The Orlando Museum of Art Was About to Show a Questionable Pollock, Tali Lennox Lands at Almine Rech, and More Art-World Gossip

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TROUBLE BREWS IN ORLANDO

It’s not hard to imagine how duped visitors to the Orlando Museum of Art must have felt last week after the FBI literally stormed in and removed 25 allegedly fake Jean-Michel Basquiat works from the museum’s walls. The scandal was enough to get the museum’s director, Aaron De Groft, fired, and has become a bit of a national laughing stock, with a slew of sarcastic tweets and calls for the board’s resignation. 

Well, Wet Paint can exclusively reveal that the buck didn’t stop there. According to its website, the Orlando Museum of Art was also scheduled to be the first to display “a signature massive drip painting from 1949 by the greatest American artist, Jackson Pollock” in a rather wordily titled exhibit: “Jackson Pollock and the Comstock Pollock: Newly Discovered, First Time Exhibited.” 

The catch? This piece has had its authenticity doubted. The name Comstock in that clunky title comes from the late collector Gregory Comstock. As my colleague Sarah Cascone reported back in 2016, his piece, Pink Spring (1950), had its validity come into question when Los Angeles-based lawyer Pierce O’Donnell attempted to resell it from Comstock’s estate after his death in 2006. O’Donnell alleged that Maitreya Kadre, with whom he was apparently supposed to work to sell the painting, barred him from accessing it. The details there aren’t so important; what matters is that in its ruling, the court wrote that “there is apparently disagreement as to whether this painting was actually painted by Jackson Pollock.”

O’Donnell—does that name sound familiar to you? Oh right! According to ARTnews, O’Donnell has “an interest” in six of the 25 paintings that are at the center of the Orlando Museum of Art’s Basquiat debacle, a point O’Donnell confirmed with Wet Paint.

Although the Orlando museum’s website doesn’t specify exactly which Pollock painting was slated to be exhibited, O’Donnell confirmed that it was indeed —aka the “Comstock Pollock,” as its nicknamed, from the 2016 lawsuit. 

Adding to the curious activity, the Pollock exhibition was originally scheduled for January, then pushed to March, and then apparently just cancelled outright. The supposed show has since disappeared from the museum’s website like a reed in the wind (much like any evidence that it ever hosted that Basquiat exhibition, all mention of which has been scrubbed from the website). With De Groft ousted, presumably it never will. As for now, O’Donnell said that still lives in storage in Los Angeles.

The museum did not return any emails asking for further details, nor confirm why the piece was not exhibited. Over the phone, O’Donnell said plainly: “The owner decided several months ago to not go forward.” And who’s the owner? Well, the work is at least partly owned by O’Donnell, a fact he confirmed with Wet Paint after it was first reported in a 2016 Business Insider article about the Pollock.

While I was reporting this, I couldn’t get the question off of my mind: why is there so much allegedly fake art in Florida? Earlier this year I also reported on a fake Carroll Dunham piece that was up for auction in the Sunshine State. Seems that Vanuatu isn’t the only sunny place for shady people…

HERE COMES THE RECH (AGAIN)

Tali Lennox. Courtesy of Almine Rech, photo by Michael Leviton.

Surrealist figuration is right now, but painter Tali Lennox has been way ahead of that curve. I first encountered her sometimes-nightmarish, always-audacious portraits a few years ago when she had her first show at Catherine Ahnell Gallery in SoHo. At the time, I was completely unaware that the former model is also the daughter of Eurythmics lead singer Annie Lennox, but it makes sense, seeing as her subject matter embodies a similar darkly romantic, leather-and-lace aesthetic that her mother voices. Since then, I’ve kept her in the same mental stable as Anna WeyantJenny SavilleChristina Quarles, and the like. It seems the market is finally catching up to her too, as Almine Rech has just added her to its roster.

“I was introduced to Tali by Olivier Zahm from ” magazine, Almine Rech told Wet Paint over email. “He knew that I was very interested in women artists in general, but particularly from the 21st century.”

“I immediately was captured by her work,” she added. “Her paintings come from her own imaginary world, which is populated by women in their privacy, like in what we call  in french. A place where no one can see them. Tali invites us there.”

Lennox’s work had also piqued the interest of the gallery’s New York directors, Ethan Buchsbaum and Paul de Froment. Before coming stateside, though, she will have her debut solo show with the gallery next year at its Paris location in June, with a few pieces at various fairs leading up to it. The next time Lennox’s work will be on view is in Switzerland this September at Galerie Sebastien Bertrand.

“I show quite a few women artists,” Rech said. “Women with great talent always existed, but their ambition was difficult to achieve. Now they can really believe in themselves from the beginning.”

WE HEAR 

Night Gallery has added Los Angeles-based painter Hayley Barker to its roster … Andy Mister and Ann Weathersby have created t-shirts for anyone donating $50 or more to Planned Parenthood … Streaming website Twitch suspended artist Joshua Citarella for playing critic John Berger’s documentary, due to nudity in the film … The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago has named Anslem Elumogo-Gardner as chief of staff … Atlanta, the beautiful, pastoral hometown of Wet Paint, will be getting its own dedicated Art Week under the direction of writer and advisor Kendra Walker, running from September 29 through October 2 … Bella Hadid recently purchased a sculpture from Chinatown gallery Europa’s current group exhibition, “Moonflowers” … Postmasters will be leaving its beloved home in Tribeca due to “a protracted legal battle with our landlord over a Covid rent settlement,” opting now for a nomadic existence … 

SPOTTED 

The scene at Matthew Tully Dugan’s “Dorsia” at 56 Henry. Photo by Lano Salazar.

Matthew “Tully” Dugan re-created the fictional restaurant Dorsia from Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho at 56 Henry last week, serving up butter-poached halibut and beef tenderloin in a bone-marrow reduction, all created from one open-flame barbecue outside the gallery for guests including Eileen Kelly, Cynthia Talmadge, Stefania Bortolami, Valentina Vaccarella *** Carpenter’s Workshop opened its Los Angeles location, and a L.A. crowd of celebrities showed up, including Kris Jenner, Brad Pitt, and Robert Pattinson *** Coach released a collection decorated by Tom Wesselmann, and Mickalene Thomas, Kimberly Drew, Ziwe Fumudoh, and Parker Kit-Hill all sported the lippy wares at a dinner in SoHo *** The Brooklyn Museum hosted an opening party for Virgil Abloh‘s traveling exhibition, “Figures of Speech,” with Antwaun SargentJacolby SatterwhiteDerek BlasbergDerrick Adams, and Tremaine Emory all present to fête the late artist’s work *** Blockchain-startup Fairchain celebrated its third birthday at the buzzy new restaurant Time, and handed out some new merchandise ***

WET PAINT QUESTIONNAIRE

As the summer heats up, I asked what my readers think is the most overrated art-world vacation destination.

The Hamptons was a popular answer, with JTT‘s Jasmin Tsuo writing: “For me vacation is about going somewhere to be alone, so the Hamptons never made much sense to me.” Totally agreed! It’s hard to walk down the beach without running into all of the New York art scene out there.

Advisor Dan Oglander wrote in to take Tulum down a few pegs, describing it fairly mercilessly as “a tasteless parody of everything wrong with modern society. Filled with coked-out ‘shamans,’ COVID deniers, and over-priced Miami-style restaurants. Do not go there.” Consider yourself warned!

For this week: Which artist would you like to see have an immersive experience? Email your response to [email protected]

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