Art Industry News: A Public Art Campaign in Palermo Seeks to Dissuade Residents From Joining the Mafia + Other Stories

Plus, L.A. MOCA appoints Clara Kim as chief curator, and Thomas Heatherwick installs a sculpture in front of Buckingham Palace.

A ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the assassination of judge Giovanni Falcone and his wife Francesca Morvillo by the Cosa Nostra. Photo by Alessandro FUCARINI / AFP 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 this Thursday, May 26.


Médecins Sans Frontières Under Fire for Use of Exploitative Images – Almost 50 current and former staff members, as well as doctors, photographers, and activists, have signed an open letter accusing the aid organization Doctors Without Borders of “selling human misery” by selling exploitative photographs of vulnerable victims to raise money. A spokesman for the organization said its aim is to raise awareness of under-reported crises, but that it will seek to address and potentially remove images that do not meet its current standards. (Guardian)

NEA Awards $91 Million to Arts Organizations – The latest round of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts will benefit 1,240 organizations in the United States. Awards include $20,000 to the Pittsburgh Glass Center for a residency program designed to introduce artists to the medium of glass, and $40,000 to New Mexico State University for an exhibition of Mexican ex-votos, or Catholic devotional paintings. (Hyperallergic)

Palermo Public Art Initiative Targets the Mafia – To mark the 30th anniversary of the killing of Giovanni Falcone, a judge who combatted the Mafia’s influence, the city of Palermo, Sicily, unveiled a series of art installations to remind residents of the city’s grim years under mob control. “We have always known that culture is one of the best weapons against the Mafia,” said Maria Falcone, Giovanni’s sister. Works include Tree of Everybody by Gregor Prugger, a fir tree with Mafia victims carved into its branches. (New York Times)

Morozov Masterpieces Have (Almost All) Been Returned – Masterworks from the Morozov collection have safely returned to Russia after a high-profile exhibition at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris coincided with the war in Ukraine. The voyage home was fraught with complications: five convoys of six trucks traveled through Belgium and Germany before traveling by ferry to Helsinki and, finally, Russia. Each truck could carry art worth $200 million. Three works from the show—one of which belongs to Ukraine, and two that belong to Russian oligarchs—remain in France. (The Art Newspaper)


Tate Curator Moves to L.A. MOCA – The Seoul-born Clara Kim will be returning to Los Angeles, where she grew up, to take on the role of chief curator and director of curatorial affairs at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. She is the first major high-profile hire by Johanna Burton, the new director of the oft-embattled institution. Kim previously served as senior curator of international art at Tate Modern in London. (L.A. Times)

Smithsonian Nabs Met’s Star Modern Art Curator – Lots of job news today! Randall Griffey has been tapped as head curator of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, overseeing the institution’s curatorial program, as well as research, acquisitions, and collections. Since 2013, he has been curator of modern and contemporary art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (ArtFixDaily)

Speed Art Museum Names New Contemporary Curator – Tyler Blackwell will join the Kentucky’s Speed Art Museum as curator of contemporary art beginning August 1. He was previously associate curator at the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston, Texas. (Press release)

Dak’Art Main Prize Awarded to Tegene Kunbi – Ethiopian artist Tengene Kunbi has been awarded the Léopold Sédar Senghor Grand Prize for the 2022 Dakar Biennial, which comes with a purse of 20 million FCfa ($32,500). (Contemporary&)


Thomas Heatherwick Unveils Sculpture in Honor of Queen – The famed designer’s Tree Of Trees, a 69-foot tall living sculpture featuring 350 British-grown trees, has been installed in front of Buckingham Palace as the centerpiece for the Platinum Jubilee celebration next week. The trees—all planted in aluminum pots—will be donated to community groups after the Jubilee. (Evening Standard)

The Queen's Green Canopy "Tree Of Trees" Is Completed

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 24: A team of workers add the final parts to the Queen’s Green Canopy ahead of the Platinum Jubilee on May 24, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Nicholls – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

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