Dismay in Chihuly's Studio Over Recent Lawsuit Against Him

The famed glass artist Dale Chihuly, whose works are currently on view at the New York Botanical Garden, is the subject of a lawsuit brought by a former contractor. The plaintiff, Michael Moi, is alleging that he worked for years as an uncredited assistant and claims that he is due co-authorship of many works. The Chihuly estate counters that Moi was in fact a "handyman" for the studio initially hired to do roof repairs.

Mr. Chihuly, whose health is failing at age 75, has never hidden the fact that he works with assistants. Given the scale of many of the works produced in his 34,000 sq. foot, the fact that others would assist seems unsurprising. Moreover, Chihuly has not hidden the fact that he has worked with assistants for decades (in fact, generations have glass artisans have essentially apprenticed at his studio).

Further complicating the dispute is the fact that Moi, prior to filing his lawsuit, reportedly demanded USD $21 million and threatened to reveal the artist's struggles with bipolar disorder if not paid. The issue of Mr. Chihuly's mental health is re-capitulated in the current lawsuit in a strikingly ad hominem swipe:

"For years Leslie Chihuly and Chihuly Studio have undertaken efforts to hide Dale’s struggles with mental health and his inability to work on a daily basis, not to protect him, but to ensure that the cash cow known as ‘Chihuly’ continued to moo.”

Photo by Kyle Johnson for The New York Times

Government Entity Committee on Arts and Humanities Resigns En Masse after Trump's Charlottesville Response

President Trump's Committee on Arts and Humanities, which is chaired by Melania Trump, has resigned en masse following the dissolution of Trump's business, manufacturing and infrastructure advisory councils.

This development raises the question: Trump had an arts and humanities advisory committee?

In fact, the group was assembled under President Obama's administration and had never actually convened since President Trump assumed office. Unlike the other committees that disappeared this week, however, the arts and humanities advisory committee was an actual government entity rather than just an informal assemblage.

The resignation statement was signed by all members of the committee, which included painter and photographer Chuck Close and novelist Jhumpa Lahiri.

Kara Walker's Upcoming Fall Show

Despite the onset of late August torpor that afflicts much of the New York art world annually, the heartbreaking and surreal events of the last week are already registering profoundly in the lead-up to fall gallery exhibitions.

New work by Kara Walker for her upcoming fall show at Sikkema Jenkins

New work by Kara Walker for her upcoming fall show at Sikkema Jenkins

Sikkema Jenkins's press release for its upcoming show of new work by Kara Walker features a striking statement reflecting a tangle of conflicting emotions, including anger, resentment, defiance and resignation.

The first part of the press release consists solely of the 300-word title show, which is a wry commentary on the contemporary artworld: "Sikkema Jenkins and Co. is Compelled to present the most Astounding and Important Painting show of the fall Art Show viewing season! Collectors will flock to see the latest Kara Walker offerings, and what is she offering but the Finest Selection or artworks by an African American Living Woman Artist this side of the Mississippi..."

As described by Blake Gopnik, the remainder of the press release essentially consists of an artist's statement that Walker completed last weekend while the events in Charlottesville were unfolding.

Walker's statement (published on Sikkema Jenkins website) is as follows:

Artist’s Statement

I don’t really feel the need to write a statement about a painting show. I know what you all expect from me and I have complied up to a point. But frankly I am tired, tired of standing up, being counted, tired of “having a voice” or worse “being a role model.” Tired, true, of being a featured member of my racial group and/or my gender niche. It’s too much, and I write this knowing full well that my right, my capacity to live in this Godforsaken country as a (proudly) raced and (urgently) gendered person is under threat by random groups of white (male) supremacist goons who flaunt a kind of patched together notion of race purity with flags and torches and impressive displays of perpetrator-as-victim sociopathy. I roll my eyes, fold my arms and wait. How many ways can a person say racism is the real bread and butter of our American mythology, and in how many ways will the racists among our countrymen act out their Turner Diaries race war fantasy combination Nazi Germany and Antebellum South – states which, incidentally, lost the wars they started, and always will, precisely because there is no way those white racisms can survive the earth without the rest of us types upholding humanity’s best, keeping the motor running on civilization, being good, and preserving nature and all the stuff worth working and living for?

Anyway, this is a show of works on paper and on linen, drawn and collaged using ink, blade, glue and oil stick. These works were created over the course of the Summer of 2017 (not including the title, which was crafted in May). It’s not exhaustive, activist or comprehensive in any way.

Syrian Antiquities Victim to ISIS Laundering

Although ISIS has recently been losing its territorial grip, the trade in stolen art and cultural artifacts directed by the organization seems to be booming, according to a new report by the Wall Street Journal.

Objects looted from Iraq and Syria typically undergo a tortuous journey en route to destinations in Europe and the United States with dealers fabricating false paper trails for works and that are then hidden in storage.

It is anticipated that many such works will kept from public view for a decade or more in an attempt to "launder" them before they are introduced to the broader art market. Even after the illicit trade slows, the effort to identify and repatriate stolen artwork from the region will likely extend far into the future.

Alice Cooper's rock'n'roll warhol

Little Electric Chair. Photo courtesy of Alice Cooper.

Little Electric Chair. Photo courtesy of Alice Cooper.

Heavy metal musician and "Godfather of Shock Rock" Alice Cooper recently discovered that he has unknowingly owned a "Little Electric Chair" painting by Andy Warhol since 1972. The musician developed a friendship with Warhol in the early 1970s they both frequented Max's Kansas City. Warhol reportedly thought the painting, which depicts the electric chair at the notorious Sing Sing prison, was appropriate for Cooper, who performed a fake electrocution in his stage show.

It appears that Cooper purchased the work for USD $2,500 in 1972, but forgot that he done so. Cooper describes this period in his life as "a swirl of drink and drugs," and he was also admitted to a psychiatric hospital shortly thereafter.

The painting, which has never been stretched, was discovered rolled up in a tube in storage space owned by Cooper.

Comparable works from the "Little Electric Chair" series have sold at auction for up to USD $11.6 million.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/jul/24/alice-cooper-andy-warhol-little-electric-chair?CMP=share_btn_fb

Art Dealer of Fake Hirst Editions Caught - Again!


Charges were filed yesterday in New York City against a dealer, Vincent Lopreto, for allegedly conspiring to sell fake editions from Damien Hirst's "dot" series of paintings. Lopreto allegedly passed off as genuine some USD $400,000 worth of counterfeit Hirst prints. Lopreto was apprehended after an undercover operation by the NYPD. Lopreto and his associates reportedly created fake certificates of authenticity and purchase receipts to establish fraudulent provenance.

Incredibly, Lopreto apparently began his most recent scheme only 15 days after being released from prison after serving a sentence for...selling fake Damien Hirst works.

Photo courtesy of New York District Attorney

Basquiat, The Art World's Homecoming King.

Following the Sotheby's recent sale of Jean Michel-Basquiat's untitled painting from 1982 for a record-shattering USD $110 million, there is a proliferation of significant Basquiat paintings on offer at Art Basel this year. Julia Halperin of Artnet News has posted a summary of all of the Basquiat works that dealers have brought to Basel for this year's fair. The combined asking prices for all eight works tops USD $89 million. Notably, several of the works have been sold publicly within the last several years and are now being re-offered with precipitous price increases. For example, the painting "Baby Boom" is being offered by Lévy Gorvy for USD $35 million, which represents a 2,900% price increase since it was auctioned at Phillips in 2001.

Art Basel Takes Aim at Adidas

Just two weeks prior to the opening of the annual Swiss edition of the art fair, Art Basel has filed a lawsuit against the German sportswear and sneaker manufacturer Adidas.

The suit stems from an event at last year's Miami edition of the fair, where Adidas staged an event with dancers wearing a version of the manufacturer's "EQT" running sneakers with the words "Art Basel" printed on the tongue.

Adidas gave away 1,000 pairs of the sneakers. None of the promotional sneakers were sold by the company, although some pairs have subsequently turned up in the very active limited-edition sneaker re-sale market.

The company which owns the Art Basel fairs contends that the sneakers have tarnished the Art Basel "brand" and is seeking damages along with destruction of any remaining examples of the trainer.