"60 Minutes" Grump Grills Jeffrey Deitch, Sotheby's Spreads in Hong Kong, and More Must-Read Art News

"60 Minutes" Grump Grills Jeffrey Deitch, Sotheby's Spreads in Hong Kong, and More Must-Read Art News
Morley Safer
(Courtesy Getty Images)

– Morley Safer Returns to Contemporary Art: Two decades ago, "60 Minutes" newsman Morley Safer attracted quite a bit of fury with his (in)famous segment "Yes...But is it Art?," in which he charged contemporary artists like Cy Twombly and Christopher Wool with being, in essence, frauds. The incident inspired a chapter in Dave Hickey's "Air Guitar" and many passionate defenses of contemporary art. This Sunday, Safer steps back into the ring, taking on today's booming contemporary art market. We spotted him doing some research in the field at December's Art Basel Miami Beach, asking some questions of former dealer and L.A. MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch. Just imagine, if Safer thought Jeff Koons's prices were indefensible back then... [CBS]  

– Sotheby's to Open Hong Kong Offices in May: The auction houses continue to double down on their bet on Hong Kong, and now Sotheby's has announced an opening date and location for its new offices in the free-wheeling Asian metropolis. Beginning May 19, the company will take over 15,000 feet at One Pacific Place. The house says the expansion will allow it to grow its business in Asia "beyond its traditional twice-annual series of auctions." [AMM

– Can't Buy Me LIPAPaul McCartney's performing arts school, the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) — which opened in 1995 in the central Liverpool building that once housed the boys' school he and George Harrison attended — has now taken over the former Liverpool College of Art, where sometimes-painter John Lennon studied along with the Beatles' original bassist, Stuart Sutcliffe. The only other living Beatle, Ringo Starr, hasn't bought any art schools of note lately. [BBC]

– Motor City Mulls Museum Tax: A new tax to boost the Detroit Institute of the Arts, which would apply to owners of homes worth $200,000 or more, may make its way onto ballots in August and could raise as much as $23 million for the cash-strapped institution. A similar measure in 2008 to generate funds for the the Detroit Zoo proved ineffectual, however, as property values plummeted. [MLive]

– $100-Million Collection Heads to Christie's: The collection of the late apparel manufacturer David Pincus and his wife, Geraldine, is headed to the auction block in May. The sale includes Abstract Expressionist masterworks like Mark Rothko's "Orange, Red, Yellow" (est. $35 -45 million) and Jackson Pollock's "No. 28" ($20-30 million). It's rare to see a Pollock at auction these days, and we know someone in Arkansas who will be excited to hear about it. [NYT]

– Philly Clamors for Cage: The Philadelphia Museum of Art will celebrate the centenary of the modernist composer (and frequent PMA visitor) John Cage with a major exhibition, placing him alongside over 100 works by four prominent artistic influences: Marcel Duchamp, Jasper JohnsRobert Rauschenberg, and the late choreographer Merce Cunningham. [Inquirer]

–  Dartmouth Draws Major Arts Donation: Prominent Metropolitan Museum donors Leon Black and his wife, Debra, are spreading the wealth. They have given Dartmouth $48 million to build a new art complex named in their honor. The building will be ready for the fall semester; in addition to providing new classrooms, auditoriums, and a gallery, Black (class of '73) has commissioned a new wall sculpture by Ellsworth Kelly for the center. [NYT, Press Release]

– Philipe Parreno Resuscitates Marilyn Monroe: The French artist has designed robots that imitate the actress's handwriting and voice for a new film to be shown at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel this summer. The camera will see Marilyn's Waldorf Astoria hotel suite through her eyes, as she sits down to write a letter. Creepy! (Incidentally, we named a drawing related to this film our best artwork of the Armory Show at the beginning of the month.) [TAN]

Electrician Accused of Stealing Picassos Fights Back: A retired French couple on trial for handling 271 supposedly stolen pieces by Pablo Picasso has counter-sued the Picasso Administration for fraud, arguing that the organization declares Picasso works fraudulent simply in order to get hold of them. The electrician and his wife claim the pieces were a personal gift from Picasso. [Liberation]

– Geneticists Map Van Gogh's "Sunflowers": Scientists from the University of Georgia are working to understand the genetic makeup of the kind of voluminous sunflowers frequently painted by Vincent van Gogh (who, coincidentally, would have turned 159 today). "The mutation we've identified is the same one that van Gogh captured in the 1800s," said a researcher. [Daily Mail]


See Morley Safer talk to Jeffrey Deitch at Art Basel Miami Beach, from Sunday's "60 Minutes":


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