Galerie’s Weekly Art and Design Industry News Brief
Here’s the week’s news you need to know, from the Obamas’ impact on the National Portrait Gallery to the results of Christie’s Robin Williams auction
Here are this week’s must-read news stories in the fields of art and design.
1. Obama portraits double annual attendance at the National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery announced that attendance has doubled in 2018, thanks in part to the addition of two high-profile works to the Presidential Wing—President Barack Obama painted by Kehinde Wiley, and First Lady Michelle Obama painted by Amy Sherald. The museum served over 2 million visitors in its 2018 fiscal year (which ended September 30), doubling its annual average of 1.1 million patrons since 2013.
2. Frieze London awards Focus Stand Prize to Cape Town’s Blank Projects
Frieze announces Blank as the winner of the 2018 Focus Stand Prize, which is awarded to an outstanding gallery presentation in the Focus section at Frieze London, dedicated to providing a platform for galleries 12 years or younger. Jurors commented that that blank’s presentation “highlighted the strength of each individual artist” working in a variety of mediums, but also brought them together in a way that is both “dynamic” and “complimentary.” They were also impressed by the level of context offered by the gallery about the works on view.
3. Storefront for Art and Architecture appoints José Esparza Chong Cuy as Executive Director and Chief Curator
New York’s Storefront for Art and Architecture has selected José Esparza Chong Cuy, as its next executive director and chief curator. Currently associate curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Esparza Chong Cuy will assume the position on November 1.
4. The Guggenheim returns a painting to its Jewish heirs
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation announced this week that it will restitute a painting by German Expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner to the heirs of the German Jewish art dealer Alfred Flechtheim (1878–1937). The Guggenheim Foundation said in a statement that they spent two years investigating the provenance of Ludwig Kirchner’s Artillerymen, 1915. It learned that the work was in the possession of Flechtheim’s niece, Rosi Hulisch—who committed suicide before she was to be shipped to a concentration camp—when it was acquired by Kurt Feldhäusser, a member of the Nazi party, in 1938.
5. A rare Richter painting failed to sale at Christie’s
Christie’s postwar and contemporary art evening sale in London this week ended with a trio of high profile lots left unsold. A painting of a skull by German master Gerhard Richter missed its $15 million reserve 11 lots into the sale. The other major passes were a Jeff Koons and a Mark Grotjahn, which both had high estimates above $10 million, ArtNews reports.
6. The Robin Williams sale at Sotheby’s totaled $6.1 million
This week Sotheby’s auctioned off art, watches, and memorabilia of the late actor Robin Williams in a sale that raised $6.1 million, exceeding the high estimate of $4.6 million. The proceeds of the sale will go to numerous charities and help fund a scholarship at the Juilliard School.