Art En Route

Art en Route: Nicole Eisenman’s ‘Sketch for a Fountain,’ François Xavier Lalanne’s Sheep Sculptures at Auction, and More

Nicole Eisenman, Sketch for a Fountain (detail), 2017 (cast 2018–19), bronze.


Artworks are in constant motion, traveling between galleries, museums, and other art spaces. To track where certain works get shown and how they get acquired, ARTnews has launched a new column, Art en Route, which will showcase significant auction results and report on additions to collections across the globe that may have flown under the radar. Tune in every two weeks for a rundown of some of the most notable acquisitions, loans, and sales in the news cycle. 

One of the most important acquisitions this month may be just a couple years old, though it already has a contentious history. The Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas announced earlier this month that it now owns an edition of Nicole Eisenman‘s five-part sculpture Sketch for a Fountain, which was first presented (and vandalized) at the 2017 edition of Skulptur Projekte Münster, a once-every-10-years sculpture show held in Germany. The private initiative Dein Brunnen für Münster is still working to raise funds to purchase an edition of the work for the German city, and a variant of it will be installed at 401 Park, a new development in Boston, this summer. 

The Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, has added to its holdings a seven-foot-tall work from Stephen Antonakos’s series of neon canvases—Untitled Neon Canvas (for Michael Krichman), 1986, which features two neon fixtures set against a deep blue background.

In Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian Archives of American Art got Jorge Tacla’s drawings, correspondence, clippings, and papers, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum added a few contemporary pieces to its collection: Do Ho Suh’s Radiator, Corridor/Ground Floor, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011, USA (2013) and Nari Ward’s Swing (2010).

The Delaware Art Museum purchased Hank Willis Thomas’s Black Survival Guide, or How to Live Through a Police Riot (2018), a series of screen prints commissioned and exhibited by the institution last summer, along with an 1871 oil painting by Robert Duncanson, the first African-American artist to attain widespread fame, and a 1940 poster by Robert Pious. (That museum reports that 74 percent of its acquisition funds spent in 2018 went toward works by women and artists of color.)

Virginia Overton, Untitled (Black Diamond), 2018, wooden roof trusses, hardware, and wood stain.


Moving westward, the University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center nabbed Virginia Overton’s sculpture Untitled (Black Diamond), 2018, which debuted at the inaugural Front International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. And the Walker Art Center has commissioned a new work by Seitu Jones and Ta-coumba T. Aiken for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The work, Shadows at the Crossroads, comprises seven sculptures celebrating prominent figures in Minnesota’s history; it will be unveiled next month.

In Los Angeles, the Getty Research Institute got the archives of Claes Oldenburg, which contain 2,000 sketches and collages, 450 diaries and notebooks, photographs, letters, ephemera, and other materials, while the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has acquired eight works, by Luchita Hurtado, Anne Truitt, Huma Bhabha, and others.

Several American colleges and universities have acquired important works. The Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge, Massachusetts, were given 70 sketchbooks of Otto Piene, a founding member of the artist collective Zero, and Emory University in Atlanta received some 1,500 ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern objects, including Late Period coffins and mummies, gilded funerary masks, cylinder seals, gold jewelry, and more.

Across the pond, Tate in London has acquired Yinka Shonibare MBE’s The British Library (2014). The work comprises 6,328 books bound in Dutch wax and has previously been shown at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery in England as well as at the Diaspora pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017.

The Grosvenor Museum in Chester, England, purchased a 1989 portrait of the Prince of Wales, who is also the Earl of Chester, painted by Tom Wood. A local report noted that the city’s “special relationship” with the crown dates to 1301—a welcome, if obscure, morsel of British history.

The British Museum’s Edvard Munch exhibition “Love and Angst,” replete with loans from the Munch Museum in Oslo, has opened. A black-and-white print of The Scream is among the 83 artworks in the show. As it turns out, the British Museum is itself loaning quite a few significant works to the Macao Museum of Art in China, where drawings by giants of the Italian Renaissance—among them Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo—will be on view through late June.

Over in Scandinavia, a 1915 Ernst Kirchner painting called Das Soldatenbad (Artillerymen), which was restituted by the Guggenheim to the family of the art dealer Alfred Flechtheim, will be loaned to the National Museum of Norway. The work’s current owner is Oslo’s Sparebankstiftelsen foundation, which bought the work at auction for $21 million.

In Germany, Caravaggio’s painted shield depicting the severed head of Medusa (1596–97), which is held in a private collection, will figure in the “Utrecht, Caravaggio, and Europe” exhibition at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich. The show opens on July 21 and also features the Baroque master’s Penitent Saint Jerome (1606) and Fortune Teller (1595–96), among other pieces. Speaking of Caravaggio, the Baroque painter’s Judith Beheading Holofernes, which was recently uncovered in an attic, was recently displayed at Kamel Mennour gallery in Paris. (Some experts have cast doubt on whether the work is truly by Caravaggio.) The work heads to auction in June at the Marc Labarbe auction house in Toulouse, France, where it could bring in as much as $171 million, potentially demolishing the artist’s record.

Otto Piene, Sketchbook: Groton, 2012, mixed media.


Market intrigue continued at the New York auctions last week. Lee Krasner’s The Eye Is the First Circle (1960) broke the artist’s record when it sold for $11.7 million at Sotheby’s. In the days after the sale, it was revealed that Emily and Mitchell Rales were the buyers, and that the piece was headed to their Glenstone museum in Potomac, Maryland. Rumors about the buyer of Jeff Koons’s Bunny (1986), which sold at Christie’s for $91.1 million, continue to swirl. Many outlets have speculated that collector and hedge fund investor Steven Cohen bought the work, with Robert Mnuchin helping him secure it by bidding on his behalf.

Meanwhile, Sotheby’s sold multiple bronze and stone sheep by François Xavier Lalanne for prices ranging from $150,000 to $2.4 million. Other fine offerings included two Fernando Botero paintings—The Bathroom (which sold for $519,000) and Derechazo (going for $675,000), both of which went up for sale at Christie’s Latin American auction. In the auction house’s American art sale on Wednesday, Edward Hopper’s Windy Day sold for over $1 million, and both Norman Rockwell’s The Homecoming and Marsden Hartley’s Abstraction surpassed $6.5 million.

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