Emerging Art World Superstar, a RISD Grad, Is Draped in Controversy

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

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Anna Weyant PHOTO: Artist’s promotional photo

In recent weeks Rhode Island School of Design grad Anna Weyant has been the subject of features in news articles from the Wall Street Journal to artnet. Everything she does today makes news.

Art has never been a bigger business.

While crypto and the stock market may be crashing, the New York art auction business had a record season — recording $2.5 billion in sales according to the Financial Times.

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The Daily Beast’s recent headline was “The Making of Anna Weyant, Art’s Hot New Superstar.”

Over the past few years, her career and the price of her art have rocketed upward.

Now, the media can’t get enough of her art, and equally, her business and personal controversies. The two are often intertwined.

Three years ago, her art sold for $400 a piece, and recently a painting sold for $1.6 million.

At just 27, her every move is tracked.

“The art world loves to devour its young,” art critic Jerry Saltz told the Wall Street Journal in one of the recent features about her booming career. He is a self-proclaimed early admirer of Weyant. “It can be difficult to paint with another voice in your head whispering numbers and prices, but maybe she can.”

Publications ranging from DailyMail.com to ARTnews can’t seem to get enough of Weyant — and they seem to be obsessed with her personal life as much as her art.

“For the past year, the artist has been dating Larry Gagosian, the 77-year-old founder of arguably the most powerful art gallery network in the world. Precedence exists for such art-world romances: New York dealer Gavin Brown is married to artist Hope Atherton, though he said he never represented her. But Ms. Weyant and Mr. Gagosian’s May-December relationship is being scrutinized in art circles,” WSJ.

ARTnews reported, “Gagosian’s representation of Weyant also has one unusual factor: Artnet News reported in October that she is dating Larry Gagosian, the gallery’s founder.”

The WSJ reported that Professor Martin Smick, Weyant’s painting professor at RISD, said he “recently defended her against some artists who ‘were being snarky and jaded’ about the preferential treatment she might get by joining her boyfriend’s gallery. ‘I feel protective of her ,’ Mr. Smick said.”

The DailyMail’s most recent report focused on Weyant’s breakup with her previous agent Timothy Blum and his selling of one the pieces that she had gifted him. He made a massive profit.

The Gagosian gallery is more circumspect about her work.

Gagosian Gallery writes about her work in its marketing, “Weyant’s precisely rendered paintings depicting figures embroiled in tragicomic narratives, and still-life compositions in which everyday objects adopt an uncanny, portentous air. Far from presenting these individuals and items as generalized types, however , she employs a keen ironic wit to evoke their myriad idiosyncrasies and contradictions.”

Weyant graduated from RISD in 2017.

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