Identifying the Artists on Morley Safer’s Segment, One Bon Mot at a Time

Ryan McGinley video at Team Gallery at Art Basel Miami (Still from 60 Minutes)

In all the hubbub over Morley Safer’s segment on 60 Minutes in which he trashes the art world on a visit to Art Basel Miami Beach, a follow-up to his 1993 dig at the industry, one thing we haven’t heard much of, at least not from Mr. Safer, is the names of the artists he shows in his segment—like Ryan McGinley, who made the video of a scantily clad woman holding a make-shift blowtorch, or Mike Kelley, responsible for the installation of sewn stuffed animals and Jennifer Rubell, whose interactive life-size sculpture of Prince William makes an appearance. And while Mr. Safer presents these works as emblems of his confusion and dismay at what has become of the art world, we can’t help think what a thrill it is to see Paul McCarthy’s large pink sculpture of a libidinous dwarf, White Snow Dwarf (Bashful), on national broadcast television. Savoring the moment with a few more artists, here’s a breakdown of some more work we found in the segment, each one paired with one of Mr. Safer’s signature bon mots at the time of their appearance. Read More


Sushi in the Desert: Takashi Murakami Brings His ‘Ego’ to Qatar

Murakami. (Photo by Guillaume Ziccarelli)

It was a long 15-hour flight to Doha, Qatar, to see Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s latest mega show. Why would I bother flying all the way around the world to see paintings I’ve mostly seen already? Perhaps because, according to the BBC, Qatar has quietly invested over $1.25 billion in art over the past five years—in fact, I’d bet it’s double that—and also because they are part of what’s keeping this crazy art market buoyant. And what about the facts that Qatar reportedly bought a painting (not mine!) from Cezanne’s “Card Players” series for $250 million, and is rumored to be the buyer of auction cover lots from Rothkos to Lichtensteins, Warhols and beyond? I also wanted to visit my favorite Murakami painting, Tan Tan Bo Puking, a.k.a. Gero Tan, and see how it compared to his newest one, a 300-foot long masterwork dubbed The 500 Arhats. Read More


Murakami Offers a Contest That Is Much More Laid Back Than Damien Hirst’s Spot Challenge

A man of the people. (Courtesy QMA)

If Damien Hirst’s spot challenge required a bit too much work—which is to say, time and money—for you, Takashi Murakami has a contest that may be of interest. Instead of asking his fans to travel the world, visiting all 11 Gagosian galleries to receive a free print, Mr. Murakami requests only that you press “like” on the Facebook page of the Qatar Museum Authority, which is hosting a retrospective of the artist’s work, called “Ego.” Read More


The (Art) World Is (Super) Flat: Takashi Murakami on His Art Philosophy and Upcoming Charity Auction

Takashi Murakami. (Photo by Noel Vasquez / Getty Images)

On a seasonable morning last week, before the cold snap hit, journalists gathered in the recently added fifth-floor space of Gagosian Gallery for a preview of New Day, the benefit auction for victims of Japan’s Tohoku-Pacific earthquake that will take place at Christie’s later this month. The media folk present, most of whom were on the business-news side of the art world, were offered flutes of Champagne and thimblefuls of cold sake before a walk-around of the 21 donated works. These included pieces by Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Anselm Reyle, Gabriel Orozco and Damien Hirst, as well as Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara and KAWS, who were present and available for facetime.

Mr. Murakami, top-knotted, dark-suited, wearing round-lensed spectacles and a buttoned-up shirt of blinding whiteness, was, not surprisingly, the focus of attention. He is hugely successful, one of a handful of global über-artists, and the messiah of Superflat, the belief that in Japan meaningful distinctions between High Art and Low have ceased to exist and that paintings, sculptures, posters, toys and artist-embellished designer bags have leveled into one continuum. Read More