First look at Rachel Whiteread’s suburban house sculpture in London’s new US Embassy

Sections of an all-American home have been mounted on the walls.

A major new public art work by Rachel Whiteread modelled on a suburban US house will be unveiled next week at the new US Embassy in Nine Elms, south London. The wall sculpture, titled US Embassy (Flat pack house; 2013-1015), will greet embassy visitors as they enter into the lobby through the consular court. The work was commissioned by Art in Embassies, a US governmental body.

Virginia Shore, the curator for the London Embassy project, tells The Art Newspaper: “The work uses the motif of the average American House, the type that may have been purchased from a catalogue in the 1950s; a familiar house that lines the suburban streets of America and would have appealed to a family of modest means.”

What Happened After Mexico’s Greatest Architect Was Turned Into a Diamond

On April 27th, more than a hundred people gathered in the underground auditorium of a prestigious contemporary-art museum in Mexico City. Those who couldn’t find seats lingered outside, watching a live video feed of what was transpiring within; more than seventy thousand others streamed the proceedings at home. For almost two hours, the audience looked on as epic and often metaphysical questions—of faith, language, taste, value, ownership, legacy—were debated with ferocious intensity. The subject of the discussion was a diamond—2.02 carats, rough-cut—which, as I reported last year, was made from the compressed ashes of the late Mexican architect Luis Barragán. Created with the permission of the local government in Guadalajara, where Barragán was buried, and with the blessing of his direct heirs, the jewel was set in a silver engagement ring. The ring was conceived as part of a project by the American conceptual artist Jill Magid, with the idea that it might be exchanged for the architect’s professional archive, which has been kept in Switzerland for close to twenty-five years.

By this point, the discussion, which had been largely philosophical, had turned to what, exactly, the project had revealed about local customs regarding art preservation, the sufficiency of current laws to protect human remains, and Mexico’s responsibility to preserve its own culture**—**a question that was argued bitterly when Barragán’s professional archive left the country, years earlier. Magid started to look more relaxed. “I felt a great sense of relief,” she told me later. She was glad to know that the work’s provocations were working. The moderator wrapped up the discussion, and, just before Medina announced the exhibition open, he took a small bow. “So,” he said, “We invite you to see the Minotaur.”

Damien Hirst to show new spot paintings at 18th-century mansion

Exhibition of Colour Space paintings will open in March in the gilded state rooms of Houghton Hall in Norfolk.

Damien Hirst is to take over the spectacular gilded state rooms of Britain’s finest Palladian mansion to show a new series of his long-running spot paintings.

The Colour Space works, two of which can be seen here for the first time, will be shown at Houghton Hall in Norfolk, built in the 18th century for Britain’s first prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole, and which once housed one of the world’s greatest art collections.

The exhibition, opening in March, is another example of Hirst never doing anything by halves. In 2012 he took over all 11 Gagosian galleries around the world for his spot paintings, and last year his monumental fantasy exhibition Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable filled two grand Venice palaces.

New Damien Hirst Paintings to Be Exhibited in Stately British Home

The British artist Damien Hirst will exhibit new works from his series of spot paintings at a stately home in Britain.

The exhibition, titled “Colour Space,” will open in March at Houghton Hall in Norfolk, in the southeast of England; the mansion was built in the 1720s for Britain’s first prime minister, Robert Walpole.

Roughly 50 of Mr. Hirst’s new works will go on display in the state rooms of a building that once housed a world-class collection of European old master paintings.

“I originally wanted the Spots to look like they were painted by a human trying to paint like a machine,” Mr. Hirst said in a statement. “‘Colour Space’ is going back to the human element, so instead you have the fallibility of the human hand in the drips and inconsistencies.”

In the statement, Mr. Hirst said, “There are still no two exact colors that repeat in each painting, which is really important to me. I think of them as cells under a microscope. It felt right to show them somewhere historic rather than in a conventional gallery space and Houghton’s perfect.”

The Kippenberger Conundrum: How the Wildly Prolific Artist’s Artist Became an Eight-Figure Auction Darling

It was the peak of the 2014 fall auction season in New York, and though nearly two decades had gone by since Martin Kippenberger’s death of liver failure in 1997, the artist’s market had never been hotter. Prior to its bellwether postwar and contemporary evening sale, Christie’s had set the estimate for a prized 1988 Kippenberger self-portrait in its November sale at $20 million—an aggressive estimate, but one that paid off. It was bought by dealer Larry Gagosian, hammering at $20 million for a with-premium total of $22.5 million.

The sale capped a run of seasons where the Kippenberger market rose precipitously—an irony for an artist who lampooned both “try-hard” artists who sucked up to the market people and the market people who got suckered into buying any of it.

All of Kippenberger’s top ten highest-selling works at auction have come in the last five years, and after the one-two punch of 1988 works sold at Christie’s in May and November 2014—the $22.5 million picture nabbed by Gagosian, but also another work from the same series that sold for $18.6 million—the same auction house sold two more Kippenbergers in May 2015: another 1988 self-portrait for $16.4 million, and one of his 1996 paintings of Jacqueline Picasso for $12.5 million.

Galleries hit by cyber crime wave

Hackers are stealing large sums of money from art galleries and their clients using a straightforward email deception. The Art Newspaper has so far identified nine galleries or individuals targeted by this scam. They include Hauser & Wirth, the London-based dealers Simon Lee, Thomas Dane, Rosenfeld Porcini and Laura Bartlett and, in the US, Tony Karman, the president of Expo Chicago.

“We know a number of galleries that have been affected. The sums lost by them or their clients range from £10,000 to £1m,” says the insurance broker Adam Prideaux of Hallett Independent. “I suspect the problem is a lot worse than we imagine.”

How it works

The fraud is relatively simple. Criminals hack into an art dealer’s email account and monitor incoming and outgoing correspondence. When the gallery sends a PDF invoice to a client via email following a sale, the conversation is hijacked. Posing as the gallery, hackers send a duplicate, fraudulent invoice from the same gallery email address, with an accompanying message instructing the client to disregard the first invoice and instead wire payment to the account listed in the fraudulent document.

“Casting it in Plaster Monumentalized a Space That is Ignored”: Rachel Whiteread on the Sculptural Elements of Emptiness

British minimalist sculptor Rachel Whiteread (b. 1963) is known for her innovative use of negative space as sculptural object.  Most renowned for her plaster casts of architectural spaces and utilitarian found objects, Whiteread’s haunting, tomb-like works evoke themes of loss, memory, and invisibility. 

Whiteread’s work is currently on view at Monnaie de Paris as part of the Women House Exhibition, which features the work of 39 artists whose work explores the relationship between gender and space; particularly that of the female to a domestic space. She also has a solo show at the Tate Modern in London, closing on January 21. In honor of the artist’s concurrent shows, we’ve revisited an excerpt from Phaidon’s Speaking of Art: Four Decades of Art in Conversation, in which Whiteread spoke with contemporary art critic Michael Archer in 1992 about developing an extensive vocabulary of sculptural mediums, how site-specific works translate into new spaces, and how the installation of a piece can alter its meaning. 

Torbjorn Rodland’s Puzzling Photos Are Unsettling and Arousing

One of the most striking images in the new retrospective of Torbjorn Rodland’s photographs currently on display at C/O Berlingreets visitors as they enter the exhibition. It is a picture of a young woman, lit from the side by a powerful red light, with honey streaming down her cheeks onto her chin. Like many of Mr. Rodland’s works, the image — titled “Goldene Tränen,” or “Golden Tears” — looks like the kind of high-gloss photograph that might appear on a billboard or in a magazine advertisement, but it is unsettling in a way that can be hard to pin down.

Sitting on a windowsill in the gallery, Mr. Rodland explained that the photograph was meant to arouse a variety of reactions depending on a viewer’s cultural interests. An art historian, he said, might see it as a reference to the weeping Virgin Mary, while a 22-year-old consumer of online pornography would see something more obscene. “If there’s only one possible reading of a photograph, then I’m less interested,” Mr. Rodland added. “The photographs are reading you if you’re reading them.”

Is Donald Trump, Wall-Builder-in-Chief, a Conceptual Artist?

Is Donald Trump a conceptual artist?

That’s the intriguing possibility put forth in an online petition Tuesday that seeks to have the group of eight prototypes for Mr. Trump’s controversial Mexican border wall designated a national monument.

The prototypes were built at a cost of $3.3 million in federal funds and unveiled last October along the United States border near San Diego. The petition, sponsored by the puckishly named nonprofit, MAGA (the acronym recalls the President’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again”), seeks to protect the prototypes from demolition by invoking the Antiquities Act of 1906 and characterizes the structures as “a major Land Art exhibition” of “significant cultural value.”

The notion that the prototypes could qualify as conceptual art might seem somewhat far-fetched. They were designed to United States Customs and Border Protection specifications, built to withstand a 30-minute assault from sledgehammers to acetylene torches, and to be difficult to scale or tunnel beneath. Aesthetic considerations are largely secondary to brute strength, but, when viewed up close, the walls collectively have the undeniable majesty of minimalist sculpture.

For an additional article, more images – click here.

Here Are the 15 Biggest Art-World Controversies of 2017

From Dana Schutz’s notorious painting to divisive animal art at the Guggenheim, 2017 was chock full of debate, discussion, and protest.

This year saw unprecedented tumult in the real world—and in the art world, too. There were fiery debates over cultural appropriation and the definition of censorship; a legal tussle over deaccessioning at the Berkshire Museum; and front-page exposés on the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the cultural philanthropy of the Sackler family, and the buyer of Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi.

Below, we recount the biggest headlines and controversies of the year in chronological order. Just don’t expect the debates they ignited to end in 2017.

Art-Fair Economics: Why Small Galleries Do Art Fairs Even When They Don’t Make Money

As the middle market shrinks, many dealers are finding they can’t afford to do fairs—but they can’t afford not to, either.

Think art fairs are all about sold-out booths, comfortable shoes, and exclusive dinner invitations? Think again. For many small to mid-size galleries, fairs—like Art Basel in Basel, which opens to VIPs today—are an increasingly nail-biting gamble that involves paying hundreds of thousands of dollars up front with no guarantee of a payoff.

As the middle market shrinks, many dealers are finding they can’t afford to do fairs—but they can’t afford not to, either. “It’s very hard to estimate what the revenue will be, so a gallery’s decision to do a fair is highly uncertain,” says Olav Velthuis, a professor at the University of Amsterdam who specializes in economic sociology. “People don’t realize that fairs are loss leaders for many small galleries.”

Indeed, fairs—which multiplied from 55 worldwide in 2000 to at least 180 in 2014, according to the 2015 TEFAF art market report—pose an economic riddle for mid-market dealers. It doesn’t cost that much less money for a small gallery to participate in a major fair than a large one, but the stakes are much higher for small businesses. The potential upside, meanwhile, is far greater for large ones. (See the end of this article for a breakdown of galleries’ costs and revenue at Art Basel in Miami Beach.)

Richard Long Knighted (Video)

Richard Long, the four-times Turner Prize nominee and one-time winner (1989) has been knighted in the New Year’s honours list.

Richard has been in the vanguard of conceptual and land art in Britain since he created A Line Made by Walking in 1967, while still a student. This photograph of the path left by his feet in the grass, a fixed line of movement, established a precedent that art could be a journey. Through this medium of walking, time and distance became new subjects for his work. From that time he expanded his walks to wilderness regions all over the world. He mediates his experience of these places, from mountains through to deserts, shorelines, grasslands, rivers and snowscapes, according to archetypal geometric marks and shapes, made by his footsteps alone or gathered from the materials of the place. These walks and temporary works of passage are recorded with photographs, maps and text works, where measurements of time and distance, place names and phenomena are vocabularies for both original ideas and powerful, condensed narratives.

Watch the Video.

Art is not a luxury product like Hermes bags: Larry Gagosian (Video)

Gagosian Gallery owner Larry Gagosian on Friday explained why he doesn’t consider art to be a “luxury good” and how the art world has benefited from globalization.

“It’s not a luxury good. It’s not a luxury product. I mean it may appear to people who buy Hermes bags, but it’s not a Hermes bag. Sometimes people try to categorize it as a luxury. It’s a disservice to art in my opinion. And it really distorts the nature of the market,” he told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on “Wall Street Week.”

Gagosian discussed how globalization has helped fuel the art market and help promote art pieces from around the world.

“So what’s different now is that you can transmit information very quickly. We have sixteen galleries literally all over the world and for instance somebody who works in our gallery in Hong Kong, they have access to a particular painting and they liaison with our gallery in Geneva,” he said. “It’s also allowed collectors to have more communication and to have access to more transparency about prices, which gives the market more confidence.”

Watch the Video

Year in Review: Here Are the Most Talked About Artists of 2017

Year 2017 saw its fair share of controversies, culture wars, and political upheavals, and in some ways, it seems like the art world has run parallel to mainstream culture more than ever in recent decades. Artists have not only responded to the difficult issues that have come to light this year; some have raised controversy themselves. Some new, some old (and some really, really old); some groundbreaking, some irksome—here are, for better or for worse, some of the most talked about artists of 2017.

Peter Doig review – sun, sea and savagery in a troubled paradise

In these grave and noble paintings of our catastrophic age, the Scottish artist uses lurid colours to create bold beach scenes haunted by murders and mangy lions.

The art of Peter Doig takes place in a troubled Arcadia, a place of sunshine, sea and deadly snakes. In his new painting Red Man (Sings Calypso) (2017) a colossal figure stands on a golden beach, his bare – reddish – torso framed by the black iron structure of a coastguard’s platform. The sea is a green band flecked with daubs of white. The pale blue sky is hollowed out by puffy cloud shapes. On the ground, a man lounges in shades with a boa constrictor wrapped around him. Is it a pet or is it strangling him? 

Two Trees is not about trees. It is about violence, and the ease with which it can become normal. He says he got the image of the hockey player from a hockey team he saw in New York who were all wearing desert camouflage. Meanwhile at the centre of the scene, a young man’s downward gaze refers to a killing that took place in his own neighbourhood. A third character, toting a video camera, alludes to the chilling phenomenon of people filming death and disaster instead of trying to help.

So Doig explains, but even without knowing any of that you feel the bejewelled tragic irony of this modern masterpiece. In its majestic, spooky gorgeousness this is a noble and grave picture of our catastrophic age. How magical, to see art that is so obviously destined to endure, when the paint is still practically wet. Peter Doigis a great artist and getting better.

The Weight of History: Richard Serra’s Sculpture and Drawings

Richard Serra told us that he came to a place in his work where he didn’t want people to be simply looking at a single object; he wanted them to experience the work by going through it. “Yes, the walk into, through and around,” he said, so on November 5, 2017, on the morning after the opening of his exhibition “Richard Serra Sculpture and Drawings” at David Zwirner in New York, we sat in the centre space created by Four Rounds: Equal Weight, Unequal Measure, 2017, forged steel, each weighing 82 tons, the tallest measuring 120.5 inches, the least tall measuring 45.75 inches. Ten feet, to less than four.


Homage to Mexico: Josef Albers and His Reality-Based Abstraction

A radiant Guggenheim exhibition grounds the proto-Minimalist abstract paintings of Josef Albers in the geometric grandeur of Mesoamerican monuments.

Art rarely thrives in a vacuum. It is by definition polyglot and in flux, buffeted by the movement of art objects, goods and people across borders and among cultures, and also by individual passion. This much, especially the passion part, is demonstrated by “Josef Albers in Mexico,” a quietly stunning exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum that contrasts Albers’s little-known photographs of the great Mesoamerican monuments of Mexico with his glowing abstract paintings.

The show grounds this German-born artist’s paintings in his Mexican travels between 1935 and 1967, clarifying his creative debt to the pre-Hispanic world. It reveals an artist from one culture being blown away by the achievements of another culture, and making work that might otherwise not have been possible without a change of scene.

These paintings are among the pinnacles of pure abstraction — if you believe in pure abstraction. But this beautiful exhibition may destabilize that faith. All art is reality-based, derived in part from looking long and hard at whatever chooses you. In Albers case, “Homage to Mexico” might have been a more accurate title.

How One Obscure David Hockney Painting Encapsulates the Greatness of His Work

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s big, popular David Hockney retrospective is more than worth your time. As far as I can tell, however, what it reveals is that the conventional opinion of the beloved British painter is basically the right one. His most famous works are also his best works, specifically the late-1960s, early-‘70s cycle making of Los Angeles’s artificial oasis an achieved, if slightly remote, paradise of gay desire.

Since that’s not, maybe, the biggest reveal, I will focus on a single work from Hockney’s golden period to try and explain why: Rubber Ring in a Swimming Pool, from 1971.

Passion, Not Profit, Is the Biggest Motivator for Collectors, a New Study Says

The surprising results from a new study by Swiss bank UBS suggest that profit is rarely a driving factor.

With the 2017 edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach—also known as the art world’s Black Friday—in full swing, Swiss bank UBS has released an extensive survey of art collectors that explores what motivates them, how they decide what to buy, and how they manage their collections.

UBS will release the findings of the survey, titled the “UBS Investor Watch Pulse Report,” on Thursday at its VIP lounge inside Art Basel in the Miami Beach Convention Center. The study consists of findings of interviews with 2,475 high-net-worth US-based individuals with at least $1 million in investable assets during September 2017, including 608 respondents with at least $5 million. Of the total survey respondents, 1,017 are collectors and 363 say they collect fine art.

Perhaps most surprising—and almost unbelievable—in a cash-obsessed art world: the notion that passion, rather than profit, drives most collectors.

The False Narrative of Damien Hirst’s Rise and Fall

The rise and fall of Damien Hirst is an oft-told tale of hubris and nemesis. An art-world superstar in the nineteen-nineties and early two-thousands, Hirst made white-hot works—the most infamous of which involved animals immersed in formaldehyde—whose prices only ever went up. He got rich, his galleries got rich, his collectors got rich, everybody was happy. But, then, in 2008, he got a bit too cocky when he auctioned off two hundred million dollars’ worth of art, fresh from his studio, at Sotheby’s, bypassing dealers entirely. That auction marked the end of Hirst as an art-market darling: his auction volumes and prices dropped, and bitter collectors who had spent millions on his art were left with work worth much less than what they had paid for it.

These days, though, those collectors don’t seem to be so bitter after all. Hirst says that sales from his latest show, in Venice, reached a jaw-dropping three hundred and thirty million dollars as of early November. Even accounting for inflation, that’s substantially more than the two hundred million dollars he racked up at the Sotheby’s auction in 2008. Maybe that day didn’t mark the top of the Hirst market after all.