Art Industry News: Larry Gagosian Once Refused to Sell Jennifer Lawrence a Portrait of Herself + Other Stories

Plus, American museums plan to staff back up, and another cultural organization parts ways with BP for good.

John Currin's portrait of actress Jennifer Lawrence on the cover of Vogue. Courtesy of John Currin/Vogue.

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 this Wednesday, February 23.


Why Looking at Art Makes You a Better Problem Solver – In a new book, art historian Amy Herman claims that critically observing art can better equip you to approach complex dilemmas at work. Spending time around challenging work pulls people out of their comfort zones and lets them see problems in a new light. She suggests three steps: observe, ask questions, and only then (to avoid confirmation bias) read the label to find out more. (Fast Company)

Scottish Ballet Drops BP, Too – One day after the National Portrait Gallery announced it would end its sponsorship deal with oil giant BP this year, the Scottish Ballet confirmed it will follow suit. A spokesperson said the dance company decided to end the relationship because BP no longer “aligns with the company’s green action plan – to be carbon neutral by 2030.” All eyes are now on the British Museum, which is currently partnering with the oil company on a blockbuster Stonehenge exhibition. (Evening Standard)

Larry Gagosian Refused to Sell Jennifer Lawrence a Painting of Herself – The art-world dealmaker sat for a rare interview with the Financial Times, alongside a photo shoot that captures tantalizing bits of his intimidating art collection. Among the works is a painting of Jennifer Lawrence by John Currin that once appeared on the cover of Vogue. She didn’t want to buy it when it was first made, but asked to buy it later when she visited Gagosian’s house. Unfortunately, the deal was off the dinner table: “I said, ‘Sorry Jennifer, I love you, but that ship has sailed.’” (Financial Times)

Hito Steyerl Gets a New Yorker Profile – The celebrated German artist chose an unusual meeting place for her interview with the New Yorker: the video game Minecraft. Steyerl and writer Merve Emre toured the virtual world as Steyerl opined on how Minecraft serves as a metaphor for the way social media platforms really work—seducing users into unpaid content creation and mining their metadata for profit and surveillance. “We don’t really know whether your face is being used to train facial-recognition algorithms or something like that,” Steyerl said. (New Yorker)


New LaGuardia Terminal Gets Top-Notch Art – The New York airport’s revamped Terminal C will be punctuated by six permanent artworks. As a part of its $12 million art program, the Port Authority partnered with the Queens Museums to commission site-specific works from New York-based artists Mariam Ghani, Rashid Johnson, Aliza Nisenbaum, Virginia Overton, Ronny Quevedo, and Fred Wilson. (New York Times)

U.S. Museums Are Staffing Up – A new report by the American Alliance of Museums found that 47 percent of surveyed museum directors plan to increase their staff after pandemic-related cutbacks. Nearly half said they would increase hourly wages to the lowest paid workers, but only 15 percent said they were “committed” to closing the wage gap between the highest and lowest paid staff. (Hyperallergic)

James Turrell Will Unveil a Skyspace in Colorado – The artist will debut his newest skyspace in Colorado’s Green Mountain Falls in June. The public artwork, called Skyspace on Red Butte, will be the artist’s first skyspace in the mountains, the only one in Colorado, and the first with a retractable roof. (Designboom)


Venice Gets a Kyrgz Pavilion – The Kyrgyz Republic will participate in the Venice Biennale for the first time in its history this spring with a dedicated pavilion on the Island of Giudecca. An exhibition of work by the artist Firouz FarmanFarmaian will examine tribal identity in Kyrgyz and the surrounding regions in Central Asia. (Press release)

Venice Biennale's Firouz FarmanFarmaian and the Altyn Kol Women Handicraft Cooperative.

Venice Biennale’s Firouz FarmanFarmaian and the Altyn Kol Women Handicraft Cooperative.

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