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Kobel's Art Weekly

Art Brussels 2023; photo Stefan Kobel
Art Brussels 2023; photo Stefan Kobel
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 17 2023

Jens Bülskämper opens his good-humoured tour of Art Brussels for Monopol with a detailed appreciation of the fair's successful and publicity friendly charity campaign with good art for little money: "But that's over now, Art Brussels has come up with a successful gimmick for a good cause: numerous artists at the fair contributed a picture in postcard format to declare war on childhood cancer with 'KickCancer'. The great project attracted 320 proud submissions. Many successful 'minis' were undoubtedly submitted in the handy pocket format, as the large show wall of the cabinet pieces right at the entrance to the fair shows. There you can now access them as you wish and choose, away from the wall - but, this too is an interesting idea, without being told who the artists are; the name only comes with the purchase. [...] In fact, half of the works are already sold out on the first day. So the run on the other half is on - for a flat 400 euros you're in. A drawing by Amy Sillman for 400 euros? Say what?!"

Eva Karcher highlights the self-evident features of a regional art fair in her report from Brussels for the Tagesspiegel: Director Nele "Verhaeren emphasises the fair's 'Europeanness' with sustainability. 'We follow the ESG criteria of environment, social and governance/corporate governance and make a point of ensuring that the dealers and factories, as well as our visitors, travel by train and car as far as possible'. This slight departure from the globalism generally aimed for so far is acceptable as long as it does not seem too dogmatic or lower the overall high quality level of Art Brussels."

"10 Highlights of Art Brussels" have been compiled by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas Artnet-like for WELTKUNST (even paywalled). I was in Brussels for Artmagazine.

Miart in Milan has been somewhat overlooked in the international press. In a strongly narrative report, Victor Sattler at Monopol explains the fair's wooing of out-of-town galleries: "That's why it's trying particularly hard to attract its 'Emergent' section with 25 relatively new participants who have come all the way from Los Angeles or Saõ Paulo. As an incentive, they have been provided with nice hotel rooms by the fair. 'We're only a 15-minute walk from our hotel, which totally made setting up the stand easier, being so close,' says one Olympia Gallery staff member from New York. 'Her morning commute is further shortened because the 'Emergent' section is so prominently placed right at the entrance to the fairgrounds - no one can get past it."

The Dallas Art Fair also receives little attention nationally. Carlie Porterfield of The Art Newspaper, on the other hand, is enthusiastic as usual about the up-and-coming fair: "Now in its 15th year, Texas's flagship art fair has developed a reputation for its convivial, laid-back atmosphere that reflects the South's slower pace. Dealers say they often close on deals several days into the fair, and there's less of a rush to buy during the VIP preview. Collectors often visit stands multiple times over the run of the fair before making purchases. [...] With around 90 exhibitors, this year marks the largest the fair has been since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and [fair director Kelly] Cornell says the event has bounced back after several years of rebuilding. She adds, 'The bruises are gone.'"

Annabel Keenan writes in The Art Newspaper: "While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA) has spent the past year-and-a-half creating a sustainability roadmap to reduce the climate impact of its annual Art Show fair. From biodegradable exhibitor badges to energy-efficient lighting, the roadmap provides sustainable alternatives for every aspect of production. The document will be publicly available to benefit other fairs and exhibitors, and highlights the products vendors should expect to provide in the future."

The French auction house Artcurial is expanding further with a stake in Beurret Bailly Widmer Auktionen in Basel, reports Bettina Wohlfarth in the FAZ: "The merger will enable Artcurial to gain a foothold in Switzerland and expand its European network outside the EU. The Basel auction house, which will retain its managing directors and organisation, should benefit from the integration into Artcurial's widely dispersed activities. Costs and shares of the transaction were not disclosed."

With his entry for the Sony World Photography Award, Boris Eldragsen wanted to point out the problematic relationship between (photo) art and AI-generated images. He promptly won, but returned the prize. Alex Greenberger reports on the organisers' snubbed reaction at Artnews : "Eldagsen, who had won in the creative category, urged the jury to give his prize money to a photography festival in Odesa, Ukraine, instead. The World Photography Organization frowned upon Eldagsen's work and his response to winning. In a statement, the organisation said, 'As he has now decided to decline his award we have suspended our activities with him and in keeping with his wishes have removed him from the competition. Given his actions and subsequent statement noting his deliberate attempts at misleading us, and therefore invalidating the warranties he provided, we no longer feel we are able to engage in a meaningful and constructive dialogue with him.'" In his blog Eldagsen complains about the behaviour and communication of the organisation.

While Bavaria still refuses to restitute a Picasso painting from the former collection of Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, solutions have been found in other cases, reports Christiane Fricke in the Handelsblatt: "In four other cases of Picasso sales by Mendelssohn-Bartholdy to the art dealer Thannhauser, an agreement has already been reached. MoMA, the Guggenheim Museum and the Andrew Llloyd Webber Foundation reached settlements with the heirs. The National Gallery Washington decided to return the work. Meanwhile, the city of Düsseldorf decided to end the still unresolved dispute with the Canadian estate of the Jewish art dealer Max Stern, thus polishing up the image tarnished in the Max Stern case. Friedrich Wilhelm von Schadow's portrait 'The Artist's Children' is now to be restituted after all, but will be reacquired for the city's collection against payment of a 'reasonable' price."

Lebanese-Belgian collector and dealer Nazem Ahmad has been charged in New York on suspicion of terrorist financing and his assets have been frozen in the UK, reports Benjamin Sutton in The Art Newspaper: "The investigation that led to Tuesday's indictments-involving DHS as well as the US departments of Commerce, Justice, the State and Treasury-found that after sanctions were imposed upon Ahmad in December 2019, entities under his control or acting on his behalf allegedly continued to transact in the US, importing goods worth more than $207m and exporting goods worth more than $234m, primarily art and diamonds." The Faz summarises the report in German.

In the inheritance dispute over the Roman Villa Ludovisi, the Texas widow of the prince has now had to pack her bags, reports James Imam in The Art Newspaper. For the FAZ of 22 April, Karen Krüger reports on the eviction: "Bante Boncompagni Ludovisi, a type of hateful landlord and Nicolò's youngest offspring, had already set up in front of the villa at nine o'clock in the morning to see it 'freed from this woman'. She's not a real princess, he joked; as an American, she obviously thinks she's above Italy's laws. What the foreign press writes: all wrong. His father was 'not in his right mind' when he wrote his will." Marta Giusti's eyewitness account is classified by the Italian portal Il Gazzettino under "Gossip".

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