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ART TOYS, DESIGNER TOYS, OR URBAN VINYL: Whatever you call them, the limited-edition figurines that KAWS has made ubiquitous are becoming increasingly popular, and prices for some pieces are climbing on an active secondary market. Collectors of the medium will be “walking around with $2,000 sneakers on their feet and then buying art toys the same way they buy sneakers,” one artist tells Shanti Escalante-De Mattei in an ARTnews story that delves into the thorny history of form. The boom market in art toys comes as many non-traditional asset classes are seeing spikes in interest. Rare whisky, for one, has been enjoying a sizable uptick over the past decade, according to InsideHook. However, unlike art (and art toys) prized spirits eventually vanish from the market. (“Bottles do get opened and consumed, perhaps more often than you’d imagine,” one specialist said.) On a related note, areas like wine, handbags, and watches have become a part of Christie’s business strategy today, its CEO, Guillaume Cerutti, explained in a recent webinar with ARTnews Editorial Director Marion Maneker. While Cerutti aims to maintain the house’s status as “the port of call for great collections,” he is also “focusing more and more on day sales” and the luxury category “to build sustainable growth,” he said.
ART HISTORIAN AND CRITIC ROSALIND KRAUS HAS a letter to the editor in the New York Times concerning theory, but not the post-structuralist, deconstructionist, and Lacanian variety that has long informed her influential writing, teaching, and editorial work at the journal October. This time she is weighing in on conspiracy theories. Because it’s a brief note, there’s no way to summarize it satisfactorily: best to just give it a read . Krauss aficionados will recall that she penned of her most trenchant essays, 1982’s “Sincerely Yours,” as a response to an October letter to the editor from Rodin scholar Albert Elsen, who objected to her analysis in “The Originality of the Avant-Garde.” Could there be a new project brewing? [The New York Times]
The feminist mural in Madrid that far-right politicians have been attempting to paint over appears to be safe for now, after the city council passed a resolution to preserve it. A center-right party switched its position to keep the work in place. [The Guardian]
Slovenia’s nationalist prime minister, Janez Jansa, has been changing the leadership of major museums over the past year. [The New York Times]
Tania Bruguera was among a group of activists arrested in a protest in Havana on Wednesday. [The Art Newspaper]
In Germany, a debate is raging about whether a 300-year-old violin should be classified as “Nazi-looted property.” [Deutsche Welle]
Though Leon Black said he will step down as CEO of the Apollo investment firm, because of his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, there is no indication that he will be departing from his role as chairman of the Museum of Modern Art. [The New York Times]
Art collector and MoMA trustee Steve Cohen has reportedly seen his hedge fund, Point72, drop 15 percent this year amid the wild climb in GameStop stock. Point72 had money invested with Melvin Capital, which had been shorting the video-game retailer. [The New York Times]
The ambassador of the European Union to the United States, Stavros Lambrinidis, is displaying works from Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum in his home in Washington, D.C. [The Baltimore Sun]
Antony Gormley is reportedly concerned that renovation work on the A1 road in Great Britain could obstruct views of his Angel of the North outdoor sculpture. [The Guardian]
Meanwhile, Sir Antony is asking Britons to make an artwork at home as part of what is being billed as the biggest art exhibition in history. [BBC News]
Drawings by the late artist Jason Polan are featured on a new line from Uniqlo. [The Cut]
Last January, Tessa Solomon’s wrote an obituary for Polan. [ARTnews]
The Hollywood memorabilia Profiles in History is becoming part of Heritage Auctions, with founder Joseph Maddalena taking the title of senior executive vice president. [Antique Trader]
The Tehran Museum of Contemporary will reopen after a two-year restoration with a show of Western artists who protested the Vietnam War. [Tehran Times]
The late comedian Jerry Stiller set aside funds in his will for Abrons Arts Center in New York. [Page Six]
Michaela Goade has become the first Native American artist to win the Caldecott Medal for children’s book illustrations. [CNN]
DELIVERING A POEM AT THE U.S. PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION earlier this month, Amanda Gorman instantly became one of the most famous poets in the world. Now a portrait of the 22-year-old writer, by the Ghanaian artist Raphael Adjetey Adjei Mayne, has been donated to her alma mater, Harvard University, Angelica Villa reports for Art Market Monitor. The piece was donated to the school by LGBTQ+ activist Amar Singh, and will be held by the school’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research. New York gallery Ross-Sutton Gallery handled the deal. Have a look at the work at AAM. [Art Market Monitor]
Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.