Art Industry News: After Her Tumultuous Queens Museum Tenure, Activist Director Laura Raicovich Lands an Influential New Post + Other Stories

Plus, Spike Lee and Pedro Almodóvar will advise on the Academy Museum's debut shows and MoMA terminates its contracts with museum educators.

Laura Raicovich. © Michael Angelo 2018, courtesy of Laura Raicovich.

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 6.


MoMA Terminates Educator Contracts – The New Museum and the Whitney Museum weren’t the only major New York institutions cutting staff last week. The Museum of Modern Art has also terminated all contracts for freelance educators due to “the unprecedented economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the museum’s closure,” according to an email from the education department. Educators will receive payment for scheduled work through March 30, but all further engagements will be cancelled. In its email to educators, the museum wrote, ominously, “it will be months, if not years, before we anticipate returning to budget and operations levels to require educator services.” (Hyperallergic)

The Academy Museum Taps High-Profile Guest Curators – The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is due to open on December 14 in Los Angeles, has announced details about its inaugural star-studded lineup. The museum has invited filmmakers Spike Lee and Pedro Almodóvar; Academy Award-winning Joker composer Hildur Guðnadóttir; and Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt to collaborate on the central “Stories of Cinema” galleries, which aim to tell the story of how film has evolved over time. Among the highlights is the original multi-camera rig from The Matrix, a gallery devoted to The Wizard of Oz, and an in-depth look at the history of black cinema from 1898 to 1971. (Press release)

Leslie-Lohman Museum Gets a Familiar Interim Director – Laura Raicovich, the former director of the Queens Museum, has been named interim director of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art. The New York institution devoted to queer art was previously led by Gonzalo Casals, who becomes New York City’s new Cultural Affairs Commissioner this week. Raicovich stepped down from the Queens Museum in 2018 amid a dispute with the board over her activist approach. (New York Times)

Berlin Museums Count Their Losses – As the shutdown continues, Berlin museums have started to estimate how much money they’ve lost as a result. The National Museums, which comprise 19 museums across the city, expect they may be losing a combined total of around €2 million per month—a sum that constitutes “active money” that can be readily spent on programming, according to a spokesperson. Looking ahead, the cancellation of shows is on the table, but will only be done as a last resort. Many works and objects on loan are currently stuck in limbo, though the museums are ensuring that everything is securely stored. (Monopol)


Online Sales Are Up During Lockdown – It appears that with nothing much to do at home, some people are buying art online. Sales for an online Fauve Paris auction held by the French auction house Drouot registered 300 buyers, far more than the typical 80 to 100 people, on March 21. Meanwhile, Sotheby’s saw a record €2.2 million ($2.4 million) for an online watch sale on March 26, and a record 400 people registered to take part in Aguttes’s sale of collectable cars on March 15. “We must not forget that people are confined to their homes and therefore have more time to connect and follow the auctions,” the head of FauveParis, Dimitri Joannidès, said. (Le Journal des Arts)

Margherita Missoni to Helm Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated Sale – The designer and Missoni fashion house heiress will guest curate Sotheby’s London’s Contemporary Curated sale, slated to run online from April 14 to April 21. Missoni is the latest emissary from the luxury world to lend her eye to Sotheby’s sales and marketing strategies, following Kim Jones, Jill Stuart, and Victoria Beckham. The Italian designer says she is “irresistibly drawn and simultaneously repulsed by grotesque aesthetics” and has selected works by Yayoi Kusama, Albert Oehlen, and Monir Farmanfarmaian as highlights. (Art Market Monitor)

Turns Out the UAE Art Purchase Scheme Wasn’t What It Seemed The United Arab Emirates made headlines around the globe when it announced it had bought $408,000 worth of art from Emirati galleries after Art Dubai was postponed. But gallerists are underwhelmed because, as it turns out, the initiative was part of an existing Art in Embassies scheme—and what they say they need instead is a comprehensive arts bailout. (The Art Newspaper)


Architect Michael Mckinnell Has Died – The architect of Boston City Hall, who catalyzed the city’s urban revival in the late 1960s, has died at age 84 from coronavirus. Mckinnell, who ran an architectural practice with his wife, Stephanie Mallis, rose to prominence as a 26-year-old architecture student who teamed up with German architect Gerhard Kallmann to design the new Boston City Hall—and beat out 255 other submissions to win the job. (New York Times)

Indianapolis Contemporary to Permanently Close  The Indianapolis Contemporary (I/C), formerly known as the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, has announced it will close permanently after 19 years of operation. The board decided it was not “economically feasible” to continue amid the impact of coronavirus and other financial strain. The nonprofit relaunched last May as I/C and promoted Braydee Euliss to be its director in January. (Artforum

Artist Marlo Pascual Has Died – The Philadelphia-based artist, who is best known for her sculptural works that appropriate amateur photography, has died at age 48 after a battle with cancer. New York gallerist Casey Kaplan paid tribute to her “generosity, warmth, and ingenuity” as an artist, professor, partner, and friend. (ARTnews

Phoenix Art Museum Names New Director – Timothy Rodgers has been appointed the new director and CEO of the Phoenix Art Museum, replacing Amanda Cruz, who took over the Seattle Art Museum last year. Rodgers is currently director of the Wolfsonian–Florida International University in Miami and previously served as director of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. (Artforum)


The Pompidou President Is Re-Appointed – The French culture ministry has renewed Serge Lasvignes’s contract, meaning he will remain at the helm of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, where he took over as director in 2015. During this period, Lasvignes has continued his predecessor Alain Seban’s campaign of international expansion, launching an outpost in Shanghai and planning another (currently on hold) in Seoul. (TAN

Marvel Illustrators Launch Initiative to Boost Comic Book Stores – Comic-book stores are among the retail outlets that have been particularly hard hit by the US lockdown. But coming to the rescue are high-profile comic creators James Lee and Rob Liefeld, who are auctioning off original superhero illustrations online to support ailing brick-and-mortar stores. The auctions began over the weekend on eBay and will continue into this week; prices for works are currently between $3,500 and $5,500. (Observer)

Boston Museum Reveals the Black American Who Posed for Sargent – A new (though now closed) exhibition at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum explores the long-hidden working relationship between the artist John Singer Sargent and his model Joseph McKeller. The 26-year-old black American met the 60-year-old artist when working as a bellhop in the hotel where Sargent stayed when working on his famous murals at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and Harvard. Portraits of McKeller appear in the works—sometimes older or younger, occasionally female, and always white. The accompanying publication by Yale unravels a complex story of race and hidden homoerotic desire. (Guardian)

Ruth Asawa’s Works Are Now Stamps – If you find yourself sending more letters than usual in this current lockdown era, here is some good news: the Japanese artist Ruth Asawa will be featured on a new set of US postage stamps. Ten of her enchanting wire sculptures will grace a set of 55 cent Forever stamps, due to be released later this year. (Hyperallergic

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