Scarlett Johansson has been rather prominent in the news lately, and perhaps not exactly for the reasons she would want. Her personal life made the headlines when she became engaged to bland SNL comedian Colin Jost, and she was recently criticized for doubling down on comments defending her stance that she should be allowed to play any character, regardless of race or gender (after both the widely derided Ghost in the Shell and Rub and Tug controversies). In other words, we’ve spent some time of late questioning the soundness of her judgment.
Fortunately, Johansson’s tastes just might be on the road to recovery: She’s the apparent recent buyer of a piece by New Jersey-born artist Lois Dodd, whose work was just put up for purchase in Dodd’s first major show outside the U.S. at London’s Modern Art gallery.
When celebrities engage in purchasing art, it’s always interesting to attempt to interpret what choices they’re making and why. The Dodd painting purchased by Johansson, Night House With Lit Window (2012), is chilly and mysterious: a clapboard house stands sentinel in the middle of the night, while an outdoor light fixture splashes illumination onto the gray walls. In the yard, surrounded by pitch darkness, broad trees loom. Does Johansson identify with the bright yellow lit-up window, which seems menacing rather than optimistic? Or does she see herself more as a lonely tree?
Some celebs are notorious for their artistic passions. Kanye West is famous for his omnivorous cultural appetite; the rapper and designer has expressed considerable admiration for everyone from Jeff Koons to Kerry James Marshall. And fortunately for gallerists, famous people with artistic passions are good for business.
As the art world gets ever more saturated with global venture capital, we’ll be bound to see more and more super-collections cultivated by influential and powerful people. According to the Financial Times, auction sales worldwide dipped 20.3 percent to $5.55 billion in the first six months of 2019, but this is more likely to be a temporary gully than a terrifying death knell signifying the end of an era. Johansson is just one woman, it’s true, but make no mistake: thespians with a thirst for paintings will rule the earth.