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

Monday, March 8

David Kordansky Gallery Now Represents Lucy Bull
David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles has added painter Lucy Bull to its roster. The artist, who has previously exhibited work at Human Resources in Los Angeles, Almine Rech in New York, and other venues, is known for her experimental abstractions. Bull will show new works with the gallery in a show running from March 20 to May 1.

Duggie Fields Has Died at 76
Duggie Fields, the British painter who emerged in the early 1970s with a graphic style and an idiosyncratic fashion sense, has died at 76. The Modern Institute in Glasgow, which announced his death, said that the artist had been battling a long illness. Fields grew up in the English countryside, and first gained attention at 14, when he figured in an exhibition at the Bladon Gallery, Hurstbourne Tarrant. Throughout his career, his work progressed through … Read the rest

On Sunday, the 40-year-old New York gallery Metro Pictures announced that it will close toward the end of 2021.

The announcement email sent by the gallery referenced “a demanding year of pandemic-driven programming, and the anticipated arrival of a very different art world,” and included a statement from gallery founders Helene Winer and Janelle Reiring: “We have decided to announce this difficult decision far in advance of our closing in order to give the artists we represent and our staff time to pursue other options and to allow us to participate in their transitions. We are extremely grateful to all of the brilliant artists we have worked with over the past 40 years and to our excellent staff, who have sustained the gallery and its program. We would also like to thank all of the critics, curators, collectors and fellow dealers with whom we have worked over the years.”

The … Read the rest

In June 2018, a Paris appeals court ruled that American Philadelphia-based collectors Bruce and Robbi Toll must return an 1887 Camille Pissarro gouache titled La Cueillette des Pois (“Picking Peas”) to the heirs of Simon Bauer, the original French-Jewish owner of the work, from whom the painting was seized during WWII.

Now, three years after the initial ruling that returned the work to the Bauer family estate (which includes some 20 heirs), they are selling the impressionist work, which depicts an idyllic scene of six pea harvesters, during an impressionist and modern auction at Sotheby’s in Paris on March 25. The work is expected to fetch a price of €1.2 million-€1.8 million ($1.4 million-$2.1 million).

Toll, a real estate developer, purchased the piece for $880,000 in 1995 at Christie’s. He loaned La Cueillette des Pois (“Picking Peas”) to the Musée Marmottan in Paris for an exhibition around the artist in … Read the rest

The artist, musician, and educator Barbara Ess, a pioneer in the fields of experimental photography and film and a longtime professor of photography at Bard College in upstate New York, has died at age 72. The news was confirmed in an email announcement by Ess’s gallery, Magenta Plains in New York.

“Ess was a radical force and approached her life and work with enormous spirit, fearlessness, humor, and intellect,” Magenta Plains’s read. Ess became known for her photographs of daily life that are imbued with a disquieting, contemplative edge. The artist once said that the aim of her work was to “transform the ordinary into the symbolic and reveal meaning in the apparently mundane.”

Born in Brooklyn in 1948, Ess studied philosophy and English literature at the University of Michigan. After graduating in 1969, she worked as an editor at the political magazine War Peace Reporting. In 1971, she … Read the rest

Following a strong start to its spring season in London, Christie’s has announced the promotion of two executives in its New York chairman’s office. Bonnie Brennan has been appointed as the president of Christie’s Americas. She previously served as the chairman of business development reporting from the New York office. Brennan is filling the role previously held by Jennifer Zatorski, who has been appointed to the newly-created position of Global Managing Director of Strategic Initiatives reporting to the office of Christie’s CEO, Guillaume Cerutti.

The news follows a tumultuous year of staff restructuring and an overhaul of the traditional sales schedule at the house, bringing Christie’s, along with its competitors into a new era of live-streamed auctions and virtual channels that have blurred long existing boundaries between international sale centers.

In her new role, Brennan, who has worked at Christie’s for eight years, will head initiatives around strategic business development, … Read the rest

On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that he would end the state’s mask mandate and allow businesses to operate at 100 percent capacity. Mandatory safety measures and restrictions are set to be lifted on March 10, raising questions for art institutions in the state adhering to protocols that require visitors and staff to wear face masks and practice social distancing within their galleries. Many museums in Texas, which reopened last summer, have also limited the number of visitors each day.

Reached by ARTnews, five major museums in Texas have said that the governor’s move to reopen the state will not change the safety measures that they’ve had in place for much of the last year. The Dallas Museum of Art, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Menil Collection in Houston said that their … Read the rest