Art Industry News: Gavin Brown Opens Up About the Business Failures and ‘Regrets’ Behind His Gallery’s Closure + Other Stories

Plus, pop art nun Corita Kent's studio is saved from demolition and New York's Hispanic Society names a new director.

Gavin Brown visiting Frieze on Randalls Island. © Patrick McMullan.

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 Friday, December 18.


A Disputed Pissarro Goes to Mediation – A long-running battle over the fate of a small Pissarro painting, Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep (1886), which was looted from Léone Meyer’s family during World War II, has reignited on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Most recently, a French judge ordered Meyer to meet with mediators to sort out the fate of the painting, which she previously pledged to share between a French museum and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma. She claims she misunderstood the original deal—and wants the painting back in France for good. (New York Times)

Why It Was Wrong to Block the Smithsonian’s Latino Museum – When Senator Mike Lee blocked a bill to create a Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino, he said that museums devoted to the histories of African Americans and Native Americans were different because those groups were “essentially written out of our national story and even had their own stories virtually erased.” However, there is evidence to the contrary. For one, the Smithsonian Institution published a report in 1994 about Latino representation in its branches under the title “Willful Neglect.” It stated: “The Institution almost entirely excludes and ignores Latinos in nearly every aspect of its operation.” (LA Times)

Behind Gavin Brown’s Move to Gladstone – ARTnews takes a deep dive into the closure of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise and the eponymous dealer’s move to become a partner at Gladstone Gallery. Among the reveals: Brown got offered a job at Pace before he began negotiations with Gladstone; he earned just five percent of his normal take at virtual Art Basel in June; and his expensive bet on Harlem floundered when he failed to draw crowds. “I’d taken it as far as I could,” he said of the business. “I have regrets about relationships being disrupted, feelings being hurt—which is a mild way of putting it.” (ARTnews)

Corita Kent’s Studio Is Saved From Demolition – The former Hollywood studio of Corita Kent, known affectionately as LA’s “pop art nun,” will live to see another day. The building, which is now a dry cleaner, was due to be demolished to make way for a parking lot before the nonprofit Corita Art Center and the Los Angeles Conservancy urged the city to designate it a cultural monument. The city council voted in favor yesterday. (Religion News)


Salman Toor Leads Phillips’s “New Now” Sale – A painting by the Pakistan-born, New York-based artist, Liberty Porcelain (2012), sold for $505,688, a whopping nine times its estimate. All told, the sale of emerging art generated $5.1 million across 172 lots, coming in toward the low end of expectations, but also making it the house’s highest total ever achieved for “New Now” in London. (ARTnews)

Nino Mier Gallery Continues to Expand – The Los Angeles-based gallery announced the addition of a new 1,500-square-foot location set to open in March 2021. The venue—its fourth—will serve in place of its original location, which will be converted into a private viewing room and special project space. (Instagram)


The Hispanic Society Names a New Director – Guillaume Kientz, a former curator at the Louvre, has been named director and CEO of the Hispanic Society Museum & Library in New York. The museum and reference library, which has struggled to raise its profile and better connect with its mainly Latino neighborhood in Washington Heights, has been closed for renovations since 2017. (New York Times)

Artist Roland Reiss Dies – The artist best known for creating plexiglass dioramas dedicated to American culture in the 1970s and ‘80s died in Los Angeles at the age of 91. His work has been shown in the Whitney Biennial and documenta as well as at institutions including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. (Artforum)


Gagosian Gets Called Out for “Bustes de Femmes” Show – The Instagram account @artgirlrising points out that Gagosian Paris’s 10th anniversary show, a group exhibition focusing on “how the female figure has been reimagined and reconfigured by modern and contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds and traditions,” includes the work of 28 artists—23 of whom are male. As the account points out, that leaves “only five female artists in a show dedicated to the female body.” (Instagram)

This Instagram Account Photoshops Cats Onto Brutalist Buildings – In other Instagram-related news, art critic Jillian Steinhauer has chosen five of her favorite creative accounts of the moment. We were particularly enchanted by @cats_of_brutalism, which collages fluffy felines onto striking Brutalist architecture around the world. (NYT)

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