Art Historians Join London Statue Panel, How to Price a Masterpiece, KAWS, and More: Morning Links from February 10, 2021

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The Headlines

LONDON MAYOR SADIQ KHAN HAS NAMED 15 PEOPLE to a commission aimed at promoting diversity in the public realm in the capital, from statues to street names. They include Zoé Whitley, the director of the city’s Chisenhale Gallery, and critic Robert Bevan, the Art Newspaper reports. “It’s not just about taking down statues, it’s about creating new commissions that will inspire generations,” art historian Aindrea Emelife, another panel member, told the Guardian. Khan first announced plans to assemble the group after a statue of slave trader Edward Colston was tossed into Bristol’s harbor last year. In Copenhagen, meanwhile, debate is raging over an art collective’s move to throw a bust of Frederik V (1723–66), king of Denmark, into the city’s harbor because of his government’s ties to slavery, the New York Times reports. An artist involved in the action, Katrine Dirckinck-Holmfeld, has been fired from her position at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, which displayed the piece, and some have criticized the protest as an example of out-of-control cancel culture. “This is about confronting our own image,” Dirckinck-Holmfeld said. “In Danish consciousness, there’s this idea that we were a very small and friendly colonial power, and also that racism is an American problem.”

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DEALERS WATCHING THE RECENT SALE OF THE $92 MILLION BOTTICELLI at Sotheby’s had a bet going about its final price, and the one with the worst guess now owes them a tony dinner. As Bloomberg tells it , that’s a case study in the difficulty in pricing top-flight artworks—pieces that do not have clear market parallels for making estimates. The key: look to other major works, regardless of field, said Christopher Apostle, Sotheby’s Old Masters head. “You’ve got to look at the whole panoply of what a masterpiece is, and I don’t think there’s a difference between a masterpiece by Basquiat or Rembrandt or Botticelli.” Speaking of the Old Masters, Angelica Villa spoke with curators and dealers about the legacy of the late Richard L. Feigen, who was a giant in the field, for ARTnews . “He had an extraordinary eye and was a great connoisseur,” Eric Lee, director of the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, said. “He always thought of the context when he considered placing a work of art.”

The Digest

Though U.S. art museums have voiced commitments to pursuing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, many are staying quiet about how much funding they are putting toward such efforts, Zachary Small reports. [Artnet News]

The ever-divisive artist KAWS got the profile treatment from M.H. Miller. His show at the Brooklyn Museum opens later this month, and tickets for the opening weekend are already sold out. [The New York Times Magazine]

The Vancouver Art Gallery is scaling back its plans for an expansion amid stalled fundraising. [BIV]

The philanthropist Amar Singh, who recently gave a portrait of Amanda Gorman to Harvard, has said he will donate $5 million by 2025 to museums to help them diversity their collections. [Vanity Fair]

Aaron De Groft has been named director and CEO of the Orlando Museum of Art in Florida. He comes aboard after 14 years leading the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. [Orlando Sentinel]

The Substation, Singapore’s first independent art space, is at risk of losing full use of its current home after some 30 years. [ArtAsiaPacific]

Sculptor John Amanam has been developing prosthetics that have darker skin tones. [Hyperallergic]

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is selling a $2.2 million residence that it bought for director Michael Govan last year. A spokesperson cited “the ongoing impact of the pandemic” for the decision, saying that museum’s director will no longer live in museum-owned housing. [Los Angeles Times]

Did North West, the 7-year-old daughter of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, really paint the luminous landscape that her mother posted on Instagram? Many on social media had doubts. However, the daughter of North’s rumored art teacher defended the authenticity of the work. [Vulture]

Flashback: In 2017, Brian Belott staged a show of children’s art at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise (R.I.P.) in Harlem. Their art, he said, is “an unstoppable force.” [ARTnews]

The Kicker

THERE HAS BEEN NO SHORTAGE OF ARTICLES ABOUT HOW THE PANDEMIC has boosted online viewing rooms and online art fairs, but Wired spoke with artists about how it has shaped their working methods—and their art. Some were skeptical of the turn to the web. As lockdowns hit, Simon Denny explained, “At first I was like, ‘OK great, digital.’ I’m an artist who’s interested in technology. And then, after one month, [I thought] ‘I never want to look at another website ever again.’ “ [Wired]

Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.


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