Featured images: “The Algorithmic Pedestal.” Photo: Fabienne Hess.

Peter Doig, the celebrated Scottish painter, is set to receive $2.53 million in a lawsuit regarding a contested 1976 painting that he claims not to have made. The suit was brought by a former corrections officer who claimed that Doig created the work while in a Thunder Bay (Canada) prison, a claim that the artist denied. The corrections officer, Robert Fletcher, had purchased the work for $100 from an inmate, ‘Pete Doige,’ while working in the facility. Fletcher later alleged that the work was actually that of the Scottish artist and subsequently filed a lawsuit seeking authentication. In 2016, a judge ruled that the work was not in fact that of Peter Doig however it was not until this week that reparations were ordered to be paid to the artist.

“We are relieved to finally bring this absurd case to a just conclusion,” Matthew S. Dontzin, a lawyer for Doig, told the Times. Doig plans to donate his portion of awarded damages to support inmates wishing to pursue art in prison, said Matthew Dontzin, an attorney representing Doig, in an emailed statement. “What a waste of time, money and the court’s resources but justice has finally been done.”

Artwork signed “Pete Doige ‘76” lower right

Yuga Labs has released its Sewer Passes for minting and has already yielded over 4,000 ETH (over $6 million) in total sales volume within hours of release. Holders of a Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) or Mutant Ape Yacht Club (MAYC) NFT were eligible to claim a free Sewer Pass on Wednesday, which acts as the key to playing a skill-based game called Dookey Dash. Sewer Pass holders can play Dookey Dash from January 19th to February 8th where scores will be recorded and used for a future installment of the game initiative.

Bored Ape Yacht Club tweeted that the official Sewer Pass collection was listed on the secondary market with OpenSea. However, the Sewer Passes have certain conditions coded into their smart contract, including a blocklist of certain wallet addresses. Some of the addresses blocked belong to other major secondary marketplaces like LooksRare and NFTX. This has sparked some debate on creative royalty fees. In a statement to CoinDesk, a spokesperson for Yuga Labs affirmed its belief in protecting creator royalties. “We’ve always been a creative-first company, and we believe that creator royalties must be protected.”

“The Sewer Pass free claim will only be traded on platforms respecting creator royalties,” they added.

Bored Ape Yacht Club Sewer Pass (Yuga Labs)

Over $3.5 million of fine and decorative art pieces belonging to war criminal Rifaat al-Assad have been sold at auction in France. More than 500 lots were on display at Hotel Drouot in Paris on January 11th before being auctioned by French auction house, Ader. Lots included sofas, tables, paintings, chandeliers, porcelain dinner sets and rugs which were bought with embezzled Syrian government money.

Al-Assad was convicted of concealing serious tax fraud and employing servants off the books, with French authorities confiscating a slew of his properties including the opulent townhouse in Avenue Foch. Whilst the state could seize the townhouse, the furniture inside fell through a legal loophole and could therefore be sold by an anonymous third party. As per standard auction house confidentiality agreements, Ader would not disclose who the seller was, however those aware of the connections knew what the sale represented. Middle Eastern Eye was on the sale floor and met two young Syrians who wished to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions stated, “All this belongs to us Syrians. The Assad clan plundered it..“But no one is saying anything.”

Lots on display at Hotel Drouot in Paris

The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA) has unveiled its plan to “accelerate the promotion of Korean art” in 2023 through its partnerships with art institutions in the United States, Mexico, Australia and China. A number of joint and touring exhibitions are planned for a robust strategic plan to promote the diverse range of Korean art.

“Experimental Art in South Korea 1960s-1970s” will be the first North American showcase of first-generation avant-garde artists including Lee Seung-taek, Lee Kang-so, Kim Ku-lim and Sung Neung-kyung. After its New York run at the Guggenheim, the exhibition is set to travel to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in February 2024. “Prayer for Life,” will revisit the lesser-known history of Korean polychrome paintings at the San Diego Museum of Art in October and a survey of 20th-century Korean art will be held at the National Art Museum of China in November.

MMCA’s announcement of its exhibition lineup at its January 10th press conference took place a day after the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism unprecedentedly released an audit report on the national art institution. “The news of the special audit is unfortunate. However, we will use this opportunity to further reform and improve the operation of the museum,” director Youn Bum-mo stated.

MMCA director Youn Bum-mo listens to reporters’ questions during a press conference held on Jan. 10 at the national museum in central Seoul. He announced the museum’s exhibition lineup for 2023 and clarified its position concerning the audit report released by the culture ministry the day before.

J/M Gallery has launched an innovative and experimental AI-curated exhibition. Laura Herman, a doctoral researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute has launched “The Algorithmic Pedestal” with J/M Gallery in London where she has invited two curators, Fabienne Hess and Instagram, to curate an exhibition. Works for display were sourced from drawings from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Open Access collection.

Since November 2022, organizers have uploaded images from the Met’s collection of public domain works to the @thealgorithmicpedestal account on Instagram as the data source to build an exhibition from. The exhibition serves as Herman’s doctoral project. “Many of these algorithmic platforms,” she said, “were not created with the intention of artistic display. They have very different goals: enabling connection between friends, selling ads, gaining attention, serving as a marketplace, and so on. This means that the underlying formulas according to which they operate are not tuned to artistic considerations of aesthetics, beauty, novelty, or even creativity.”

“The ever-expanding sea of content will be impossible to traverse without the ability to consume thousands, if not millions, images in a nanosecond,” she said. “Of course, no human has this ability, leading us to become completely reliant on the discernment and decision-making of algorithmic platforms.”

“The Algorithmic Pedestal” is on view at J/M Gallery, 230 Portobello Road, London, January 11–17, 2023. The exhibition is free to attend.

A preview of works picked by Instagram. Photo: @thealgorithmicpedestal on Instagram