Art Industry News: Pace Gallery Makes Cutbacks in a Down Market, Furloughing 25 Percent of Its New York Staff + Other Stories

Plus, how art institutions can apply for the NEA's relief funds, and Marina Abramovic's opera about Maria Callas is on ice.

The front desk at the new Pace Gallery.

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, April 10.


How to Apply for the NEA’s Emergency Grants – New guidelines for how to receive funding from the $75 million allotted to the NEA through the US government’s CARES Act have been released. To be eligible for direct grants of $50,000, organizations must have been given NEA awards within the past four years (about 3,700 organizations may qualify). The money may be allocated to staff salary, artist fees, and facilities costs. Local arts agencies who issue grants of their own may request sums for either $100,000 or $250,000; the application deadline is April 22, 2020. (Glasstire)

COVID Derails Marina Abramovic’s Opera – The performance artist has been working for years on an elaborate, multimedia opera about the singer Maria Callas, and as recently as late March, at her request, the Bavarian State Opera was investigating whether the work’s original April 11 premiere could be livestreamed without an audience. On April 1, however, the opera house concluded that the performance would have to be postponed to an unspecified later date. “I was hoping that angels will help us,” Abramovic said. “Every day more and more. But it’s impossible.” (New York Times)

Pace Furloughs 25 Percent of New York Staff – As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the art market, the international mega-gallery Pace informed more than 25 employees—around a quarter of its New York staff—that they had been placed on furlough through mid-August. Pace’s CEO Marc Glimcher, who recently penned an essay about how his own coronavirus diagnosis changed his view of the art world, said in a statement that “this painful decision came after making every non-personnel related cut we could, which has included drastically reducing the salaries of the most senior people either to the minimum or entirely.” (ARTnews)

Why MOCA’s Furloughs Were a Mistake – Art critic Christopher Knight says the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles could have avoided furloughing 70 staff members by applying for the federal government’s new Payment Protection Program, as many other museums have done. Small institutions, he writes, “should be going after PPP bailout funds to keep the full-time staff secure and in place. Staffers need it, the art institutions need it, and the American economy needs it. There’s no good excuse not to.” (Los Angeles Times)


White Cube Launches COVID Fundraiser – The gallery is teaming up with British artist Harland Miller to raise £1.25 million for healthcare workers and others fighting the disease on the front lines. Miller—who himself has experienced mild symptoms of COVID-19—is selling 250 editions of the print Who Cares Wins (2020), created in the style of his popular Penguin dust jacket series, for £5,000 each. Proceeds will be donated to the National Emergencies Trust in the UK, the New York Community Trust, and HandsOn Hong Kong. (The Art Newspaper)

Austrian Galleries Look to Reopen – Some Austrian galleries are cautiously planning to reopen their doors next week after the government began to ease restrictions that were introduced to limit the spread of coronavirus. Beginning on April 14, small shops will be permitted to resume operations, with limitations: only one customer per 20 square meters will be admitted and everyone must wear masks. Some galleries fear it is too early to reopen; others plan to operate with reduced hours. (TAN)

Artists and Celebs Offer Works to Bonhams – The auction house is hosting an online-only sale to benefit NHS charities in the midst of urgent appeals for aid, from April 8 through April 29. The sale offers works donated by the likes of Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley, and Julian Opie. Four lucky winning bidders will also be given a backstage glimpse into the filming of “Call the Midwife,” the hit BBC series. (Press release)


Math Bass Joins the Roster at Vielmetter Los Angeles – The Los Angeles-based artist, who previously worked with the now-shuttered Mary Boone Gallery, will be represented by Vielmetter Los Angeles. Bass, whose work encompasses painting, sound, sculpture, video, and performance, will have a debut solo show at the gallery in November 2020. Bass will also be the subject of a solo exhibition at the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington later this year. (Press release)

Aspen Art Museum Cancels ArtCrush – The Aspen Art Museum has become the latest institution to cancel its major annual fundraiser in an effort to preserve public health. The museum announced that it would call off its ArtCrush summer gala and accompanying events, originally scheduled to be held from August 4 through 7. Last year, the gala raised $2.3 million, a significant portion of the museum’s annual contributions. Notably, ArtCrush is among the later events in the year to be cancelled at this stage—many spring events have been rescheduled to September. (Aspen Daily News)

BMW Art Journey Shortlist Announced – The annual BMW Art Journey shortlist was announced after what was, for the first time, a virtual selection process. The jury, which included collector Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, UCCA Director Philip Tinari, and the 2019 winner, Samson Young, selected artists Leelee Chan, Jes Fan, and the duo Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho for the shortlist. They will now be asked to submit a proposal for their ideal journey, and the winner will be announced in June. (Press release)


Robert Wilson Debuts His Own Viewing Room – The storied theater director has taken a page from galleries and opened an online viewing room full of his mesmerizing video portraits, including one of Winona Ryder cast as a character in a Samuel Beckett play. More will be added over time. “These portraits are for the most part about interior movement and stillness,” Wilson said—something we’re all abundantly familiar with right now. (ARTnews)

Los Angeles Councilman Proposes Artist Emergency Grants – Councilman David Ryu of Los Angeles has introduced legislation to convert more than $1.2 million that his district holds in arts development fees and quickly convert the money into emergency artist grants. The funding is provided by real estate developers and is normally used to pay for a work of public art or contribute to citywide cultural initiatives. But Ryu says the funds would be better used to help the city’s ailing artists directly. (TAN)

Maya Lin’s Madison Square Park Commission Postponed – The artist’s commission, Ghost Forest, originally planned to open in June 2020, has been postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The artist plans to present a small grove of sky-scraping cedar trees—some standing nearly 30 feet tall—which formerly lived in the wilderness of New Jersey’s Pine Barrens until Hurricane Sandy tore through the region. (Press release)

Maya Lin's Ghost Forest preparatory sketch for Madison Square Park, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery.

Maya Lin’s Ghost Forest preparatory sketch for Madison Square Park, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery.

Maya Lin's Ghost Forest preparatory sketch for Madison Square Park, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery.

Maya Lin’s Ghost Forest preparatory sketch for Madison Square Park, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery.

Maya Lin's Ghost Forest preparatory sketch for Madison Square Park, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery.

Maya Lin’s Ghost Forest preparatory sketch for Madison Square Park, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery.

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