheke; Ian Cheng; Eva Koťátková; Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa; Njideka

Learning Apprentice to LA Art Star Thomas Houseago

That’s one way to cope. On the heels of his divorce from Angelina Jolie, actor Brad Pitt is honing his art skills under the tutelage of British sculptor Thomas Houseago, according to the British tabloid the Daily Mail.

The 53-year-old actor is reportedly spending marathon sessions of up to 15 hours a day in Houseago’s Los Angeles studio, staying long after the artist’s assistants have called it a day.

“Art is a way for him to concentrate on one thing, taking his mind off everything else,” an unnamed source hypothesized to the Mail, adding that Pitt is “learning at a fast pace.”

The tabloid speculates that Pitt was inspired to become a sculptor himself after attending a conversation between Houseago and Red Hot Chili Peppers bass player Flea, in which Houseago spoke of his own personal difficulties. (The event was at the Broad art museum, and is archived on Facebook Live.) Evidently, Pitt and Houseago live near each other in the same “exclusive compound” and “have been friends for some time.”

Pitt’s newfound passion for sculpting has even taken precedence over Hollywood’s annual award season. Aside from a brief appearance at the Golden Globes in January, Pitt blew off all other ceremonies and galas. He even skipped

Celebrating an important centennial

If you thought the Nordic and Baltic regions couldn’t get any busier in terms of art events, think again: Latvia has just joined the pack, and will launch the inaugural edition of the Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art (RIBOCA) in June 2018.

RIBOCA is an initiative of the Riga Biennial Foundation, a commissioning body founded and directed by Agniya Mirgorodskaya with the aim of championing contemporary art in the region.

For each edition of the biennial, a significant proportion of the commissioned and participating artists will either have been born in, or live and work in, the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

“Our exciting new commissions, in carefully selected sites, will make up over 50 percent of the works included, and a significant proportion of Baltic and Nordic artists will be represented,” Mirgorodskaya told artnet News.

Although the theme and curatorial concept of this first edition won’t be revealed until later this year, the Riga Biennial Foundation has announced that Katerina Gregos will be the chief curator.

In her curatorial work, the Greek-born curator, writer, and lecturer (and former artistic director of Art Brussels) often focuses on themes of human rights and personal histories of migration—issues that could also be featured in

Kirchner Painting Stays in German Museum

The German government has intervened to provide $1.28 million to the Wilhelm Hack Museum in Ludwigshafen so that the institution could buy back The Judgement of Paris, a Nazi-looted Ernst Ludwig Kirchner painting stolen from the Hess family during World War II, Reuters reports.

The painting originally comes from the collection of Alfred Hess, a Jewish shoe-manufacturer who died in 1931. Following Hitler’s rise to power, Hess’s wife, Tekla, was forced to store several of the family’s paintings in the Cologne Art Association in 1937 before fleeing to the UK in 1939. After the war’s end, Hess was told that the paintings she had attempted to save were destroyed.

Such was not the case: many of them had been looted, including The Judgement of Paris, which was eventually acquired by Wilhelm Hack, a Cologne businessman whose collection later founded the Ludwigshafen museum that bears his name. The works had been on display at the museum since 1979.

The move comes after New York’s Neue Galerie facilitated a similar deal with the heir of the Hess family. A 1914 nude by German Expressionist artist Karl Schmidt-Rottluff had been hanging in the museum’s halls before being returned to its rightful owners, only to later be bought back by the institution for an undisclosed amount.

The Hess family was one of

Things to See in New York This Week

1. Screening of Portrait of Alice Neel, 1976–1982 at the Kitchen
Portrait of Alice Neel, 1976-1982 is an intimate record by filmmaker Michel Auder. He and Neel became friends in ­­­­1975 when the artist was based on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. A close relationship developed and Auder frequently visited her. The film draws from his extensive footage of her, at home, painting, on vacation, and in public, presenting a charming, collective portrait of the artist and insight into her daily life.

2. Storm King Art Center reopens for the 2017 season
After a dreary winter, where the weather seemed to mirror general public malaise, green pastures and corten sculptures are in our future once again! Storm King—a sprawling 500-acre park in the Hudson Valley—is a reminder of the triumph of publicly supported art. New exhibitions will be unveiled later in the season, but for now visitors can enjoy the permanent collection, which includes over 100 works by artists including Magdalena Abakanowicz, Alexander Calder, Andy Goldsworthy, Sol LeWitt, Maya Lin, and Richard Serra.

3. “Pen and Brush Presents… Melissa Febos, Martha Cooley, and Gwen North Reiss” at Pen + Brush
Every month Pen + Brush, a leading gallery and arts foundation dedicated to the advancement of women

Anita Dube Appointed Curator

The Indian artist Anita Dube has been appointed curator of the fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB), slated to open in December 2018.

The announcement—in keeping with the KMB’s ethos of being helmed by an artist—was made at the closing ceremony of KMB 2016 on March 29 in Kochi.

Dube is taking over from Sudarshan Shetty, who curated a successful third edition of KMB that garnered positive reviews and attracted over 600,000 visitors.

“Through three editions, KMB has gained a reputation for being one of the most important exhibitions of its kind around the world. It is an honor and a very big challenge to be declared curator of this wonderful platform. I am delighted that the jurors thought I can deliver,” said Dube after the announcement.

“I accept the responsibility with excitement and humility. It is early days yet and my thoughts will no doubt undergo several changes going forward, but I view this as an opportunity to do something special,” she added.

In her work, Dube—a visual and performance artist with an academic background in art history—uses objects, industrial materials, performance, and text to explore socio-political issues.

She was a member of the Indian Radical Painters and Sculptors Association—a short-lived yet influential collective of artists

Takes Down Polarizing Dana Schutz Painting

A painting that has inspired protests and calls for its removal from the Whitney Biennial, and even its destruction, has come off the wall for the time being—but not due to protests. Dana Schutz‘s painting Open Casket (2016), which depicts the disfigured body of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old lynching victim, has been temporarily removed from its wall due to a water leak at the New York museum.

The removal was spotted by Hyperallergic, which posted an April 2nd Tweet showing signage at the Whitney warning visitors of a temporary gallery closure due to a “mechanical issue:”

The situation arose after a heavy rainstorm on Friday night, a representative of the museum confirmed to artnet News. No art was damaged, but works by Julien Nguyen and Maya Stovall were also removed. The Biennial is expected to be back up and running as normal on Wednesday when the museum reopens. (It is normally closed on Tuesdays.)

The freak event might appear as a gift from the gods to critics of Open Casket, who have gone so far as to circulate a fake letter pretending to be from Schutz, asking that her controversial painting be removed from the show, in an effort to embarrass the artist and museum.

Yet in the present case, the focus on the Schutz painting seems a distraction

A Piece of the Chelsea Hotel’s Fabled Art History

Buyers can nab a piece of the iconic Chelsea Hotel’s history when Freeman’s auction house in Philadelphia offers the private art collection of longtime manager Stanley Bard at auction next month (May 16).

Bard, who passed away in February at age 82, oversaw the hotel for 50 years. His life is inextricably linked with the hotel’s rich history—which is both famous and infamous—and the many creative geniuses, including writers, musicians and artists for whom it was a favorite haunt or longtime home.

The Chelsea Hotel “was obviously such a magnet for creative types, so a lot of the artists in the sale are those who were associated with the hotel,” said Dunham Townend, head of Freeman’s modern and contemporary art department. “Of course,” she added, “no one was more associated with the hotel than Stanley himself so he got to be great friends with many of the artists.”

A New York Times obituary dubbed Bard the “Robin Hood of innkeepers,” and a longtime resident called him “the most beloved—and enigmatic—character ever to grace the halls of the Chelsea.”

Townend said the auction, titled “Stanley Bard: A Life at the Chelsea,” features about 90 lots and spans a relatively wide time frame, with the earliest work

Sparking a Perplexing Fight Over Artistic Plagiarism

Two nearly identical photographs are at the heart of a debate about possible plagiarism in an entry to the Sony World Photography Awards. The players are Romanian artist Alex Andriesi, who lives in Montpellier, France, and Portugal-based photographer Anka Zhuravleva. Both photographers’ images show colorful, hovering spheres in a soft-lit hallway, lit by windows at left, and a girl or a woman in a green dress, floating in the air and grasping one of the spheres, her face toward the camera, eyes closed. By any measure, the images are strikingly similar.

After the shortlist for the “Open” section of the 10th edition of the prize was announced in February, Zhuravleva took to Facebook with a March 19 post accusing Andriesi of plagiarism. Followers lined up to support her complaint, though some say she has no choice but to shrug it off.

The prize itself includes a trip to London and a total prize fund of $30,000, along with photo equipment for the winners.

The World Photography Organisation weighed in on Zhuravleva’s post with a comment a few days later, saying that it takes any such accusations seriously and always conducts an investigation.

Here’s where things get really intriguing: As part of that investigation, Andriesi showed the

Feature a wide range of artists

Ai Weiwei, Haegue Yang, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Anya Gallaccio, and Oliver Beer are some of the artists who are participating in the 21st Biennale of Sydney, slated to open to the public on March 16, 2018.

Biennale curator Mami Kataoka has revealed a diverse preliminary list of 21 participating artists, including one artist duo, 10 artists from throughout Asia, five European artists, four Australian artists, and one artist from the US.

Kataoka also revealed some of the ideas that are shaping her curatorial vision for the event:

“Next year’s Biennale will explore multiple viewpoints. With a holistic view, the 21st Biennale of Sydney will also seek in-depth engagement with individuals and communities while exploring a range of perspectives and meanings of abstractions,” the curator said in a statement.

“Rather than focusing on a specific concept or theme, the exhibition will suggest multi-layered perspectives of the world and its histories simultaneously,” she explained.

The organization also confirmed that an exhibition celebrating the 45th anniversary of the biennial will also take place as part of its upcoming edition.

This show will draw from the organization’s vast archive, which gathers works by over 1,800 artists from over 100 countries that have been shown throughout its history.

There will be around 70 artists taking part in the biennial in total. A complete list

Arts advocates raise their voices

A capacity crowd of 400 rallied at the steps of City Hall in downtown Manhattan on Monday to speak out against proposed cuts to public funding of arts and culture by the Trump administration. A budget that Trump put forth in March would zero out funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Institute of Library and Museum Services.

Speakers on Monday included Talking Heads frontman (and enthusiastic visual artist) David Byrne and Broadway actors Jelani Remy and L. Steven Taylor (Simba and Mufasa in The Lion King, respectively). Accompanying the demonstration were several musicians with brass and wind instruments, serenading the speakers from a nearby section of City Hall Park.

The New York City Hall rally echoed the sentiments of a call put out by leading art figures like Marina Abramović, Laurie Anderson, Jasper Johns, Cindy Sherman, Kiki Smith, Julian Schnabel, and Richard Serra to defend public arts funding.

Local government was out in force, with Councilman Jimmy van Bramer, who emceed the event, starting things off with a fiery call to action. “Trump talks about ‘making America great again,’” he said, “but you don’t make a country great by crushing its soul.” He called Trump’s budget “an unprecedented

Learning Apprentice to LA Art Star Thomas Houseago

That’s one way to cope. On the heels of his divorce from Angelina Jolie, actor Brad Pitt is honing his art skills under the tutelage of British sculptor Thomas Houseago, according to the British tabloid the Daily Mail.

The 53-year-old actor is reportedly spending marathon sessions of up to 15 hours a day in Houseago’s Los Angeles studio, staying long after the artist’s assistants have called it a day.

“Art is a way for him to concentrate on one thing, taking his mind off everything else,” an unnamed source hypothesized to the Mail, adding that Pitt is “learning at a fast pace.”

The tabloid speculates that Pitt was inspired to become a sculptor himself after attending a conversation between Houseago and Red Hot Chili Peppers bass player Flea, in which Houseago spoke of his own personal difficulties. (The event was at the Broad art museum, and is archived on Facebook Live.) Evidently, Pitt and Houseago live near each other in the same “exclusive compound” and “have been friends for some time.”

Pitt’s newfound passion for sculpting has even taken precedence over Hollywood’s annual award season. Aside from a brief appearance at the Golden Globes in January, Pitt blew off all other ceremonies and galas. He even skipped