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Kobel's Art Weekly

Exhibition Worth Fighting For in Cologne
Exhibition Worth Fighting For in Cologne
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 46 2022

Banksy appears to have travelled to Ukraine himself and enhanced ruins there with his graffiti, reports dpa: "With several works, the anonymous street artist Banksy has immortalised himself in war-torn Ukraine. On his Instagram channel and website, Banksy posted a picture of a work on a destroyed house on Friday night. But other works in several Ukrainian cities are also by the world-famous artist, according to the British news agency PA, citing Banksy's PR agency. According to the report, Banksy has left his mark in the capital Kiev as well as in the heavily destroyed suburbs of Borodyanka and Irpin." In fact, the rebuilding of the houses could at least be partly financed by selling the removed pictures.

In Cologne, parallel to Art Cologne and beyond, the exhibition "Worth Fighting For" is taking place on 2,400 square metres, initiated and co-organised by Zilkens Fine Art. It is a combination of three exhibitions: "We are defending our Freedom" at the Venice Biennale, "When Faith Moves Mountains" at the Pinchuk Art Centre in Kiev and "Russian War Crimes" in Davos, Switzerland.

The US-based Sunflower Network currently offers art by Ukrainian artists in its online gallery Sonya, the sale of which funds aid for Ukraine.

With more than 1.5 billion US dollars in proceeds for the collection of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Christie's has once again made art market history. Barbara Kutscher summarises the auction for the Handelsblatt: "In just two auctions, the house in New York took in 1.62 billion dollars for 155 masterpieces spanning five centuries. An all-round spectacular success for Christie's! Both with the New York public, who came just to look. And also with collectors from 32 countries, who fought over the bids in the very well-managed auction on the evening of 9 November and the following morning. He was surprised by the depth of bidding interest, said Alex Rotter, Chairman 20/21 Art Departments, after a superlative auction on Wednesday evening, 'and in these times'. Before the hammer came down for the first time, at least 76 lots were pre-sold by so-called 'irrevocable bids', but very rarely did works fall to their guarantors. The collection sold at 100 per cent and consistently very strong prices for a previously unheard of $1.62 billion."

Angelica Villa and Daniel Cassidy comment in their follow-up report at Artnews: "If there was ever a sign that billionaire wealth is insulated from an economic downturn, it was this evening's results. Collector Alberto Mugrabi told ARTnews that the night's bidding activity, which moved the sale result past $1 billion only midway through, showed 'no signs of a recession'. Twenty records, for artists spanning decades of the art historical canon from Gustav Klimt to Andrew Wyeth, were set during the sale."
If they are not mistaken. The current Hurun China Rich List, the Chinese equivalent of the well-known Forbes list, records a partly dramatic decline in wealth among China's richest.

The world's shortest art fair has just taken place in Shanghai. Only one day after its opening, Art021 was cancelled because, according to Lisa Movius in The Art Newspaper, a security guard had tested positive for Covid.

In Paris, two high-profile fairs took place at the same time. Bernhard Schulz visited the merger of two fairs for art and antiques for the Tagesspiegel: "In addition, two Paris fairs have joined forces to make their presence felt under the new name Fine Arts Paris & La Biennale. This November, the venue is once again the Carrousel du Louvre, before the move to the completely renovated Grand Palais is scheduled for 2024. The rooms of the Carrousel are elegantly furnished so that the 86 participating galleries are shown to their best advantage, even with different stand sizes. The principle of this hybrid fair is to mix the 14 categories represented, from Old Master paintings to non-European art, in a colourful way. None of the categories stands out quantitatively, neither the old masters nor the arts and crafts traditionally strong in France, from inlaid desks to gilded candlesticks."

At the Paris Photo held in parallel, Olga Grimm-Weissert took a look for the Handelsblatt: "The overall impression of this 25th edition with a good 180 exhibitors, including publishers, is satisfactory. Not any more. The director of Paris Photo, Florence Bourgeois, looks worried. If the fair is not a commercial success for the exhibitors and the organiser RX France, it could threaten their existence. This is exactly what happened to the 'Fiac' fair, also organised by RX France. It had financial problems in the Corona years, claim rumours in Paris. Since the French Ministry of Culture, to which the United Museums and the Grand Palais are subordinate, insists on reliable payment of their rents, the October date of the Fiac was unceremoniously given to the competitor 'Art Basel'."

In Luxembourg, Christiane Meixner visited a qualitatively stronger Luxembourg Art Week for the Tagesspiegel: "Launched in 2015 with financial support from the city, which wanted to establish an art market for its region, Luxembourg Art Week has grown into a serious platform. Barely 20 galleries took part in the beginning, and now far more interested parties apply than can be accommodated. Although the fair has moved from the Victor Hugo Hall to a large, centrally installed tent that still offers space. Before that, however, the Commitée wants to further raise the quality of the fair - which also means that some first-time participants will no longer be represented."

Maxime Vaudano and Jérémie Baruch reveal details about the art collection and financial dealings of Sotheby's owner Patrick Drahi at Le Monde: "A battalion of tax experts, a possibly backdated contract and several Caribbean shell companies: These were the components of the operation that allowed Patrick Drahi to avoid paying taxes on the transfer of his vast artwork collection, estimated to be worth at least €750 million. This aggressive tax optimization strategy flirts with the edge of legality, according to an investigation conducted by Le Monde and the Swiss magazine The emails, sales contracts, internal memos and spreadsheets that helped piece together this story were among the many confidential documents stolen by the cybercriminal group Hive after hacking Altice, Patrick Drahi's holding company. They were published online in August after the ransom demand was left unsatisfied. Le Monde decided to use this data despite its criminal origin because of its public interest." Alex Greenberger has some juicy details for Artnews: "Leaked documents also revealed information about Drahi's financial manoeuvres related to his collection last year. In October 2021, Drahi transferred ownership of his art collection between two companies in St Vincent and the Grenadines, known tax havens in the Caribbean. Those companies are named Angelheart Ltd and Forever Ltd. The move came after the European Union instated a new tax policy, ATAD2 (Anti Tax Avoidance Directive), targeting capital gain tax. Drahi has said he does not comment on his 'private life'to various outlets."

The German Foreign Office has made allowances for German culture abroad, reports dpa: "The Goethe-Institut, Germany's international cultural flagship, can now expect 235 million euros after the originally planned 219.9 million euros. In the current budget it was 233 million euros, 17 million euros less than last year. 'In terms of grants, with the stipulation of a strategic reorientation, the area of foreign cultural and educational policy is well secured financially,' it said."

Susanne Schreiber presents a database on looted art from Benin in the Handelsblatt: "There are around 900 of these breathtakingly beautiful looted works of art, around which many debates about return to Nigeria, loan or some other kind of partnership are entwined. This week, the platform 'Digital Benin' was launched in Berlin. With 5246 works from the Kingdom of Benin in 12,000 images, it brings together almost all works of art that were created before the British raid in 1897 and were purchased for museums until 1930. For the first time, 131 museums from 20 countries have collaborated to achieve this."

In a statement sent via Instagram story on Friday, Berlin's König Galerie announced that it was ending its collaboration with Monica Bonvicini. Monopol quotes from it: "'We consider this to be the right step in view of the persistent rumours and the reactions in the social media, the nature of which is that we cannot refute them and can only counter them in a limited way. What is true, however, is that there is currently not a single investigative or judicial proceeding, civil or criminal, against Johann König.'' Only on Tuesday, Soup du Jour, an anonymous feminist [sic!] collective from Berlin, published an open letter to Monica Bonvicini on social media, asking for clarification of the artist's relationship with König Galerie."

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