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COLLECTION MANAGEMENT. Down in Auckland, New Zealand, the newly elected mayor, Wayne Brownquestion the value of the city’s art museum, Bloomberg reports. At a recent board meeting, Brown discussed the cost of running the Auckland Art Gallery given visitor numbers he considers scant (about 9,516 in the third quarter). The museum will receive a bequest of art from hedge fund Julian Robertson which includes works by Picasso and Matisse and is valued at $190 million. “If it’s a bequest that it costs us to take care of the damn thing, it’s not much of a bequest if you ask me,” said the mayor. He added, “We have billions of dollars of value in the basement that no one is looking at, surely there is a way to convert some of that.” The city is currently struggling with a budget deficit. A council official told the outlet that Brown was not advocating the sale of art, but his comments come amid an ongoing debate about when it is appropriate for institutions to divest and monetize their art.
CHANGING TASTE. In the Art newspaper, Scott Rayburn has a look at the decline of the Old Masters market in recent decades as those works fell out of fashion. According to one study, it accounted for just four percent of auction sales in 2021; 50 years ago it was the main arena. A few stars still grab big numbers, but lower value artworks don’t hold their value. “You no longer have the middle class buying something nice to put on the wall and hang on it,” said researcher Megan Corcoran said to Reyburn. Lamenting the state of the Old Masters has been going on for a while now, and some may remember dealer Larry Salander‘s fiery interview with New York magazine on the subject in 2008 (before he was hit with fraud charges). “Our society now values a Warhol for three times as much money as a great Rembrandt,” Salander said. “That tells me we’re screwed. It’s as if people would rather fuck than to make love.”
A Sotheby’s sale of designer pieces from billionaire businessman Ronald Perelman (which has been liquidating assets at a furious rate in recent years) raised $35 million, with two-thirds of the 117 lots going above their high estimates. Records were set for Paul Dupré-Lafon, Pierre Legrainand Armand-Albert Rateau. [Artnet News]
Six artists, incl Derrick Adams and Wendy Red Starwas tapped for a show about the role of monuments placed on the National Mall in Washington, DC, next summer, Zachary Small reports. Paul Farberthe director of the Monument Lab nonprofit organization, and critic Salamishah Tillet cure. The Trust for the National Mall said it will be the first group art show ever to appear in the park. [The New York Times]
The Toronto Biennial of Art named Dominique Fontaine and Miguel A. López to compile its 2024 edition. Fontaine is the founding director of the non-profit curatorial platform AposterioriLópez was co-director of the THEOR/éTica art space in San José, Costa Rica, until 2020, and both have curated widely. [ArtDaily]
The debut album of RMthe leader of the Korean boy band BTScontains references to some of his favorite artists, including legends Yun Hyong-keun and Jackson Pollock. The records cover features a 1972 piece by Yun. [Artnet News]
Kitsch maestro Romero Britto is on a winning streak. The artist was commissioned to create official work for the Kentucky Derby-and was asked to serve as a “special ambassador” for Miami-Dade County. [Axios]
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT. It was a wild news day yesterday, with superstar painting Gerhard Richter leaving his longtime home, Marian Goodman Galleryto join David Zwirnerand PMC– the owner of Art in America and ART news (which operates this newsletter)—announcement that it has acquired Art Forumwhich celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.
THE INTERSECTION OF ART AND TECHNOLOGY. Director James Cameron-the Titanic titan—getting ready to release his latest film, Avatar: The Way of Waterand although he gained fame for his special-effects wizardry, he emphasized in comments made by the AFP that it takes more than just computer magic to make a great film. “Anyone can buy a paintbrush,” he said. “Not everyone can paint a picture. The technology does not create art. Artists create art—that’s important.” The total cost of the new movie has not been released, but Variety reported that Cameron said the enormous figure amounted to “the worst business case in film history”. [AFP/France24]