Art Industry News: Marina Abramović Plans to Electrify Herself With One Million Volts + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, four works of art go missing inside French parliament and Brad Pitt is hard at work as a furniture designer.

Marina Abramovic with the Golden Brain award. Photo by Raphael Castoriano.

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 Thursday, April 5.


Jean-Luc Martinez Will Remain Head of the Louvre – With the blessing of culture minister Françoise Nyssen, the French government has extended the contract of the longtime director of the museum until 2021. Martinez joined the Louvre in 2013 and under his watch, 25,000 square meters of the museum were renovated, the Louvre Abu Dhabi was christened, and a much-needed conservation center in Liévin has been developed. (Le Figaro)

French Parliament Discovers Art Has Gone AWOL – An annual survey of art in French public buildings revealed four pieces are missing from the Assemblée Nationale in Paris. Police are hunting for works by Takis, Hervé Télémaque, and Richard Texier, as well as an engraving by an unknown artist in the offices of French Parliament. (Guardian)

Marina Abramović Prepares to Shock Herself – The performance artist is busy creating new work for her solo show at London’s Royal Academy of Arts in 2020, and is now collaborating with the art-tech company Factum Arte to become a conductor of electricity. The company is building a machine to charge her with one million volts so that she can then snuff out a candle as part of the exhibition. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), her vision to create a glass fountain with blood shooting out at every angle may not be realized. (The Times)

Unhappy Meal Sculpture Accidentally Thrown Away – A cleaning crew accidentally threw away Swiss artist Carol May’s sculpture, a twist on the classic McDonald’s packaging, during the Harbour Art Fair in Hong Kong. “Initially I didn’t find it funny at all,” the artist said of the destruction of her $360 work. “But later I realized it meant my imitation had been a success.” (The Local)


How to Navigate the Photography Market – How can the same artwork have four very different prices? Just ask photography experts. Unlike other artworks, the value of a photograph of the same image can vary widely depending on factors like chronology, dimension, provenance, and signature. There are often many prints of a famous photograph, so collectors must have a good understanding of what they are looking at, beyond the image itself, in order to buy wisely. (Bloomberg)

Can a Hell-Raising Dealer Make a Comeback? – The art dealer and LA legend Patrick Painter is down, but not out. In a vivid profile, friends and foes alike recall his often drug-fueled antics when he had four galleries in the city. Post-rehab and despite poor health, Painter is looking at new gallery locations and is in talks to restart his editions business. Dealer Tim Blum says: “Anything is possible, and if he got his act somewhat together, plenty of folks would line up for the ride!” (LA Times)​

Tad Smith on Sotheby’s Digital Ambitions – The auction house’s CEO caught up with the FT about his work catching Sotheby’s up on the digital revolution. One initiative launched last year that hasn’t received much press is an estimating service that allows potential clients to take a picture of a work on their phone and receive a speedy valuation. The tool has led to a number of “discoveries,” including a Ming ewer that sold last week for $3.1 million. (Finanacial Times)

Special Projects Announced for 1-54 New York – The fourth New York edition of the contemporary African art fair, which runs May 4–6 at Pioneer Works, will feature an installation called SPOEK 1 by the South African artist Ralph Ziman, for which he has reclaimed an armored vehicle once used against civilian populations during apartheid. (Press release)


Theaster Gates Joins Colby College – The Chicago-based artist is retreating from the big city for three years to become the “distinguished visiting artist and director of artist initiatives” at the college’s Lunder Institute for American Art in Waterville, Maine. He will set up a studio and arrange meetings of artists and thinkers on campus ahead of an exhibition of his work there in 2021. (New York Times)

Sonel Breslav Joins Printed Matter – The nonprofit has announced that ArtTable’s national chapter and programs manager will become its new director of fairs and editions. Breslav will supervise the New York and LA art book fairs, oversee international art-fair participation, and lead Printed Matter’s fundraising editions. She replaces Shannon Michael Cane, who died in 2017. (Artforum)​

Graham Foundation Awards Major Grants – New grants totaling $534,850 have been awarded to support 74 projects exploring the “designed environment.” The Chicago-based foundation, which has doled out 4,400 grants over the past 62 years, selected architecture projects from around the world from over 600 proposals for its 2018 Grants to Individuals program. (Press release)


Brad Pitt Designs a Bespoke Table – Actor Brad Pitt has again teamed up with furniture designer Frank Pollaro. This time, they are creating a bespoke conference table commissioned by a mystery collector, according to the fashion magazine Grazia. (The story is in print only, so no link is available.) The top of the table recalls a Rorschach Test. The actor has also been busy studying sculpture at Thomas Houseago’s LA studio. (Grazia)

Artist Seeks Volunteers for Feminist Performance at Frieze – Sculptor Lara Schnitger is seeking volunteers for an upcoming performance of her work “Sufragette City” at Frieze New York in May. The work, which has traveled to cities including Berlin and Dresden, is a procession of marchers—all wearing portable sculptures by the artist—that addresses women’s rights. (ARTnews)

A Year Later, a Sculptor Takes a Second Try at His Ronaldo Bust – The early reviews on social media of soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo’s new bust—a second try by the Portuguese sculptor Emanuel Santos—were overwhelmingly positive. The artist’s first sculpture became a notorious viral sensation for its lack of verisimilitude. (Guardian)

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