The .Art Market Recap: A Keith Haring Mural in Amsterdam, The Matrix in the Metaverse, A Museum Director Ousted, and more this week!

This week, we have it all! Drama in the Museum World, Hollywood Supporting Blockchain, a Sad Loss in the Digital Art Community, and Fakes in Florida

Featured Image: The mural, 40 feet tall, took Haring just one day to paint in 1986. Photo by Remko De Waal for AFP. Courtesy of Getty Images.

A massive mural by celebrated artist, Keith Haring, has been uncovered in Amsterdam at the Stedelijk Museum after nearly 40 years. In 1986, artist Keith Haring traveled to Amsterdam to celebrate his first solo exhibition at the Stedelijk. “For me, it was an overwhelming experience, showing at the Stedelijk Museum. I felt I had really accomplished something,” the artist remarked at the time. To mark this career milestone, Haring wanted to create site-specific works for the exhibition rather than using older pieces. One of the pieces was a large colourful canvas peppered with signature Haring characters, and the second was this large mural. The artist chose the exterior wall of the iconic museum so that his work could be enjoyed by all and not limited to the interior gallery exhibitions. The Stedelijk granted him a sprawling, 40-foot brick wall outside of their storage facility at the original museum location.

When the institution moved in 1989, however, the mural was converted into a cold storage facility and Haring’s mural was covered by aluminum insulation panels. It was not until recently that Dutch graffiti artist Aileen Middel, who is also known as Mick La Rock, set out to uncover the work. In 2018, Middel came across a photo of Haring’s mural and worked with the Haring Foundation, gallerist Varossieau, and the Stedelijk to remove the panels. Conservationists Will Shank and Antonio Rava, who were responsible for restoring another Haring mural at the Hôpital Necker des Enfants Malades in Paris, will oversee the restoration of this work. Miraculously protected for years, the work claims the title as Haring’s largest work in Europe.

The Futureverse Foundation from FLUF World will award grants to underrepresented artists in the metaverse and IRL.

Neo, we aren’t in the Matrix anymore. Actor Keanu Reeves and his longtime girlfriend, artist Alexandra Grant, are partnering with Futureverse Foundation to support artists through the use of blockchain technology and web3. From Non-Fungible Labs and FLUF World, a New Zealand-based NFT studio, the Futureverse Foundation plan to use an internal nomination process to fund projects with Reeves and Grant planning on supporting between five to ten projects per year.

“Our mission is to explore how the technology of web3 and the metaverse can support communities coming from diverse backgrounds,” Grant told Artnet News from her Berlin studio early July 2022. “We are in the very early planning stages, but I believe that what we are doing will really have a positive impact on artistic philanthropy in the months and years to come.” Reeves said in a statement that he hopes the new initiative will support artists from diverse communities. “I am honored to be joining Non-Fungible Labs’ efforts in cooperation with Alexandra Grant for the extraordinary program and opportunity of the Futureverse Foundation, in support of artists and creators globally” Reeves said in a statement. “What we are trying to do is show how blockchain technology and the world of crypto can be used to create new forms of economic agency,” Grant said.

The initiative aims to open the doors for historically marginalized artists and give access to crucial funding where traditional models may not be in place or not yet established enough to support major projects. The Futureverse Foundation has already supported curator Nana Oforiatta Ayim with $104,500 for her concept of a mobile museum in the Ghanaian Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale.

Ken Knowlton, left, and his Bell Labs colleague Leon Harmon. Behind them is the computer-generated artwork they created in the mid-1960s titled “Computer Nude (Studies in Perception I).” Credit via Jim Boulton

Ken Knowlton, an engineer, computer scientist, and artist who helped pioneer the science and art of computer graphics and made many of the first computer-generated pictures, portraits and movies, has sadly passed away. He was 91. After finishing his PhD in electrical engineering in 1962, Dr. Knowlton joined Bell Labs in Murray Hill, N.J., a division of the Bell telephone conglomerate that was among the world’s leading research labs. Having learned that the lab had installed a cutting edge machine that could print images onto film, Knowlton began to make movies using computer-generated graphics.

“You could make pictures with letters on the screen or spots on the screen or lines on the screen…How about a movie?” he said in a 2016 interview with Ted Nelson, recalling his arrival at Bell Labs. Over the next several months, he developed one of the first computer programming languages for computer animation, called BEFLIX (short for “Bell Labs Flicks”). Knowlton strung together dots, letters, numbers and other symbols generated by a computer to create images and the first iterations of digital art.

Knowlton’s work laid the groundwork for pixelated animations in 1980s films like “Tron” and “The Last Starfighter” and contemporary television and film incorporate computer generated imagery (CGI) in practically every project.

Jim Boulton, Leon Harmon and Ken Knowlton; remastered from Jim Boulton’s backward-analyzed digital files of Leon Harmon and Ken Knowlton’s “Studies in Perception I, 1966.”

The chief executive and director of the Orlando Museum of Art, Aaron De Groft, was dismissed from his position on Tuesday July 5, only a few days after the FBI seized 25 paintings with contested attribution to Jean-Michel Basquiat. The works were on display in the museum as part of the exhibition, “Heroes and Monsters”. Cynthia Brumback, the chairwoman of the museum’s board, said in a statement that “effective immediately, Aaron De Groft is no longer director and C.E.O. of Orlando Museum of Art.

She added that the museum’s trustees were “extremely concerned about several issues” regarding the Basquiat exhibition including an inappropriate email thread involving academia surrounding the authentication of some pieces. According an affidavit, De Groft told Jordana Moore Saggese, a professor of art at the University of Maryland, “Do your academic thing and stay in your limited lane.” He then threatened to disclose the details of their agreement with the University. “You want us to put out there you got $60 grand to write this? Ok then. Shut up. You took the money. Stop being holier than thou,” he allegedly wrote.

“We have launched an official process to address these matters, as they are inconsistent with the values of this institution, our business standards, and our standards of conduct,” Brumback said in the statement. Saggese requested for her name not to be associated with the Basquiat exhibition.

The Orlando Museum of Art unveiled the artworks as rare Basquiats in February 2022 ahead of the opening of “Heroes & Monsters.” Their authenticity was almost immediately called into question by the art community noticing inconsistent materials and unclear provenance of the works. The alleged owner of the works, Thad Mumford, later stated in the affidavit, “at no time in the 1980s or at any other time did I meet with Jean-Michel Basquiat, and at no time did I acquire or purchase any paintings by him.”

The exterior of the Orlando Museum of Art with banners promoting its Basquiat exhibition
Photo by Athena Iluz/Flickr

Environmental activists for Just Stop Oil glued themselves to Giampietrino’s The Last Supper (c. 1520) on Monday and John Constable’s “The Hay Wain” (1821) on Tuesday. The paintings reside at the Royal Academy of Arts and the National Gallery in London, respectively. This follows the activists also attaching themselves to Van Gogh’s “Peach Trees in Blossom” (1889), Horatio McCulloch’s “My Heart’s in the Highlands” (1860), and J.M.W. Turner’s “Thomson’s Aeolian Harp” (1809). Typically, the group only interferes with the frames of the works, however this time was different. The members first covered “The Hay Wagon” with a reimagined scene of the countryside including dying trees, planes, and an encroaching city printed on paper and affixed to the front of the painting. As a result, the work suffered minor damage. The National Gallery later rehung the work after the work was inspected and appropriately dealt with.

Hannah Hunt, a 23-year-old psychology student from Brighton said in a statement released by Just Stop Oil, “I’m here because our government plans to license 40 new UK oil and gas projects in the next few years. This makes them complicit in pushing the world towards an unlivable climate and in the death of billions of people in the coming decades.” She added that the actions in cultural institutions will end only when the “UK government makes a meaningful statement that it will end new oil and gas licenses.”

Activists and ‘The Hay Wain’ JUST STOP OIL

Katlin Rogers
Katlin Rogers
Katlin is a Toronto-based art consultant, advisor, and appraiser. She holds a Master’s in Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London and enjoys writing on topics surrounding the globalization of the art world, politics and ethics in art, and post-colonial theories in contemporary art.