Robert A. Ellison Jr. started collecting ceramics in the 1960s and, in the decades since, helped transform the ways that ceramics are regarded and the histories that inform different traditions throughout the ages. Now 88 years old, Ellison has given momentous gifts to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which since 2009 has acquired more than 600 works from his collection spanning several centuries. His latest donation of 125 works of modern and contemporary ceramic art figures in “Shapes from Out of Nowhere: Ceramics from the Robert A. Ellison Jr. Collection,” an exhibition and accompanying publication devoted to abstract and non-representational ceramics from the early 20th century to the present. On the phone with ARTnews, Ellison talked about the transition of his early interest from painting to ceramics, how he trained his eye, and how it feels to give his many decades’ worth of holdings away.

Where are you staying Read the rest

After announcing that it had consolidated its modern and contemporary art departments last year, Christie’s has now revealed plans to adjust how it conducts its marquee evening sales in New York, beginning with its May auctions, which are typically seen as the bellwethers of the art market. Traditionally, works from the postwar era—Pollocks, Rothkos, and others—would be sold alongside more contemporary works from the 1980s onward. Now, the Pollocks will be sold next to Monets and Picassos.

As part of this rebranding change, which in part accounts for the continued dominance of contemporary art and recent rise of a kind of digital art known as NFTs, Christie’s will now host a “20th and 21st Century Marquee Week” that will divide the art being sold into two umbrellas: “20th Century Art,” a long century that will include art made between the 1880s and the 1980s, and “21st Century Art,” art made … Read the rest

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Ars longa, vita brevis, the old saying goes, though it’s worth noting that a principal tool for disseminating our knowledge of art—the exhibition—is as transitory as life itself. Shows open, then close, and even major traveling surveys are usually around for only a year or so. If you aren’t a globe-trotting art professional, or you somehow missed an important exhibition even though it was just down the street, you can still see a show through its catalog. Like the best exhibitions, the best exhibition catalogs are works of scholarship often years, even decades, in the making. Many of them, in fact, offer a deeper reading of the subject at hand than the original show and deserve a place on any bookshelf devoted to art history and critical theory. … Read the rest

Monday, March 15

Garrett Bradley’s Time Nominated for Academy Award
Time, a critically acclaimed documentary by artist Garrett Bradley, has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Bradley, who recently joined Lisson Gallery, is currently the subject of a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art co-organized with the Studio Museum in Harlem. Time focuses on Fox Rich, an abolitionist activist, and her attempts to get her husband out of prison; Bradley won the directing award for it at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

Longtime Director of Kimbell Art Museum’s Conservation Department to Leave
Claire M. Barry will step down as director of the conservation department of Fort Worth’s Kimbell Art Museum at the end of this month. Barry will continue to collaborate with the museum on a consultative basis before transitioning to the position of director of conservation emerita on April 1. Barry … Read the rest

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has received a gift of 31 paintings, sculptures, and drawings by 20 American artists from ARTnews Top 200 Collectors Pamela J. Joyner and Alfred J. Giuffrida. The donation includes pieces by Elizabeth Catlett, Beauford Delaney, Norman Lewis, Richard Mayhew, and other artists. 

Neal Benezra, the director of SFMOMA who announced earlier this year that he will step down from the helm of the institution, said in a statement, “These important works strengthen the museum’s collection in critical ways and allow us to present a richer, more expansive picture of art history.”

Based in the Bay Area, Joyner and Giuffrida are known worldwide for their collection of abstract works by Black artists of several generations. Giving advice to collectors starting out in the field, Joyner, who joined the board of SFMOMA in 2020, once said, “Figure out where the vacuum is, where Read the rest

If you hoped that the revelation of the buyer of Beeple’s $69 million (42329.453 ETH) Everyday: The First 5,000 Days would help you understand the mind-boggling sale at Christie’s or the value of NFTs, you had no luck today. The auction house announced this afternoon that the buyer uses the pseudonym Metakovan and is the proprietor of an NFT investment fund called Metapurse.

Twobadour, whose position is described as “Steward of Metapurse,” describes Metapurse as a collection of “iconic or culturally significant NFTs.” Metakovan, who was a “Bitcoin OG,” according to the Twobadour. He invested in cryptocurrency from the “early to middling days” around 2013 when Bitcoin cost $13 (it trades around $57,500 today.)

Metakovan and Metapurse have been been funding acquiring NFTs since late 2016. “We haven’t sold a single NFT,” the Steward of Metapurse adds. “There isn’t a business model as such because there are no customers or … Read the rest

Werner Haftmann has long been considered one of postwar Germany’s most important art historians. He wrote important texts that staked a claim for the art that the Nazis had labeled “degenerate,” and he advocated for a return to the educational principles of the Bauhaus movement. He was also influential in the development of Documenta and served as the founding director of Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie from 1967 to 1974. Now, new research points to evidence that Haftmann lied about being a member of the SA, the Nazi Party’s paramilitary wing.

The findings were published in an article for Hamburg-based weekly newspaper Die Ziet written by writer Karin Wieland and sociologist Heinz Bude, who is also the founding director of the Documenta Institute, a new organization that is conducting research into Documenta’s history.

“Probably no other art historian in the early Federal Republic was as influential as Werner Haftmann,” Bude and Wieland … Read the rest

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During Conceptual art’s height in the early 1970s, critics proclaimed that painting was dead. It wasn’t the first time that painting’s obituary had been prematurely written, and may not even be the last, but for now, such sentiments are exceedingly rare as more artists than ever take up a brush. Painting’s resilience draws from a rich history that, whatever period or genre is your jam, is best experienced at a museum or gallery. Unfortunately, the pandemic has made visiting either harder to do. Luckily, there’s a next best thing: Diving into a book about painting. Tomes on the subject are myriad, of course, and come in different flavors, including exhibition catalogs, artist monographs, and critical writings. But they all offer a window into a medium that just won’t quit. … Read the rest

On Tuesday, ahead of its upcoming London evening sales scheduled for the end of the month, Christie’s saw a stable performance during its New York mid-season ‘Postwar to Present’ auction, focused on offerings by emerging and mid-career blue-chip artists. Generating a total of $23 million with premium, the sale realized an 86 percent sell-through rate across 120 lots. The total came out to a solid 23 percent above the pre-sale expectation of $18.9 million (with fees.)

With records for Derrick Adams, Elaine de Kooning, Lucas Samaras and Jammie Holmes, the result is on par with the equivalent March 2020 total of $22 million. The total is up slightly from the previous year’s comparable sale, which achieved $20.9 million. Following Phillips historic-high total for its ‘New Now’ sale last week, the outcome at Christie’s signals steady demand in the middle market.

Demand was strong throughout the sale: 37 percent of the … Read the rest

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam will put works by women artists of the 17th-century on permanent display in its central Gallery of Honor for the first time in its over 220-year history. According to the Spanish newspaper El País, three paintings—two portraits and one still life—by Judith Leyster, Gesina ter Borch, and Rachel Ruysch will be hung alongside pieces by Frans Hals, Jan Vermeer, and Rembrandt.

The decision comes as the Rijksmuseum and other encyclopedic art institutions around the world work to fill in gaps in their collections and exhibitions. Following its temporary, pandemic-related closure, the Rijksmuseum will open a presentation focused on the colonial past of the Netherlands.

“By asking ourselves questions and by studying various sources and objects, in addition to their exhibition, we try to give a more complete picture of the Netherlands,” Taco Dibbits, director of the Rijksmuseum, told El País.

Jenny Reynaerts, curator of … Read the rest