Art Industry News: Rome’s Galleria Borghese Director to Stand Trial for Going to the Gym + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, the National Museum in Doha gets an opening date and the National Gallery of Ottawa calls off its contested Chagall sale.

Galleria Borghese director Anna Coliva. Film still courtesy of YouTube.

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 27.


Canada Calls Off Contested Chagall Sale – After a wave of controversy, the National Gallery in Ottawa has abandoned its plan to sell Chagall’s Eiffel Tower (1929) in order to buy Jacques-Louis David’s Saint Jerome (1779), which was in danger of leaving Canada. After the government of Quebec belatedly found the $5 million to buy the David, the National Gallery said “it is no longer necessary” to proceed with the Chagall sale. But it may face a hefty fine for pulling out of the scheduled auction. (Ottawa Citizen)

Mona Lisa in the Age of Instagram – Scott Reyburn joins the selfie-taking throngs admiring the Mona Lisa (and themselves) at the Louvre to consider the significance of a masterpiece in the age of the smartphone. Imprisoned by its fame, the painting has become less an original work of art and more “an idea—and a photo opportunity,” he writes. Meanwhile, Leonardo’s nearby The Virgin of the Rocks is largely overlooked. (New York Times)

Museum Director in Hot Water Over Workouts – Anna Coliva, the respected director of Rome’s Galleria Borghese, will stand trial on charges of absenteeism after the Italian ministry of culture suspended her without pay earlier this month. An investigation revealed that she sometimes punched in to work before leaving to visit the gym and was absent for 41 hours over 12 days. Coliva has said her overtime more than made up for her absences, which were usually for work-related business. (The Art Newspaper)

Russian Sculpture Is Twice as Old as the Pyramids – The Shigir Idol, a 3.5-meter-tall wooden sculpture found in a Russian bog in 1894, is even older than scientists thought. New research reveals the object is around 11,500 years old, dating from just after the last ice age—and making it twice as ancient as the pyramids in Egypt. (Live Science)


Is Stock Volatility Good for the Art Market? – Someone’s credit crunch is another investor’s opportunity—or so says the art dealer Christophe Van de Weghe, who is bullish about the stock market’s current volatility. But not everyone agrees. Asher Edelman thinks that roughly six months after the New York stock market ends its bull run, “the art market gives up its bull run, too.” (Bloomberg)

New York Gets a Performance-Heavy Gallery – Signs and Symbols will open this Sunday on the Lower East Side with a program dedicated to performance, photography, and architecture. The new venture is helmed by Mitra Khorasheh, ​a curator for the nonprofit New Water Culture, and Elise Herget, the director of special events at the Watermill Center in the Hamptons. (ARTnews​)

Paris Gallery Samy Abraham to Close – The Parisian gallery will close its doors after seven years with a final group show aptly titled “Le Bon Coût” (“The Right Cost”). The gallery will close on May 19 due in part to financial difficulties. (ARTnews)

Tanya Bonakdar Adds Artist Duo – The Berlin-based pair Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg are now represented by the New York gallery. The Swedish-born collaborative duo create stop-motion films using clay, fabric, and sundry other materials. Previously, they had shown with the now-shuttered Zach Feuer. (ARTnews)


Bowdoin Gets Two Major Collections – The institution in Brunswick, Maine has received two major gifts: 350 works from the estate of Marion Boulton “Kippy” Stroud, the founder of the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, as well as 1,200 pieces by the American artist and art historian Walter Pach compiled by New York art dealer Francis M. Naumann and his wife, Marie T. Keller. (Press release)

A Second Cape Town Museum Opens – The Norval Foundation opens its doors this Saturday, seven months after Zeitz MOCAA, Africa’s first major museum of contemporary art. The newer museum, which boasts a sculpture park and nature reserve, plans to show contemporary and Modern South African art as well as international artists engaged with local discourses. (TAN)

Aperture Photo Prize Winner Named – The Hong Kong-born, New York-based photographer Ka-Man Tse has won the 2018 Aperture Portfolio Prize for her series “Narrow Distances.” She will receive $3,000 and a solo show in New York. Her work will also be published in Aperture magazine. (Artforum)


Kalamazoo Banishes Its “Racist” Art Deco Fountain – The Michigan city has decided to dismantle the controversial Fountain of the Pioneers designed by Alfonso Iannelli, who worked with Frank Lloyd Wright. Funded by the WPA, the Modernist work featuring a white settler towering over a Native American replaced an older, even more problematic sculpture in 1940. (Smithsonian)

Moscow Museum Opens Gulag Archives – Russians can research family members who were sent to the Gulags or shot during Stalin’s Great Terror thanks to the new archive center at Moscow’s Gulag History State Museum. The Russian rock star Andrey Makarevich, whose great uncle died in 1938, attended the opening. (TAN)

Judd’s Colorful Late Works Shine in Spring Street – Collectors were dismayed when Donald Judd made a series of colorful floor and wall pieces from extruded aluminum in the early 1990s. Now, his son, Flavin, has organized a new show of the works, filling the ground floor of Judd’s Spring Street studio in New York with the full 12-part series in 12 anodized colors. (Art Daily)

See the Latest Images of Qatar’s Mega-Museum – Qatar’s answer to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the National Museum in Doha, will open in March 2019, the country’s Sheikha Al Mayassa said at the NYT art leaders conference yesterday. See the latest images of the vast and long-awaited museum designed by Jean Nouvel, which is being completed despite the kingdom’s blockade by its Gulf neighbors. (Press release)

National Museum of Qatar designed by Atelier Jean Nouvel. Photograph by Iwan Baan.

National Museum of Qatar designed by Atelier Jean Nouvel. Photograph by Iwan Baan.

National Museum of Qatar designed by Atelier Jean Nouvel. Photograph by Iwan Baan.

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