Amid growing tension resulting from his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, collector and former Apollo Global Management chief executive Leon Black will not seek re-election this summer as the chair of the Museum of Modern Art’s board of trustees, the New York Times reported on Friday. His current term is set to expire on July 1.

Black has been on MoMA’s board since 1997, and in 2018, he was elected as its board chairman. Throughout his tenure on the board, he has supported the museum through major loans and financial donations. In 2012, after he bought Edvard Munch’s 1895 version of The Scream for $120 million at auction, he lent it to MoMA, which displayed it for several months. In 2018, the same year he assumed leadership at the board, he gave $40 million to the museum’s expansion project, and as a result, its film center now bears his name.

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On Thursday, during a sale in London, Sotheby’s auctioneer Oliver Barker unveiled a 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat that the house will offer for sale in its New York contemporary art evening sale on May 12. Titled Versus Medici (1982), the painting is expected to fetch a price of $35 million–$50 million. If the work reaches its low estimate, it will be among the most expensive works by the artist ever sold at auction.

The painting shows influence from Basquiat’s time in Modena, Italy, where he had his first solo show, at Galleria d’Arte Emilio Mazzoli in 1981. The title of the piece references the Renaissance-era Medici family, and it has some of the signature Basquiat motifs—a full skeletal figure, a crown, anatomical drawings and scrawled phrases in the background—that are coveted by collectors.

“In Versus Medici, Basquiat melds the political and art historical as he consciously stages a
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One of Merlin James’s most admirable traits as a painter is that he never—or almost never—repeats himself. He has no trademark look or “brand,” and his solo exhibitions often feel at first like group shows. Over four decades, the Welsh-born artist has produced mostly small- and medium-size works, including abstractions that range from painterly lyricism to assemblage-like constructions. The majority of the paintings, however, are figurative, with a wide array of subject matter—figures, landscapes, urban scenes, still-life arrangements, and meditative combinations thereof.

The eighteen pieces in the exhibition “River” were produced over the past three years and run the gamut technically and compositionally. James pays great attention to each work’s inner frame and bracing structure, which he builds himself. Several wholly abstract pieces—more like sculptural reliefs than paintings—comprise layers of translucent vinyl scrims, so that one looks through the work, as through superimposed panes of window glass. Thematically, however, the Read the rest

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With the right materials and tools, homemade printmaking can be fun for the whole family—yes, really. Some printmaking processes are complicated or require advanced equipment; for screen printing, for example, you need a superfine mesh screen, and lithography uses special ink-bonding and ink-repellent materials. Not so with these products, which generally require little besides a few simple tools, some ink, and your imagination. From gel printing to drypoint to block printing, our picks below are high quality and affordable, and some are simple enough to be used by kids. 

Grafix Impress Monoprint Plates
These plastic plates from Grafix are an excellent affordable option for versatile forms of monoprinting. Similar to a monotype, a monoprint results from applying and manipulating paint to produce a one-of-a-kind impression, but monoprints Read the rest

When collectors form deep friendships with artists, they typically have access to purchasing important examples from those artist’s output. Such is the case with  late Los Angeles philanthropists Morris and Rita Pynoos, whose collection will be sold at Sotheby’s New York this spring.

Rich in modern and contemporary art that the couple began amassing in the 1980s, Sotheby’s will offer pieces by David Hockney and Willem de Kooning in a contemporary art evening sale in May, while work by other major American artists, including John McCracken, Louise Nevelson, and Robert Rauschenberg, will be featured in a contemporary art online day sale.

Morris Pynoos, who was an engineer and commercial developer in California, died in 2002 at the age of 84. His wife Rita Pynoos, who served on the Smithsonian American Art Commission, died in September 2019 at the age of 97. They also donated works from their collection to the … Read the rest

Today, critics of museums’ values point to histories of colonialism and structural racism. Museums, they insist, are anything but neutral. In an essay titled “The Ideal Museum” in the January 1954 issue of ARTnews, British art historian Kenneth Clark considered the hidden politics behind Western institutions, exploring the ways that millennia-old collecting habits among the wealthy influenced how museums were run. ARTnews asked for a response to the essay from Laura Raicovich, the former director of institutions including New York’s Queens Museum and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art and the author of the forthcoming book Culture Strike: Art in an Age of Protest. Raicovich’s first reaction to Clark’s analysis: “It’s pretty dead-on.”

The splendor of the great princely collections [forerunners of modern museums] was … inseparable from an element of snobbishness. Like everything connected with princes and millionaires, they were sometimes no more than a buttress to vanity, Read the rest

In 2013, British painter Lynnette Yiadom-Boakye was shortlisted for a Turner Prize, launching the artist to critical acclaim. (She later lost to Laure Prouvost.) A corresponding exhibition staged at the Centre for Contemporary Art Derry~Londonderry included some of her most important paintings. Now, one of those works showcased there, titled The Like Above All Lovers (2013), is heading to auction.

On March 23, Christie’s will sell the painting, which depicts a single crouching figure pointing a rifle in an open green field and measures at more than 6 feet by 8 feet, during its 20th century art evening sale in London. The painting is expected to fetch a price of £400,000–£600,000 ($555,000–$833,000).

The Turner Prize exhibition was a feat for the artist, with works from the show, such as Appreciation of the Inches (2013) and The Generosity (2010), subsequently acquired by museums, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art … Read the rest

Alongside a monumental Jean Dubuffet painting, Phillips will auction works by Mark Rothko, Frank Stella, Tamara de Lempicka, Mark Tansey, Andy Warhol, John Currin, and Mickalene Thomas in its upcoming 20th century art evening sale in London on April 15.

Among the postwar works headed to auction is Rothko’s Untitled (Black Blue Painting), completed in 1968, at the apex of his career, which will be offered at a price of £2.5 million–£3.5 million ($3.5 million–$4.5 million). It will be sold alongside Stella’s vibrant painting Scramble, Ascending Spectrum/Ascending Green Values (1977), from his “Concentric Square” series, which is estimated at a price of £2.5 million–£3.5 million ($3 million–$4 million). An Art Deco portrait of a woman by Tamara de Lempicka titled Figure esquissée sur fond doré, painted ca. 1930, is estimated at £1.5 million ($1 million).

Duchamp’s L.H.O.O.Q, a 1964 riff on the Mona Lisa from an edition of 35

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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.

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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