Art Industry News: Portraits Damien Hirst Doodled on Coffee-Stained Placemats Are Now National Treasures + Other Stories

Plus, Christie's appoints a new head of private sales and an algorithm aims to paint like Vermeer and van Gogh.

Damien Hirst, Skullduggery Day (2007), courtesy Arts Council England.

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 Monday, April 29.


Campaign Calls Out Berlin Gallery Weekend – An anonymous group of cultural workers in Berlin developed a guerilla campaign called #AchtungWeissWurst last week to draw attention to Berlin Gallery Weekend’s official roster, which they claim is overwhelmingly white and male-dominated. Advocates posted stickers and posters across the city noting that 75 percent of the participants in Gallery Weekend were white and male in an effort to draw attention to the continued disparities in the art world, especially at market-driven events. (Hyperallergic)

Did Banksy Create a New Work to Support Climate Activists? – Banksy-watchers are scratching their heads over whether a new stenciled work—an image of a young girl alongside the words “From this moment despair ends and tactics begin”—is by the hand of the anonymous street artist. The composition popped up late last week at London’s Marble Arch, which is a focal point of climate change activists’ extended protests in the capital. But the artist, who normally is quick to claim new works on Instagram and his website, has not acknowledged this oneso it may be the work of a copycat. (BBC)

Damien Hirst’s Pen Portraits Head to the British Museum – More than 70 pen portraits that Hirst drew of his longtime business manager Frank Dunphy on placemats during six years’ worth of breakfast meetings at the Wolseley in Mayfair have been acquired by the British Museum. Known as the “the Wolseley Drawings,” the doodles—some of which boast coffee stains—are a gift from Dunphy to the UK museum in return for a tasty tax break. (Guardian)

Meet the Collector Looking to Make the Art World More Equitable – Collector and former tech executive Komal Shah is on a mission to make the art world more inclusive. Her growing collection only includes work by women and artists of color, such as Laura Owens, Charline von Heyl, and Zarina Hashmi. The California-based patron is also working on a series of conversations with Stanford University (where she is an alumna) called “Artists on the Future,” bringing together cultural leaders and artists to talk about current issues. (Financial Times)


Darth Vader Costume Could Fetch $2 Million – The man who played Darth Vader at film premieres, book signings, conventions, and at the 1978 Academy Awards is selling his costume at Bonhams next month. The 17-piece ensemble includes a black mask, boots, a pair of capes, and a codpiece. It is estimated to go for between $1 million and $2 million. But buyer beware: “It’s really, really hot,” says the seller Bryce “Kermit” Eller. (Reuters)

Christie’s Names New Private-Sales Chief – The auction house has promoted Adrien Meyer to the newly created role of chairman, global private sales. He will continue to serve in his current role as co-chairman of Impressionist and Modern art as well as auctioneer. Meyer will be tasked with expanding the house’s private sales, which increased seven percent in 2018 but still lagged behind rival Sotheby’s totals.

Lee Krasner Could Set a New Record at Sotheby’s – The Eye is the First Circle (1960), a 20-foot canvas described as the last large-scale work by the artist in private hands, is estimated to sell for between $10 million and $15 million at Sotheby’s marquee contemporary art sale in New York on May 16. The work is poised to surpass the current auction record for Krasner’s work, set in 2017 when her painting Shattered Light achieved $5.5 million. (Art Market Monitor)

Photo London Lures Unseen Fair Director – The photography fair has appointed a new director to oversee the 2020 edition. Roderick van der Lee, the founder of Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam, will take up the new post on May 20, just after London Photo’s fifth edition at Somerset House from May 16 through 19. (Press release)


Uzbekistan Gets Its First Contemporary Art Museum – The Center for Contemporary Art, the first contemporary art center in the country, is open for business in the capital city of Tashkent. It is housed in a former electricity power station built in 1912 for the city’s tram company. The inaugural show, “Light on the Hill,” has been organized by Andrea Lissoni, a senior curator at Tate Modern in London. (Artforum)

Francis Bacon Triptych Blocked From Export – The UK government has placed temporary export bars on early works by Francis Bacon, including three rugs he designed and a triptych he screen-painted in 1930. The triptych is valued at $3.2 million. The works will remain in the country for a limited time to allow public UK institutions the opportunity to raise the funds to buy them. (Guardian)


Norman Foster Designs a High-Tech Notre Dame Spire – The veteran British architect has proposed replacing the destroyed roof of the cathedral with a glass canopy topped by a high-tech spire incorporating a viewing terrace. Foster says that the new glass-and-steel spire should aim “to capture the confident spirit of the time.” (Times)

Sixth Whitney Protest Focuses on Puerto Rico – The activist group Decolonize This Place dedicated its sixth protest against the Whitney’s trustee Warren Kanders on Friday to Puerto Rico, where tear gas produced by Kanders’s company has been used against protesters. The group, which is staging nine weeks’ worth of demonstrations at the museum, invited fellow activist collective Comité Boricua En La Diaspora to transform the lobby into a Puerto Rican-style club complete with dancing, music, and loudspeakers. Banners called for the resignation of the Whitney’s director Adam Weinberg. (Hyperallergic)

Can AI Learn to Paint Like Famous Artists? – Researchers from the University of Maryland, the ByteDance AI Lab, and Adobe Research have created Paint Bot, a new algorithm that aims to paint like Vermeer, Seurat, or van Gogh. As well as reproducing the artists’ work, the AI can create new compositions in the style of famous artists based on photographs. (Daily Mail)

See Candid Shots of Andy Warhol – Want to see Andy Warhol like you’ve never seen him before? From today through May 11, the Andy Warhol Foundation will share around 70 rarely seen photographs of the artist on Instagram. The intimate, candid shots are drawn from the Andy Warhol Photography Archive at Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center, where they were donated in 2014. Ahead of the first image, here’s an appetizer: a shot the foundation shared on #AndyWednesday earlier this month. Follow the hashtag #IntimateAndy on Instagram for more. (ARTnews)


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