Monthly Archives: May 2017

Moral Victory in the World’s Most Controversial Animal Selfie Case

Monkey see, monkey… settle? After years of legal wrangling, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and British nature photographer David Slater have finally reached a settlement in the case of the infamous “monkey selfie,” taken on Slater’s camera by a macaque named Naruto.

PETA’s latest appeal in the controversial case is being dismissed, and Slater has agreed to henceforth donate 25 percent of the gross revenue from the monkey selfie to charities dedicated to protecting the crested macaque and its habitat. Slater has not disclosed his earnings to date from the monkey selfie, but he included the image in his 2014 book Wildlife Personalities.

“PETA and David Slater agree that this case raises important, cutting-edge issues about expanding legal rights for non-human animals, a goal that they both support, and they will continue their respective work to achieve this goal,” reads a joint statement from the artist and the animal rights group.

Selfie taken by a crested black macaque on David Slater’s camera.

The photograph was taken in the Tangkoko Reserve on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Slater arranged a camera on a tripod with a remote trigger, in the hopes that a monkey would unwittingly capture a compelling image.

The result, featuring Naturo’s toothy grin, became the world’s most litigious selfie.

Slater previously battled Wikipedia, taking them to task for reproducing the image without his consent. The online encyclopedia argued that Slater could not hold the copyright for the image since it was taken by the monkey, and the US Copyright Office ultimately agreed. In 2014, they ruled that photographs taken by animals cannot be copyrighted, saying “the office will not register works produced by nature, animals, or plants.”

Cecilia Alemani Named Artistic Director of Art

Details about the first edition of the Art Basel Cities initiative, which will take place in Buenos Aires starting this fall, have finally been revealed. Chief among them is the appointment of the curator Cecilia Alemani as artistic director of the Art Basel Cities week of public programming that will take place in September 2018.

“I am thrilled to be part of Art Basel’s new initiative in Buenos Aires and I am very much looking forward to getting to know better the Argentinian art world,” Alemani said in a statement. “In the last few years in New York I had the honor of working with a number of great Argentinian artists, so I am excited to being able to contribute to this project which resonates both locally and internationally.”

As opposed to the “premier art fair” paradigm that Art Basel has honed since launching its flagship iteration in 1970, Art Basel Cities follows a new, long-term collaborative model, aiming to bolster the chosen city’s cultural ecosystem—benefitting artists, galleries, nonprofit spaces, and public institutions alike.

In Buenos Aires, the first city to take part in this new venture, the initial part of the long-term project is kicking off this fall. Called “Art Basel Cities Exchange,” it will focus on providing structural support to the local art community. Two of the practical strands announced today include the launch of international internship and residency programs, aimed at fostering international professional networks, as well as the implementation of crowdfunding campaigns to support local projects.

In the first week of November—to introduce the project to prospective cultural partners and the international art world—the organization will stage “Art Basel Cities House” in the Argentinian capital, hosting a series of events and workshops, as well as launching a year-long talk series.

Meanwhile, in September 2018, Art Basel Cities Buenos Aires will launch a week-long program of public art across the city, devised by Alemani, who is director and chief curator of New York’s High Line and curated the Italian Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale.

“The launching of these initiatives in the coming months marks the true beginning of our partnership with Buenos Aires. We are delighted that Cecilia Alemani will be the first curator of Art Basel Cities week, having followed her impressive work, especially in the public spaces, for many years,” Marc Spiegler, Art Basel’s global director, said in a statement.

Art Basel has also announced the creation of a new advisory board for the project, whose members include prominent figures like Ariel Aisiks, Pablo León de la Barra, Orly Benzacar, Ximena Caminos, Eduardo Costantini, Dani Levinas, Adriana Rosenberg, Juan and Patricia Vergez, and Diego Radivoy, general director of creative industries from the government of the City of Buenos Aires.

One Designer Got Jemima Kirke

Designer Stacey Bendet took an unusual approach to this edition of New York Fashion Week. In lieu of the traditional runway show, Bendet enlisted a cadre of female artists—including Girls actress and painter Jemima Kirke, British sculptor Lucy Sparrow, and sisters Tallulah and Scout Willis—to create work for an interactive art and fashion gallery for her brand Alice + Olivia, held this afternoon.

“I feel like female artists are hugely undervalued and underexposed today,” said Bendet in an email to artnet News. “I asked multiple people to name three living female artists with name recognition and no one could do it—in this era of proposed equality and equal pay, women in the art world are some of the most disadvantaged. I wanted to show some of the young female artists I consider the most talented today.”

Admittedly, Bendet is spotlighting a group of women who have gotten a bit of a head start in terms of finding art-world success. Even predating her Girls fame, Kirke is the daughter of famed British drummer Simon Kirke, and the Willis sisters are, of course, the progeny of Hollywood royalty Demi Moore—who was in attendance—and Bruce Willis. The show also features illustrator Angelica Hicks, whose father is literally the second cousin of the UK’s Prince Charles, heir to the throne.

They are joined by Lola Schnabel, daughter of ’80s art star and film director Julian Schnabel, and Francesca DiMattio, a ceramics artist represented by Salon 94 whose elegant style has been profiled in the pages of Vogue. Rounding out the mix are fashion illustrator Blair Breitenstein, also known as Blair Z, and Sparrow, who famously Kickstarted her hit 2017 New York exhibition 8 Till Late.

Despite the privileged upbringing of many of these artists, Bendet envisions the collective presentation of their work as a modern-day take on the famously gritty Chelsea Hotel, a refuge for struggling artists and musicians throughout the second half of the 20th century. Among the hotel’s residents were legendary women rock stars Joni Mitchell, Patti Smith, and Janis Joplin.

“I’ve always been so enamored of the history of the Chelsea Hotel,” said Scout Willis to artnet News. “It’s interesting with Stacey’s question about women artists and name recognition because I can list all the female artists who lived there.”

Bendet, who held one of her first photo shoots with Mick Rock at the Chelsea Hotel, was inspired by the creative ferment that grew up there. “I began to think of who would live there today and the ideas just started flowing from there,” she said.

The exhibition takes place about 20 blocks south of the Chelsea Hotel—at the Skylight Clarkson in the West Village. For the presentation, each woman built an art-filled room at the venue, and the spaces were occupied by models wearing Alice + Olivia’s designs. A selection of Kirke’s portraiture was on display in the “lobby,” while Blair Z painted on the walls of the “bedroom.” Fittingly, Sparrow took over the kitchen. (Earlier this year, the artist hosted a pop-up bodega featuring her felt food sculptures at New York’s Standard hotel.)

Art Industry News: Banksy Takes Aim at London’s Arms Fair With a New Artwork

Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know this Wednesday, September 13.


Why Museums Need Ethics Departments – In light of recent museum controversies (think Schutzgate), assistant professor of philosophy Erich Hatala Matthes argues that museums, particularly government-funded institutions, have a responsibility to invest in sustained research into the ethics of art acquisitions. (Apollo)

The Berkshire Museum’s Board Doesn’t Budge – After a day of protests over the museum’s highly controversial plan to sell off dozens of works of art, its board of trustees has issued a statement saying that they remain “excited about [the] New Vision plan” that has polarized the art community and are “unanimous in their support for Executive Director Van Shields.” (Berkshire Eagle)

New Banksy Work Blasts London Arms Fair – The anonymous street artist has unveiled a new work titled Civilian Drone Strike as part of Art the Arms Fair, a London activist art event in opposition to the concurrent Defense & Security Equipment International (DSEI)—one of the largest arms fairs in the world. The work shows a framed drawing of a child and her dog next to an exploding house, with three drones flying overhead. With a starting price of just £10 ($13), it will go on auction this Friday. (Hyperallergic)

Budi Tek Calls on Chinese Government to Make His Museum Public – The Chinese art collector, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, wants the government to turn his Yuz Museum in Shanghai into a public entity. The decision comes as a result of current Chinese law that makes it difficult for private institutions to outlive their founders. (Artforum)

Kassel City Council Still Has to Vote on documenta Loan – The city agreed to act as a guarantor for the financially struggling quinquennial, which is said to be a shocking €7 million ($8.3 million) in debt. But the deal reached with documenta officials and mayor Christian Geselle of the center-left SPD party in an emergency board meeting on August 30 still has to be ratified by the city parliament in a vote on September 25. It faces opposition from the center-right CDU party, which has yet to decide if it will support the package. (Monopol)


Phillips Hikes Buyer’s Premium Fees – As of September 12, the auction house will now charge 25 percent of the hammer price up to and including $300,000; 20 percent of the portion of the hammer price above $300,000; and 12.5 percent of the portion of the hammer price above $4,000,000. The sudden price hike comes after Sotheby’s and Christie’s raised their premiums this summer. (Press release)

Hidden for 130 Years, Lancret’s Winter Heads to Sotheby’s ­– A coveted masterpiece by French artist Nicolas Lancret dates back to 1719-21, and has remained shut away in the same private collection, unseen by the public, since 1889. The breathtaking winter scene will tour Hong Kong, Los Angeles, and London before finally going to auction in New York on February 1, 2018. (Press release)

Christie’s to Auction Work From the Collection of Antoni Tàpies – Highlights from the personal art collection of Tàpies, one of the most famous European artists of the postwar generation, will hit the auction block this fall at Christie’s London. The sale includes works by a prestigious group of his peers, including Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, and Mark Rothko. (Press release)

Artissima 2017 Announces Participating Galleries and Artists – The Italian fair has released its exhibitor list and participating artists, which includes 95 international galleries in its main section. Edgy emerging galleries like Los Angeles’s Bad Reputation will be participating for the first time, and the fair’s “Back to the Future” section will feature museum-quality solo exhibitions this season, focusing exclusively on works realized between 1970 and 1989. (Press release)


Artes Mundi 8 Releases Its 2018 Shortlist – On the heels of awarding British artist John Akomfrah the Artes Mundi 7 prize earlier this year, the biennale art prize has revealed its shortlist for its 2018 edition. The winner will be announced in January 2019, following a four-month exhibition at National Museum Cardiff by the shortlisted artists: Anna Boghiguian (Canada/Egypt), Bouchra Khalili (Morocco/France), Otobong Nkanga (Nigeria), Trevor Paglen (USA), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand). (Press release)

U.S. Pavilion Announces Exhibitors for 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale – The seven commissioned exhibitors will create new works for the Pavilion in an exhibition titled “Dimensions of Citizenship.” They are Amanda Williams & Andres L. Hernandez (Chicago, IL); Design Earth (Cambridge, MA); Diller Scofidio + Renfro (New York, NY); Estudio Teddy Cruz + Fonna Forman (San Ysidro, CA); Keller Easterling (New Haven, CT); SCAPE (New York, NY); and Studio Gang (Chicago, IL). (Press release)

Online Platform Tappan Appoints Gagosian Alum as Director – The site, “an incubator for emerging artists,” has announced the appointment of Gagosian alum Andrea Pemberton, who will lead the development of the platform’s artist programs and its newly created art advisory branch. As her first undertaking, Pemberton will organize a show featuring Tappan artists during the opening of Frieze week in London. (Press release)

Frank Bernarducci’s Gallery Expands Downtown – The 57th Street art dealer is expanding into Chelsea with a new project space set to open on October 3. The new gallery will focus on precisionist realism, with an inaugural group exhibition that includes artists Max Ferguson and Park Hyung Jin.