Christie’s Holds Auction After Cyberattack, CalArts Joins Divestment Wave, Chicago Museum Rebrands in Kenneth Griffin’s Name, and More: Morning Links for May 15, 2024

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THE HEADLINES

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CURTAINS UP. Despite still reeling from a cyberattack, Christie’s held two major sales that totaled $114.7 million on Tuesday night. That number failed to surpass the $267.3 million made by rival Sotheby’s the night prior, but it was an admirable showing given the tense circumstances. Just hours before the auction commenced, Christie’s website was still down, fueling fears that the financial data of its affluent clientele was the hostage of hackers. Before the sale, advisers told ARTnews that the inability to use Christie’s website was a major concern for consignors, while Christie’s chief executive Guillaume Cerutti told the Wall Street Journal the house had “gone into overdrive” to reassure some of the world’s wealthiest collectors that business should proceed (approximately) as usual.

DISCLOSE AND DIVEST. Art universities across the world continue to heed calls from students to sever ties with Israeli institutions in response to the ongoing war in Gaza. On Wednesday, the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter of the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in Santa Clarita said that the administration had agreed to disclose and divest “from entities and funds that contribute to human rights violations,” as reported in Hyperallergic. The news came shortly after the Dutch Royal Academy of Art in The Hague announced that it would “discontinue to partner” with Israel’s Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, with which it once had a student exchange program. The Rhode Island School of Design, Cooper Union, and Parsons, the arts and design branch of the New School, are among the universities currently facing demands from students for a financial and academic divestment from Israel.

THE DIGEST

Mexican ceramicist Andrés Anza has been awarded the 2024 Loewe Craft Prize. Anza beat out 30 shortlisted contenders with his sculpture I only know what I have seen (2023), and will receive a grant of €50,000; his winning work will also be exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris through June 9. [WWD]

The theft of Bronze Age gold artifacts from the Ely Museum in Cambridgeshire has reignited concerns over security in UK cultural institutions, with some critics speculating that a lack of government investment in the sector is to blame. [The Art Newspaper]

Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry is officially rebranding to the Kenneth C. Griffin Museum of Science and Industry on May 19 in honor of a $125 million gift by the billionaire. [Bloomberg]

The Observer has a glimpse of the glamorous cast of artists, actors, collectors, and patrons gathered last week at Dia Art Foundation’s Spring Benefit. The event, hosted at the cavernous Dia Beacon, celebrated 50 years of the foundation. [The Observer]

King Charles has unveiled his first official portrait since coronation—featuring a fiery background that nearly subsumes his figure—and critics are divided. [CNN]

Any bibliophiles planning a road trip this summer? Lithub has picked the unmissable museums dedicated to writers across America, including New York’s Morgan Library and the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia. [Lithub]

THE KICKER

GERM OF AN IDEA. The artist at work assembles his toolbox: palette, paintbrush, petri dish, safety goggles. This is David Westenberg, a microbiologist at the Missouri University of Science and Technology and moonlighter in agar art—which involves the manipulation of bacteria into living paintings. As detailed in Atlas Obscura, microbial artists like Westenberg coax a mixture of antibiotic powder and agar—a gloop gleaned from algae—to make it bloom with vibrant pigments and elaborate designs. Interestingly, the article traces the origin of the art form to Alexander Fleming, who, prior to inventing penicillin, made “germ paintings.” Like any frustrated creative confined to an office job, his subjects included the London skyline and two viruses boxing. According to his eponymous museum in London, Fleming showed one such work to George V and Queen Mary—and they were “unimpressed.” Truly a talent ahead of his times.

Source: artnews.com

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