Good morning! It’s Thursday, January 7.
A mob stormed the U.S. Capitol yesterday; art critics are weighing in. The Wildenstein Family is in legal jeopardy again over tax issues. A Los Angeles mansion could set an auction record.
AS REPORTERS PIECE TOGETHER HOW A FAR-RIGHT MOB WAS ABLE TO STORM THE CAPITOL, art writers are trying to make sense of the pictures of it happening. New Yorker theater critic Vinson Cunningham, has a column on a photo of a man standing “at the dais of the Senate chamber, behind the desk, raising his fist.” For Cunningham, the “Senate floor became a playground for men (and a few women) like this one appeared to be: childish, stupid, dangerous.” Meanwhile, Philip Kennicott , art and architecture critic at the Washington Post, has a piece headlined, “The Capitol mob images shouldn’t surprise you. Open insurrection was always where we were headed.” As it happens, Kennicott’s colleague Sebastian Smee just penned a close read of Francis Bacon’s menacing Painting (1946). Smee says that it “matches this moment in America of profound cognitive dissonance; brute, impenetrable power; and shameless addiction to spectacle.” It’s on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, if you would like to have a look.
THE WILDENSTEIN TAX SAGA IS BACK. France’s top court has ruled that members of the storied art-dealing family must again face charges that they hid upwards of half a billion euros from tax authorities, the Guardian reports. Huge fines and jail time were possible penalties for Guy Wildenstein and others in a 2017 trial that ended with their acquittal. A judge made that 2017 decision by citing an ambiguity in French tax law (since clarified) while admitting that “the court is perfectly aware its verdict may run counter to public belief and be misunderstood.” Yesterday’s decision will bring about another trial. The paper recalls that the court proceedings revealed assets like “a 30,000-hectare private compound and wildlife sanctuary in Kenya … racehorses, stables, a New York apartment, dozens of paintings, and a Gulfstream jet.” Guy Wildenstein’s lawyer said his client will be acquitted once more.
A Los Angeles property billed as an “authentic Italian village” could set the record for the most expensive residence ever auctioned. It’s estimated at $160 million. [CNN]
A pro-Trump demonstration was held at the Vancouver Art Gallery. [News 1130]
After six years of renovations, the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art in Cairo has reopened. [Ahram Online]
The Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney is planning a $20 million renovation and expansion. [The Grand Island Independent]
Melbourne, Australia, is currently home to the inaugural Quarantine Art Fair, which is hosting local galleries. [The Sydney Morning Herald]
All Souls College at Oxford University in England has dropped the name of slave owner Christopher Codrington from its library, but activists are criticizing its refusal to remove a statue of him from its premises. [The Art Newspaper]
Painter Jean Smith has found success by selling $100 portraits. “One woman in Oregon amassed 250 before Smith had to politely ask her to stop hoarding,” Nick Marino writes. [The New York Times Magazine]
Apollo has a list of art-related films and books coming out this year. [Apollo]
Here’s a preview of “Picasso. Figures,” an (awkwardly punctuated) exhibition of works from the collection of the Musée national Picasso in Paris that opens at the Frist Art Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, next month. [Travel+Leisure]
The theme of an upcoming online symposium hosted by the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies is “The power of art as an influential force for democracy.” Good timing. [The Berkshire Eagle]
A book containing handwritten answers by Virginia Woolf to a variety of hot-button literary questions is headed to the auction block. The best deceased English novelist? Jane Austen, says Woolf. The worst living English poet? Click—and zoom in on the lead image—for the answer. [Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter]
Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.