Art Industry News: Rain of Terror? The British Museum Is Storing Its Parthenon Marbles Under a Very Leaky Roof + Other Stories

Plus, the National Museum Wales removes a portrait of a slave owner and a giant tribute to Queen Elizabeth faces backlash.

Visitors pose in front of the British Museum's Elgin Marbles that originate from the Parthenon in Athens. Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images.

Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know on this Thursday, November 4.


Giant Tribute to the Queen Faces Backlash – The U.K.’s planning inspectorate has approved designs for artist Simon Hitchens’s soaring steel sculpture dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II to be built on the moors of Northumberland. The work, titled Ascendant: the Elizabeth Landmark consists of a narrow steel spike soaring upward from the ground. Standing at 55 meters tall, it rivals other landmarks like Anish Kapoor’s Arcelor Mittal Orbit and Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North. A local activist group has criticized the work as “invasive” and “industrial.” (The Art Newspaper)

Cardiff Museum Removes Portrait of Enslaver – The National Museum Wales has taken down a portrait of Sir Thomas Picton, who has historically been remembered as the highest-ranking British officer to die at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Picton also served as the governor of Trinidad and owned and abused slaves in addition to authorizing torture, for which he stood trial in London. The painting is now in storage, and two Trinidadian artists have been commissioned to “re-frame” Picton’s life and legacy. (BBC)

Leaky Ceilings Kept the Parthenon Marbles From View – The Greek galleries in the British Museum are set to finally reopen in mid-December after an extended closure due in large part to the building’s poor condition. The galleries housing the Parthenon Marbles suffered from a leaking roof, prompting renewed calls for restituting the contested sculptures to Greece. Eagle-eyed reporters at the Art Newspaper captured multiple sites of disrepair in the Assyrian galleries, but according to director Hartwig Fischer’s overhaul plans, neither gallery will be upgraded for several years. (TAN)

Reclusive Artist Bettina Grossman Has Died — The nonagenarian was the oldest living artist included in MoMA PS1’s current “Greater New York” quinquennial; her Phenomenology Project (1979–80) comprises portraits of individuals photographed in the reflection of city windows. Grossman lived in solitude for many years in room 503 at the Chelsea Hotel, and only in the past decade has her work received broader attention. The artist Yto Barrada, who is currently producing a catalogue raisonné of Grossman’s work, introduced MoMA PS1 curator Ruba Katrib to Grossman’s work. (ARTnews)


Nguyễn Trinh Thi Wins Major Commission – The Vietnamese filmmaker is the first winner of a new $100,000 award to create a work that will be shown at the three awarding institutions: the Mori Art Museum, M+, and the Singapore Art Museum. The prize is also supported by the Han Nefkens Foundation. (Artforum)

Faith Ringgold Wins Louis Auchincloss Prize – The Harlem-born painter, sculptor, author, and activist is the 2021 recipient of the Louis Auchincloss Prize, presented by the Museum of the City of New York. The prize honors figures whose work is inspired by, and enhances, the five boroughs; previous honorees include Whoopi Goldberg and Gloria Steinem. (Press release)

William Blake Cottage at Risk – The 17th-century thatched cottage where poet and artist William Blake lived between 1800 and 1803 and wrote his famous work Jerusalem is at risk, according to Historic England. The Blake Cottage Trust needs to do repairs to the thatch and supporting masonry. (Guardian)

Rubell Museum Announces Miami Art Week Program — The Rubell Museum has announced its always closely-watched lineup for Miami Art Week. It will present new works by its three artists in residence—Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, Genesis Tramaine, and Kennedy Yanko—as well as new exhibitions by Casja von Zeipel and Reginald O’Neal. (Press release)


Little Amal Finishes Her Journey – The larger-than-life puppet Amal arrived in Manchester on Wednesday, November 3, after an epic trek through 65 European cities. The puppet, who is designed to represent a nine-year-old Syrian refugee and the migrant struggle, traveled 5,000 miles (8,000 km) from the Turkish-Syrian border to the U.K. (BBC)

Little Amal arrives at Old Trafford on November 3, in Manchester, England. Photo: Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images.

Little Amal arrives at Old Trafford on November 3, in Manchester, England. Photo: Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images.

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