An Australian photographer’s multimillion-dollar business ... James Turrell's $6,500 volcano tours ... a restoration of priceless Giotto works under fire in Italy. Plus, freedom of expression and the looming Havana Biennial. All that and more, in Roundup:
— From the troubled annals of money and art and money: this delicious profile of Australian photographer Peter Lik, who reportedly sold one of his images for a record $6.5 million. Sample quote: “If you’re in Caesars Palace, you’re no joke,” says the artist. “That was a huge turning point. I’m in Caesars. I’m God. Nailed it.”
— Rich Guy Haggling Over Art, Early 20th Century Edition: The Huntington has posted an interesting telegram exchange between railroad mogul Henry Huntington and art dealer Joe Duveen over Huntington’s purchase of a canvas by J.M.W. Turner. Duveen sealed the deal by throwing in a couple of vases.
— Speaking of art and dough, if you have $6,500 lying around you can visit James Turrell’s Roden Crater, the monumental art environment the artist has been building out of a volcanic cinder cone in Arizona.
— In the 1930s, muralist Diego Rivera and industrialist Nelson Rockefeller had a now legendary falling out over Rivera’s (since destroyed) Rockefeller Center mural, which contained an image of Vladimir Lenin. Now the two figures daughters — Guadalupe Rivera Marin and Ann Rockefeller — have come together to fund individual galleries at the Mexican Museum in San Francisco.
— A series of art billboards with cryptic symbols has sparked a terrorism scare (as well as some ridiculous Facebook comments) in New Mexico.
— Speaking of bad reactions to art: A rare sculpture (a drinking fountain) by conceptualist Michael Asher was destroyed by a sledgehammer-wielding vandal at UC San Diego. The university says they will rebuild it. Guessing that the vandal is an artist who wants to make a name for himself.
— Critic Christian Viveros-Fauné points out that this year’s Havana Biennial will be one prolonged awkward moment if artist Tania Bruguera is still unable to leave the country.
— There’s been a long-running battle between the Richard Avedon Foundation and AXA Art Insurance over damages to the photographer’s iconic portrait of the Chicago Seven. And it’s far from over.
— And there’s been plenty of controversy over the restoration of medieval frescoes by Giotto in Assisi, Italy — with one critic saying that overzealous work has changed the nature of some of the medieval master’s imagery.
— Elizabeth Kolbert has a highly personal, moving view of artist Gunter Demnig’s “Stolperstein” project, small, sidewalk memorials scattered around Europe that honor individuals killed by the Nazis.
— An interesting piece about the media-shy artist David Hammons — and an intriguing new space he has planned for the city of Yonkers in New York.
— Novelist Zadie Smith profiles comedians Key and Peele. A terrific read.
— “On one channel, Asiatic dwarves are shooting confetti at one another. Another screen shows a musical number performed by cadres of athletic dancers celebrating the 33 medals Russia won at the Sochi Olympics.” Author Gary Shteyngart spent a week watching Russian state television, so you don’t have to. A stunning piece of media criticism.
— Is it ethical for architects to design solitary-confinement cells and prison death chambers? A discussion about censuring certain types of design at the American Institute of Architects.
— At a debate among candidates for L.A. City Council, Gloria Molina stated that there is “too much density already in downtown” — a statement that has been widely disseminated on the Internet. To be clear, she stated this in the context of the city's need to keep up with public services such as schools and policing. But it certainly runs contrary to current ideals of development that are all about getting away from horizontal sprawl.
— Christopher Hawthorne on the (paranoid) architecture featured in this year’s Oscar best picture contenders.
— A home constructed using blueprints by late Modernist architect Joseph Leichler has been built and quickly sold in Palm Springs.
— And last but not least, with a special nod to celebrities and plastic surgery and palm trees: Curbed's New-York-Times-covers-Los-Angeles bingo card.
Find me on Twitter @cmonstah.
Update 10:51 a.m.: This post was updated to include mention of the daughters of muralist Diego Rivera and industrialist Nelson Rockefeller funding galleries at the Mexican Museum in San Francisco.