Art Industry News: LA Times Art Critic Slams LACMA’s New Shrunken Renovation Plan as ‘Absurd’ + Other Stories

Plus, the Sackler family tries to get a lawsuit against them dismissed and Norman Foster's massive tulip skyscraper gets the green light in London.

Peter Zumthor's new LACMA design. Courtesy of Atelier Peter Zumthor.
Peter Zumthor's new LACMA design. Courtesy of Atelier Peter Zumthor.

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 Wednesday, April 3.


Sackler Family Tries to Get Lawsuit Dismissed – Eight members of the cultural philanthropist Sackler family have filed a motion to get a high-profile case against them dismissed in Massachusetts. They claim the lawsuit is “rife with mischaracterizations and factual inaccuracies” and fails to show how any of the individuals being sued broke the law. The suit is one of a number facing the family that accuses them of knowingly downplaying the dangers of OxyContin while pushing aggressive sales of the drug. (Guardian)

British Museum Still Accepts Tobacco Sponsorship – As museums around the world reject money from the Sacklers and other controversial funders, the Japanese tobacco company JTL, which owns cigarette brands including Camel and Silk Cut, enters the ninth year of its sponsorship of the British Museum. The institution has defended accepting money for acquisitions and staffing from the company, while other UK museums, including the Tate, no longer accept tobacco sponsorship on ethical grounds. (The Art Newspaper)

LA Times Critic Slams LACMA’s Renovation Plan – Christopher Knight calls LACMA the “Incredible Shrinking Museum” after an eagle-eyed blogger spotted that it had downsized its planned expansion. The total gallery space for collections in Peter Zumthor’s revised $600 million design will now be eight percent less than in the three buildings the museum is due to begin tearing down. “Adding 50,000 square feet might not even have been enough. Subtracting 10,000 is absurd,” he writes. “I couldn’t name another art museum anywhere that has ever raised hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on reducing its collection space.” (Los Angeles Times)

Foster + Partners’ Tulip Tower Gets the Green Light – A divisive new addition to London’s skyline designed by Foster + Partners has been given the go-ahead by the city. The 1,000-foot-tall building dubbed “the tulip” will boast sky bridges, internal glass slides, and gondola pod rides on its façade. When completed in 2025, it will also become the second tallest building in Western Europe after the Renzo Piano-designed Shard, also in London. (But they’ve got competition.) (designboom)


Christie’s Snags Two Zao Wou-Kis – Christie’s is selling two paintings by Zao Wou-Ki in its upcoming Hong Kong sales, which begin on May 24. The larger one, a fresh-to-market triptych from the 1980s, is estimated to fetch between $15.3 million and $19.1 million. Zao’s market has been on a rapid incline of late; with $326 million in total auction sales in 2018, the French-Chinese painter was the third most lucrative artist in the world at auction behind Picasso and Monet. (Art Market Monitor)

Heirs Reclaim Looted Old Master That Surfaced in New York – The heirs of the Paris collector Adolphe Schloss traveled from France to the US to reclaim a Dutch Old Master looted by the Nazis. Salomon Koninck’s painting of a scholar sharpening his quill surfaced when a dealer consigned it to Christie’s New York, which alerted the FBI. (AFP)

NADA Plans Second Governor’s Island Show – In lieu of its previously held art fair, the New Art Dealers Alliance will stage “NADA Home” during Frieze New York. Work by 45 artists will fill three of the former barrack buildings on Governor’s Island. Opening on May 2, the show will run every weekend through August 4. (ARTnews)


Banksy’s Port Talbot Mural Heads to Street Art Museum – The art dealer who bought Banksy’s Port Talbot Christmas mural has confirmed it will be the centerpiece of a street art museum that he hopes will draw tourists to the industrial Welsh town. The Street Art Museum (SAM for short) will open later this year as the first institution dedicated to the medium in the UK, and expects to draw some 100,000 to 150,000 people a year. (BBC)

Billionaire to Open East German Art Museum – Barberini Museum founder and software developer Hasso Plattner is converting a disused communist-era restaurant in Potsdam into a museum dedicated to East German art. The art collector is estimated to be worth around $14.4 billion and has committed to giving at least half of his fortune to philanthropic causes. (TAN)

Case Against SF Art Academy Will Proceed – The US Supreme Court declined to consider the Academy of Art University in San Francisco’s bid to throw out a decades-long fraud case brought against it by former employees who claim it scammed millions of dollars from the government by improperly allocating student loans and grants. The case will now go forward and the university will either settle or take it to trial. The suit could cost the school $450 million, according to the plaintiffs. (San Francisco Chronicle)


Damien Hirst Returns to His Yorkshire Roots – The artist, who grew up in the North of England, will return to Yorkshire for the county’s inaugural sculpture triennial. His monumental sculptures will be shown across Leeds, in the city’s art gallery, and at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park as part of the exhibition, which opens in June. In a statement, Hirst says that when he first visited Leeds’ museums as a child, “I never thought I’d ever be famous or considered important or anything like that.” (Press release)

Outgoing National Gallery of Art Director Rusty Powell Looks Back – Taking stock of his 26 years at the helm of the Washington museum, the outgoing director recalls opening the sculpture garden and securing $85 million from the government to renovate the galleries and the building’s crumbling façade. He also masterminded several blockbuster exhibitions—which he claims don’t deserve a bad rap. “‘They’re not scholarly,’ ‘they’re too popular,’” Powell says of the common complaints. “I don’t know what’s wrong with being too popular, frankly.” (Washingtonian)

Colonial Williamsburg Opens Its Doors to Jewish Heritage – The foundation has added a sterling silver and gold Kiddush cup and a silver and gold Torah pointer to its collection. They’re the first items of Judaica to be acquired, addressing alternative stories of the early American experience.  (Art Daily)

JR Sends Off Friend Agnès Varda in Style – The street artist, who was a friend of the late artist and New Wave cinema legend, bid farewell to her yesterday by sending a cardboard cutout of Varda tied to some colorful balloons into the sunset. He wrote on Instagram, “Bon voyage, camarade.” (Instagram)


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Bon voyage camarade ❤️

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