Art Market Weekly Digest

Museums and Ethics

The restoration of artworks and the maintenance of museums are expensive and therefore often depend on the collaboration with sponsors. Yet, can art institutions be assimilated with corporations for financial reasons in completely disregard of ethical values? Last month, protesters from the NL Fossil Free Culture group were seen in front of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam dressed in hospital gowns smeared in black. Among them, one man stood attached to an intravenous drip connected to a black colored IV bag on a pole. This demonstration came ahead of the decision of the Van Gogh Museum and the Mauritshuis to end their sponsorship deal with Shell. A spokesperson from the British-Dutch Petrol group announced that the end of the collaboration with the two museums was made on the basis of a mutual decision.


艺术品修复和美术馆运营是一项经济成本巨大的工作,需要强大的外部赞助支持。但是艺术机构能否向公司经营的模式贴近,把经济因素放在道德因素之前考虑呢?上个月荷兰Fossil Free文化组织成员穿着被“石油”染黑的病号服,在阿姆斯特丹梵·高美术馆前集体抗议,其中一名男子还挂着“点滴”,药包里不是药水,而是像石油一样乌黑粘稠的液体。此次抗议发生不久后,梵·高美术馆宣布和莫瑞泰斯皇家美术馆双双宣布终止与英荷合资石油公司“壳牌”的赞助合同。壳牌的新闻发言人表示“此次合作的终止经过双方一致决议”。


Fossil Free Culture group in front of the Van Gogh Museum. Courtesy of Fossil Free

Fossil Free 文化组织在梵高美术馆前。图品由Fossil Free提供

Opening of Gallery Emmanuel Perrotin in Shanghai

After Hong Kong, Seoul and more recently Tokyo, French art dealer Emmanuel Perrotin is taking hold of the Asian art market with the opening of a second gallery space in China. The 1,200 square meters gallery will open on September 20th, on the top floor of the historic “Amber Building” in Shanghai’s Bund quarter. Perrotin will launch the new outpost with an exhibition by the controversial Belgian artist Wim Delvoye whose work, Art Farm, was censored exactly a decade ago at the Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair in 2008.




Perrotin Shanghai. Photo: Ringo Cheung. Courtesy Perrotin

贝浩登(上海)。摄影:Ringo Cheung。图片由贝浩登提供。

Brazil National Museum in Ashes

The Brazil National Museum burned down to ashes on September 3rd 2018. The 13 000 square meters and 200 years old museum was home to more than 20 million items, including Egyptian and Greek-Roman artifacts, as well as the oldest human fossil in the region, Luiza, a 12,000 year-old skeleton. The museum was built in 1818 under the Portuguese rule and was known as the largest natural history museum in Latin America. Civilians and art historians have called out the government’s negligence and lack of funding for restoration over the years.




Brazil National Museum before the fire


Salvatore Mundi No Show

The UAE department of culture and tourism has announced that Leonardo Da Vinci’s Salvatore Mundi will not be unveiled as planned at the Louvre Abu Dhabi until further notice. The world’s most expensive painting broke the record at $450.3m at Christie’s last year, and has been hailed as the biggest discovery of the 21st century by art historians. The museum has refused to comment on the reason of the delay. However, one may wonder if the recent speculations over the ownership and authenticity of the masterpiece may have been a factor in the museum’s decision  (click here to read more)。




Leonardo Da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, Circa 1500


Treasure Box Hidden Behind Forbidden City Roof Ridge for 200 Years

Last week, the Forbidden City in Beijing made a surprising discovery during the restoration project in Yangxin Dian, otherwise known as the Hall of Mental Cultivation. Behind the main roof ridge, researchers found a treasure box from the Qing dynasty with the inscription, In the sixth year of the reign of Emperor Jiaqing.  According to Shan Qixiang, curator of the Palace Museum, this is the first time a painted wooden treasure box is discovered at the Forbidden City. The Yangxin Dian restoration project is scheduled to finish in June 2020, to mark the Palace’s 600th anniversary.




Treasure Box Found at Yangxin Dian. Courtesy of the Palace Museum.


Xu Zhen supermarket

A few years ago, the world’s supermodels walked down the aisles of a CHANEL supermarket in the Grand Palais of Paris. Consumerism in the age of capitalism is a widely discussed subject from fashion to more intellectual debates. Conceptual artists have also taken on this issue from Andy Warhol to Duane Hanson, but the auctioning of such art pieces is still relatively rare according to Yuki Terase, Hong Kong Sotheby’s new Head of Contemporary Art in Asia. This fall, “Xu Zhen Supermarket” is the hot topic of the season at Sotheby’s. First shown in 2016 on Shanghai’s Yuyuan road, the real life supermarket contains all the goods one finds in a convenient store, except for the most essential feature, to be full of its promise. Instead, everything is empty. It’s a cola bottle but not really. This fall and for the first time, Sotheby’s will be auctioning an art piece as a concept on the Asian market. The highest bidder will obtain the rights to replicate Xu Zhen’s supermarket in any size and at any place.

If you want to know more, please click here, for a more in-depth article (in Chinese) and an audio interview of Yuki Terase by Art Market Journal (in English)。




Xu Zhen Supermarket, exhibited in Shanghai


The Price of Everything

The art market is a bubble in which very few can enter. Glamour, beauty and exclusiveness come to mind when we think of auctions. However, there is also another side of the mirror which reflects obscene prices and decadent displays of wealth. This November, HBO will release in theaters, The Price of Everything, an insight on the money driven art world and hardships of struggling artists. The documentary features collectors, dealers, auctioneers and artists, such as George Condo, Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter and Njideka Akunyili Crosby.




The poster for The Price of Everything (2018).Courtesy of HBO Documentary Films.


Panda Pollock

Yang Yang, a female panda from China, has been making “Jackson Pollock” style paintings at the Vienna Schönbrunn Zoo in Austria. The cuddly artist has already produced more than 100 canvases, which will be sold for $560 each to fund a catalogue about her peers and family in the zoo. Yang Yang and another male panda, Long Hui, were transported from China to Austria in 2003. Together, they gave birth to 5 other giant pandas.




Yang Yang’s painting. Courtesy of Schönbrunn Zoo. Photo: Daniel Zupanc