Art Industry News: Whitney Biennial Participant Says He Has Been the Target of Safariland Tear Gas + Other Stories

Plus, Michael Govan defends LACMA's shrinking redesign and the V&A's chairman has kind words for Theresa Sackler.

Activists protesting against the continued presence of Warren Kanders on the board of the Whitney Museum. Photo by Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via 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 this Monday, April 8.


Michael Govan Defends the LACMA Redesign ⇁ The director of LACMA says it is a “non-issue” that Peter Zumthor’s redesigned galleries are nine percent smaller than initially planned. (The Los Angeles Review of Books disagrees, calling it a “bombshell.”) In a new interview, Govan insists that the museum will have plenty of space to show the collection and is 100 percent confident that LA County will vote “yes” this week to release funds for the $650 million project, after which it he will begin a public fundraising drive. “I’m 100 percent convinced it’s a better building than anything that’s been presented as part of the design process,” he says. He estimates the project costs a hefty $1,873 per square foot. (Los Angeles Times)

Julian Schnabel Talks About Art and Race – Do you wake up in the morning thinking, “You know who I really want to hear discuss the complex relationship between race, subjectivity, and art? Julian Schnabel!” Well, you are in luck. In a new interview, the artist and filmmaker who directed the 1996 Basquiat biopic defends Dana Schutz’s controversial painting of Emmett Till, asking, “Why can’t a white person tell the story of a black person?” He says Robert Mapplethorpe did not exploit black models when he photographed them “with their dicks out,” nor did he exploit Basquiat. “I think I did him a solid by making that film,” he says. “My daughter Lola says: ‘Everyone is pink inside.'” (Guardian)

One Whitney Biennial Participant Has Personal Experience With Kanders – As demonstrations continue in the museum’s lobby every Friday, the activist collective Forensic Architecture confirms it will participate in the Whitney Biennial with a work that comments on the fierce debate surrounding the museum’s vice chairman, Warren Kanders, who is linked to a company that produces riot-control weapons used by the Israeli military. Forensic Architecture director Eyal Weizman says he has witnessed Safariland-made tear gas launchers being used on civilians in Gaza. “In April 2014, while participating in a protest in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, an Israeli soldier fired a tear gas canister directly at me, as they do at many protesters,” Weizman recalled. “I now realize he did so with a grenade launcher manufactured by Safariland.” (Hyperallergic)

The V&A Chairman Defends Theresa Sackler – Nicholas Coleridge, the chairman of the V&A and the outgoing chairman of Condé Nast Britain, which publishers Tatler, told the magazine that when the Sacklers donated money to museums, “there wasn’t an earthy reason not to accept them.” (The V&A’s Sackler courtyard opened two years ago.) He also praised fellow trustee Theresa Sackler, noting that “with Theresa there is no impatience, no sense of entitlement, no desire to dominate a room,” though he declined to comment on the opioid crisis. Sackler herself also declined to comment, even though the magazine drove to her 5,000-acre country estate in the South of England to hand-deliver a letter. (Tatler)


Billionaire Collector Bets on Warhol’s B-List Portraits – The man who made $100 million trading oil during the financial crisis is cornering the market on Andy Warhol’s portraits of lesser-known celebrities. In a rare interview, Andy Hall explained his reasoning to the FT. In 20 or 30 years, “how many people do you think are going to know the difference between Liz Taylor and Pia Zadora?” he asks, adding that the Zadora portraits are much prettier than the Taylor ones. (Financial Times)

LA Gallery AWHRHWAR Closes – After two years, the artist-run gallery in Highland Park has shuttered. Co-founders Aline Cautis, Sarah Conaway, Erik Frydenborg, and Nick Kramer announced the small space would close after Reto Pulfer’s solo show ended on Saturday. Artists who have shown at the hip space include EJ Hauser, Amanda Ross-Ho, and Harry Dodge. (ARTnews)

Ortuzar Projects Names New Director – Polina Berlin has been appointed as a director of Tribeca’s Ortuzar Projects. She previously worked for Paula Cooper, Paul Kasmin, and Christie’s postwar and contemporary art department. (ARTnews)


New York Artists Get Unconventional Residencies – New York City’s Public Artists in Residence program pairs creatives with public agencies, giving artists $40,000 and a place to work in exchange for their help developing projects around social issues. Four artists have been selected for 2019, including Taja Lindley at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Laura Nova at the Department for the Aging. The residency stipulates a three-month research period, followed by a minimum of nine months of creation and production. (New York Times)

Newfields Announces $21.7 Million in Gifts – The 152-acre campus with a divisive name that surrounds the Indianapolis Museum of Art has announced a cumulative $21.7 million in grants and gifts from foundations, private donors, and public entities. The funds will go towards infrastructure upgrades and to increase capacity for visitors. (Art Daily)

Charles Gaines Wins Edward MacDowell Medal – The MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire will present Los Angeles-based artist Charles Gaines with its Edward MacDowell Medal for artists who have made outstanding contributions to US culture. (NYT)


Turns Out a Work We Thought Was by Malevich Isn’t – A rare figurative portrait of a woman in a jaunty hat, which was included in exhibitions at Tate Modern and Kunsthalle Bonn, was likely misattributed to the Russian painter Kazimir Malevich. An intrepid researcher has traced an inventory number on the back of the canvas to a ledger of works by one of Malevich’s students, Maria Dzhagupova. (Guardian)

Artist’s Depiction of Taiwan on Globe Angers China – British artist Mark Wallinger has angered Chinese officials with his newest installation, a giant upside-down globe that depicts Taiwan as an independent nation and marks the Tibetan city of Lhasa as a capital, in addition to Beijing. The artist, who unveiled the work outside of the London School of Economics on March 26, says it was “an error.” (TAN)

Music Critics on the Shed – What do music critics think of the inaugural programming at the Shed, New York’s newest cultural institution dedicated to breaking down barriers between disciplines? Zachary Wolfe is a (tentative) fan of the collaboration among composer Steve Reich and painter Gerhard Richter with composer Arvo Pärt, called Reich Richter Pärt. “Two masters have been brought together, furthering the reputation of each; in the collaboration-consumed, eminence-obsessed ethos of high-end art-making these days, that’s all that matters,” he writes. (NYT)

Tate Acquires Yinka Shonibare’s The British Library – The Tate Modern has acquired Nigerian-raised, London-born artist Yinka Shonibare’s installation of 6,328 books, each bound in vibrant dutch wax print. Some 2,700 books have the names of first or second generation immigrants printed on them. The piece, which covers three walls, is a celebration of the diversity of British society.  (Press release)

Yinka Shonibare’s The British Library at Tate Modern.

Yinka Shonibare’s The British Library at Tate Modern.

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