This week’s Art World Roundup includes good news for US artists looking for support as Artist Relief will continue through December, three artists are honoured with spots on the 100 most influential people of 2020 list released by Time magazine, and Cuomo pledges to honour Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and career with Brooklyn statue. Banksy’s rendition of a Claude Monet painting heads to auction while the FBI arrests two for antiquities fraud in NYC. Finally, a new agreement may mean an end is in sight for a major legal battle over the estate of Robert Indiana
Artist Relief continues to support US artists
Summer is fading fast and the threat level of COVID-19 seems more ominous as we head into cooler months. While many sectors have adjusted to the “new normal” the art world is still fighting to find its footing with artists being among those hit hardest. In April, Artist Relief was launched by the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation, and United States Artists in an effort to swiftly and quickly provide support for artist most in need. The fund started with $10 million and to date, has raised nearly $20 million and will officially continue distributing grants through December. Since Artist Relief began distributing funds, they have received more than 130,000 applications from artists in every US state and territory across 10 different disciplines. Of those applications, 2,700 individuals have benefited from the project through the allocation of $5,000 individual grants for a total distribution of $13.5 million. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has pledged an addition $2.5 million to the fund after an initial $5 million was gifted as seed money. Further funding has come from the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation COVID-19 Relief Effort, and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, among a number of others contributors. $1 million has also been gifted to Artist Relief by thousands of individual donors. Artist Relief continues to take applications for grants and it is working to pinpoint and prioritize those most severely in need of money for rent, food, medical needs, and dependent care. Those looking to apply can do so at artistrelief.org and those looking to make a donation to Artist Relief can do so here with 100 percent of donations going directly to aid relief.
Time mag highlights three artists in 2020 list of influential people
Artists Patrisse Cullors, Julie Mehretu, and Tourmaline found their spots on Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2020. The artists are in good company with other notable figures including writer and activist Angela Davis, vice president nominee Kamala Harris, physician Anthony Fauci, and basketballer Dwyane Wade. Cullors is not only an accomplished performance artist but also one of the founders of Black Lives Matters movement. She, along with BLM co-founders Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi were paid tribute to in an essay written by Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin. Mehretu, an abstract painter honoured with a text by architect David Adjaye, has featured in the Venice Biennale, received a “genius grant” or MacArthur Fellowship in 2005, and is the focus of a career survey at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, now-delayed due to COVID-19. Finally, filmmaker Tourmaline’s work was commended by well-known writer Janet Mock who highlighted the artist’s role in challenging the “whitewashed historical narrative of the LGBTQ+ movement.”
NYC to honour Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
After it was confirmed that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, only the second woman to have been appointed to the US Supreme Court, passed away at the age of 87 after fighting pancreatic cancer, tributes have poured out. This week, New York governor Andrew Cuomo added to that announcing that a statue will be erected in Brooklyn, Ginsburg’s home borough in New York City, permanently honouring the life and work of Ginsburg, who spent 27 years as a Supreme Court justice. “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg selflessly pursued truth and justice in a world of division, giving voice to the voiceless and uplifting those who were pushed aside by forces of hate and indifference,” Cuomo said in a statement announcing the statue. “As a lawyer, jurist, and professor, she redefined gender equity and civil rights and ensured America lived up to her founding ideals — she was a monumental figure of equality, and we can all agree that she deserves a monument in her honor.” The press release states that a commission will soon be appointed to consult local artists and oversee the statue’s progress.
— State Street Global Advisors (@StateStreetGA) September 19, 2020
Sotheby’s shoots to replace second priciest Banksy
In Banksy’s take on one of Claude Monet’s iconic water lily paintings, the pristine scene looks more like the bottom of a London canal. Show me the Monet, a 2005 work by Banksy, was created in part of the artist’s “Crude Oil” series that revised works by Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, and more. Next month, Show me the Monet will hit the auction floor at Sotheby’s as part of their “Modernités / Contemporary” live-stream sale on October 21st that will span the auction house’s Paris and London locations. The painting’s pre-sale estimate is between £3 million and £5 million, so, if the painting hits that mark, it will become the second priciest Banksy sold at auction to date. The current second place Banksy is Mediterranean Sea View 2017, a triptych sold at Sotheby’s earlier this year that brought in £2.2 million. Meanwhile, Devolved Parliament, a 2009 work by the mysterious artist, sits comfortably in first place after Sotheby’s sold it in 2019 for £9.8 million, crushing its pre-sale high estimate of £2 million. Banksy has become one of the most sought-after artists in the market today and has been quite active in recent months, particularly concerning the refugee crisis and other major issues. “Ever prescient as a voice of protest and social dissent, here Banksy shines a light on society’s disregard for the environment in favour of the wasteful excesses of consumerism,” said Sotheby’s European head of contemporary art Alex Branczik of the artwork. “Recent years have seen seminal Banksys come to auction, but this is one of his strongest, and most iconic, to appear yet.”
Two arrested by FBI for antiquities fraud in NYC
The FBI is asking for information from anyone who may have dealt with or potentially bought from Erdal Dere, 50, or Faisal Khan, 47. Dere and Khan, longtime business partners and antiquities dealers, have been charged by the FBI for defrauding buyers and fabricating false provenances. Additionally, Dere is charged with aggravated identity theft for utilizing the identities of dead collectors in said false provenances, wire fraud, and wire fraud conspiracy while Khan has also been charged with fraud conspiracy and wire fraud. Dere and Khan operated a gallery called Fortuna Fine Art and over the years, it was located at various places around the Upper East Side of Manhattan, although they did not have a website or inventory catalogue for the company, opting for sales made directly to buyers. The charges allege that Khan played a role in finding buyers for items held by the gallery and searching for new items that were then sold in the US and internationally. Allegations against Dere and Khan date back to as early as 2015, but could run deeper. According to an LA-based blog, called Chasing Aphrodite and run by author Jason Felch, the Dere family and Fortuna Fine Art have ties to a Turkish smuggling ring. Dere and Khan were arrested on September 22nd at their New York and New Jersey homes, respectively, and appeared in court that same day.
Could that be light at the end of the tunnel?
For an artist well-known for his depiction of the word “love,” there hasn’t been a lot of love around Robert Indiana’s estate since he passed away in 2018. An ongoing legal battle involving the Morgan Art Foundation, Indiana’s long-time representative that also owns the copyright to his work, the Star of Hope Foundation, the sole beneficiary or Indiana’s estate, and James Brannan, Indiana’s attorney and executor of the artist’s estate, has shrouded the artist’s legacy. However, a recent out-of-court agreement reached between the Morgan Art Foundation and the Star of Hope Foundation may be the beginning of the end of the battle. According to the agreement, the details of which have not been fully disclosed, the two organisations will continue to work together to promote Indiana’s life and legacy. Moving forward, stated Maaren Shah, a lawyer representing the Morgan Art Foundation, the entities will work in tandem “with respect to a number of different projects, including the artist’s catalogue raisonné, the maintenance of the artist’s website, the promotion and fabrication and sale of the artist’s editioned works.” The arrangement will most likely snuff out Brannan’s fight, or at least that is the hope of Shah who filed a motion to have counterclaims brought forward by Brannan dismissed. While this battle may be nearing an end, other claims filed against Indiana’s caretaker, Jamie Thomas, and publisher Michael McKenzie remain unresolved. These claims were filed by the Morgan Art Foundation the day before Indiana’s death alleging that Thomas and McKenzie were isolating the artist in his final years and producing unauthorized works in Indiana’s name.