What You Need to Know About the Art World’s New Reality TV Show, Lucas Zwirner and Elizabeth Peyton’s Friendship Sparks Chatter, and More Juicy Art World Gossip



The new and inventive ways that enterprising artists go about getting museum recognition is ever-expanding. One particularly unique way—which worked for such artists as Kymia Nawabi and Abdi Farah during the two-season run of “Work of Art: The Next Great Artist” back in the early 2010s, and more recently worked for Deborah Czeresko, the glassmaker who won “Blown Away” in 2021 and now shows with Hannah Traore Gallery—is to go on national television and compete against your peers on a reality show. This past summer I reported on rumblings about a new art reality show in the works, which apparently tried and failed to recruit artists like Chloe Wise, Peter Zohore, and Jamian Juliano-Villani to compete on national TV, with the prize being a solo show at D.C.’s Hirshhorn Museum. Now, Wet Paint can exclusively reveal which artists did take the bait. 

Come March 3, art lovers will be able to tune in to MTV right after RuPaul’s Drag Race at 9 pm and watch “The Exhibit,” a paint-splattered battle royale where artists Jamaal Barber, Frank Buffalo Hyde, Misha Kahn, Clare Kambhu, Baseera Khan, Jillian Mayer, and Jennifer Warren will duke it out for that sweet, sweet solo show in our capital city. 

Pretty stacked cast, if you ask me! Among these artists you have a sculptor whose worked with Dries Van Noten (Kahn), a video artist whose had a solo show at Pérez Art Museum (Mayer), a painter with the golden ticket of a Yale MFA (Kambhu), and a rising star with a High Line commission underway (Khan), just to drop a few names. And the list of judges is no slouch, either. Alongside Hirshhorn director Melissa Chiu you’ve got sociologist and author Sarah Thornton, arts educator Sammy Hoi, collector/Hirshhorn trustee Keith Rivers, and… two of my favorite voices in the art world: high-powered art consultant JiaJia Fei and on-again-off-again-and-now-on-again Artnet News columnist Kenny Schachter. (I guess they had to cast a Simon Cowell type! Schachter told me that his signature Adidas track pants are covered by a piece of gaff tape in each episode, which reminds me of Juliano-Villani’s proposed idea for the show). Rumor has it that Nathaniel Mary Quinn was set to be a judge, but bowed out at the last minute. 

So why did these folks decide to go the reality route? “When Melissa approached me, I was honored that we are able to give an artist a real pathway forward,” Rivers told Wet Paint, adding, somewhat ominously, “This feels like a critical juncture, both for the institution and the artists in front of us.”

Chiu elaborated further on the museum’s decision to proceed with the show: “The television series is a continuum of the Hirshhorn’s radical approach to expanded accessibility to the art and artists of our time.” She also slipped it in that recent popular exhibitions, like “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors,” have doubled their annual attendance up to a million visitors. (Compare that to season one of “Work of Art,” which reportedly drew 1.12 million viewers in 2010.)

Let’s see if a decade and a third of explosive art-industry growth can make an art reality show an actual mass phenomenon (or not).


Elizabeth Peyton
Photo via: zimbo

I know I shouldn’t be surprised by this—because it’s kind of my whole raison d’être here at Artnet News—but it always shocks me how much a mere rumor can turn the art market’s wheels. For the past week, I’ve been sleuthing out some well-sourced chatter that painter Elizabeth Peyton, who has shown with Gladstone Gallery since 2007, is moving south to the kingdom of David Zwirner. After numerous unanswered calls and emails to everyone involved, all parties remained silent on the matter, and the rumor is still unconfirmed, floating around nebulously, but not powerlessly. 

Let me explain what I mean. 

When I first heard this rumor, it has come with some eye-popping details. For one thing, there’s been talk that Peyton is switching for David Zwirner because she’s been dating the beloved bibliophilic playboy heir, Lucas Zwirner. (They have been hanging out a lot.) On the other, I can confirm that at least one powerful art-market dealmaker has already been speculatively snapping up works by Peyton in case the whispers turn out to be true. Welcome to the art world, people. And the rumor mill is still whirring on high steam.

As I said before, no one will confirm or deny any of this to me, no matter how hard I press. All I have for you is what I hear from those close to the matter at hand. 

“Oh, that rumor has been going around for months now, but no, it’s not true,” one prominent New York gallerist, who is close to both parties, told me in reference to the romantic aspect of the Peyton-Zwirner combine. “They hang out, they go to museums together, but no, I do not think they’re dating.” Though, it would be kind of ironic if they dating and that’s what brought Peyton into the fold. If you’ll recall, Lucas’s romantic entanglements have been bandied about as one reason why his gallery  representation of Harold Ancart to Gagosian about a year ago. (Ancart has been dating Zwirner’s ex, Dianna Agron, since he left the gallery.)

As far as Peyton’s gallery future, however, anyone’s guess is as good as mine. Again: neither gallery responded to my requests for comment. But Peyton’s work is hot-hot-hot, as she made her auction record this past November at Sotheby’s “The Now” auction, wherein  sold for more than double its low estimate of $1 million, bringing in $2.4 million. So, for whoever she’s showing with going forward, well done.



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That Baffler Magazine has tapped Matthew Shen Goodman, former editor of Triple Canopy, as its new editor-in-chief… Jessica Silverman has picked up representation of St. Paul-based artist Julie Buffalohead… The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum has tapped architect Eduardo Andres Alfonso as its associate curator… Peter Doig has been having some fun with Harry Styles’s clowncore outfit for this year’s Grammy Awards… Yudai Kanayama, owner of the beloved art-world watering hole Dr. Clark’s, finally met his hero, sculptor Tyler Hays, as evidenced by a very endearing Instagram post… A high-ranking employee at Simchowitz suggested that a collector, instead of selling their Shaina McCoy piece to the gallery at the current primary price, bring the artwork to auction instead … As prophesied in last week’s column, a selection of work by Ernie Barnes will be on display jointly by Ortuzar Projects and Andrew Kreps at Frieze Los Angeles next week…


Monsieur Zohore offered up a painting in exchange for Beyoncé tickets on his Instagram *** The annual Fifteen Percent Pledge’s gala hosted a real who’s-who, like Alteronce Gumby, Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, Hannah Bronfman, Thom Browne, and Tyler Mitchell *** Stefan Bondell’s opening at Vito Schnabel Gallery was also quite the see-and-be-seen scene, with Zac Posen, Arden Wohl, Anthony Haden-Guest, Jeanette Hayes, and David Rimanelli roaming around the gallery before an afterparty at the fabled Palazzo Chupi *** Alison Roman, Susan Alexandra, Naomi Fry, and pretty much every cool downtowner at 56 Henry’s opening for sculptor Ohad Meromi *** Nina Chanel Abney, Derrick Adams, Harold Ancart, Nicolas Party, and Ewa Juszkiewicz at Ninę Orchard for RxArt‘s annual gala *** Olivia Smith, Carlo McCormick, and Aleksandar Duravcevic enjoying some dry-aged prime rib at Balvenera in the Lower East Side to fête Alex Sewell’s new show at TOTAH *** 


It seems to come with the job of museum director to be well-heeled. Last week, I asked readers who the most stylish museum director is, and here’s what people said:

Thelma Golden is it, hands down.” said collector Suzanne McFayden Smith. She wasn’t the only one to write in Golden, as Claire de Dobay Rifelj, associate director of Sprüth Magers, also volunteered her name with “no competition,” and Louis-Philippe Van Eeckhoutte, director of dépendance gallery in Brussels, also agreed. According to artist Lynn Hershman, the accolade goes to the Tate Museum’s Maria Balshaw. Arthur Peña, gallery liaison with Penske Media, wrote in: “Although not tied to a physical museum, if we consider the city itself as an institution (and don’t we??) I think Justine Ludwig, director of Creative Time is a clear winner. I mean, have you seen her nails at any given moment?” 

My question for my readers next week: Will I see you at my party in Los Angeles? Send in your RSVP and I’ll see you next week.



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