What Is Leonardo’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ Really Selling? Cracking the $100 Million da Vinci Code

Jesus saves, but the buyer of da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ will spend—a lot. The signs all point one way: Christie’s upcoming sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s spooky Salvator Mundi is the latest and perhaps most convincing portent that we are living in the End Times. In the Bible, Christ and his apostles held their property in common. Now, this image […]

Vito Acconci, Transgressive Progenitor of Performance Art, Dies at 77

The Bronx-born artist came to fame in the 1970s with an array of unsettling work. Vito Acconci, a towering figure with influences on both performance art and experimental architecture, has died at the age of 77. A cause of death has not been confirmed by the estate. Born in the Bronx in 1940, Acconci worked as […]

What to Make of MoMA’s Stand on Trump’s Travel Ban

This week, New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) rehung its prized Modern galleries, swapping out works by greats like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso for works by artists from the Muslim-majority countries affected by President Trump’s travel ban. It’s not exactly as if MoMA has draped itself in a “Muslim Lives Matter” banner. Still, this rapid response, […]

Jordan Wolfson’s Creepy Robot Art Reboots Jeff Koons

Jordan Wolfson’s art delights me a little—which may be a strange thing to say for an artist whose most recent installation centers on a human-like robot being brutally tortured for the entertainment of its spectators. But Wolfson (b. 1980) delights me because I have this hypothesis that contemporary art—one of its strands, at least, particularly the […]

Do You Have to Be Rich to Make It as an Artist?

Art is a self-starting, entrepreneurial activity, and what is true of entrepreneurs in general is perhaps true of artists. “[T]he most common shared trait among entrepreneurs is access to financial capital—family money, an inheritance, or a pedigree and connections that allow for access to financial stability….,” Quartz recently explained, debunking the cult of the entrepreneur as visionary risk-taker. “When […]

The Most Important Art Essays of the Year

This time last year, my editor asked me to put together a list of the most important essays of 2014, and I drew a blank. I asked around. By far the most common answer I got from peers was, “Nothing comes to mind.” Even the professionals, who’ve got their eyes glued to this stuff like Malcolm McDowell […]

Does the New Whitney Museum Herald a Golden Age for New York Institutions?

The Whitney Museum of American Art’s Meatpacking District museum, opening May 1, is fiercely awaited. In its new building, designed by Renzo Piano, the galleries and sculpture gardens will nearly double the museum’s previous exhibition space, with two floors devoted to showing off its collection. The museum expects to take in spillover from the millions of yearly […]

Jeff Koons as the Art World’s Great White Hope

Midway through the Whitney Museum’s Jeff Koons retrospective, you come upon “Banality.” The series, unveiled in 1988 at three galleries concurrently (Sonnabend in New York, Donald Young in Chicago, and Max Hetzler in Cologne), made Koons the neo-Pop god that he is today. It consists of a series of man-sized kitsch figurines. “In my ‘Banality’ series I started […]

Ways of Seeing Instagram

Richard Prince is making art by recycling Instagram screenshots. Dealers are hawking art via Instagram. The Met has even retained an Instagram guru “to play catch-up to figure out how best to exploit this online pictorial medium.” A four-year-old app is dominating the art conversation as no purely art-related topic is.   Perhaps it’s not surprising that the average person would be […]

Pierre Soulages, Happy to Stay in the Dark

“What do you think about the future?,” Hans Ulrich Obrist asks French painterPierre Soulages in the catalogue for his current double exhibition at Dominique Lévy and Emmanuel Perrotin galleries. “It doesn’t belong to me,” he answers. That’s an astute assessment of the work, even if it is also part of the stubborn charm of his black paintings.

On Art and Investment, Ben’s view

Money continues to pour into art, and with it, stories multiply about art’s manipulation by callow titans of finance. Speaking of the recent decade, one pundit said not so long ago: “The conversation has turned from ‘Is art an asset class?’ to ‘Art is an asset class,’ and then to ‘How do we take advantage […]