Art Industry News: A Third of Los Angeles’s Art Galleries May Be Forced to Close This Year, a New Survey Says + Other Stories

Plus, the Berlin Biennale is postponed and Judy Chicago and Swoon team up with Jane Fonda for an Earth Day art project.

Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is void of vehicles and groups of people, the day after California Governor Gavin Newsom directed all Californians to stay at home and maintain safe distances from each other amid Coronavirus worldwide outbreak, March 20, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Bob Riha, Jr./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 Tuesday, April 21.


Will Blockbuster Shows Become a Thing of the Past? – Over at the Guardian, some of the industry’s biggest names weigh in on how COVID might transform the art world. The big takeaway: overcrowded blockbuster exhibitions, fairs, and auctions may become extinct. “It feels like we’ve been partying for the last two decades,” says Tate’s Francis Morris. The dealer David Zwirner concurs: “It got out of hand, especially the market: crazy auction prices and the rest. The infiltration of value into the perception of art, art being regarded as an asset—all that needs to be rethought.” (Guardian)

The Uffizi Prepares for Crowds Once It Reopens – The Uffizi’s director, Eike Schmidt, is predicting a surge in visitors after Italy’s lockdown ends. Schmidt notes that after the museum reopened following the devastating floods in Florence in 1966, the number of visitors to the museum jumped by 50 percent, from 1 million to 1.5 million. After the Italian Mafia set off a car bomb behind the museum in 1993, there was a similar bump in visitors. “Internal tourism will dominate in the mid-term,” he says. “Over the long-term, I don’t see a drop in interest in visiting museums.” Timed entrances, revised ticket prices to encourage off-season visitors, and strategic placement of popular pieces will help museums make social distancing possible, he adds. (Washington Post)

A Staggering Amount of Los Angeles Galleries Could Close – A quarter of the 35 art dealers surveyed by the Los Angeles Times say they may have to permanently close their spaces this year if the current crisis continues. An additional five galleries, or 14 percent, say that closure is a “possibility.” These numbers are in line with a recent study conducted by a French trade organization, which found that a third of French galleries could shutter before the end of the year due to a loss of revenue. While layoffs seem to be the exception so far (57 percent of galleries surveyed have retained their staff), a third of dealers think it may become a possibility over the next month. (Los Angeles Times)

The Tenement Museum Fights for Its Life – New York’s Tenement Museum, on the Lower East Side, is one of a number of small institutions facing an existential threat from the coronavirus pandemic. The museum, founded in 1988, traces the history of how immigrants have shaped New York City’s culture. But since more than 75 percent of its revenue comes from admissions and gift-shop sales, it has been forced to lay off 13 employees and furlough 70 part-time staffers and 30 full-time staff. “We’re not earning anything for four months,” the museum’s president Morris Vogel said. “Any institution has to wonder what it’s going to look like on the other side.” (New York Times)


Phillips Partners With Robin Hood for Charity Sale – The auction house is teaming up with the New York-based Robin Hood Foundation to launch an online sale to support nonprofits dedicated to helping New Yorkers struggling amid COVID-19. Works in the sale—donated by artists, galleries, and collectors—include Albert Oehlen’s Chemical Schmutzli (2004), which is estimated at $800,000 to $1.2 million. The auction house is still seeking consignments. (The Art Newspaper)

How Korea’s Galleries Stayed Strong—and Open – South Korea was one of the first nations to be struck by the coronavirus pandemic, and it has become a global model for its handling of the crisis. Museums have been closed since February, but commercial galleries have been allowed to remain open. Galleries say foot traffic is now back to near-normal levels, and galleries found effective rules: RSVP only; no mask, no entrance; and all visitors must leave contact information. Support for exhibition costs is also being offered to small galleries by the government. (TAN)

An Early Look at Dallas Art Fair Sales – The fair’s online edition offered plenty of eye candy, but what about sales? Works by emerging artists moved quickly at The Hole; a work by Katherine Bernhardt, Phone Home (2019), sold for $50,000 at Canada Gallery; Fred Tomaselli’s March 16, 2020, a collaged version of a New York Times cover featuring headlines about coronavirus, sold for $35,000 at James Cohan Gallery. Notable absences from the platform included Gagosian and Lehmann Maupin, which each have their own online platforms. (Art Market Monitor)


Berlin Biennale Is Postponed – The Berlin Biennale, originally slated to open on June 13, has been postponed to a to-be-determined date. The latest edition of the prestigious exhibition is organized by four South American curators: María Berríos, Renata Cervetto, Lisette Lagnado, and Agustín Pérez Rubio. (Press release)

Stefanie Hessler Named Curator of Momenta – The curator and director of Norway’s Kunsthall Trondheim has been tapped to curate the Montreal biennial, Momenta, which will run from September to October 2021. The exhibition will be titled “Sensing Nature” and will examine earth systems, such as climate, which follow their own logic. (Artforum)

Painter William Bailey Dies at 89 – The American painter and educator William Bailey has died at age 89 from complications relating to an existing illness. Bailey was known for his still lifes featuring eggs and vessels, and was a former professor and dean at the Yale School of Art, where his students included Lisa Yuskavage. (Artforum)


V&A’s Chair on What It’s Like to Get COVID – Nicholas Coleridge, the V&A’s chair of trustees, has just recovered from the coronavirus, and shared his experience on British radio. Coleridge says the onset was sudden, first manifesting as a “catatonic tiredness” followed by a fever and icy legs. Finally, he began to experience delirium he likened to a Bruegel painting. (TAN)

Judy Chicago, Swoon, and Jane Fonda Launch Earth Day Campaign – Artists Judy Chicago and Swoon have teamed up with the climate activist and actor Jane Fonda for a new global campaign encouraging people to “Create Art for Earth.” They have launched an open call for submissions of artwork inspired by climate justice as part of the Serpentine’s “Back to Earth” initiative. (Press release)

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