Damien Hirst Spotlights Emerging Talent for his Newport Street Gallery Show

In further news: Buyer of Salvator Mundi made head of Saudi Culture Ministry; Sotheby’s files lawsuit against Greek government

Helen Beard with her work Cyssan (2017). Courtesy: the artist and Newport Street Gallery

Helen Beard with her work Cyssan (2017). Courtesy: the artist and Newport Street Gallery

Helen Beard with her work Cyssan (2017). Courtesy: the artist and Newport Street Gallery

Damien Hirst has turned his hand to fostering emerging talent. A show at his Newport Street Gallery in London spotlights a new generation of artists: Boo Saville, Helen Beard and Sadie Laska. In advance of the show – the largest each artist has been involved in – Hirst has provided studio space in Gloucester and Peckham, offered mentoring to and commissioned new artworks from the trio. And all of the 21 works shown in the ‘True Colours’ exhibition have now been acquired for Hirst’s own Murderme collection. Boo Saville’s colour field artworks are created through sanding back painted layers until the canvas gleams. Sadie Laska has assembled several pieces out of recycled materials including old canvases, foil, IKEA bags and spray paint. And Helen Beard’s three-metre high Cyssan (2017) features a sexual encounter unfolding in rainbow colours. ‘Sex in the media is full of shame right now, and it’s pretty much always from the perspective of the male gaze […] it ends up taking away from the beautiful thing that sex can be,’ Beard says in the exhibition catalogue.

The buyer of the USD$450 million Leonardo da Vinci Salvator Mundi (c.1500), Saudi Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud has been named head of Saudi Arabia’s new Culture Ministry. The purchase of the painting and its astronomical price has been shrouded in rumour. A report in the Wall Street Journal alleged that Prince Bader was acting as a proxy for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman while buying the painting. Saudi authorities offered another version of events, saying that Prince Bader was acting on behalf of the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum in the United Arab Emirates. Don’t miss Rahel Aima writing on the forces behind Saudi Arabia’s soft power push.

Sotheby’s are taking the Greek culture ministry to court, filing a landmark lawsuit over the ownership of an ancient Greek bronze horse. The 8th century BCE artefact, estimated at USD$150,000 – $250,000 was due to be sold by Sotheby’s last month, but was pulled from auction at the last minute after the Greek culture ministry demanded that it be returned to Greece. The family of the late New York collectors Howard and Saretta Barnet said the item was acquired by them in 1973. The suing of a government body by an auction house makes the lawsuit the first of its kind. In a statement to frieze, Sotheby’s said that Greece ‘has not come forward with any evidence or facts to support its newly-minted claim the object should be treated as “stolen”, and we are asking the court to clarify the rights of legitimate owners of ancient works of art and protect clients against baseless claims.’

A new art project has launched on Kickstarter with hopes of raising money to fund the largest public art project in US history. Art nonprofit For Freedoms’s 50 State Initiative was recently launched on a crowdfunding platform to help realize a series of 52 artist-designed billboards installed in every US state as well as Washington DC and Puerto Rico. Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, creators of the project and For Freedoms founders, say that the goal of the project is to ‘empower everyone across these United States to feel welcome in civic conversations.’

An open letter condemning the assault of Yiannis Boutaris, the mayor of Thessaloniki, Greece, by a far-right mob, has been signed by more than 120 documenta 14 participants. The assault, which took place on 19 May, saw the 75-year old politician, who is an advocate for multiculturalism and LGBTQI+ communities, hospitalized with injuries to his head, back, and legs after being punched and kicked to the ground. Naeem Mohaiemen, Maria Eichhorn, Adam Szymczyck and Cecilia Vicuña were among the signatories of the letter which quotes freedom fighter Martin Luther King Jr and claims ‘The attack was cynical, but history is not with its perpetrators in the longer term.’

Glasgow-based arts company NVA will close after 25 years, due to financial and structural challenges. The organization, which was founded in 1992 by director Angus Farquhar had recently lost its regular funding after an unsuccessful bid in Creative Scotland’s 2018-21 funding round. The critically acclaimed arts organization had planned to restore a 1960s seminary but announced on Tuesday that it would be closing down. They cited the lack of funding for the GBP£10m St Peter’s Seminary renovation project as a contributing factor to their decision.

The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation is closing down and giving away its remaining holdings. The foundation is gifting art work by the iconic pop artist to various museums and institutions, the first being the Whitney Museum of American Art who received a gift of five paintings, 17 sculptures and 145 prints. It will also give historical material to the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art.

In gallery news: Danh Vo is now represented by White Cube – the artist was recently the subject of a major survey at the Guggenheim; ShanghART and Waldburger Wouters will be opening a new project space during Art Basel – marking the first-ever expansion of a major Chinese gallery into Europe; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery are opening a new space in Los Angeles in July, with an inaugural exhibition of Charles Long; and Paul Kasmin is opening a fourth space in Chelsea with a rooftop sculpture garden sitting adjacent to New York’s High Line.

And finally, the Oslo Biennial has announced a home for its first edition – Myntgata 2 will offer artists’s studios as well as serve as a visitor centre and operational hub. The biennial, curated by Eva González-Sancho and Per Gunnar Eeg-Tverbakk, is scheduled to open in May 2019.

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