19 episodes

A weekly podcast that brings the biggest stories in the art world down to earth. Go inside the newsroom of the art industry's most-read media outlet, artnet News, for an in-depth view of what matters most in museums, the market, and much more. 

The Art Angle Artnet News

    • Visual Arts

A weekly podcast that brings the biggest stories in the art world down to earth. Go inside the newsroom of the art industry's most-read media outlet, artnet News, for an in-depth view of what matters most in museums, the market, and much more. 

    What Is Saudi Arabia Trying to Do With Contemporary Art?

    What Is Saudi Arabia Trying to Do With Contemporary Art?

    Some 16 months after the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of state agents, the organization behind the namesake Southern California biennial Desert X announced that it would put on an ambitious new exhibition of contemporary art in AlUla, a UNESCO World Heritage Site deep in the Medina region of Saudi Arabia. Word of the show (which debuted this February) incited a firestorm of criticism from international art-world figures, including three of Desert X's own advisors—artist Ed Ruscha, art historian and curator Yael Lipschutz, and philanthropist Tristan Milanovich—all of whom resigned in protest.
    Mohammad Bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, has simultaneously denied ordering Khashoggi's slaying and publicly taken responsibility for it because the act "happened on [his] watch." The dissonance between those concepts parallels the dissonance playing out on a national level under his rule.
    On one hand, MBS (as Bin Salman is popularly known) has launched major social reforms, including curtailing the authority of the religious police and permitting women to drive, as well as continuing to pump vast government resources into new cultural initiatives such as Desert X AlUla—all with the aim of diversifying the oil-dependent Saudi economy and improving the country's dubious reputation with more progressive world leaders. On the other hand, MBS has also made several troubling moves to consolidate power in recent years, including arresting prominent opposition clerics and imprisoning more than 200 businessman, princes, and other officials in Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel for weeks under the guise of an anti-corruption crackdown.
    So how exactly does Desert X in particular, and art in general, fit into this high-stakes geopolitical puzzle? Is the burgeoning Saudi contemporary art scene little more than a propaganda weapon wielded by MBS? Can the kingdom's homegrown artists and projects ever be evaluated on their creative merits once they accept funding or other support from the crown? And if so, where can those lines be drawn?
    On this week's episode of the Art Angle, journalist Rebecca Anne Proctor called in just days after returning from her visit to Desert X AlUla to discuss the controversial show, the backlash it inspired, and what Western critics could learn from speaking with the artists involved themselves.

    • 24 min
    How Hollywood Finally Fell for the Art Market

    How Hollywood Finally Fell for the Art Market

    The Oscars may be over, but Hollywood is about to be overrun with a different kind of A-lister this week when the art world descends on Tinseltown for the second edition of Frieze Los Angeles.
    Despite the glut of disposable income earned from media moguls and tech startups, it has long proven difficult for East Coast dealers to make inroads with prospective clients on the country's opposite flank. In this context, the success of Frieze's southern California debut last year was a pleasant surprise.
    One gallery that has had no problem endearing itself to a diverse audience in Los Angeles from the start is Various Small Fires. Co-founded in 2012 by Esther Kim Varet and her husband Joseph Varet, VSF, as it's commonly known, occupies a highly coveted spot along a gallery-rich stretch of Highland Avenue in Hollywood. Its Johnston Marklee-designed Art Deco-style building boasts a 3,000-square-foot main gallery connected to two adjacent project spaces, a roofless back patio that acts as an oasis in the midst of the bustling city, and the rare eco-friendly pedigree of running on 100 percent solar energy.
    Though the roster is small, VSF's 12 artists hold an outsize claim on the LA art scene—and beyond—with strong institutional presences and a near-constant waiting list for new work. One key to this impressive reach? The gallery's forward-looking decision to embrace Kim Varet's Korean heritage and open a second permanent space in Seoul in early 2019, allowing VSF to connect with young collectors on both sides of the Pacific.
    On this week's episode, Andrew Goldstein speaks to Esther Kim Varet from her office in California about what makes VSF an outlier in the often-staid, anachronistic world of art galleries, how dealers can win their artists institutional sustainability in an increasingly market-oriented field, and why photorealist painter Calida Rawles is poised to lead a renaissance of the underappreciated genre.

    • 27 min
    How Jeffrey Epstein Made the Art World His Hunting Ground

    How Jeffrey Epstein Made the Art World His Hunting Ground

    Over the past few weeks, the long-awaited trial of former Hollywood rainmaker Harvey Weinstein has unfolded in harrowing fashion, with one after another of his accusers taking the stand to allege patterns of sexual and psychological abuse. The grim courtroom proceedings are only the latest shockwave from the #MeToo movement, which grew from accusations against Weinstein into a national reckoning with sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other rampant abuses perpetrated by those in positions of power.
    The art world has not been a safe haven from this heinous activity. In fact, one of the most notorious predators in the mainstream news cycle also cast a long shadow over this niche industry. This week on the Art Angle, Andrew Goldstein sits down with Artnet News deputy editor Rachel Corbett to discuss a serial predator whose victims inside and outside the arts will never have the chance to confront him: Jeffrey Epstein.
    Many questions remain to be answered after Epstein, the former financier, arts patron, and convicted sex offender who counted numerous elite figures among his inner circle, was found dead of an apparent suicide in his jail cell while waiting to stand trial for charges of sex trafficking in New York. But his alleged crimes have taken on new life in the art world due to detailed, troubling accusations made by painter and former New York Academy of Art student Maria Farmer, who claims Epstein and his associates leveraged her creative ambitions against her for their own perverse ends.
    Farmer's disturbing story details how Epstein turned the largely unregulated art world into a hunting ground for new victims. The issues raised by her accusations also loom large over all creative fields, where personal relationships and favors from the top of the hierarchy can make or break the careers of young, talented people striving to make their mark.
    Please be advised: This episode contains accounts of sexual abuse that some listeners may find disturbing. 

    • 22 min
    How the Art World Fell Under the Spell of the Occult

    How the Art World Fell Under the Spell of the Occult

    You don't hear the words "witch hunt" much nowadays, unless they are being deployed by a certain US President. But the term is increasingly relevant—in a much more literal sense—to any tour through the art-historical canon, where witchcraft, paganism, and the occult seem to be more important presences every day.
    This development is in tune with what's happening in mainstream culture, too. More than one million Americans today identify as Neopagans or Wiccans, and many businesses are riding their broomsticks straight to the bank. In the US, more than $2 billion is spent on "mystical services" each year, ranging from tarot card readings to online horoscopes, and you can find a slew of podcasts on the subject with titles like "Hippie Witch," "so you wanna be a witch?" and "The Witch Bitch Amateur Hour," to name just a few.
    What exactly is driving this spiritualist surge? This week, author and art critic Eleanor Heartney joins the Art Angle to divine the details of this phenomenon in art and culture. Following an article for Artnet News in which she traced the intensifying focus on artists exploring occult practices in recent museum exhibitions—most notably the Guggenheim's attendance-record-breaking retrospective of the Swedish mystic artist Hilma af Klint—Heartney discusses why spiritualism and the occult are on the rise in 2020, how feminism fits into the puzzle, and what her new book, Doomsday Dreams: The Apocalyptic Imagination in Contemporary Art, has to say about breaking through a history of cataclysm-inclined thinking.

    • 25 min
    Nicolas Party on Why Being an Art Star Is Like Being in Love

    Nicolas Party on Why Being an Art Star Is Like Being in Love

    After a period of reckoning with a less-than-inclusive art historical canon, it seems increasingly clear that viewers (and dealers) are once again ready to embrace fresh young talent from the land of the living—artists bringing new perspectives and ideas into the sometimes-staid institutional mix.
    Among this up-and-coming group, one name on almost everyone's lips right now is Nicolas Party. A preternaturally good-natured 38 year-old, Party has won widespread attention not for some technologically savvy mixed-reality experience, but in fact, for the opposite. The Swiss-born artist is actually a proponent of one of the oldest art-making mediums, using pastels to conjure fantastical landscapes, portraits, and still lifes that are just as colorful as the Missoni sweaters he's fond of.
    On this week's episode of the Art Angle, Party discusses his evolution from a teenage street artist trying (and eventually, failing) to elude authorities in his native Lausanne, to an art-school student working in digital modeling, to a hands-on figurative artist who recently became the youngest-ever member of mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth—a transformation that has propelled his works as high as seven figures at auction.

    • 23 min
    What Do the Protests in Hong Kong Mean for Art?

    What Do the Protests in Hong Kong Mean for Art?

    Above and beyond its well-established status as a global financial center, Hong Kong has spent the 21st century rapidly transforming into an international nexus for the art market: welcoming to both Eastern and Western collectors, appealing to institutions and artists alike for its vibrant economy and cosmopolitan character, and stabilized by its unique embrace of democratic values just a stone's throw from state-dominated mainland China.
    But since March 2019, Hong Kong has been rocked off its axis by ongoing and increasingly violent political protests, all sparked by what the demonstrators read as aggressive moves by Xi Jinping and his agents to accelerate the so-called "handover" of the former British colony to Chinese control several years earlier than scheduled. With free speech and free governance hanging in the balance, art and journalism have become pivotal forces in the battle for Hong Kong's future.
    In this episode of the Art Angle, Artnet News contributor Vivienne Chow—a Hong Kong native—gives a moving firsthand account of what it’s like to cover these volatile events from the front lines, where artists fit into the protests, and how the experience has challenged her perception about nothing less than the meaning and importance of art. And all of this while she simultaneously has to process how her home morphed into a place she could not have imagined only a few years earlier, and whether Hong Kong or its art scene will ever be the same.

    • 23 min

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