Art Industry News: Adrian Piper Says Paris’s Slavery Memorial Risks Becoming an ‘International Embarrassment’ + Other Stories
Plus, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts hires its first Black curator and critics are not impressed with Damien Hirst's comeback effort.
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 Tuesday, April 13.
Cambodia Condemns Artist Who Edited Smiles Onto Khmer Rouge Victims – Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has condemned artist Matt Loughrey for altering photos of Khmer Rouge victims to make some of them smile. The Irish artist made the edits as part of a project colorizing the black-and-white images to “humanize” the 14,000 Cambodians executed and tortured in the Tuol Sleng prison. Cambodia’s culture ministry said it considered the project to “seriously affect the dignity of the victims” and may take legal action against the artist for manipulating images that belong to the country’s Genocide Museum. Loughrey’s images have now been removed from Vice magazine’s website, where they appeared as part of an artist interview. (South China Morning Post)
Benin Bronzes Are No Safer in the West, Experts Say – Academics focused on myth-busting around the Benin Bronzes have pushed back against concerns that the looted sculptures are safer held at institutions in Europe and the U.S. than they would be in Nigeria. At a recent virtual conference, art historians and museum professionals pointed to the fact that most of the bronzes that ended up in the West were sold on the open market and that their current whereabouts and condition is unknown. (ARTnews)
Adrian Piper Has Some Thoughts on Paris’s Slavery Memorial – Adrian Piper, who was one of five artists shortlisted to create a memorial to the victims of slavery at the Tuileries Garden in Paris, has penned an op-ed tracing how the process broke down and was ultimately put on hold. She finds fault with members of the jury who were also members of CM98, the group that has campaigned for the memorial for over 20 years. In the end, she writes, these members had a singular vision for the project—a Minimalist design featuring a slab of engraved names reminiscent of Maya Lin’s Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. Piper believes that drawing a parallel between soldiers who died in service to their country and slaves who were trapped, chained, imported, and murdered, often by soldiers, would be an “international embarrassment.” (Artforum)
Damien Hirst’s Latest Comeback Is Heavy-Handed – Art writer Mark Hudson is not particularly impressed by the first installment of Damien Hirst’s yearlong takeover of Gagosian in London. Aside from some new work—casefuls of gemstones set beside black trash bags—the rest is a mini-retrospective that includes his hyperrealistic “Fact” paintings, a severed cow’s head, and a selection of medicine cabinets. “The timing of this exhibition may be designed to herald the return of one of art’s great life-forces,” Hudson writes. “Yet its diffuse, low-energy contents left me wondering if even Hirst himself is particularly interested in his art these days.” (Independent)
Future of Howard Hodgkin’s Indian Art Collection in Limbo – Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York are reportedly considering acquiring a collection of Indian paintings and drawings assembled by the late artist Howard Hodgkin after the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford rejected them on the premise that some of the works had question marks over their provenance. The collection of more than 120 works dating from the 16th to 19th centuries is worth some £7.2 million ($9.9 million). (Guardian)
Major Mondrian Comes to Christie’s – Classic Piet Mondrian works in the artist’s famous neo-plastic style rarely come to auction, but Christie’s will offer Composition: No. II with Yellow, Red and Blue (1927) in New York on May 11. The work’s unpublished estimate is around $25 million. (ARTnews)
COMINGS & GOINGS
Vivian Suter Wins the 2021 Prix Meret Oppenheim – The Swiss-Argentinian artist has won the 2021 Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim for achievement in art, which comes with cash prize of CHF 40,000 (around $43,000). Suter is known for her vibrant studies of nature in Guatemala, where she works. (ARTnews)
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Hires Its First Black Curator – Eunice Bélidor is the museum’s new curator of contemporary art, and the first full-time Black curator in the institution’s 161-year history. Bélidor previously worked as an independent curator, writer, and researcher and has directed FOFA Gallery in Montreal. (ARTnews)
FOR ART’S SAKE
Leading UK Arts Institutions Revive Their Landmark Exhibitions – Fifteen UK arts institutions from Tate to the National Galleries of Scotland are reviving their historic exhibitions in digital form for the launch of a new “virtual arts ecosystem.” The VOV opens April 19 online with a 10-week virtual program of exhibitions and events, available on Vortic Art, an extended reality platform. The first season includes a virtual rehang of Andreas Gursky’s first major U.K. retrospective at the Hayward Gallery in 2018, and Ibrahim Mahama’s haunting installation, Parliament of Ghost, at the Manchester International Festival in 2019. (Press release)
Looted Roman Sculpture Discovered in Belgian Antique Store – A pair of off-duty cops from the Italian art squad stumbled upon a stolen 1st century Roman sculpture in a Belgian antiques store. The sculpture went missing from an archeological site in 2011. An Italian businessman is being investigated for possibly receiving and exporting the statue abroad. (AP)
Anthony James Transforms Oxford Street With Light – The light sculptor Anthony James has installed a new public artwork called Constellations across 36 screens wrapping around the exterior of Flannels Flagship store on Oxford Street. The project will be on view through April 26. (Press release)
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