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LACMA’s Upcoming Yoshitomo Nara Survey Is Headed to China

A dog sculpture by Nara, at right, on view at the Bangkok Art Biennale in 2018.

A sculpture by Nara, at right, on view at the Bangkok Art Biennale in 2018.

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ARTnews has learned from two sources close to the artist Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara that his upcoming retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the spring of 2020 will travel to Shanghai’s Yuz Museum, which was started by the art collector and patron Budi Tek.

The exhibition will be part of the new partnership between LACMA and the Yuz Museum that was officially signed earlier this year, which aims to share programming and facilitate loans between the institutions. (News of talks between the two was first reported in ARTnews in early 2018.)

After its runs in the U.S. and China, the Nara retrospective will then travel to the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain and an as-yet-unconfirmed institution in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

The 59-year-old artist just had a huge jump for his work at auction. This past weekend, Sotheby’s Hong Kong set a new auction record for Nara’s work, selling one of his paintings from 2000 for about $25 million. That piece, Knife Behind Back (2000), was first sold for just $20,000 in 2001.

Nara’s previous record was a paltry (comparatively speaking) $4 million, a figure reached just this past May at Christie’s in Hong Kong. A number of other works by the artist have traded at auction in recent years in the $3 million range, but the new $25 million result places him in a lofty field inhabited by very few living artists (or historical artists, for that matter).

Tek, a Chinese-Indonesian entrepreneur, opened the Yuz Museum on the West Bund in Shanghai in 2014, and it has since played host to shows by artists like Xun Sun, KAWS, Tschabalala Self, and others.

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