Shepard Fairey has avoided jail time in the aftermath of his misdemeanor criminal contempt conviction on Sept 7. Fairey was sentenced to two years’ probation, 300 hours of community service, and a $25,000 fine by Judge Frank Maas, a United States magistrate, for creating false documents and destroying evidence in relation to the 2009 lawsuit and counter-suit between Fairey and the Associated Press over rights to the photograph used to make the famous Obama HOPE poster. Fairey settled that suit by agreeing to pay the AP $1.6 million.
Fairey’s frequent contributions to charity and eloquent statement of remorse for his actions contributed to the judge’s leniency. Fairey summed up the incident in a website statement: “My wrong-headed actions, born out of a moment of fear and embarrassment, have not only been financially and psychologically costly to myself and my family, but also helped to obscure what I was fighting for in the first place— the ability of artists everywhere to be inspired and freely create art without reprisal.”
The Andy Warhol Foundation announced its plans to sell off an estimated 20,000 Warhol works it owns, a week after its innovative partnership with Target to license limited edition Warhol-style Campbell soup cans at stores across the US. Christies will manage the sale, which the foundation hopes will net upwards of $100 million. Chairman Michael Straus said the foundation aims to use the proceeds to increase its $225 million endowment and expand the scope of its art-related grant programs. “We’re converting art into money,” Mr. Straus said.
Some of this conversion will happen online, as Christies makes its first foray into online only sales, where it is hoped the Warhol name and the sterling provenance of the Foundation’s holdings will jump start broad public interest in high-level online art buying, tried by Sotheby’s/eBay in the 90′s with disappointing results.
Forbes magazine’s Abigail R. Esman contributed an expose and analysis of the Chinese art-fraud machine last week. Apparently, if you peel away the corruption, bid rigging and self-dealing, China isn’t the world biggest market for art after all. Esman says that China’s biggest auction house, Poly, is an arm of the People’s Liberation Army! Esman goes on to forecast gloom for the future: “a number of experts I spoke to feel that overall, the Chinese contemporary craze has died down, and will not be likely to rekindle.”
Photo: Anne Cusack/ Los Angeles Times
According to the LA Times, prominent Los Angeles Gallery owner Margo Leavin has announced plans to close her gallery, citing a move on the part of art collectors away from the gallery show experience to alternative art spaces and the Internet. “People are approaching art differently today. They’re not seeking out the thoughtful, complete statement that artists make when they create gallery exhibitions,” said Brandow. “The exhibitions have been such an important part of what we do, and they are no longer valued as much by the public”, she said.
Even NY Times critic Roberta Smith, originally a supporter of LA MOCA’s bold move in appointing flamboyant gallerist Jeffrey Deitch as its new Director, admits his tenure has been disappointing. In a Times article titled “A Los Angeles Museum on Life-Support” she recaps MOCA’s problems, Deitch’s failure to solve them, and the worrisome departure of curator Paul Schimmel, and all the mueum’s artist-trustees. Her prescription for the patient: “Mr. Deitch has to become a real museum director. He has to stop organizing exhibitions — in part to create more of a firewall between his new job and his previous identity,” hire a new chief curator, and replace the artist-trustees’ they have lost, echoing an op-ed in the LA Times.
Joining John Baldessari, Catherine Opie and Barbara Kruger in a rush to the exit, Ed Ruscha, the last artist on LA MOCA’s board, resigned Monday. The troubled museum, pulled out of a financial hole by Eli Broad and resolutely headed towards a party-filled populist future, ousted noted curator Paul Schimmel a few weeks ago, starting the wave of protest resignations.
- Ruscha’s Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Fire (1965)
Independent scholars rejoice-The Getty Research Portal, which launched last month, makes 20,000 documents from the Getty’s collection and eight other libraries available to anyone with an internet connection. The texts, published before 1923 in the U.S. or before 1909 in other countries, are all in the public domain, and are downloadable free of charge. So next time you’re visiting the Getty’s photo archive of medieval tapestries, or going cross-eyed over one of their sterographic Maya reliefs, check it out!
Just Louvre, please.
Have recent museum shakeups begun to besmirch the once-coveted title of “Museum?” itself? ArtInfo Blogger William Poundstone sees a trend, noting that “at least two incipient L.A. museums are avoiding the M word”. Both the the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in LACMA West, and a proposed gay and lesbian museum are considering alternative labels. Poundstone weighs weak alternates like “library” (too much shooshing), and “gallery” (seems like everything’s for sale), but says ““curate” has become an all-purpose verb for anything.”
L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art is planning an exhibition that will examine the cultural impact of disco music, reports the LA Times.
James Surls is cropping up in unexpected places: Garden and Gun magazine features an informative feature on James Surls’ contributions to the Houston art scene as founder of the Lawndale Art Center and his larger-than-life career and personality. Last year, Surls radically restructured the way he does business, firing all six of his national dealers, focusing instead on an annual by-invitation-only dinner/sales event at his studio outside Carbondale, Colorado. The Second Annual Studio Exhibition is set for July 28, and will saxophonist and artist Dickie Landry, The Art Guys, the Flatlanders, starring Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Joe Ely, a monograph by noted art critic Thomas McEvilley, several hundred guests, beer, guns, BBQ, and of course, new large scale sculpture that Surls will not spend tens of thousands of dollars shipping to remote dealers.
The fundraising flows two ways: The DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum outside Boston has a pair of tickets they’re offering for a donation of $36,000, all with no middleman. At last years’ Texas Contemporary Art Fair in Houston, a single piece represented Surls in the Blue Star Art Center booth, attended by Surls’ personal sales rep!