Art Industry News: Billionaire Art Collector Adrian Cheng Is Building Face Mask Vending Machines in Hong Kong + Other Stories

Plus, the FRONT Triennial is postponed until 2022 and Sotheby's online photography auction brings in $3 million.

Adrian Cheng at Paris Fashion Week on July 2, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/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 7.


Peter Schjeldahl Predicts the Future of Museums – From his isolated writing desk, the art critic rethinks his past visits to museums and wonders why Old Masters contain a gravitas that seems to wane in a lot of late 19th century to 20th century painting. He suspects the reason is that these older artists had a “routine consciousness of mortality,” since “pandemic diseases and innumerable other causes of early death haunted day-to-day life, even for those creators who were committed to entertainment.” He stops to ruminate on Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez, a work that he studied for days some years ago. The exquisite work is a display of power and elitism, but the death and tragedy that went on to encompass the lives of many of the painting’s subjects is now imprinted on it. Schjeldahl wonders how we will reread paintings when we finally do return to museums after this pandemic. They won’t have changed, he notes, but we will have. (New Yorker)

Grace Farms Offers More Than $2 Million for COVID Relief – The New Canaan, Connecticut-based arts foundation has launched a $2.5 million relief fund to combat the dire shortage of medical gear and help get around the distribution roadblocks. Already, the foundation’s new platform Grace Farms Alliance Against Covid-19 has distributed 120,000 respirator masks, more than 32,000 surgical masks, and 4,000 isolation coveralls to more than a dozen local hospitals. (The Art Newspaper)

Adrian Cheng Builds Face Mask Vending Machines – Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, the billionaire art collector and developer Adrian Cheng has announced plans to distribute medical-grade surgical masks in 35 vending machines for free throughout Hong Kong. The dispensers—managed by Hong Kong-based NGOs—will enable vulnerable residents to pre-register to collect a pack of five masks each week. At its peak, the program is expected to produce more than seven million face masks per month. In addition, Cheng’s property development company—which has overseen the construction of the K11 Art Foundation and K11 art malls—will invest HK$10 million in the production of advanced face masks that can kill bacteria and viruses. (TAN)

Take a Virtual Tour of Tate’s Andy Warhol Show – Tate, which opened a major Andy Warhol exhibition on March 12, just days before the museum closed to the public, is offering viewers the next best thing to seeing the show in person: the chance to take a virtual tour with the show’s curators. The exhibition seeks to focus on the lesser known aspects of Warhol’s life and work. “We wanted to look at Warhol for who he was, taking into account his family’s journey to America from eastern Europe, his queer identity, and the way in which his work would ultimately be informed by death and religion,” said curators Gregor Muir and Fiontán Moran. (Guardian)


Sotheby’s Online Photo Auction Brings in $3 Million – Sotheby’s online photographs sale, which concluded on Friday afternoon, reached its highest-ever total, bringing in $3 million. (It probably helps that Sotheby’s IRL photographs sale was rolled into the online one.) The sale was led by a rare László Moholy-Nagy photogram that sold for $524,000, under its high estimate of $600,000. Notably, 30 percent of the buyers were new to the auction house. (Press release)

Charity Auction Raises More Than $2 Million for Healthcare Workers An online auction hosted by the Paris-based house Piasa netted 2.4 million (about $2.6 million) in sales, which will be donated to the group Protège Ton Soignant (Protect your Caregiver). Thaddaeus Ropac and Kamel Mennour were among the dealers who contributed to the sale, which offered 370 artworks. The top lot was a work by Claire Tabouret, which fetched €207,000 ($223,000). (TAN)

Expo Chicago Alters Payment Plan – Expo Chicago has become the latest fair to offer accommodations to struggling galleries. In a letter, the fair’s director Tony Karman said the event is “reducing the impact of our invoicing, adjusting payment schedules, providing incentives to reduce booth fees, and committing to work individually with our exhibitors to accommodate to their needs.” He also said the fair would donate a portion of its proceeds to dealer organizations ADAA and NADA. (ARTnews)

Gagosian Launches New Artist Spotlight Series – Mega-galleries are quickly rallying to up their online game. In addition to David Zwirner’s new initiatives, Gagosian has announced a new weekly series called “Artist Spotlight,” which will highlight work by an artist alongside interviews, film recommendations, and other supplemental content. The effort will begin with a new assemblage by Sarah Sze, who was due to be the subject of an exhibition at Gagosian’s Paris gallery last month. (Art Market Monitor)


FRONT Triennial Is Postponed to 2022 – The impact of coronavirus on the art-world calendar is rippling far into the future. The next edition of the Front International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, originally scheduled for 2021, will now be delayed a full year. The exhibition, curated by Prem Krishnamurthy and Tina Kukielski, will run on roughly the same dates, one year later: July 16 to October 2, 2022. (ARTnews)

Collectors Donate Major Ceramics Collection to Hepworth Wakefield – The UK’s Hepworth Wakefield gallery just got a major gift of 100 ceramic works from the couple Terence Bacon and John Oldham. The duo first visited the gallery after falling in love with Barbara Hepworth’s garden in St. Ives. Before long, they began “traveling around in our caravan, buying things we really liked.” They told the Guardian“None of it was purchased with investment in mind…though some of our friends thought we were bonkers.” (Guardian)

Philanthropist Arlene Schnitzer Dies – The art philanthropist and collector Arlene Schnitzer has died at age 91. Schnitzer was a champion of the Northwest art scene in the 1960s and ’70s and helped launch the careers of artists including Robert Colescott and Marita Dingus as founder of the Fountain Gallery in Portland. Over the years, she and her husband Harold donated more than $80 million to different causes. (


Darren Bader Launches an AR App – The artist Darren Bader’s augmented reality app, Mendes Mundi, is in beta testing, a year after it was meant to be unveiled at the Venice Biennale. The app lets you choose one of 13 bizarre AR characters Bader has created with the animator Rodrigo Pires and place them in your world. (ARTnews)

William Penn Foundation Offers a Boost to Philadelphia Arts – The William Penn Foundation in Philadelphia has fast-tracked $6.6 million in grants to 17 local arts and culture groups that are usually awarded in late April in order to respond to the financial pressures of the public health crisis. The grants include $750,000 for the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts and $450,000 for the Village of Arts and Humanities. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

A New Documentary Exposes Scandals in Canada’s Art World – The new documentary There Are No Fakes tells the story of what art dealer Don Robinson calls “the greatest art scam in Canadian history.” The film, directed by Jamie Kastner, unravels an elaborate forgery ring masterminded by Gary Lamont, who is currently serving a five-year prison sentence. (TAN)

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