From Jewelry to Crude Oil: New Branded Spaces for Art

Installation view of "Roma 1950-1965" at Rong Zhai, Shanghai. PHOTO: Alessandro Wang. Courtesy Fondazione Prada.

Installation view of "Roma 1950-1965" at Rong Zhai, Shanghai. PHOTO: Alessandro Wang. Courtesy Fondazione Prada.

Above the Fold: A Restored Shanghai Villa Hosts the Collection of the Fondazione Prada
Last fall Prada celebrated the opening of Rong Zhai, the Republican-era residence of flour baron Rong Zongjing. Impeccably restored at the company's expense and by special invitation from the government, the downtown villa initially hosted receptions, parties, and showcases on behalf of the brand. Just before Art Basel in Hong Kong, the venue was handed over to Fondazione Prada for the first of two art exhibitions in 2018. The first was an exhibition of work from the collection curated by Germano Celant, tracking the Rome art scene in the decade leading up to Arte Povera. Other than Alberto Burri most of the artists were relatively unfamiliar to the Shanghai audience, signaling an interest in art-as-aesthetics over art-as-label. Most visitors, however, spent their time talking about the odd curatorial decision to hang much of the work on latticed bamboo screens—apparently inspired by a birdcage on the grounds. Now that the architecture and restoration have made their mark, art projects like this one are an obvious way to maintain interest in the space. The second show? Upcoming this fall in parallel with the Shanghai Biennial and the art fairs, it's a group exhibition of young, international artists curated by a certain prank-minded Italian artist, similarly calculated to get people talking. Meanwhile, back in Milan, the Fondazione's home facilities will be complete later this month with the opening of OMA's Torre, a much larger, much more contemporary exhibition space that will, presumably, not be clad in bamboo.

King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture is designed by   Snøhetta  . Courtesy Saudi Aramco.

King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture is designed by Snøhetta. Courtesy Saudi Aramco.

Saudi Aramco's art space is finally opening. This is a massive institutional art world move, more comparable to the launch of the Louvre Abu Dhabi than to the recent private museums of brands being launched in Paris, Milan, and Shanghai. Aramco is a state-owned enterprise, which raises some interesting branding questions: the name of the museum is King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, after all. Where activist pressure forced BP out of a three-decade sponsorship of the Tate, it's government charitable directives that keep Aramco tied into supporting culture in Saudi Arabia. The optics are different, to be sure, but so are the aims: the Center for World Culture is intended to be a pillar of the post-oil knowledge economy. Artnet

H&M adjudicates street art. Within the space of just a couple days, H&M filed and retracted an odd lawsuit involving the work of street artist Revok. (Long story short: Revok painted a work on public property. H&M used it as a backdrop in a lookbook campaign. Revok complained. H&M asked the courts to declare that artists forfeit intellectual claims over work created in the public domain. Uproar ensued.) No one comes off particularly well in this story, but the upshot is actually pretty simple: brands who benefit from and build on the work of artists in any medium, legal or illegal, famous or unknown, should recognize the moral rights of the artist even when copyright does not apply. It's a question of image, ethics, and creative culture more than legal technicalities. Quartzy
Fondation Cartier comes to Shanghai. Hot on the heels of fellow brand foundation Prada and yet still beating public institutions like the Pompidou and LACMA to the punch, Fondation Cartier is in Shanghai installing a large exhibition of its collection at the Power Station of Art. Opening in two weeks time, the project showcases the Fondation's primary values: long-term working commitments to individual artists, a willingness to take risks on artists unknown in a certain milieu or at large, and an insistence on crossing disciplinary boundaries. As far as brand projects go, the Fondation is strictly independent from Cartier, so it's these abstract values that take the place of more visual art-driven marketing campaigns. Power Station of Art


Artist Camille Henrot moves into fashion.
It's an independent (that is to say, not a brand collaboration) capsule collection based on her zodiac paintings

Dinner Party artist Judy Chicago is finally asked to design plates.
Spoiler: she said yes. Diners can choose between Sappho, the Amazons, and Queen Elizabeth. Artnet

Brands support art at Art Basel in Hong Kong.
It's become such a big thing that even the fact that it's a thing has become a thing. Most are bad. La Prairie's was probably the best, but a local eye was lacking across the board. JingDaily

Art/Design is a powerful category right now.
Thomas Barger is showing at Salon 94 right now. Jessi Reaves also gets a mention. Sculpture? Furniture? Both? Neither? The Culture is eating it up right now. T Magazine

Kristen Liu-Wong is painting a mural for Nasty Gal.
She's an interesting example of an artist who has transcended the street art/ illustration modality brands typically go for while retaining a staunchly individual vision. Instagram