Mondrian Painting Sets Record at Sotheby’s, Latvia Removes Every Soviet Monument, and More: Morning Links for November 15, 2022

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The Headlines

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AUCTION ACTION. Following last week’s $1.5 billion Paul Allen collection sale at Christie’s, two back-to-back sales of modern art were held on Monday at Sotheby’s. Together, they posted a somewhat impressive $391.2 million result, Angelica Villa and Daniel Cassady report in ARTnews. Those sales also minted a new record for Piet Mondrian, whose Composition No. II (1930) sold for $51 million to a bidder in Asia. The first of the two auctions, a sale devoted to the David Solinger collection, also had its moments, with every lot in it finding a buyer, making it what industry professionals call a white glove sale. Tonight, the momentum could continue at Phillips, which is holding a sale of modern and contemporary art. Watch this space.

MONUMENT MANIA. Latvian officials are reporting that they have removed all 69 monuments in the country that honor the former Soviet Union. Per the Baltic News Network, these include statues, memorials, and plaques. The choice came as the country prepares to usher in a new law next year that prohibits the display of any objects paying homage to the Soviet or Nazi regimes in Latvia. Meanwhile, the Sacramento Bee reports that the state of California has broken ground on a monument to William Franklin Sr., a member of the Miwok tribe who fought to preserve his people’s culture. It’s the first such statue in California honoring the Miwok. And the Atlantic has a deep dive into Holocaust memorials in Germany, which Clint Smith writes could offer a way to remember past tragedies.

The Digest

New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport has two big new artworks by Layqa Nuna Yawar and Karyn Olivier that “reflect the landscape and history of New Jersey,” Hilarie M. Sheets reports. [The New York Times]

A 70-work Andy Warhol show is coming to Saudi Arabia next year. Organized by the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, it will center around his depictions of fame and celebrities. [ARTnews]

Reggaeton singer J Balvin has been named the first-ever “cultural ambassador” of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. In his own words, the role will see Balvin “share my love and appreciation for contemporary art by working with the Hirshhorn’s educational programs.” [Page Six]

Mark Hallett has been named the next director of the Courtauld Institute of Art, which is home to one of the top art history programs in London. He is currently director of London’s Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art[Artforum]

Kim Kardashian wore a “Barbiecore” Balenciaga dress that just so happened to match a bubblegum pink James Turrell painting. She posted a picture of the neat pairing on social media. [Page Six]

“Museums are sure to figure out how to accept NFT donations, sooner or later,” artist and law professor Brian Frye writes. “But maybe it would be a good idea for NFT collectors to create their own museums, designed to accept NFT donations?” [Coin Desk]

The Kicker

THE WORLDS OF ART AND POLITICS intersect periodically, and on Monday, the two merged in the unlikeliest of ways when Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov took to social media to disseminate a video in which he denied having been taken to the hospital as a result of his heart condition. According to Al-Jazeera, Lavrov said that reports of that were “some kind of game” on the part of the Western media. What did he wear as he said this? Not a suit, but a T-shirt featuring Jean-Michel Basquiat’s iconic crown form and signature. [Al Jazeera]


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