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OLD MASTERS DEPARTMENT. It is a very big news day for very old paintings. An early Peter Paul Rubens, from around 1609, will hit the block at Sotheby’s in January with a high estimate of $35 million, Barron’s reports. The deliciously titled work, Salome Presented with the Severed Head of Saint John the Baptist, was believed lost until it showed up at auction at the same house in 1998. It sold then for $5.5 million. Meanwhile, an anonymous 17th-century painting damaged in the 2020 Beirut explosion has been identified as an Artemisia Gentileschi, the New York Times reports. It is currently undergoing restoration at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. And over in Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum said that it has lined up no fewer than 28 paintings by Johannes Vermeer for a 2023 retrospective, setting it up to be the largest-ever show of the artist.
MIKE DAVIS, the revered, controversial, and venturesome writer and scholar, died Tuesday at 76, Carolina A. Miranda reports in the Los Angeles Times. The cause: complications related to esophageal cancer. Davis’s best-known work was City of Quartz (1990), which charts how “powerful interests in Los Angeles—namely, real estate developers, aided and abetted by politicians and the Police Department—had ruthlessly molded the landscape of the city to their whim,” Miranda writes. The expansive history made the Marxist former truck driver a celebrated public intellectual. In a remembrance in the Nation, Jon Wiener terms Davis an “author and activist, radical hero and family man,” and quotes Adam Shatz in Lingua Franca in 1997 writing about the unending stream of calls that would come in to Davis’s house: “The calls last from morning to midnight. It might be the photographer Richard Avedon or the architect I.M. Pei with a request for one of Davis’s legendary tours of L.A.”
Gagosian firmly denied rumors that it is in talks to be acquired by the French luxury giant LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, whose chairman is collector Bernard Arnault. “There is absolutely no truth to the rumor and the company is not for sale,” a Gagosian spokesperson said. An LVMH rep declined to comment. [ARTnews]
On Saturday, Hauser & Wirth will inaugurate a recurring performance festival at its Los Angeles branch, which will present “performance art, theatre pieces, dance works, music, readings, film screenings, and other live events,” Alex Greenberger reports. Artists Jeremy O. Harris and Wu Tsang are among those showing work.
Amid the energy crisis in Europe, the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin turned the power off on its iconic, site-specific Dan Flavin neon installation. “It is important that we as an internationally renowned museum set an example in the current situation and make our contribution to saving scarce resources,” its directors said. [The Art Newspaper]
Shutterstock, which distributes stock images, said that it will provide its users access to OpenAI’s DALL-E 2, which uses A.I. to generate art based on text prompts. It will also establish a fund to pay royalties to artists when the program incorporates their art into images. [PC Magazine]
Artist and architect Maya Lin has been hired to design a building at Bard College in Upstate New York that will have rehearsal and performance spaces for the school’s Fisher Center, which presents theater, music, dance, and more. Slated to cost $42 million, it will measure 25,000 square feet. [The New York Times]
The Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson has new leadership: artist Julio César, who was previously senior curator at the Arizona State University Art Museum in Tempe, has been named director and co-chief curator; its current interim director and curator-at-large, Laura Copelin, has been named deputy director and co-chief curator. [Artforum]
A DISH BEST SERVED COLD. “I will avenge u mr van gogh,” rapper Lil Nas Xwrote on Twitter yesterday, wading into the discourse around the food attacks that climate protesters have been making on famed artworks in recent months. There’s no way to use words to do justice to the images he shared. Just click. [@LilNasX/Twitter]