The year is still young, and it’s already tossing surprises our way in the realms of art, fashion, and beyond – much like that jaw-dropping Margiela show that had everyone questioning if couture merkins are the new Birkin. But hey, who said 2024 was going to be your run-of-the-mill year?
As we step firmly into this chapter, brace yourselves for novelties of “Goodbyes” and “Hellos” as unpredictable as a cat attempting to tap dance. Farewells might even give a soap opera finale a run for its money, while the Hellos promise to revitalize like a spontaneous splash of paint on a canvas.
So, hold onto your hats, because we’re about to take a ride through the past few weeks’ whirlwind of juicy stage exits and the meteoric rise of fresh talents, where plot twists and surprises make this season anything but ordinary!
1. Thomas Hug’s 11-Year Artgenève Heists End with a Pink Slip.
Artgenève’s director, Thomas Hug, who served as co-director for 11 years, has been dismissed due to allegations of fraud and theft. Can you believe it took them 11 years to notice the millions missing? That’s longer than some relationships!
Palexpo, the fair’s owner and host, blew the whistle, accusing Hug of mismanaging over $1 million in company funds to secretly acquire artworks. Hug’s defense? He insists he was playing an artful Robin Hood, acquiring the pieces for the fair’s benefit, albeit with rather unconventional methods.
Unfazed by the drama, Hug has quickly rebounded, launching another art fair named GSTAAD ART, set to debut in February. With 17 galleries on board and sponsors like Phillips and Edmond de Rothschild, Hug’s artful ambitions show no signs of slowing down.
2. Carl Andre, Pioneer of Minimalism, Passes Away at 88.
Another somber moment in the art world: Carl Andre, the maestro of minimalism, has passed away at the age of 88 in the city that never sleeps, New York. His contributions to 20th-century art were nothing short of remarkable, emphasizing austerity, rigor, and the beauty of simplicity in forms. But hold on folks! There’s an unfortunate event in his life’s story. Andre’s reputation got a tad tangled up with the mysterious passing of his wife, Ana Mendieta. She took a leap from their 24th-floor apartment in NYC while still in her thirties. He was found not guilty, in the subsequent investigation. So, here’s to Carl Andre – a life filled with artful mysteries, simplicity, and a dash of intrigue.
3. Remembering Brent Sikkema: An Art World Luminary Lost.
The art world mourns the loss of dealer Brent Sikkema, who met a tragic end in Rio de Janeiro. Sikkema, aged 75, was found dead in his Jardim Botânico home on January 15th. The suspect, a former handyman, was arrested, revealing a complex backstory tied to Sikkema’s personal life.
Sikkema had dedicated his life to bridging the art worlds of North and South America, earning respect and admiration for his contributions. His love for Brazil and plans to apply for residency in the country were cut short.
In his memory, the art world remembers a bridge-builder, an ambassador for venturesome artists, and a man whose contributions will be dearly missed.
4. Istanbul Biennial Shifts to 2025: A Change of Plans.
The 18th Istanbul Biennial is embracing its inner procrastinator, postponing its much-anticipated event until 2025. Originally scheduled for September 14, 2024, with 58 artists exploring art’s role in processing loss and trauma, this twist of fate has captured our hearts. So, let’s turn to “The Grief Friends” to help us cope.
Adding to the intrigue, Kevser Güler takes the director’s seat on January 15, 2024, succeeding Bige Örer.
Örer’s departure wasn’t influenced by curator Iona Blazwick’s appointment for the 2024 edition, which saw resignations from the advisory committee.
The art world’s ongoing procrastination continues with intriguing updates!
5. Stephen Brooks’ Unexpected Departure from Phillips Auction House.
In an unexpected turn of events, Phillips CEO Stephen Brooks has departed from the auction house after nearly three years in charge. While some may call it an “abrupt departure,” the reasons behind it remain undisclosed. Brooks, who initially joined Phillips in 2021, played a pivotal role in the auction house’s international growth. However, effective January, he has stepped down for undisclosed personal reasons, leaving us all intrigued about the future of Phillips under new leadership.
We wish Stephen Brooks the best in his future endeavors, whether they be artful or personal!
6. Indiana University Hits the Pause Button on Samia Halaby Retrospective
Discussing art can be a bit like tiptoeing through a political minefield, and Indiana University (IU) is taking cautious steps. IU has hit the pause button on an exhibition featuring the work of 87-year-old Palestinian artist and IU alumna Samia Halaby. The exhibition was all set to showcase around 35 of Halaby’s artworks, which she created throughout her career, spanning her student days at IU and Michigan State University (MSU), all the way to her stint as the first female professor at the Yale School of Art.
However, on December 22, Halaby received an unexpected call and an email from museum director David Brenneman, who broke the news with the finesse of an art heist: the retrospective exhibition was abruptly canceled due to “safety concerns.”
With over 5,000 folks signing a petition, it seems the art world is eager to give this exhibition a second chance!
In another intriguing episode of “Crime in the Arts,” Amr Al-Madani, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla (RCA), finds himself entangled in corruption allegations. The plot thickens as the RCA, a key player in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious “Vision 2030” plan, continues with “business as usual.”
AlUla, a desert oasis brimming with 30,000 historical sites, is the centerpiece of Saudi Arabia’s $35 billion transformation into a “living museum.” This grand scheme includes a Saudi branch of the Paris-based Centre Pompidou, slated to open in 2028 or 2029.
Amidst this cultural caper, RCA appointed Abeer Al Akel as the acting CEO, ensuring that the show goes on despite the legal proceedings. Stay tuned for more surprises in this artful saga!
7. Shifting Sands: Amr Al-Madani, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla (RCA), Arrested.
8. Curatorial U-Turn: Morocco’s Venice Biennale Pavilion Shakeup.
Morocco’s debut at the 60th Venice Biennale takes an unexpected detour! With just a few months to go, Morocco’s Ministry of Culture has decided to switch up the curatorial team for its first-ever national pavilion. It’s almost like planning a grand performance and then deciding to change the director on the spot.
The ousted curator, Mahi Binebine, along with artists Safaa Erruas, Majida Khattari, and Fatiha Zemmouri, had their roles taken over by art historian and independent curator Mouna Mekouar. The Moroccan Ministry of Culture left everyone scratching their heads with no explanation for this sudden about-face. Binebine and the artists had invested a lot in the project, with ready-to-go art and prior meetings with the biennale director. With this unforeseen turn of events, the situation has become quite an enigma.
As the Venice Biennale and Moroccan Ministry of Culture stay mum, the art world eagerly awaits more surprises in this unfolding tale of the curatorial switcheroo!
9. Moschino’s Surprise: Adrian Appiolaza Is the New Creative Director!
In a stunning plot development, Moschino has named Adrian Appiolaza, a former Loewe designer, as their new creative director. Appiolaza, known for his work at Loewe and Chloé, will now oversee Moschino’s women’s, men’s, and accessories collections. His debut will be the AW24 women’s fashion line, scheduled to dazzle at Milan Fashion Week on February 22. But here’s the kicker: This unexpected appointment follows the tragic passing of Moschino’s previous creative director, Davide Renne, due to a sudden illness.
Buckle up for a chic and exhilarating journey as Moschino enters this exciting new era!
10. Pace Gallery’s Art World Moves: New Hire and Legendary Artist’s Estate.
Pace Gallery has made significant strides in the art world with two major announcements. First up, they’ve rolled out the welcome mat for Gary Waterston, a former director at Gagosian, as their Executive Vice President of Global Sales and Operations. Waterston, known for his experience at Gagosian, will oversee various aspects of Pace’s global operations, based in London. As if that weren’t enough, Pace Gallery has taken on the global representation of the estate of iconic artist Paul Thek.
Thek celebrated for his unique blend of Pop and Minimalism, is renowned for his hyper-realistic wax sculptures, including the infamous “meat pieces.” This marks a homecoming for Pace, which hosted Thek’s second-ever solo exhibition in 1966. With over 30 artists’ estates in their portfolio, including Alexander Calder and Mark Rothko, Pace Gallery continues to make waves in the art world.
11. Rising Star Elaine Cameron-Weir Joins Lisson Gallery.
Amidst New York’s towering skyscrapers, Lisson Gallery has discovered a rising star. Elaine Cameron-Weir, known for her gravity-defying sculptures challenging belief systems, finds a creative home at Lisson Gallery. They proudly announce her representation, with her debut exhibition slated for this March in New York.
Cameron-Weir’s art melds reclaimed scientific, medical, military, and faith-related relics into intricate suspended structures, alluding to transformative processes. In her upcoming show, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse take center stage, prompting reflections on political shifts and extremes.
Elaine Cameron-Weir’s art defies easy interpretation, inviting viewers on a journey through portals and thresholds. Born in Canada and now based in New York, her talent shines brightly in global institutions.
12. Los Angeles-based painter Richard Hawkins Teams Up with Loewe.
During Paris Fashion Week, Loewe partnered with Los Angeles-based painter Richard Hawkins for its Autumn/Winter 2024 menswear collection. Because who doesn’t want a bit of art with their fashion? Hawkins, known for his art inspired by queer performance and desire, brought his unique touch to the runway.
The fashion show featured video collages created by Hawkins, blending celebrities and brand ambassadors with motifs from his paintings. Even Hawkins’s art was integrated into the collection, including knitted sweatshirts and trousers. A fashionable fusion of art and style!
13. Dior Takes Fashion to Brooklyn Museum for Pre-Fall 2024 Collection.
Dior is making a bold move, presenting its pre-fall 2024 women’s collection at the Brooklyn Museum on April 15. It’s not the typical high-fashion venue! Will the models ride the subway in couture?
The collection, designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri, aims to celebrate the “meeting of cultures” between Paris and New York City. Dior and the Brooklyn Museum have been getting cozy lately, with the museum hosting Dior exhibitions and even an annual Artists Ball sponsored by the fashion house.
It seems Dior is on a world tour of iconic locations, from the Taj Mahal to Brooklyn. What’s next, a runway show on the moon?
15. Marie-Anne McQuay: Liverpool’s Curatorial Star!
Liverpool Biennial welcomes curator Marie-Anne McQuay for its 2025 edition, running from June 7 to September 14. McQuay, a Liverpool native and curator extraordinaire, has an impressive track record, previously curating the Welsh pavilion in Venice and holding key roles at Arts&Heritage and Spike Island.
Her mission? To redefine Liverpool’s artistic identity on a global scale. While the theme for the biennial remains a closely guarded secret, McQuay’s reputation for unearthing hidden gems promises an unforgettable showcase of Liverpool’s cultural treasures.
Her deep-rooted connection to the city and commitment to exploring art’s role in civic life ensure a thought-provoking and immersive experience. Mark your calendars because Liverpool Biennial 2025 is set to deliver a vibrant arts experience in a city that has seen its fair share of creativity.
16. SITE Santa Fe Biennial Returns with Cecilia Alemani at the Helm!
Art enthusiasts, get ready for an exciting comeback! Santa Fe, New Mexico, is reclaiming its spot on the art map with the SITE SANTA FE International biennial in 2025, led by none other than Cecilia Alemani, the former curator of the 2022 Venice Biennale’s main exhibition, “The Milk of Dreams.”
Hailing from the vibrant art hub of New York, Alemani has a talent for transforming public spaces into vibrant artistic landscapes. With her impressive track record, we can’t help but wonder if we’ll stumble upon a cactus-themed masterpiece in the New Mexico desert, right next door to the iconic Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.
SITE SANTA FE International has a history of sparking global art conversations. Now, with Alemani’s creative touch, who knows what delightful surprises await?
17. 2024 Trend Alert: Daytime Sequins!
Shine bright, even in daylight! Daytime sequins are stealing the fashion spotlight this season. But here’s the twist: while we embrace the sparkle, let’s also consider sustainability. Traditional sequins might harm the environment, but fear not! Stella McCartney offers a planet-friendly alternative, reminding us to make eco-conscious fashion choices. Glitter and go green, darlings!
Text by Maria Nitulescu