Apollo Magazine

The week in art news – Sotheby’s is buying the Breuer Building

Plus: Ilya Kabakov (1933–2023), and the rest of the week’s top stories

Breuer Building

The Breuer Building, photographed in 2018. Photo: Architect’s Eye/Alamy Stock Photo

Sotheby’s is purchasing the Breuer Building at 945 Madison Avenue from the Whitney Museum of American Art in a deal reported to be worth a little over $100m. The structure was built by the Bauhaus-trained architect Marcel Breuer for the Whitney in 1966; since the Whitney moved to its new premises in the Meatpacking District in 2015, the museum rented the building out first to the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 2016–20, and currently to the Frick Collection while its home in the Upper East Side is undergoing renovations. Sotheby’s has announced plans to relocate from its current headquarters on York Avenue; an architect will be chosen to design a new saleroom although the auction house has confirmed that much-loved features of Breuer’s building, such as the lobby, will be preserved intact. Adam Weinberg, director of the Whitney, called the deal ‘bittersweet’.

The conceptual artist Ilya Kabakov has died at the age of 89. Born in Dnepropetrovsk (now Dnipro) in Ukraine in 1933, Kabakov studied in Moscow, and remained in the city until the 1980s, working as a graphic designer and book illustrator and becoming a key member of an underground conceptual arts movement from the 1970s. In 1989, he left the Soviet Union for Long Island, where he began collaborating with his cousin, Emilia, who later became his wife. The immersive installation works produced by the pair in the decades since – at once trenchant commentaries on life under Soviet rule and whimsical imaginings of alternative worlds – brought them international fame, with major surveys held at Tate Modern and the Hirshhorn in 2017. Ilya and Emilia Kabakov spoke to Fatema Ahmed about their life and work in the October 2017 issue of Apollo.

Bart Drenth, global managing director of the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF), resigned this week after less than six months in the role. A press release issued by the fair stated that Drenth will focus instead on his consulting business, Bart Drenth Advies, and that the board will be announcing a new leadership plan in the coming weeks. Last week, Artnet News reported on a series of ‘anti-woke’ tweets Drenth had issued from his personal account in recent months.

Two protestors who smeared paint on the case and plinth of Edgar Degas’s La petite danseuse de quatorze ans (1880) at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., in April, have been charged by federal prosecutors with conspiracy to commit an offence against the United States. The maximum sentence for the charge is five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 each. The US Attorney’s office alleges that the protest caused around $2,400 in damage.

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