‘Wall Street Bull’ Sculptor Dies, Digital Animation Sells for $580,000, and More: Morning Links from February 22, 2021

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The Headlines

ARTURO DI MODICA, THE CREATOR OF THE WALL STREET CHARGING BULLdied on Friday at the age of 80, Clay Risen reports in the New York Times. Di Modica began developing the piece in 1987, after the Black Monday stock selloff, intending it as a “get-well present, one that, he said, symbolized ‘the future,’ ” Risen writes. The artist spent more than $300,000 on it, and when it was completed in 1989, he placed it near the stock exchange late at night with the help of 40 friends. He then uncorked a bottle of ChampagneNBC News reports. The police carted it away the following afternoon, but it had become instantly iconic, and he was soon invited to display it nearby. A lesser-known aspect to the story from the Times: Investor Joe Lewis later acquired the work for an undisclosed sum, and agreed never to move it. (A big-league collector, Lewis sold a David Hockney for a record-shattering $90.3 million in 2018, as ARTnews reported at the time.) The New York Post reports that flowers were placed in front of the bull on Friday in honor of its creator.

AMSTERDAM’S MAYOR, FEMKE HALSEMA, CALLED ON a Dutch restitution panel to revisit the ownership of a Wassily Kandinsky painting once held by a Jewish family that now resides in the Stedelijk Museum’s collection, Colin Moynihan reports in the New York Times. The Kandinsky—a vibrantly colored landscape from 1909—came to the museum in 1940 as an auction purchase. It had previously been in the collection of Robert Lewenstein and Irma Klein . The restitution panel said in 2018 that, weighing various interests, it should stay at the Stedelijk, writing of the “the deteriorating financial circumstances” of the pair “well before the German invasion.” Their heirs have been pushing for the return of the painting, saying that it was sold under duress. A Dutch court rejected their appeal in December, as ARTnews reported.

The Digest

It’s a brave new world: a digital animation of a cat—Chris Torres’s Nyan Cat—sold for some $580,000 at auction last week, the latest sign of strength in the digital art market. [The New York Times]

The just-closed de Young Open exhibition at that San Francisco museum included 877 works from 762 Bay Area artists, selected from more than 6,000 applicants. The institution’s director, Thomas P. Campbell, said that “it really brought the whole museum together. And it really gave us a connection with artists all over the Bay Area.” [The New York Times]

Campbell also penned an op-ed to voice his concerns about the Association of Art Museum Directors’ relaxation of its deaccessioning rules. “The AAMD has acted with the best of intentions, but opened a Pandora’s box,” he writes. [Apollo]

With retail spaces empty In Hong Kong as a result of the pandemic, artists and curators are transforming them into independent art venues. [South China Morning Post]

Mike Rogoway in Portland, Oregon: “A large bust of York, an enslaved Black member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, appeared Saturday on the same Mount Tabor pedestal where a statue of Portland editor Harvey Scott stood until being torn down last fall.” [The Oregonian]

Scholars have determined that a message scrawled on one version of Edvard Munch’s The Scream (1893) was made by the artist. [The New York Times]

Artist Lorraine O’Grady got the profile treatment from Siddhartha Mitter in advance of her Brooklyn Museum retrospective next month. “I am somebody who is moving from one idea, to the next, to the next, to the next,” she said. “I feel that I’m working on the skin of the culture and I’m making incisions.” [The New York Times]

The Art Institute of Chicago has hired Norissa Bailey as its senior vice president for people and culture; she’s coming from Navy Pier, where she led human resources. [AIC/Press Release]

Actor Ryan Raftery is developing a new musical about Andy Warhol for Joe’s Pub in New York. The Pop maestro will be “on trial in the afterlife for being responsible for the creation of influencer culture, Bravo TV, and our social-media addiction,” said Raftery. [Page Six]

Artist and anthropologist Harry Smith preserved paper airplanes that he found on the street in the 1960s and ‘70s. A new book showcases his collection. [The Guardian]

The Minneapolis Institute of Art has commissioned ice sculptures of five works from its collection, including a Yoshitomo Nara dog sculpture and a Salvador Dalí piece combining a telephone and a lobster. [Fox 9 KMSP]

The Kicker

ROBERTA MCCAIN, THE MOTHER OF THE LATE SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN, died last year at the age of 108, and jewelry, art (including an Anders Zorn painting), and other items from her sprawling holdings were recently offered by the Sloans & Kenyon auction house in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Roxanne Roberts writes in the Washington Post . All 107 lots sold, drawing $97,000. Roberta McCain traveled throughout the world, and Roberts writes, “Her most famous travel story came from Europe when she was denied a rental car because she was too old: McCain bought a car instead . . . drove it during the trip and then shipped it home.” Porcelain and decorative works from her collection will be sold in the spring. [The Washington Post]

Thank you for reading. We’ll see you on Monday.

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