In the frame

‘Art bastard’ Robert Cenedella sues New York’s biggest museums

Robert Cenedella Image courtesy Art Bastard

Is the art world fixed? That’s what the artist Robert Cenedella charges in a lawsuit against what he terms a "corporate museum cartel"—the Metropolitan, the Whitney, MoMA, the Guggenheim and the New Museum—for conspiring against artists. To make his point, Cenedella and his lawyer cite a 2015 article in The Art Newspaper which reported that almost a third of all solo shows in the five museums went to artists represented by five galleries. As a result, they say, “artists outside of this system are foreclosed from the financial benefits of having their art exhibited by the museums, do not benefit from any of the promotion and profitability garnered by the galleries, and do not see the financial success that comes with increased prices and sales of their art by prominent collectors.” Cenedella, who has not been exhibited in any of the museums he is suing, is seeking a jury trial and damages totalling $100m.

A student of George Grosz who now teaches at the Art Students League, Cenedella has been a rebellious figure for decades. His notorious Hostility Dartboard (1967) is a target printed with the faces noted figures from Richard Nixon to Sigmund Freud. “For a few dollars extra, you could put a relative or an ex-wife there,” he says. More recently, his grand and grotesque triptych Fin del Mundo (2016) offered a Boschian preview of Trump’s presidency.