Art Industry News: Monochrome Master Marcia Hafif Dies at 89 + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, Ethiopia ups the ante in its quest for restitution and Christie's secures a marquee Rothko for its May sale.

Marcia Hafif. Photo: Kunstmuseum St. Gallen.

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 Friday, April 20.


Ethiopia Wants Treasure Returned, Not Loaned – The Ethiopian government is hardening its position on the Maqdala treasure, which was looted by the British in 1868. The Ethiopian ambassador has rejected the director of the V&A’s much-publicized offer to send some of the artifacts back on long-term loan. Instead, he wants to see government-level talks about full restitution. (The Art Newspaper)

Adrian Piper Is a First for MoMA on Every Level – Holland Cotter writes that Adrian Piper’s retrospective transforms MoMA into “a more life-engaged institution than the formally polished one we’re accustomed to.” The first living artist to fill its sixth floor, Piper tackles African American identity, racism and the patriarchy head-on in her work. (New York Times)

San Francisco’s ‘Racist’ Monument to Stay Put – City authorities have vetoed the arts commission of San Francisco’s decision to remove a controversial sculpture outside City Hall that depicts a reclining Native American figure at the feet of a cowboy and missionary. The commission is now exploring further legal options. “This type of racist imagery does not represent our values,” it said. (San Francisco Chronicle)

New Jersey Museum Flip-Flops on Flag Art – The board of a New Jersey museum asked a curator to remove five paintings by Renny Molenaar that featured the word “sex” scrawled across the surface of American flags from a group show about the Latino experience in the US. The volunteer-run Belskie Museum of Art & Science in Closter, New Jersey, claimed the works violated the US Flag Code. After being accused of censorship, however, the board had a change of heart. (ARTnews)


Disney Concept Art Hits the Auction Block – Want to own a piece of Disney history? Later this month, Van Eaton Galleries will host an auction of drawings and memorabilia by Rolly Crump, the designer behind some of Disney’s most famous theme park rides as well as the Haunted Mansion. (Gizmodo)

Fancy Intense Blue Diamond Sets Auction Record – Sotheby’s spring jewelry auctions in New York generated a total of $34 million and 83.3 percent of the lots on offer sold. The top seller was a rare fancy intense blue diamond that went for $6.7 million, setting a world record price-per-carat for a diamond of that kind. (Press release)

Christie’s Secures a Giant Rothko for May – Auction houses are beginning the final sprint to secure work for the marquee spring sales in New York next month. The latest major lot: No. 7 (Dark Over Light) (1954), an eight-foot-tall canvas by Mark Rothko, among the largest he ever painted. The work, which comes from the collection of Hollywood executive and former Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel, has an estimate of $30 million. (Art Market Monitor)


Artist Marcia Hafif Has Died – The California-born painter, an important figure in the LA art scene in the 1950s and ‘60s, has died at age 89. She remained committed to painting throughout her career—even during the ‘70s, when the medium fell out of fashion. A major exhibition of her lush, monochromatic works is due to open this fall at the Pomona College of Art. (ARTnews)

Getty Research Institute Names New Director – Mary Miller joins the Getty from Yale University, where she currently serves as director of its center for collaborative arts and media and is an art history professor. She will replace Thomas Gaehtgens, who is retiring at the end of 2018. Miller begins her new role in January 2019. (ARTnews)

Phillips Hires a Chief Diversity Officer – The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, is making moves to diversify its staff. The institution has hired Makeba Clay as its first chief diversity officer. The veteran of Princeton University and the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art will be tasked with making the museum more inclusive and boosting community engagement. (Press release)

Smithsonian Curator to Lead College Art Institute – The Lunder Institute for American Art at Colby College in Maine has hired Lee Glazer as its new director. Glazer currently serves as curator of American art at the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington, DC. She will join Theaster Gates, who signed on as a visiting artist at Lunder earlier this month. (ARTnews)


Sony Photographer of the Year Announced – The London-based artist Alys Tomlinson has been named the Sony World Photographer of the Year. She won the $25,000 award for her “Ex-Voto” series, which documents pilgrimmage sites and people of faith in France, Ireland, and Poland. (Guardian)

Arab Art Award Participants Announced – The Belgian foundation Mophradat has announced the participants for its 2018 commissions program, which focuses on emerging artists from the Arab world. They receive up to $22,000 in grants to realize new projects, as well as an opportunity to present their work at several partner organizations including the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. (ARTnews)

British Parliament Artist Vindicated After a Century – The Irish-born artist Daniel Maclise’s reputation has been restored—some 150 years after his death. Maclise painted two massive frescos for the Palace of Westminster, but the colors became dark and muddied after they were unveiled in 1835. Conservators have now discovered that 19th-century London’s polluted air, not the artist’s workmanship, was to blame. (Guardian)

Hockney’s Sitters Turn Out for LACMA Show – Artists and A-listers, including Brad Pitt and his best friend Thomas Houseago, turned out for the preview of David Hockney’s portrait show at LACMA. But the real guests of honor—other than the artist himself—were his many subjects, including dealer David Juda, actor Richard Sassin, and artist Ray Charles White. In a moment made for Instagram, Hockney and some of his sitters posed alongside their portraits. (Hollywood Reporter)


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