Art Industry News: John Oliver Bought Russell Crowe’s Unmentionables at Auction + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, artist Helen Cammock wins the Max Mara Prize for Women and Anne of Brittany's golden heart is stolen from a French museum.

Actor Russell Crowe. Photo by Ian Gavan/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 Tuesday, April 17.


Israel War Memorial Opens After a Battle – The National Memorial Hall for Israel’s Fallen in Jerusalem—nearly 70 years in the making—opened quietly a few months ago. To sidestep controversy over the country’s military history, the architects settled on a minimalist design of white bricks, each inscribed with a dead soldier’s name and a small light that is lit on the anniversary of his or her death—without mention of any particular conflict. (New York Times)

Glenn Lowry Remembers David Rockefeller – Ahead of the May sale of more than 1,000 works from David and Peggy Rockefeller’s collection, MoMA’s director praises the late trustee’s unfailing eye in an essay for CNN. Even at an advanced age, Rockefeller made regular trips to Chelsea galleries (and made new acquisitions, such as work by James Siena). “Nothing piqued his interest more than having to make an aesthetic decision,” Lowry writes. (CNN)

What John Oliver Bought From Russell Crowe’s Divorce Auction – What kind of person would go shopping at Russell Crowe’s splashy divorce auction? Now, we know at least one person who did. On his HBO show Last Week Tonight, John Oliver confirmed that he snapped up the costumes Crowe wore in Les Misérables, Robin Hood, and Cinderella Man (including that leather jockstrap). He will donate them to Alaska’s last surviving Blockbuster movie rental location. (Vulture)

Tate Picasso Show Hit by Protesting Cleaners – Protesting the poor treatment of cleaners working at Ernst & Young, many of whom are low-paid migrant workers facing layoffs, union members picketed the Ernst & Young-sponsored show at Tate Modern on April 14 to raise awareness of the cleaners’ plight. (The Art Newspaper)


Zsa Zsa Gabor’s Estate Makes $900,000 – Mementos, Louis Vuitton bags, and a portrait by Margaret Keane were highlights in Gabor’s estate auction at Heritage on April 14. The Hungarian-American actress died in 2016. (Art Market Monitor)

Chagall Is Sacrificed to Save a David – To prevent a 1779 painting of Saint Jerome by Jacques-Louis David from going abroad, the National Gallery of Canada would have have blown its $6.3 million annual acquisition budget. So instead, it’s selling Marc Chagall’s The Eiffel Tower (1929), having failed to raise the money from private donors or the Canadian government. (National Post)​

Could the Online Art Market Be Hitting a Plateau? – The online art market is here to stay, but the form it might take is still up for debate. A new study has found that price transparency is key for new online buyers, and that price comparison tools need to be more available. Notably, almost 80 percent of collectors under 35 use Instagram to discover artists. (TAN)


Helen Cammock Wins the Max Mara Prize – The multidisciplinary London artist has been awarded the biannual prize for a promising female talent, which comes with a six-month residency in Italy followed by exhibitions at Whitechapel Gallery and Collezione Maramotti. (Women’s Wear Daily)

Indian Modernist Ram Kumar Has Died – The 94-year-old Indian artist died in Delhi on April 14. The abstract painter and Modern master was associated with the Progressive Artists’ Group, which was the first generation of postcolonial artists to advocate for an Indian form of Modernism. (ArtAsiaPacific)

Getty Poaches Photography Expert from San Francisco – The J. Paul Getty Museum has tapped San Francisco curator Jim Ganz as its senior curator of photographs. Ganz will leave his current position as curator of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor, where he worked for 10 years. (SF Gate)

MoMA Lures Head of Communications from Chicago – Amanda Hicks has joined the Museum of Modern Art in New York as director of communications and public affairs. She was formerly the executive director of communications at the Art Institute of Chicago. (ARTnews)


Who Should Replace Max Hollein? – The San Francisco Chronicle art critic Charles Desmarais advises the board of the city’s Fine Arts Museums to cast a wide net and make diversity a priority as it seeks its third director since 2011. (Hollein was recently named director of the Met.) “In this most progressive of all cities, can the museums walk the walk?” he wonders. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Celebration of Merce Cunningham Goes Global – To mark what would have been the choreographer’s 100th birthday, performances and film screenings will be held in cities including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Paris, and London beginning this fall through spring 2019. Dinners inspired by his partner John Cage’s macrobiotic cooking will also celebrate the great choreographer. (NYT)

High Museum Diversifies Its Displays – Atlanta’s High Museum of Art is redisplaying its collection with the help of art-world favorite Selldorf Architects. In October, the museum will unveil new-look spaces to show its photography and new media holdings and refreshed galleries for a monumental acquisition by Kara Walker and works by self-taught artists from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation. (Press release)

French Queen’s Heart of Gold Is Stolen – Thieves have stolen the gold reliquary containing the heart of Anne of Brittany from the Musée Thomas-Dobrée in Nantes. They got away with the royal plunder despite setting off an alarm. The 16th-century treasure narrowly escaped being melted down during the French Revolution. (Daily Telegraph)


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