Sotheby’s London Auctions Begin, Albertinum Exhibition Abruptly Closes, and More: Morning Links for June 25, 2024

The Headlines

SOTHEBY’S SUMMER SALES. Today, Sotheby’s London begins its modern and contemporary art auction with an evening sale that features works from the Ralph I. Goldenberg collection, including a $30 million Basquiat. The auctions are set against the backdrop of a subdued art market, and will be closely watched for that reason. But it’s not just market observers who will be looking on: Yayoi Kusama fans will be, too. Sotheby’s is holding an online, “sealed” sale of a “one-of-a-kind” work by her, Yue Ting Kong reports in the Value. The Kusama piece, completed in 2021, is a small “Infinity Mirror Room” titled Phantom Polka Dots of Fate, Ordained by Heaven, Were the Greatest Gift Ever for Me , and is estimated between around $1.5 million to $2.3 million. The “sealed” auction format has previously only been used by Sotheby’s for luxury goods. “The winning bid is never revealed and the whole system is meant to generate more publicity for sales,” Kong notes.

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ASPEN FAIR DEBUT. The Aspen Art Fair is launching its inaugural edition in late July, and taking along with it a chunk of exhibitors from the previously existing Intersect Aspen Art and Design Fair, including Perrotin and Gmurzynska galleries, Harrison Jacobs and Sarah Douglas report in ARTnews. Cofounded by Becca Hoffman and Bob Chase, respectively the former director of the  Outsider Art Fair and current owner of Aspen’s Hexton Gallery, the new fair will take place in the historic, red brick Hotel Jerome. Some of the 30 participating exhibitors will take over rooms in the Victorian hotel, and others will set up booths in the building’s public spaces. The program will also include talks, performances, and screenings, and will coincide with Aspen Art Week.

The Digest

An exhibition about colonialism at the Albertinum in Dresdenwas canceled hours before it was due to open June 18, after its curator and author, Zoé Samudzi, refused to open the show. Samudzi later stated her reasons were related to “actions by the institution that felt repressive and did not allow me to speak freely about genocide denial without qualification.” She also noted that “Germany continues to deny the genocide of the Ovaherero and Nama” people, in what is now Namibia, between 1904 and 1908, and claimed that the institution had said that was only her opinion. [Der Spiegel]

The National Coalition Against Censorship has criticized the cancelation and postponement of Kehinde Wiley exhibitions following allegations of sexual assault which the artist has denied. The group said the accusations were serious, but museums were “not equipped or mandated to be enforcers of moral orthodoxy.” [Artnet News]

A tourist was caught carving the name “Ali” into the wall of an archaeological site in Pompeii. Italian authorities said the unnamed man, who is reportedly from Kazakhstan, will be required to pay for restoring the rare plaster wall in the 2nd-century BCE villa, known as the House of the Ceii. [The Daily Mail]

Saudi Arabia has revealed plans for a tech-focused performing arts center in Qiddiya, outside Riyadh. The 500,000-square-meter Qiddiya Performing Arts Center will host over 260 yearly performances, plus gaming and e-sports, in a complex that is set to welcome some 10 million annual visitors by 2030. [The National]

The Paris Olympic Games opening ceremony on July 26 will feature sustainably designed costumes, with looks by Louis Vuitton and Dior, as well as emerging designers. This will be the first time the outfits for the event are designed to reduce their carbon emissions, said Daphné Bürki, the styling and costumes director for the event. [WWD]

The Kicker

EXHIBITION SLOWDOWN. How many times have you realized you were about to miss another great exhibition that was about to close? Julia Halperin has lost count, she writes in an Art Newspaper report. “Over the past two decades, the art world has expanded dramatically, and museum programming has ballooned along with it,” she notes. But some museums are rethinking the art world’s fast pace, particularly when they rely on tourism, and are instead embracing a slower, more seasonal model hinged on vacation periods, while attempting to offer a deeper experience overall. The idea is to also encourage multiple visits. “It’s not just the pursuit of the new,” said Eric Crosby, director of the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. There are also working conditions to consider, rising shipping and storage costs, and environmental concerns. Crosby asked: “Why close an exhibition that took three years to put together after just three months?” Many of us have been wondering the same thing.

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