Art Snapshot: Rise of the Masses!

An average Joe discovers a $200 million trove of Ansel Adams negatives at a garage sale, struggling art vendors protest

An average Joe discovers a $200 million trove of Ansel Adams negatives at a garage sale, struggling art vendors protest new regulations, and flip-flop wearing bargain hunters clamor for Lawrence Salander’s belongings. This week in art news: don’t forget the little guy.

1. YouTube Play Generates Buzz and Frustration

The jury for the Guggenheim’s YouTube Play project, a search for the 20 most exciting works of video art, was announced this week, and will include Ryan Mcginley, Takashi Murakami, Shirin Neshat, and the band Animal Collective. The announcement spurred blogger skepticism about all aspects of the project: Art Fag City worries about potential censorship, while July Dobryzinski’s Real Clear Arts fears corporate sponsors are getting too close to the content.

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Our take: With the relevance of Bravo’s Work of Art plummeting, it looks like we’ve got to pin our art-competition hopes on YouTube Play, for better or for worse.

2. Museum of Patriotism Closes
The Museum of Patriotism in Atlanta will close its doors this week due to financial constraints after only six years. In a genius PR stunt, museum officials are spinning the closing as the beginning of a new “virtual museum,” also known as a slightly beefed up website.

Our take: When Uncle Sam closes a door, he opens an Internet Explorer window. We should have known.

3. Lady Gaga Channels Duchamp
For a work titled “Armitage Shanks” at London’s gallery, Lady Gaga signed the side of a urinal with the words, “I’m not fucking Duchamp but I love pissing with you.” Works by artists including Terence Koh and Marilyn Minter are also available.

Our take: Lady Gaga’s got the recipe for celebrity down pat: winking art history references, unnecessary use of the word “fucking,” and, most importantly, not wearing pants.

4. A “Festive Auction” of Salander’s Belongings
The remaining belongings of disgraced art dealer Lawrence Salander brought in $245,000 at auction over the weekend in Hudson, NY. Bloomberg described the atmosphere as “oddly festive,” with buyers in Madras shorts munching on complimentary bagels in between bids for baroque candlesticks and porcelain vases.

Our take: Lawrence Salander may have been a liar and a cheat, but no one ever said he didn’t have good taste.

5. Adams Negatives Worth $200 Million Found at Garage Sale
Art and forensic experts believe that 65 glass plates purchased at a Fresno garage sale are in fact photographic negatives taken by Ansel Adams. The historically significant collection could be worth more than $200 million, although some still doubt its authenticity. Painter Rick Norsigian bought the negatives for $45 when he was looking for a barber chair at a garage sale in 2000.  

Our take: This found art trend is really starting to make us feel left out. It’s like every basement but ours secretly holds the climax to Antiques Roadshow.

6. Largest Restitution Suit in History Filed Against Hungary
Heirs of a Hungarian banker have filed a lawsuit against the Hungarian government and several museums it oversees, in what experts say is the world’s largest unresolved Holocaust art claim. The collection, which includes works by El Greco, Velázquez, and Monet, is valued at over $100 million.

Our take:
Hungary has an unflattering history of refusing to entertain restitution claims, but this one is too big to ignore.

7. Delta Goes Dali
To celebrate Dali’s upcoming exhibition at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Delta (weirdly billed as the “Official Airline of the High Museum of Art”) has decorated a 757 plane with a Dali-style mustache.

Our take: Why doesn’t every museum have an official airline? JetBlue planes could have Andy Warhol’s platinum hair painted on top.
[Art Daily]

8. Artforum Editor Steps Down
Artnet takes a look back at Tim Griffin, Artforum‘s editor-in-chief for the last seven years. Dubbed “the Jiminy Cricket of the artworld,” Griffin’s hyper-self-conscious stance led to a contradictory editorial policy and an undoubtedly educational read, according to the article.

Our take:
Artnet’s overview is perceptive-but when the differences between an editor and his predecessor are this minute, one has to wonder what it is he’ll be remembered for.

9. Art Conservation Efforts Continue in Haiti
American art conservator Rosa Lowinger describes the daunting restoration of three beloved murals at the Cathedral of Sainte Trinité in Port-Au-Prince. The article is accompanied by vivid photos of the restoration site.

Our take: Lowinger dares to ask the obvious but difficult question: Is art restoration in such a devastated area an unnecessary luxury?
[WNYC Gallerina]

10. New City Rules Aim to Regulate Street Artists
Regulations restricting the location and number of stands artists can set up in public parks to sell their work went into effect last week. The rules have sparked bitter protest from the artists and a bit of chaos in the parks.

Our take: While limiting artist stands may maintain the integrity of the parks, the selected locations-sometimes too close to sprinklers and the street-need to be reconsidered.

Art Snapshot: Rise of the Masses!