Art Industry News: Billionaire Kylie Jenner Wants You to Think the Inflatable Dolphin in Her Office Is by Jeff Koons + Other Stories

Plus, the Portland Art Museum furloughs 80 percent of its staff and Sarah Sze's work sells swiftly from Gagosian's Spotlight viewing room.

Kylie Jenner. Photo Courtesy Dimitrios Kambouris/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 on this Monday, April 13.


Portland Art Museum Furloughs 80 Percent of Staff – The Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center are the latest US institutions to dramatically cut staff and expenses: 80 percent of staff will be placed on unpaid leave beginning April 16. Since closing their doors on March 14, the museum and film center have incurred $1 million of expenses each month with no incoming revenue from admissions or retail. The museum will continue to provide health benefits to all staff until June. “I feel a great sense of responsibility to make sure our staff and institution are cared for as best we are able,” said the Portland Art Museum’s director Brian Ferriso in a statement. (Press release)

Damien Hirst Answers 100 Questions – The YBA artist took to Instagram to answer 100 questions submitted by users in the first of four videos from what he’s calling an “invented interview.” Hirst dishes on the shelf life of formaldehyde-soaked animals, the value of a diamond-encrusted skull, and the artwork he initially hated that he eventually bought: Jeff Koons’s series showing him and his ex-wife in flagrante delicto, Made in Heaven. “I thought they were shit when I first saw them, I just thought that’s not art… and then maybe 10 years later, I bought one for £200,000. Playing that game, you get it wrong.” (The Art Newspaper)

Kylie Jenner Has a Fake Jeff Koons in Her Office – Makeup mogul Kylie Jenner has a net worth of $1 billion, but that doesn’t mean she needs to be flagrant with her spending. A recent episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians reveals that Kylie keeps an inflatable creature in her office as budget-friendly decor. As her mother Kris gets up to leave after a chat, she asks: “Why do you have a dolphin in your office?” Kylie quickly replies: “It’s a Jeff Koons.” (You’ll recall the Kardashians and Koons have a history, with Kris “art-shaming” Kylie’s sister Khloe for not knowing the artist’s name.) Kylie collects work by other big-name figures, including Warhol and Basquiat. But apparently she did not think Koons was worth the koin. (TAN)

What Happens When Your Big Break Gets Delayed? – For the artist Deborah Roberts, having her debut solo exhibition at the Contemporary Austin postponed is not a disappointment—it’s a reprieve. After the 57-year-old artist’s work caused a stir at an exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2017, her career set on a course too fast for her liking. Now, she says, the few extra months “just gives me time to be greater, to really flesh out this work.” (New York Times)


Gagosian’s Inaugural Artist Spotlight Sells – Last week, Gagosian unveiled its latest online initiative, Artist Spotlight, which highlights one artist and one artwork each week alongside interviews with the artist, film recommendations, and other supplemental content. The inaugural work, by Sarah Sze, sold on Friday—the same day Spotlight launched—for $275,000. (Email)

Beatles Handwritten Lyrics Sell for $910,000 – It seems the demand for Beatles memorabilia is still high, even during an international crisis. Paul McCartney’s handwritten lyrics for “Hey Jude” sold for $910,000 through Julien’s Auctions on Friday, nine times its original estimate. The object was among more than 250 pieces of Beatles memorabilia offered by the online auction house to mark the 50th anniversary of the band’s breakup. (Reuters)

Sotheby’s Launches Online Contemporary Day Sale – While its showrooms are closed, the venerable auction house is bringing a new Modern and contemporary sale series online next month. Among the highlights is Richard Prince’s black acrylic silkscreen on canvas, 3 Jokes Painted to Death (1987), an early example of his now-prominent “Joke” series from the 1990s. The work carries an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. (Art Market Monitor)


New Mexico Museum Names New Director – Mark White has been tapped to lead the New Mexico Museum of Art. He joins the institution from the Fred J. Jones Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma, which he has led since 2015. He begins his new role on May 18. (Artforum)

Galway City of Culture Program Abandoned – The yearlong celebration of Galway, which was to feature some of Ireland’s most prominent artists, has all but dissolved in the shadow of COVID-19. The board has laid off the majority of its staff and severed its contract with its production company, though some hope remains that a few projects might come to fruition by the end of the year. (TAN)


Bloomsbury Group’s Country Home Fights for Its Life – The East Sussex country home of the Bloomsbury group has launched an emergency crowdfunding effort to offset the “financially devastating” impact of its closure due to COVID-19. The Charleston Trust, which turned the former home of painters Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant into a museum more than 30 years ago, says it now must raise £400,000 in order to survive beyond 2020. (TAN)

A New Book Shines a Light on Famous Artists’ Better Halves – A new book puts the spotlight on the under-sung spouses of male artists, including Josephine Nivison, the wife of Edward Hopper. More Than a Muse: Creative Partnerships That Sold Talented Women Short, by Katie McCabe, details the roadblocks Jo faced repeatedly on the way to a career of her own, and makes the case for the art world to take a closer look at her own work. Notably, when she started dating Hopper, Nivison had just been invited to show alongside Georgia O’Keeffe at the Brooklyn Museum, while Hopper hadn’t sold a panting in over a decade. (NY Post)

Artists Pay Tribute to Dr. Anthony Fauci – The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who is leading America’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has become a subject of fascination among many homebound CNN viewers. He has also inspired scores of artistic social-media tributes, from admiring portraits to sock puppets. See a selection below. (Hyperallergic)


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