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That banana on the wall? At Art Basel Miami it'll cost you $120,000

Maurizio Cattelan's piece titled "Comedian," and offered at a price of $120,000, at Art Basel Miami Beach in Miami, Dec. 4, 2019. Stampeding billionaires took over Miami Beach for the annual art fair where everybody is VIP. John Taggart/The New York Times.

by Robin Pogrebin

MIAMI (NYT NEWS SERVICE ).- Remember when Morley Safer famously — controversially — asked on “60 Minutes” whether Marcel Duchamp’s urinal and Jeff Koons’ vacuum cleaners were really art? Now, in the spirit of such questions, comes Maurizio Cattelan’s (somewhat overripe) banana pinned to the wall with gray duct tape. For three buyers at Art Basel Miami, who paid between $120,000 and $150,000 each for such pieces this week, the answer was, unquestionably, yes. And two additional artist proofs (also bananas) are going to museums. Needless to say, the bananas have prompted the buzz that Cattelan has long been a master at generating (his golden toilet — recently stolen — being only the most immediate example). “Bananas! Art world gone mad, ... More

The Best Photos of the Day

MOCA announces agreement to proceed to voluntary recognition of union   Merkel voices 'deep shame' on first visit to Auschwitz   Kulturstiftung Basel H. Geiger to open new permanent exhibition space in Basel in June 2020

MOCA Grand Avenue, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Elon Schoenholz.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees reached agreement this week to proceed with voluntary recognition of an AFSCME District Council 36 union at MOCA based on a majority of signed union cards, without requiring staff members to vote in a formal National Labor Relations Board election. Two weeks ago, MOCA staff presented museum leadership with a statement of intent to unionize with AFSCME. The new agreement formalizes a bargaining unit that will be the subject of forthcoming negotiations between MOCA and AFSCME. “We have spent the last two weeks thoroughly considering the staff’s initiative through the lens of MOCA’s vision of being a civic-minded institution, and we concluded that we want to be supportive of this effort,” said MOCA Director Klaus Biesenbach. “Our valued and engaging staff ... More

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (2nd L) is flanked by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (2nd R) and the Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Piotr Cywinski (L) as she walks through the gate during her visit at the former German Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Janek SKARZYNSKI / AFP.

OSWIECIM (AFP).- Angela Merkel visited the former Auschwitz Nazi death camp on Friday for the first time as chancellor and said admitting Nazi crimes was a key part of Germany's identity that could combat growing anti-Semitism. "Remembering the crimes... is a responsibility which never ends," Merkel said during the visit in a message aimed at calls from the German far right for a shift away from a culture of remembrance and atonement. "To be aware of this responsibility is part of our national identity, our self-understanding as an enlightened and free society," she added. Merkel is only the third chancellor ever to visit a place that has come to symbolise the Holocaust. She expressed Germany's "deep shame" at what happened in Auschwitz and neighbouring Birkenau, where ... More

The foundation is headed by former cultural journalist Raphael Suter.

BASEL.- The Kulturstiftung Basel H.Geiger, a new cultural foundation, will open a permanent exhibition space in Basel, Switzerland in June 2020. Located in the heart of the city in the former factory for micromotors, the foundation will organise a rotating annual programme of temporary exhibitions on a variety of cultural themes. As a new part of Basel's already rich cultural landscape, KBHG aims to show content that fits the foundation's mission to engage and educate a broad audience, offering a platform for different artistic perspectives. Founded by philanthropist Sibylle Piermattei Geiger in 2018, the foundation is named after the late Swiss pharmacist and entrepreneur, Sibylle's paternal grandfather, Hermann Geiger. The foundation is headed by former cultural journalist, Raphael Suter and all exhibitions will be free of charge and accompanied by a complimentary visitor catalogue. The inaugural exhibition will be an international group exhibition organised by the Caribbean Art Initiative ... More

New Art Dealers Alliance and Pérez Art Museum Miami announce third annual Acquisition Gift selection   Dressing "The Irishman': Polyester pantsuits and capo collars   Superlative works by Bertoia, Prouvé, Tiffany Studios and more highlight Sotheby's December Auctions of 20th Century

Kenny Rivero. New Hat, 2019. Acrylic and flashe on canvas. 72 1/4 x 54 in (183.5 x 137.2 cm). Courtesy the Artist and Charles Moffett.

MIAMI, FLA.- New Art Dealers Alliance and Pérez Art Museum Miami announced the selection of the third annual NADA Acquisition Gift for PAMM, an acquisition gift for the museum’s permanent collection. PAMM Associate Curator María Elena Ortiz and Assistant Curator Jennifer Inacio have selected New Hat (2019), by New York-based, Dominican-American artist Kenny Rivero from Charles Moffett. “We are thrilled to have acquired Kenny Rivero’s exceptional painting into our collection as it dialogues with PAMM’s commitment to Latinx and Caribbean artists. We are grateful for NADA’s support and for presenting another great fair this year with groundbreaking art,” said Jennifer Inacio​​, PAMM Assistant Curator and​ María Elena Ortiz​​, PAMM Associate Curator. Rivero is known for his drawings, paintings, and sculptures that explore identity, the body, and masculinity through narrative images, collage, a ... More

One of Sandy Powell and Christopher Peterson's costume designs for "The Irishman." Sandy Powell via The New York Times.

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE ).- The women of “The Irishman,” Martin Scorsese’s somewhat true story of the mob hit man and Teamster, initially look sparkly and refreshing, an oasis in a desert of suit jackets. But their bloom and innocence are a mirage, these aging Barbie dolls in polyester pantsuits, dutifully getting rid of their husbands’ bloodstained shirts. “The Irishman,” now streaming on Netflix, follows Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) from his entree into organized crime in 1950s Philadelphia — guided by his mentor, Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) — through his promotion to body man for Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) in the ’70s. As Sheeran rises, so does the number of wiseguys in this epic tale. “It was a lot of ties,” said Sandy Powell, a three-time Oscar winner for costume design, and practically a perpetual nominee. (Last season, she was up for both “The Favourite” and “Mary Poppins Returns.”) To handle ... More

Joris Laarman, "Bone" Chair, circa 2007. Estimate $500/700,000. Courtesy Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s is presenting highlights from their December sales of Important Design and Dreaming in Glass: Masterworks by Tiffany Studios, to be held in New York on 12 December 2019. Featuring a curated survey of design masterworks from the last century, the Important Design auction will be anchored by an icon of modern architecture, Paul Rudolph's Walker Guest House (estimate $700,000/1 million), as well as an outstanding collection of works by Alexandre Noll, and important pieces by Jean Royère and Harry Bertoia. Additional highlights include an Important Chair by Carlo Mollino (estimate $100/150,000), masterpieces of French Modernism by Jean Prouvé and Line Vautrin, as well as contemporary design by Joris Laarman, Marc Newson, Martin Szekely and the Campana Brothers. A dedicated chapter of pre-war design comprises Art Nouveau masterworks from the private collection of renowned New York gallerists ... More

Ron Leibman, Tony winner for 'Angels,' is dead at 82   Pele's last Brazil jersey sells for 30,000 euros in Italy   Win a Martian night at the Design Museum

Ron Leibman in the play "A Dybbuk Or, Between Two Worlds" at the Public Theater in New York, on Oct. 27, 1997. Sara Krulwich/The New York Times.

by Neil Genzlinger

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE ).- Ron Leibman, an actor whose career of more than six decades in film, television and the theater was highlighted by a Tony Award in 1993 for his electrifying performance as Roy Cohn in the first part of “Angels in America,” died Friday in Manhattan. He was 82. A spokeswoman for actress Jessica Walter, his wife, said the cause was pneumonia. Leibman already had Drama Desk Awards for “We Bombed in New Haven” (1969) and “Transfers” (1970) as well as an Emmy for the short-lived CBS series “Kaz” (1979) when he took on the role of Cohn in “Angels in America,” Tony Kushner’s monumental two-part play about homosexuality and the age of AIDS. Cohn, a conservative lawyer and closeted gay man who was once chief counsel to Sen. ... More

The shirt was the highlight of objects which went under the hammer at the Bolaffi auction house in Turin on Thursday.

MILAN (AFP).- The jersey worn by Brazilian football legend Pele during his final match for the five-time world champions has sold for 30,000 euros ($33,000) in an auction in Italy. The three-time World Cup winner wore the jersey in a friendly against Yugoslavia at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro in July 1971, the last time he played for Brazil. Pele, 79, regarded as among the greatest footballers of all-time, scored 77 goals for Brazil in 92 appearances. The shirt was the highlight of objects which went under the hammer at the Bolaffi auction house in Turin on Thursday. Other sporting memorabilia included the yellow jersey won by Italian cycling star Fausto Coppi on his way to victory in the 1952 Tour de France, which sold for 25,000 euros. A rare blue Juventus jersey worn by Italian defender Luciano Spinosi in the final of the 1971 UEFA Cup sold for 9,400 euros. ... More

Mars Sleepover. Photo: Felix Speller for the Design Museum.

LONDON.- Ever wondered what it would be like to sleep on another planet? The Design Museum invites you to experience one extraordinary night on Mars in an exclusive stay that’s out of this world in its new blockbuster exhibition. It takes around eight months to reach Mars – and you’ll be greeted by freezing temperatures, unbreathable air and cosmic radiation. Cut out the travel and inhospitable surroundings and keep all the magic as you explore the untouched beauty of the Martian landscape and the innovative designs that will be needed to get us there. For the very first time, one lucky winner and their guest will go behind the scenes for a whole night at the Design Museum on 17 January 2020. The one of a kind sleepover experience begins with a VIP guided tour of the Moving to Mars exhibition – featuring a full scale model of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars rover before it travels to Mars in 2020; the NDX-1 spacesuit, ... More

New York's subway map like you've never seen it before   Galerie Emanuel Layr Rome opens an exhibition of works by Plamen Dejanoff   Artadia and NADA announce the 2019 NADA Artadia awardee

A 1998 Metropolitan Transportation Authority map of the New York City subway system, with many of the design elements from the 1979 map incorporated into the new version. Tony Cenicola/The New York Times.

by Antonio de Luca and Sasha Portis

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE ).- New York City was on the brink of bankruptcy in the 1970s. Crime was on the rise, and subway ridership had dropped to its lowest level since 1918. In 1979, responding to complaints from riders that the subway map was difficult to use, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority hired the Manhattan design firm, Michael Hertz and Associates, to create a new map. The goal was to develop an accessible geographical map that would provide the information that commuters and tourists needed to navigate the city. The Hertz firm’s map was digitized in 1998, with many of the design elements from the 1979 map incorporated into the new version. The MTA subway map is a record of how graphic design, politics and geography have shaped the city over the last ... More

Plamen Dejanoff, 2019, Installation view, Galerie Emanuel Layr Rome, Photo: Giorgio Benni.

ROME.- Veliko Tarnovo is a small town in the centre of Bulgaria with a turbulent history. It was the scene of numerous battles between the Slavs and Ottomans and the site where the nation’s first democratic constitution was drawn up in 1879. Le Corbusier came to Veliko Tarnovo in 1911 to study the architecture of the town, lined up along the foothills of the Balkan Mountains with the houses connected to one another like a modular system. The Slav Palace stands in the town centre. Built around 1720, it remains the tallest building in town (excepting the churches, of course). The forty closely staggered window arches on the top floor are clearly visible from afar. During the communist era the palace was owned by the state and interior walls were erected to divide the spacious rooms into smaller residential units. For many years plasterboard fixtures concealed the stucco, historic structure and in some cases, entire rooms. Plamen Dejanoff’s family, following a restitution ... More

Daniel Lind Ramos, Armario de la Conciencia, 2012. Courtesy of Embajada.

MIAMI, FLA.- New Art Dealers Alliance and Artadia announced Daniel Lind-Ramos as the recipient of the 2019 NADA Artadia Award, a $5,000 unrestricted, merit-based Award granted to one artist exhibiting at the fair. Lind-Ramo’s work is exhibited at Embajada, booth 9.10 at NADA Miami 2019. A jury comprising two curators, Alexandra Cunningham Cameron, Curator, Contemporary Design, Hintz Secretarial Scholar, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, and Gean Moreno, Curator of Programs, Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, selected Lind-Ramos. This is the thirteenth time NADA and Artadia have partnered to present the Award. In a joint statement, Cunningham Cameron and Moreno noted: “Comparing artists from so many places is always a challenge. But Daniel Lind-Ramos’s looming sculpture Armario de la Conciencia stood out to us for its visceral materiality and impressive range of references. It transcends its immediate context, reminds us of long and ... More

More News
Singapore Biennale 2019: Every Step In The Right Direction opens across multiple sites
SINGAPORE.- Singapore Biennale 2019 returns for its sixth edition, with 77 artists and art collectives from 36 countries and territories. Titled Every Step in the Right Direction, the international contemporary art exhibition invites the public to engage with the act of artistic exploration, drawing on the importance of making choices and taking steps to consider the conditions of contemporary life and the human endeavour for change. Commissioned by the National Arts Council and organised by SAM, the Singapore Biennale runs from 22 November 2019 until 22 March 2020 across 11 venues in the city. With a strong focus on Southeast Asia, the sixth edition welcomes over 150 works across a breadth of diverse mediums including film, installation, sound art and performance, as well as new commissions and works that have never been presented in contemporary ... More

Recently discovered sketch by the artist Lucian Freud sells at auction for £50,000
LONDON.- A previously unseen artwork by Lucian Freud (1922-2011), one of the most important figurative painters of the 20th century has sold for £50,000 at Chiswick Auctions, in London. Sketch of Goldie in charcoal on canvas, is a ‘study’ of a horse that Freud left incomplete in 2003. He embarked on the work at the Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre in West London, which is run by the nun, Sister Mary-Joy Langdon. He had been introduced to the stables by his studio assistant, the artist David Dawson, who had chanced on them while walking his dogs on the Scrubs. Very few of his canvases have remained unknown, making this work particularly rare. Freud spent several years painting at the stables and built up a great friendship with Mary-Joy, only to leave her the present sketch, which she has treasured. She decided to sell it, to raise funds for the pony ... More

Pera Museum opens 'A Road Story: 180 Years of Photography'
ISTANBUL.- Pera Museum is presenting a photography trip through West to East, starting from the Cyclades and ending in Mount Sinai. Inspired by the first photography trip that took place in 1839, “A Road Story: 180 Years of Photography” exhibition brings together interpretations and perspectives of photographers who explore the same route with today’s techniques. Curated by Engin Özendes, the exhibition is on view between 5 December 2019 – 1 March 2020. Pera Museum presents “A Road Story: 180 Years of Photography”, a unique successor of its various photography themed exhibitions ranging from photojournalism to photo art. Curated by Engin Özendes, the exhibition marks the 180th year of the very first known group photography trip that took place in 1839 and brings together interpretations and perspectives of photographers who explore ... More

Künstlerhaus in Graz opens Kamilla Bischof's most comprehensive solo exhibition to date
GRAZ.- SCHÖN VERMÄHLT is the most comprehensive solo exhibition to date of the work of Kamilla Bischof (*1986 Graz, lives in Berlin), an important Austrian artist of the younger generation. In an open layout space Bischof shows a new series of large-scale paintings which, while inspired by reality, lead into worlds of fantasy. A specially designed artist book in which she juxtaposes recent paintings and photographs with prose interspersed with images demonstrates the double talent of the artist and writer. In her paintings, too, Bischof employs surprising narrative strategies whose convincing technique makes it possible for figuration to interact with abstraction in the image composition in productive ways. The artist’s subjects are vibrant, colorful scenarios in which human figures, animals, but also fantastic creatures are the protagonists. What they have ... More

Louisiana Art & Science Museum Board of Trustees to be chaired by Kathy Fletcher Victorian in 2020
BATON ROUGE, LA.- Beginning February 2020, the Louisiana Art & Science Museum’s Board of Trustees will be led by community volunteer leader and its current Chair-Elect Kathy Fletcher Victorian. An ardent supporter of the Museum, Ms. Victorian was elected to her position by the Board of Trustees in February 2019, and served as the Chair of LASM’s 34th Annual Gala, CHROMA: Color Your Senses, the Museum’s largest fundraiser of the year. “My hope for 2020 is that LASM will be viewed as more than just a collector of artifacts, but as a community champion that offers a meaningful experience to all who walk through its doors,” said Ms. Victorian. In addition to her service on LASM’s board, Ms. Victorian sits on the board for Habitat for Humanity Greater Baton Rouge, The Safety Place, Urban League of Louisiana, and serves as the Board ... More

Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art displays works by Marjolaine Ryley
SUNDERLAND.- For more than 20 years, artist Marjolaine Ryley has told her own stories, and those we all share together, through the lens of her camera. Now 92 photographic works, covering the University of Sunderland Senior Lecturer’s career, have gone on display. The “This is What I See” exhibition is currently running at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, based at the University’s National Glass Centre. Through her intensely personal images, writings and artefacts, Marjolaine tells her own story in the hope that others can connect to the life journey she has taken. Every topic which touched her – and our own lives – is covered from family, to relationships, to pregnancy, loss and parenthood. In part of her work, Marjolaine takes us back to her childhood. Growing up in a squat in south London, the young artist witnessed first-hand a counter ... More

Kosovo to boycott Nobel ceremony over Handke's prize
PRISTINA (AFP).- Kosovo is boycotting next week's Nobel Prize ceremony, its foreign minister said on Saturday, in protest at the literature award being given to Peter Handke, an Austrian author criticised for his vocal support for Serbs in the 1990s wars in former Yugoslavia. The Swedish Academy's pick for the 2019 prize, announced in October, triggered outrage in the Balkans and beyond because of Handke's admiration for the late Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic. The award particularly stung in ethnic-Albanian majority Kosovo, which was a Serbian province until it broke away after the 1998-99 war in which Serbia carried out mass atrocities. Two Nobel committee members resigned over the selection earlier this week and a member of the Swedish academy, historian and writer Peter Englund, said he would boycott the ceremony. The literature ... More

'Laugh at what's hurting you': Lebanon cartoonists stir debate
BEIRUT (AFP).- On the edges of a protest in Lebanon's capital, 24-year-old cartoonist Mohamad Nohad Alameddine bites through sticky tape and plasters one of his political sketches to a side wall. "I haven't been able to work with newspapers, so instead I come down and stick them up in the street," says the unemployed artist, who graduated this year with a master's degree in press cartoons. Until this autumn, Alameddine had been poking fun at his country's political and economic ills in sketches he posted online. But from October 17, anti-government protests swept across the country, giving him a broader audience as protesters denounced the very same issues he had been drawing all along. In public spaces, he and friends stuck up gags about failing electricity and trash management plans, as well as sketches mocking a political class perceived ... More

Terence Blanchard, the jazz trumpeter making opera history
WASHINGTON (AFP).- A top-tier jazz trumpeter and Spike Lee's go-to film score master for three decades, Terence Blanchard is now set to make history as the first black composer to stage a production at New York's esteemed Metropolitan Opera. The storied institution's plans to produce Blanchard's second opera, "Fire Shut Up In My Bones," come 136 years after it opened its doors, having never before staged a black composer's art. It's progress "bigger than me," the 11-time Grammy winning, Oscar-nominated artist told AFP. "It says more about what's going on in our country; what's going on in the world of art... and the statement that this makes." The 57-year-old, sporting bold, thick eyeglass frames, said that even in "the progressive experiment called the United States," society has "a long way to go in this country in dealing with racial issues, ... More

John Kaldor AO awarded Life Governor of Art Gallery of New South Wales
SYDNEY.- The Art Gallery of New South Wales has awarded John Kaldor AO its highest honour of Life Governor. The accolade recognises outstanding individual service, advocacy and support for the Gallery. Making the announcement, David Gonski AC, President of the Board of Trustees, said John Kaldor’s extremely generous contributions to the Gallery cannot be overestimated. “John is hugely deserving of this honour and it’s my very great pleasure on behalf of the Trustees to award him a Life Governorship of the Art Gallery of New South Wales,” Mr Gonski said. “The Gallery has a long history of support from many highly committed philanthropists who provide our audiences the opportunity to engage with contemporary art from around the world, and the gift of the John Kaldor Family Collection in 2008 was the most significant and influential ... More

Exhibition displays displays the fascinating results of Arja Hop and Peter Svenson's photographic research
AMSTERDAM.- The artist duo Arja Hop and Peter Svenson combine photography, alchemy and ecology to research into how plants react to their environment, and in so doing they touch on current environmental issues. Their ‘residue projects’ fuse photography and botanical alchemy in a remarkable way: they extract pigment from a plant, apply it directly to analogue film and print it. Their landscape explorations in the Netherlands (where they now live) and New Zealand (where Svenson was born) have resulted in poetic images that seem to indicate that the intensity of the plant colour is strongly influenced by the plant’s living conditions. The exhibition Florachromes in Huis Marseille is the first to present a large-scale display of the fascinating results of their photographic research. Arja Hop and Peter Svenson regard trees as the safeguards ... More

Conserving one of the oldest photographs in MoMA's collection

On a day like today, Spanish-Mexican surrealist painter Remedios Varo was born
December 16, 1908. Remedios Varo Uranga (16 December 1908 - 8 October 1963) was a Spanish-Mexican para-surrealist painter and anarchist. Born in Girona, Spain in 1908, she studied at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid. She is known as one of the world famous para-surrealist artists of the 20th Century. During the Spanish Civil War she fled to Paris where she was greatly influenced by the surrealist movement. She met her second husband, the French surrealist poet Benjamin Péret, in Barcelona. In this image: Remedios Varo (Spanish/Mexican 1908-1963), Vampiros vegetarianos. Oil on canvas. Painted in 1962. Estimate: $1,500,000 - 2,000,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2015.

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