Art Industry News, Weekend Edition: Trump Awards National Arts Medal to Himself + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, hundreds are injured in a riot outside a Kusama Infinity Room and Banksy's true identity is revealed.

President Donald J. Trump awards himself the National Medal of the Arts, the nation's highest honor in arts and letters. Image courtesy Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.

Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market, which we normally do not publish on Sundays. But here’s what you need to know this Sunday, April 1.


Hauser & Wirth Opens Ultra-High-End Doggy Daycare, Schnauzer & Wirth – Hot on the heels of the opening of Manuela, an LA restaurant that houses a free-range chicken coop, and the planned debut of the Fife Arms, a luxury hotel in Scotland, mega-dealers Iwan and Manuela Wirth unveiled their latest boundary-pushing crossover initiative. Schnauzer & Wirth will apply the gallery’s expertise in luxury to pampering the art world’s finest pooches, with exclusive collaborations including dog jewelry by Jenny Holzer, dream-like “TV for dogs” from Pipilotti Rist, and “Argyle Barky,” a line of dog sweaters with patterns licensed from the Arshile Gorky estate. (High-End Dog News)

Even Amnesty International Rejected Jeff Koons’s Donation For Some Reason? – The American artist can’t catch a break. After the French brutally rebuffed his offer to donate a balloon bouquet sculpture to the city of Paris, artnet News has learned that Amnesty International returned Koons’s end-of-year donation check. The reasons for the rejection remain unclear, though sources say the organization buckled under the weight of numerous open letters. “I don’t understand why literally nobody wants my presents,” Koons said. (artnet News)

Trump Awards Self National Medal of Arts – Declaring “deals” a medium that “has not gotten the credit it deserves,” US President Donald Trump had the honor bestowed upon himself in a lavish Friday afternoon ceremony at the Trump Grill in New York, where Fox News personality and likely future secretary of homeland security Sean Hannity draped the hallowed medal over the commander-in-chief’s shoulders. “This is HUGE,” Trump immediately tweeted—though it was unclear whether he was referring to winning the nation’s highest honor in arts and letters or the debut of his Grill’s new jumbo taco bowl. (Washington Post)

Hundreds Injured in Kusama Infinity Room Riot – Rage overflowed outside of the latest Yayoi Kusama installation at David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea on Saturday, where massive crowds gathered in a desperate bid to take a photo of themselves inside the Japanese artist’s immersive environment on the show’s final day. Cars were set ablaze after one superfan overstayed her allotted 30-second time slot. “Who are these people? They need to look in the mirror!” said alarmed Zwirner director Hanna Schouwink, before being forced to flee the scene when onlookers thought she was actually offering access to a Kusama mirror. (New York Times)


Art Basel to Sell Fresh Herbs – Always expanding its brand into new areas, the world-famous Art Basel chain of art fairs announced the launch of Art Basil, a line of ultra-high-end, individually packaged basil leaves, exclusively available to VVIPS at the franchise’s various events. “It’s good for pesto, or a pasta sauce, or if you’re just the kind of person who’s like, ‘I want a $55,000 piece of basil,’” said fair boss Marc Spiegler. (Y Magazine)

To Cover Admissions, Met Proposes Doing That Thing Where Everyone Just Throws in Their Credit Card and One Person Has to Pay for It All – In response to public resistance to changes in its suggested admissions policy, the leadership of the Metropolitan Museum of Art has proposed a new solution: “What if we had, like, a big hat,” explained the museum’s president and CEO Daniel Weiss. “And you put in your card, and then probably you won’t pay, but maybe you will?” Faced with accusations that the board hadn’t thought this through, Weiss pointed to the Met’s new logo as evidence that they always think things through. (Vulture)

Hot New Art Craze: Taking a Selfie of Yourself Buying Bitcoin While in Virtual Reality – The latest report from ArtCa$hProfe$$ional$, an art-market consultancy, examines the hottest new collecting trend among cutting-edge millennial buyers. “What could be more engaging to the sensibility of today’s culture lovers than simulating the thrill of a cryptocurrency transaction, and documenting yourself while you do it—and calling that art?” the report’s authors say. “Cash is flowing into this sector, and those who try to fight it will be left behind in the dust.” (Art World Insider)


Condo Launches Novel New Initiative – Condo, the celebrated gallery share initiative, is launching a new project in Miami Beach this December. The event will bring together dealers to present their wares in small, mini white-walled galleries—all in the same building. “They look sort of like cubicles,” Condo founder Vanessa Carlos explained. “The idea is to help dealers and collectors alike by putting art under one roof. We’re trying to think outside the cube—while going deeper into it.” (Wall Street Journal)

Mystery Solved: Banksy Is Actually Just a Hoodie – World-famous street artist Banksy has at last had his much-debated secret identity revealed: He is, it turns out, a floating, sentient hooded sweatshirt. In retrospect, observers noted, the ghostly supernatural nature of the hoodie explains why Banksy has never been caught, while also clarifying that the voice heard in the documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, previously thought to have been the product of electronic distortion to conceal his identity, is just the natural speaking voice of a bewitched, empty shirt. (Banksy Watch)


Artist Thinks Game of Social Practice Beer Pong Is Somehow Relevant to Smashing Capitalism – Rising social practice artist Quaid Frank has unveiled his latest opus, Ragin’ Against Late Capitalism, an ongoing beer pong tournament. The twist? Each 40-mm regulation red plastic cup is stamped with the face of the CEO of a different Fortune 500 company. “In these desperate times, it is crucial that art take a stand, and dare to dream of new forms of collective resistance,” said Frank, with no noticeable hint of irony. (Frieze)

United Nations Condemns Berkshire Museum Legal Updates as “Low-Grade Psychological Warfare” – After reviewing extensive interviews and medical examinations, UN Secretary General António Guterres declared that the interminable parade of twists in the Berkshire Museum deaccessioning scandal has caused “undue and unacceptable mental damage” to roughly two dozen art-market journalists worldwide. A source close to Guterres relayed, “We’ve got a guy who lapses into a seizure any time his smartphone vibrates, a woman convinced Norman Rockwell has risen from the dead to hunt her down for a typo, even a group that has been chanting ‘Public trust! Private hell!’ since January. This has got to stop.” (Berkshire Badger)

Gamerman Returns to the Scene – Long celebrated as the “William Wegman of Cats,” 81-year-old Upper East Side artist Ethel Gamerman is back with a MoMA PS1 retrospective and a new body of work. See a preview below.

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