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COLLECTION MANAGEMENT. Down in Auckland, New Zealand, the newly elected mayor, Wayne Brown, is questioning the value of the city’s art museum, Bloomberg reports. At a recent council meeting, Brown criticized the cost of running the Auckland Art Gallery given visitor numbers he sees as paltry (about 9,516 in the third quarter). The museum is set to receive a bequest of art from hedge-funder Julian Robertson that includes works by Picasso and Matisse and is valued at $190 million. “If it’s a bequeath that costs us to look after the damn thing, it’s not much of a bequeath if you ask me,” the mayor said. He added, “We have billions of dollars worth of value in the cellar that no one looks at, surely there is a way of converting some of that.” The city is currently grappling with a budget deficit. A council official told the outlet that that Brown has not advocated selling off art, but his comments come amid an ongoing debate about when it is appropriate for institutions to deaccession and monetize their art.
CHANGING TASTES. In the Art Newspaper, Scott Reyburn has a look at the decline of the Old Masters market in recent decades, as those works have fallen out of vogue. According to one study, it accounted for just four percent of auction sales in 2021; 50 years ago, it was the main arena. A few star lots still grab big figures, but lower-value artworks are not holding their value. “You no longer have the middle classes buying something beautiful to put on the wall and hang on to it,” researcher Megan Corcoran told Reyburn. Lamenting the state of the Old Masters has been going on for a while now, and some may recall dealer Larry Salander’s fiery interview with New York magazine on the topic back in 2008 (before he was hit with fraud charges). “Our society now values a Warhol for three times as much money as a great Rembrandt,” Salander said. “That tells me that we’re fucked. It’s as if people would rather fuck than make love.”
A Sotheby’s sale of design pieces from billionaire businessman Ronald Perelman (who has been liquidating assets at a furious pace in recent years) hauled in $35 million, with two-thirds of the 117 lots going for above their high estimates. Records were set for Paul Dupré-Lafon, Pierre Legrain, and Armand-Albert Rateau. [Artnet News]
Six artists, including Derrick Adams and Wendy Red Star, have been tapped for a show about the role of monuments that will alight on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., next summer, Zachary Small reports. Paul Farber, the director of the Monument Lab nonprofit, and critic Salamishah Tillet are curating. The Trust for the National Mall said it will be the first group art show ever to appear in the park. [The New York Times]
The Toronto Biennial of Art has named Dominique Fontaine and Miguel A. López to co-curate its 2024 edition. Fontaine is the founding director of the nonprofit curatorial platform Aposteriori, López was co-director of the TEOR/éTica art space in San José, Costa Rica, until 2020, and both have curated widely. [ArtDaily]
The debut album from RM, the leader of the Korean boy band BTS, features references to some of his favorite artists, including legends Yun Hyong-keun and Jackson Pollock. The records’s cover features a 1972 piece by Yun. [Artnet News]
Kitsch maestro Romero Britto is on a winning streak. The artist has been tapped to create official work for the Kentucky Derby—and been asked to serve as a “special ambassador” for Miami-Dade County. [Axios]
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT. It was a wild news day yesterday, with superstar painter Gerhard Richter departing his longtime home, Marian Goodman Gallery, to join David Zwirner, and PMC—the owner of Art in America and ARTnews (which operates this newsletter)—announcing that it has acquired Artforum, which is marking its 60th anniversary this year.
THE INTERSECTION OF ART AND TECHNOLOGY. Director James Cameron—the Titanic titan—is getting ready to release his latest film, Avatar: The Way of Water, and while he has won renown for his special-effects wizardry, he emphasized in comments reported by the AFP that it takes more than just computer magic to make a great film. “Anybody could buy a paintbrush,” he said. “Not everybody can paint a picture. The technology doesn’t create art. Artists create art—that’s important.” The total cost of the new movie has not been released, but Variety reported that Cameron has said that the enormous figure amounts to “the worst business case in movie history.” [AFP/France24]