ART WORLD NEWS
Tiffany Spotlights Basquiat in Ad, Design Pioneer Alan Heller Dies, and More: Morning Links for August 24, 2021
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IT IS ONLY TUESDAY, but it is already a banner week for marketing campaigns wielding art. Visa said that it acquired one of Larva Labs’ CryptoPunk NFTs for its collection for about $150,000, ARTnews reports. In an email, Visa’s crypto head said that the punks represent “the beginnings of a new chapter for digital commerce.” Meanwhile, Tiffany & Co. has Beyoncé and Jay-Z posing with a 1982 Jean-Michel Basquiat painted a color that suggests Tiffany’s famed blue. The brand was recently purchased by LVMH, whose chief is nine-figure-billionaire (and ARTnews Top 200 Collector) Bernard Arnault. His son, Alexandre Arnault, executive vice president of products and communications at the jeweler, told WWD, of Basquiat, “We know he loved New York, and that he loved luxury and he loved jewelry. My guess is that the [blue painting] is not by chance.” The firm purchased the piece, and it will eventually hang at the flagship Tiffany store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
THE FUTURE WAS IN PLASTICS. Alan Heller, who in the 1960s began using plastic to manufacture a panoply of vanguard design objects and furniture, has died at 81, the New York Times reports. Projects that Heller’s company handled included Frank Gehry sofas, dinnerware by Massimo and Lella Vignelli, and a Philippe Starck toilet brush (called Excalibur). A hallmark of his work was a price point that was accessible to a wide segment of potential customers. “He made plastic objects that had integrity and beauty—something you wanted to collect and show off—and were affordable,” the designer writer Suzanne Slesin told the Times. “It was design for everyone.”
The museum unions keep coming. Brooklyn Museum employees have voted to join Local 2110 of the United Auto Workers, the group that also represents some staffers at the Museum of Modern Art, the New Museum, and other institutions. The vote was nearly unanimous, with 96 percent voting for the union. [The Art Newspaper]
In mid-June, the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore shut down for three weeks, saying it needed “to complete necessary work on our buildings.” Employees have since said that the closure was because chemical fumes from roof repairs made some of them sick. The museum’s director, Julia Marciari-Alexander, said that no visitors complained about feeling unwell and that as “soon as we were aware there was a problem, we took steps immediately to remedy the situation.” [The Baltimore Sun]
A court in Taiwan has ordered Chang Lin Hsiu-hsiang, the widow of the late artist Chang Chin-fa, to return a dozen of his paintings that she borrowed from the National Taiwan University of Arts. She has maintained that her husband had intended to loan the pieces to the school, not donate them. The court found that the evidence proved otherwise. [Taipei Times via ArtAsiaPacific]
“Usually relegated to the margins of notebooks or the back of envelopes, the doodle is often considered something messy, throwaway and unconsidered,” Clare Thorp writes in a panegyric to the humble doodle that considers examples by Queen Victoria, President Eisenhower, and other luminaries. [BBC]
New York dealer David Totah’s East Village home includes artworks by Josef Albers, Alighiero Boetti, and Kenny Scharf. “I’m really interested in art that steers your soul,” Totah said. “I feel that I gravitate toward [pieces] that either contain my vibration or raise it.” [Architectural Digest]
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF UNUSUAL AUCTION LOTS: The three granddaughters of Al Capone are selling off items that once belonged to the gangster, including a Colt .45 pistol and letters, at the Witherell’s auction house in Sacramento, California, the Wall Street Journal reports. Timothy Gordon , who appraised the collection (estimated to bring $700,000), told the paper that “Capone is the most-collected historical figure in the criminal world, and traditionally his items have sold at astronomical amounts.” On the opposite side of the country, at RR Auction in Boston, a manual for the Apple II computer that Steve Jobs signed in 1980 just sold for $787,484, USA Today reports. “Julian, Your generation is the first to grow up with computers,” the Apple co-founder wrote on the pamphlet. “Go change the world!”