21st Century

Viennese Museums Open Pornography Account

October 21 2021

Video: Vienna

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Art Newspaper has reported on the recent sensational news that Vienna's Museums have opened up an account with the pornography site OnlyFans. The initiative was supposedly set up after several artworks from the city's collections were being censored on social media platforms for their explicit materials. Subscribers to their account will receive admission to one of the city's featured museums.


I suppose this is a rather fun way for museums to point out the aesthetic incompetence of social media giants in being able to distinguish between art and genuine pornography.

Exactly what lines separate the two will always stir up debate. However, to my mind, art suggests the beauty of the human form in a way that we can admire it for its own sake from a position of disinterest. Pornography, on the other hand, is in some way a desecration of the human form were the realms of fantasy and gratification appear available to us. Maybe it's time the media executives of these social media sites took some lessons in art history (and maybe I should too, for that matter).

Samsung Partners with the Louvre

October 15 2021

Video: Samsung

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A reader has sent across an intriguing article that the technology company Samsung has partnered with the Louvre. This partnership revolves around the rights to use 40 high-definition images of Louvre masterpieces for their new TVs called The Frame.

According to the marketing spiel:

With new artworks from the Louvre joining the collection, The Frame now boasts a catalog with over 1,600 works of art from 42 different countries that consumers can enjoy in 4K picture quality from museums and galleries around the world, including the Prado Museum in Madrid, the Albertina Museum in Vienna, the Tate Modern in London, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Hermitage State Museum in Saint Petersburg and LUMAS.


The Frame boasts a unique and customizable design that sets it apart from the rest. Designed to be a TV when it’s on and art when it’s off, The Frame is an innovative digital canvas that reflects an individual’s personal style. The 2021 version of the lifestyle TV offers new custom options to complement every space and style, with two frame designs: modern (available in white, teak and brown) and beveled (available in white and brick red).


I'm not sure about you, but, one of the reasons I love looking at paintings, watercolours and drawings is the fact that they are not screens. Surely we have enough of these glowing pieces of glass in our lives? I'm certain that the modern world would disagree with me on this point...

Sure, we may not all be able to afford a masterpiece. But head down to your local auction house and or mid-range antique and art establishments and you're very likely to find some beautiful objects made by human hands at strikingly affordable prices.

Banksy's 'Love is in the Bin' Increases 18x in Price

October 15 2021

Video: Gloss

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Sotheby's sale of Banksy's Love is in the Bin made headlines last night after it achieved a record £18.5m (inc. commission) over its £4m - £6m estimate. The same painting had sold for £1,042,000 (inc. commission) a mere three years ago.

It seems that this is proof that gimmicks really can be sustained over a period of time, even if the original trick was one that was supposed to poke fun at the art market in the first place. A beautiful irony, I suppose.

Whistler: Art & Legacy - Limiting Collections

October 13 2021

Image of Whistler: Art & Legacy - Limiting Collections

Picture: The Hunterian

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Hunterian Museum in Glasgow's exhibition Whistler: Art & Legacy will be closing at the end of this month. However, the museum are putting on a fascinating panel discussion on 19th October 2021 on the topic of 'Historical limitations on the use of museum collections: the ethics of change'. The inspiration came from the bequest rules surrounding the Hunterian's vast collection of Whistler works, which limit their display to Glasgow only.

The panel will include Dr Xavier Bray, Director of the Wallace Collection, London, Duncan Dornan, Head of Museums and Collections at Glasgow Life, Dr Grishka Petri, Honorary Research Fellow (University of Glasgow, School of Culture & Creative Arts), Dr Elena Cooper, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, CREATe, University of Glasgow.

One can imagine the panel will represent a majority of those in favour of change, especially as the panel contains representatives of institutions who have successfully overturned rules of bequests in recent times.

Salvator Mundi gets NFT Makeover

October 13 2021

Image of Salvator Mundi gets NFT Makeover

Picture: Artnet.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Well, I suppose it was only a matter of time before the world's most expensive painting would be taken hostage by so-called 'crypto-artists'.

Artnet.com have published a short article on the new work of Hansen Wang entitled 'The Greats', which sees Leonardo's work transformed into several styles inspired by famous artists.

Big institutions are also pilling on the NFT bandwagon, with the British Museum being the latest to announce it will be selling digital postcards of works by the likes of Hokusai.


Of course, if you want a 'digital work of art' for display at home, I recommend heading over to Google Images and using the right-click button of your mouse to download your very own JPEG. There we are!

MBS Spends more on Leonardo than Newcastle United

October 7 2021

Image of MBS Spends more on Leonardo than Newcastle United

Picture: Christie's / Newcastle United

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

I was bemused to see that some of the English Press have been pointing out that Newcastle United's new prospective owner Mohammed bin Salman spent more money on buying Leonardo's Salvator Mundi than the Premier League Football Club Newcastle United. The club is set to be purchased in a £305m deal whilst the painting was purchased for £342m (inc. commission) at Christie's in 2017. A rather interesting comparison that puts things into perspective, I suppose.

Shredded Banksy Back on the Block

September 6 2021

Image of Shredded Banksy Back on the Block

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Interesting news emerged last week that Sotheby's will be re-auctioning Banksy's Love in the Bin in October. Famously, the work was shredded during a live auction in 2018 just after it was sold for £1,042,000. The work will now reappear with an estimate of £4m - £6m.


The 2018 gimmick caused quite the stir back in the day. Let's wait and see if the hype has been sustained over these past three years.

Police Recover Stolen Picasso then Drop It

June 30 2021

Image of Police Recover Stolen Picasso then Drop It

Picture: Twitter

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

An amusing and alarming GIF (click here to see the clip on Twitter) has been doing the rounds on social media. It shows the Police in Greece accidentally dropping a Picasso which was recently recovered after being stolen from the country's National Gallery in 2012. Fortunately, the authorities also managed to recover a Piet Mondrian landscape from the same heist (right). A 49-year-old builder has been arrested in connection with the thefts.

What was the fate of the third work of art that was stolen? Best not to read this if you suffer from high blood pressure:

A third work in pen and ink by Italian artist Guglielmo Caccia, from the 16th Century, was also seized but police said the suspect told them it had been damaged and he had flushed it down the toilet.

Raphael's Birthplace Exhibit 3D Printed Head

June 29 2021

Image of Raphael's Birthplace Exhibit 3D Printed Head

Picture: ansa.it

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Urbino that a 3D printed bust of Raphael, digitally reconstructed from a plaster cast of his skull, has been put on display in the artist's birthplace. This image was born out of a project initiated by scientists from the Tor Vergata University in Rome in 2019. The 'likeness' is now on view, protected by a glass case, within the painter's childhood rooms.


I've said it before - If this bust teaches us anything, it is that man's ability to render a convincing human face has actually regressed since the sixteenth century. Furthermore, could they have picked a more lifeless material of which to fashion this head out of?

Caravaggio Sweatshirts & Shorts

May 7 2021

Image of Caravaggio Sweatshirts & Shorts

Picture: Defaultclub

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Instagram must be harvesting too much information regarding my interests, as it's decided to bombard me with adverts for Default Club's new range of Caravaggio 'streetwear' clothing.

I wonder if Caravaggio could have ever imagined his religious masterpieces being reused for printed clothing centuries after his death. Sweatshirts, t-shirts, backpacks and shorts can all be purchased with his paintings plastered over them, with prices ranging from €25 - €55 (excluding shipping).

Personally, I feel rather obliged to purchase this particular sweatshirt for myself.

Turner & Lowry Actor given First Solo Show

May 4 2021

Image of Turner & Lowry Actor given First Solo Show

Picture: Pontone Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Timothy Spall, who played both J.M.W. Turner and L.S. Lowry on the big screen, has been given his first ever solo show by the Pontone Gallery in London. Spall had received special tutelage from the painting consultant Tim Wright for a period of two years before the 2014 Turner biopic.

Spall is quoted as expressing:

“I started painting stuff that was based on very strong images that related to the mood and feelings that I had and then all of a sudden this thing started to happen,” he said. 

Wright said Spall could have been a “very good pastiche artist” after he worked on a copy of a Turner painting in the buildup to the biopic, and although Spall’s own paintings are mostly landscapes, they’re a world away from Turner, Spall said. “They’re pretty good benchmarks to reach for, wherever you get one millimetre towards it or not.”

The show Out of the Storm will run from 18th June - 18 July 2021.

Do Not Adjust Your Screens

April 16 2021

Image of Do Not Adjust Your Screens

Picture: smithsonianmag.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

"Why has AHN decided to utterly debase itself by using poor quality images?" - I know what you're thinking, but it's not my fault.

The picture above is a new piece of contemporary art by the Miaz Brothers in their upcoming show at the Maddox Gallery in London entitled The Past, Present & Imperceptible. The exhibition features blurred images of old master paintings by the likes of Caravaggio and Rembrandt.

Explaining these works in an article for the Smithsonian Magazine:

“[I]t is not possible to gaze passively. Instinctively, you are immediately prompted to engage on a physical level with what you see, moving closer or further away to decode what is before you,” say the brothers in a statement. “As memory begins to manifest and thoughts start taking form, emotions arise along with the possibility for reflection.”

Well, there it is.

Looking Under Paintings with AI

April 8 2021

Video: Oxia Palus

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's the latest collaboration between tech wizards and the art world. The art collective called Oxia Palus has been using AI to recreate paintings found underneath artworks. In this case, they've used scans of Picasso's The Crouching Beggar to digitally recreate an overpainted work that was discovered in 2018. It's believed that the painting underneath Picasso's is by Santiago Rusiñol, a modernist landscape painter and friend of the artist.

According to the article above:

The Oxia Palus team used a combination of spectroscopic imaging, AI, and 3D printing to actualize the visible trace of the landscape. They call the method “the neomastic process.”

The company has gone so far as re-printing 100 copies of the AI interpretation of the lost painting for sale.

Couple Accidentally Vandalise Abstract Work in Exhibition

April 8 2021

Video: newzee

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

An amusing story from South Korea regarding a couple who accidentally vandalised an abstract painting in a contemporary art exhibition in Seoul.

The couple assumed that the paints and brushes left underneath the work, a piece of set dressing intended by the artist, was encouragement for visitors to add to the piece. The work by the graffiti artist JonOne completed the work in 2016 for a live audience and has been valued at around $500,000. The work is now behind a small barrier with a newly installed 'Do not touch' sign.

Update - A reader has been in touch:

love the accidental vandalism, the question is…. without the cctv footage would anyone have noticed?

Empty Old Masters

April 1 2021

Image of Empty Old Masters

Picture: Octobrium

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The website designboom.com have featured works by the contemporary artist Octobrium who has been digitally manipulating old masters to create 'paintings from an alternative position in time'. Essentially, the artist carefully samples images and removes the figures from scenes to reveal the settings in their most pure form. The picture above is after Jan Gossaert's The Adoration of the Kings in the National Gallery, London.

As the website explains:

octobrium invites the audience to consider the moment when the actors have departed and to reflect upon the landscapes and structures that form the backdrop to the composition. in the absence of representations of living characters that had previously inhabited the scene, viewers are compelled to relate to the picture from solely their own perspective and thought; and the picture then assumes a different meaning. a meaning informed by our memory of the original painting.


A very neat trick I suppose, which does remind us how marvellous and interesting the architectural settings of such paintings can be. Regular readers might remember artist José Manuel Ballester undertaking the same effect with a Canaletto last June. Turn this into an NFT, and they might just start realising more money at auction than real old master paintings (perish the thought).

Hermitage to put on NFT Exhibition

March 26 2021

Image of Hermitage to put on NFT Exhibition

Picture: hermitagemuseum.org

Posted by Adam Busiakeiwicz:

The State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, has announced that it will be hosting an NFT exhibition later this year. This will make it one of the first major museums to host a show dedicated to these digital artworks which have become the latest craze in the art world. The show will be supported by the Aksenov Family Foundation and aims to 'study new forms of audience involvement in cultural practices.'

The Emperor's New Clothes

March 12 2021

Image of The Emperor's New Clothes

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

History was made yesterday at Christie's. A total of $69m (inc. fees) was paid by a anonymous bidder for the artwork above. Indeed, this work of art is not physical at all, but a digital NFT (non-fungible token) dreamt up by the digital artist Beeple. It consists of a collage of thousands of images created daily by the artist over a period of thirteen years.

Zoom in closer and you'll see the ephemera that has been spliced together to create this confusion. Why exactly has this type of digital creation being heralded as the new craze in art? It seems that the fad for NFTs is bound up in the zeitgeist of our age. They are seemingly promoted and collected by the fashionable entrepreneurs of big tech companies. People can spend their money as they wish, but will these works be of lasting interest? Or will they be discarded as quickly as an old electric car, and survive as long as it takes for the artwork's memory card to corrupt.

Tune in to Bendor and Waldemar's podcast on Sunday to hear their live reaction to the sale.

Banksy vs. Banksy / Christie's vs. Sotheby's

February 23 2021

Image of Banksy vs. Banksy / Christie's vs. Sotheby's

Picture: Christie's and Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

At first I put it down to lockdown fever, but no.

I've been rather stumped by this very curious happening on the Christie's and Sotheby's auction calendars. Both auction houses will be organising Banksy auctions on exactly the same day, in the same city and seemingly selling the exact same works.

It seems that both auction houses will be selling print versions of Love is in the Air and have picked them as the thumbnail for their sales. The Sotheby's version is estimated at £80k - £120k.

How can this make any commercial sense? Or is this the latest publicity stunt which is set to unfold in spectacular fashion?

Twombly Foundation Threatens to sue Louvre over Renovation

February 19 2021

Image of Twombly Foundation Threatens to sue Louvre over Renovation

Picture: artnews.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's an interesting story that's been developing over the past week. The Twombly foundation, the self-appointed guardians of the work of the late Cy Twombly, have threatened to sue the Louvre after a slight alteration to a monumental ceiling painting by the artist "was made without any consultation with, much less permission from, the foundation." The work was unveiled in 2010.

A recent renovation of the Salle des Bronzes by the museum included the changing of the floor, lighting and colour of the walls to red. The museum have defended their decision as their right to change displays over the centuries, but the Twombly foundation think otherwise. The foundation has claimed “The deep red that has been introduced violates these harmonies and entirely destroys the balance of Twombly’s sensitive and memorable installation" which has caused “serious damage” and a “violation of the artist’s moral rights.”

The Louvre have rebuffed these claims, stating that there was nothing in their agreement with the late artist that demanded that the room stay frozen in time.

Enforcing Resale Clauses in Contemporary Art

November 19 2020

Image of Enforcing Resale Clauses in Contemporary Art

Picture: artnet

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Artnet.com have published an article regarding attempts by some dealers in the contemporary art world to legally enforce reselling restrictions on artists they represent.

The enforcement of 'non-resale' and 'first-right-of-refusal' clauses have been justified as "a wish to maintain control over the market in the artist’s work, and the desire to ensure that the artworks are sold to buyers who appreciate rather than speculate." Some legal opinions have called these attempts and covenants "unenforceable."

As AHN has pointed out before, it is a curious feature of the contemporary art world that some dealers bid-up artists they represent in order to keep up bubbles from bursting. This question is unlikely to go-away anytime soon, but is an interesting debate to follow.

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