10 Priciest Living American Artists & Major Cloud Gate Controversy

The 5 art world updates you need to know this week.

1. The 10 Most Expensive Living American Artists

Artnet News has compiled a list of the 10 most expensive living American artists, according to auction results from 2005 to 2015. Unsurprisingly, Jeff Koons tops the list, with his Balloon Dog (Orange) selling for $58.4 million at auction in 2013.

Jeff Koons’ Ballon Dog (Orange), a major contribution to his title as the most expensive living American artist.

And Koons’ reign doesn’t show many signs of dwindling, with a recent retrospective at the Whitney Museum and his works comprising 11 of the top 20 lots sold during the last 10 years. Koons is followed by Jasper Johns, Ed Ruscha, Christopher Wool and Robert Ryman, who has moved up the list thanks to a $20.6 million sale of his Bridge painting in May. Cindy Sherman, the only woman in the group, joins the list for the first time at number 10 with her Untitled Film Stills selling for $6.7 million in 2014.

2. Questions Over Similar Sculpture Lead to Cloud Gate-Gate

Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, more colloquially known as “The Bean,” has become a widely recognized, iconic staple of Chicago’s landscape. Therefore, Kapoor was rather furious when he found out that a new public sculpture in Karamay, China meant to represent an oil bubble had a striking likeness with his work that has been installed in Chicago since 2006.

The new sculpture yet to be officially unveiled in Karamay (left) and Kapoor’s “Bean” in Chicago (cbc news, DNA info)

“It seems that in China today it is permissible to steal the creativity of others. I feel I must take this to the highest level and pursue those responsible in the courts,” Kapoor said in a statement regarding the strikingly similar sculpture. In response to Kapoor’s alegations, Ma Jun, an official with Karamy’s Tourism Bureau said, “While we use similar materials, the shapes and meanings are different. ‘Cloud Gate’ intends to reflect the sky, but ours reflects the ground.”

3. Court Intervenes in Polke’s Complicated Provenances

Sigmar Polke has left behind an oeuvre that is both highly sought after and highly confusing. After a man claimed to have purchased a Polke painting for $90 in a thrift store last month, another of the late German artist’s paintings is caught up in a debate of rightful provenance.

Polke’s contested Propellerfrau (Arts Connected)

In 2009, a year before his death, Polke reported his painting Propellerfrau as stolen, leading authorities to confiscate the painting from a Cologne-based collector who attested that he lawfully purchased the work from Polke in 2007 for $111,455. Now, a court in Cologne has ruled that there is not enough evidence to prove that the work was, in fact stolen, including one witness testimony, reported by artnet News, that after reporting the work as stolen, Polke admitted he might have sold it lawfully after all. The court has ordered Polke’s estate to return the piece to the Cologne collector.

4. Guggenheim Expands Chinese Art Program, Amid Growing Attention Toward Asian Art

The Guggenheim has hired two new curators to expand its program of contemporary Chinese art. Hon Hanru, currently the artistic director for Rome’s MAXXI, will act a a consulting curator. Xiaoyu Weng will fill the role of associate curator of Chinese art, having previously served as founding director of the Kadist Art Foundation’s Asia program.

Xiaoyu Weng (left) and Hou Hanru (ArtForum)

The increased attention toward Chinese art from such a major art institution comes amid the persistent growth of both the number of Asia-based collectors and the collection of Asian art in general. Within the last 5 years, the collection of Asian art has been the fastest growing sector of art sales, with the collection of Old Masters declining while the sales of Contemporary, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism works remained largely stable (ARTnews).

5. Was King Tut Not Alone in His Famous Tomb?

The world of ancient art saw one of its biggest recent discoveries this past week. Researcher Nicholas Reeves of the University of Arizona believes that he has discovered secret passageways that connected the tombs of King Tutankhamun and Queen Nefertiti.

A rendering of Reeve’s proposed theory (left) (artnet News); The famous bust of Queen Nefertiti, on display at the Neues Museum, Berlin (New Yorker)

From laser scans of Tutankhamun’s tomb — taken to create an exact replica of it — Reeves believes he has identified two walled-over doors that lead to the resting place of Nefertiti, who some archeologists believe to have been King Tut’s mother. Since the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922, the burial chamber has produced a wealth of ancient art and artifacts. However, experts have long wondered as to why King Tut’s tomb was so relatively small. Reeves’ theory would explain this: the renown King Tut’s burial chamber was actually an antechamber to the larger tomb of his mother, who may have ruled Egypt as a pharaoh (rather than a queen) in her time.


Written with the help of Alice Mahoney, from www.artlist.co

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