Art Industry News: DC’s Portrait Gallery Will Unveil a Placeholder Trump Portrait While the Fancy Real One Gets Cooked Up + Other Stories

Plus, The Weeknd is making NFT art now, too, and a South Carolina museum sneakily sells a work by Alma Thomas.

Former US President Donald Trump leaves the Trump Tower in Manhattan on March 9, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
Former US President Donald Trump leaves the Trump Tower in Manhattan on March 9, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC 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, April 1.

NEED-TO-READ

UK Museums Face More Pandemic Cutbacks – Museum directors are making further job costs as the UK faces a dangerous third wave. The Victoria & Albert Museum in London said curatorial staff face a 20 percent reduction—around 30 posts. The institution is also merging and restructuring departments, like the Islamic Middle East and Asia sections with sub-Saharan Africa and African Diasporic art. Critics warn the process could cull valuable expertise. (TAN)

The Weeknd Is Making NFT Art Now, Too – Musician Abel Tesfaye, known as The Weeknd, is releasing a new song and original art with Nifty Gateway on Saturday. Three different pieces of art developed by Strange Loop Studios will accompany different clips of the previously unreleased song in an unlimited edition. “Blockchain is democratizing an industry that has historically been kept shut by the gatekeepers,” the musician said. (TechCrunch)

Trump Is Coming to DC’s National Portrait Gallery – The museum is preparing to unveil a placeholder portrait of the former president in its America’s Presidents gallery while his official commission remains in the works. (The last one, you’ll recall, was created by Kehinde Wiley.) The gallery says it is in the early steps of the commissioning process, which is done in concert with the former president and can take up to two years; no artist has been announced. (Washingtonian)

Greenville Museum Sells Rare Alma Thomas Work – A painting by African American artist Alma Thomas has been sold for a record-breaking $2.8 million to a mystery buyer. Alma’s Flower Garden, made between 1968 and 1970, was in the collection of the Greenville County Museum of Art until it was deaccessioned. A curator of a recent Thomas show says the news of the sale and its unknown buyer hit like “a bombshell.” (Greenville Online)

ART MARKET

Phillips & Poly Auction Announce Joint Sale – Following their successful collaboration in Hong Kong over the summer, the two auction houses plan to hold a joint 20th century and contemporary art and design sale on June 7 and 8. The action will be livestreamed from Phillips’s Hong Kong location to Poly’s auction room in Beijing. (Press release)

Baseball Cards Get the Crypto Treatment – Goldin Auctions, which focuses on sports memorabilia, has announced that it will accept cryptocurrency as payment, becoming one of the first traditional auction houses to do so. It has already accepted crypto for a Jay-Z card that sold for $103,200 on March 20. (Bloomberg)

Antwerp’s Zeno X Will Represent Pélagie Gbaguidi — The Dakar-born artist, whose practice centers on colonial and postcolonial history, had not previously signed with a gallery. She had an acclaimed installation at the Documenta 14 in Kassel in 2017 and was included in the Berlin Biennial in 2020. (Press release)

COMINGS & GOINGS

Los Angeles Museums Prepare for Reopening – Museums in Los Angeles, which have been shuttered for the better part of a year, are making plans to reopen now that they have the green light from the city. The Hammer Museum and Huntington Museum will reopen on April 17. The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art reopens today. (Los Angeles Magazine)

Chief Restorer of the Sistine Chapel Has Died – Maestro Gianluigi Colalucci, who directed the restorations of Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel from 1980 to 1994, has died at age 92. (AFP)

FOR ART’S SAKE

Artist Sues Iowa College for Changing Her Sculptures  Sculptor Molly Mason has filed a lawsuit against Kirkwood Community College after learning that its staff altered her massive stainless steel and water installation by draining the surrounding pool, shutting off the fountains, and replacing the water with soil and shrubs. The move, she says, harms her reputation and turns her work into an “overgrown planter.” (Des Moines Register)

National Gallery Designs Show Just for Mobile Phones – The National Gallery in London has launched its first exhibition designed exclusively for mobile phones, focusing on Jan Gossaert’s Renaissance altarpiece The Adoration of the Kings, which tells the story of the birth of Jesus. Visitors will be able to zoom into the work and experience six related poetry readings by British-Nigerian poet Theresa Lola. (Observer)

Jan Gossaert’s The Adoration of Kings. National Gallery, London, England. Photo: VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images.


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