Photography’s long-sought after decisive moment is happening more and more online, as meta-photographers aim their sensitivities at vast databases of machine-collected imagery from Google and other sources. In The Nine Eyes of Google Street View, a review of Jon Rafman’s recent exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery, Marco Bohr equates the recognition of significant images in the sea of automatically-collected Google street view data with Cartier-Bresson’s street-photography mantra. Apparently it’s happening all over: other artists who appropriate Google Street View images, such as Mishka Henner in the UK, Michael Wolf in Germany or Doug Rickard in the US are blurring photography’s once well-defended boundaries of authorship.
Michael Miller reports in Gallerist NY that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill that makes it a misdemeanor for an art dealer to use funds owed to an artist from the sale of an artwork to pay for gallery operating expenses and creditors. The NY State Senate passed the bill in June, and Gov. Cuomo signed it earlier this month.
The bill was drafted in wake of the scandal concerning Salander O’Reilly Galleries, which filed for bankruptcy in 2007 commingled the sales proceeds that belonged to the artists, artists’ heirs and artists’ estates with the gallery’s own funds. Millions of dollars owed to artists disappeared, having instead gone toward keeping the gallery afloat.
“This law is good for everyone,” said John Cahill, the chair of the Art Law Committee. “The only people it isn’t good for are the people who are dishonest. It’s something that helps New York continue to be the center of the art world.”
Cecilia Gimenez, the woman whose botched restoration of a small fresco in Spain produced the “Beast Jesus” internet phenomenon, is suing the Sanctuario de Misericordia in Borja for a share in the profits that flocking tourists have brought to the once obscure church, which began charging a 4 euro admission fee. Her lawyers say that her share of the money, if won, will go to muscular atrophy charities. Meanwhile, descendants of Elias Garcia Martinez, the local artist whose fresco Gimenez altered, are threatening another lawsuit seeking compensation for the piece’s destruction.
NY times blogger James Estrin contrasts the measured connoisseurship of an old-style photographic festival with the estimated 380 billion photographs taken last year by camera phones, or the 380 million uploaded to Facebook every day. Estrin rails against photographs used as “a chintzy currency in a social interaction,” and fears the that professional photographers will be swept away in the “tsunami of vernacular photos.”
Filmed in 1968 in La Jolla California, Andy Warhol’s previously unfinished film San Diego Surf will be released by the Andy Warhol Museum. The film was shot in 1968 in La Jolla, CA by Morrissey and Warhol, and featured superstars Viva, Taylor Mead, Louis Waldon, Joe Dallesandro, Tom Hompertz, Ingrid Superstar, and Eric Emerson, plus Nawana Davis and others. In 1995-96, the Andy Warhol Foundation commissioned co-cameraman Paul Morrissey, under the supervision of Foundation curator Dara Meyers-Kingsley, to complete the editing, based on existing notes and the rough cut. The premiere of the new old film will take place at the The Museum of Modern Art as part of To Save and Project: The Eleventh MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation on October 16.
Los Angeles’ Getty Center is free; it’s parking at the remote hilltop facility that costs, and apparently on purpose. After the Getty raised its parking fees over the summer, protests broke out among academics who use the facility regularly. Enterprising journalists examined the institution’s tax returns, which revealed that the institution, with perpetually free admission written into its charter, collected $6.4 million in parking fees in 2011, up from $4 million in 2009, when the museum raised it’s parking rate to $15 to help increase revenues.
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.”
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.