This Week in Art News

A New Auction Record, Saltz on the Whitney Biennial & More

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Published

May 17, 2019

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Claude Monet

Each week, we scour the internet for the most significant, surprising, and outrageous art news—helping you stay informed (and sound smart). Have a suggestion? Let us know on social media (@meetmeural) with the tag #thisweekinartnews. (See all installments.)

''Rabbit'' by Jeff Koons

For nearly four decades, Jeff Koons has been known not only for his art—which has remained on the vanguard of modernity—but also for the prices he generates. He’s a master of selling his work, himself, and the idea of art as commodity. On Wednesday night, he outdid himself—and every other living artist—when his Rabbit (1986), a very Koonsian stainless steel sculpture, sold for $91.1 million with fees, setting a new record for an auctioned work by a living artist. If just by a hair, it broke the previous record, set by David Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool With Two Figures) (1972).

Photo: Courtesy the artist; Anton Kern Gallery, New York; and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects / © Nicole Eisenman

New York’s excitable, timeless art critic is back at it again with a review of the new Whitney Biennial, an exhibit that launched today. The show has garnered mixed reviews, creating buzz not just around the art featured but also the show’s politics. The museum made a noteworthy push for a more inclusive, expansive list of artists. Saltz applauds but has other problems: “Yet for a Biennial with so much diversity in who is being shown, there’s an enervating lack of formal innovation, as if the curators couldn’t take those kinds of formal chances. As a result, sometimes a whole room fizzles.”

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It’s been a big week for big sales, with the Koons blockbuster (above), as well as the sale of Monet’s Meules (1890), which just auctioned for $110.7 million, setting a new record for an Impressionist. (It surpassed another work by Monet, Nymphéas en Fleur, which sold just last year for $84.7 million.) And talk about a return on investment: The work was last sold in 1986 for just more than 2% of the sale price, $2.5 million. The work is part of a series of 25; only eight of which are not in a public collection.

Photo by Ksenia Kuleshova

Artsy has compiled a thorough list of 20 up-and-coming female photographers. A brief browse through reveals how diverse these shutterbugs are from one another—not just in the cultures they call home but also in their techniques. These shots are all the more impressive when you consider they were originally taken as part of an editorial endeavour. We recommend skimming until you find something that catches your eye and then taking a deeper dive.

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Key Works: Claude Monet

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