Art Industry News: One Third of France’s Galleries Could Be Out of Business by the End of 2020, Survey Says + Other Stories

Plus, Kara Walker's Turbine Hall installation will be destroyed and recycled, and Christie's moves its Hong Kong auctions yet again.

KAWS, COMPANION (EXPANDED) in Paris, 2020, augmented reality. Courtesy: KAWS and Acute Art.

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 Thursday, April 9.


UOVO Under Scrutiny for Laying Off Pro-Union Workers – The major New York art-handling and storage company UOVO has asked most of its employees to stay home with full pay during the city’s lockdown—but it laid off seven workers, six of whom reportedly played key roles in recent unionization efforts. The move has caused Teamsters Local 814 to file charges with the National Labor Relations Board against the company, claiming they were trying to get rid of pro-union workers under the cover of a pandemic. (The Art Newspaper)

Collectors Leon and Debra Black Donate $10 Million to Hospital Workers – Leon Black, the mega-collector, MoMA board member, and founder of private equity firm Apollo, and his wife Debra, a Broadway producer, are donating $10 million to help provide food and household supplies for the families of healthcare workers. The couple, who have previously donated many millions of dollars to MoMA, said they are prepared to match an additional $10 million in donations from others who step up. (NBC New York)

Kara Walker’s Tate Installation Will Be Destroyed  The monumental fountain Kara Walker created for Tate’s Turbine Hall, which closed early due to London’s lockdown, will be dismantled, destroyed, and recycled. The artist had previously expressed hope that “some aspect of it would have another life”—but instead, like her 2014 Domino sugar sphinx installation, it will be destroyed. Fons Americanus was specifically made from reusable cork, wood, and metal so it could be recycled when the display ended, according to a Tate spokesperson. (TAN)

Brooklyn Museum Seeks Federal Bailout – Director Anne Pasternak will apply for federal aid, citing a 15 percent drop in the museum’s $108 million endowment and a $4 million loss in projected annual revenue due to the enforced closure. It joins the Jewish Museum, the Rubin Museum of Art, and a number of other institutions in applying for the $2.2 trillion stimulus package’s Paycheck Protection Program, which will allocate $350 billion in loans to payroll protection for small businesses as long as they keep or rehire their employees. (ARTnews)


One Third of French Galleries Could Close – A new report by the French trade association Comité professionnel des galeries d’art warns that one third of French art galleries could be forced to close before the end of 2020 as a result of the losses suffered from COVID-19. The survey’s 168 respondents reported they expect to lose as much as €184 million between March and June due to a decline in expected revenue from fairs and exhibitions, losses on investments, as well as decreased sales. (TAN)

Christie’s Moves Hong Kong Auctions to July – The auction calendar continues to slide and shift as coronavirus enforces worldwide lockdown and second waves of the virus take hold. Christie’s has now moved its marquee Hong Kong sales from the end of May to July 5. (Art Market Monitor)


NEH Releases $22.2 Million in Aid for US Humanities Projects – The National Endowment for the Humanities will award $22.2 million in grants to 224 projects across the US in addition to the $75 million the NEH is getting from the federal government as part of the CARES Act. Grant recipients include the Portland Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Norman Rockwell Museum. (Artforum)

Philadelphia Museum Halts Construction – Construction on the Philadelphia Art Museum’s renovation is on hold after a member of the museum’s security team tested positive for coronavirus. A local labor union argued that others working on the site were now at risk, and construction was suspended “out of an abundance of caution,” a museum spokeswoman said. (WHYY)


Rube Goldberg’s Daughter Launches a Hand-Washing Competition – Cartoonist Rube Goldberg’s granddaughter, Jennifer George, is launching a competition for families in the spirit of her grandfather’s elaborate contraptions. The challenge is to build a device that drops a bar of soap into someone’s hand in 10 to 20 steps. Video submissions are being accepted until May 31, with the winners to be posted on the Rube Goldberg website. (New York Times)

Andrea Bocelli Will Perform in an Empty Duomo for Easter – The Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli will deliver an Easter Sunday performance in Milan’s historic Duomo—but he will be singing to an empty church due to the public health emergency. The performance of spiritual music, including Ave Maria, will be livestreamed on YouTube at 7 p.m. CET. (LA Times)

Zoya Cherkassky’s Paintings Evoke Judaism in a New Virtual Show – As Jews around the world celebrate Passover, the Ukrainian artist Zoya Cherkassky has mounted a new virtual exhibition at Fort Gansevoort gallery, “Lost Time,” which evokes Jewish life in the time of coronavirus with dark humor. The curator, Alison Gingeras, first saw Cherkassky’s gothic responses to the crisis on Instagram. (NYT)

Seattle’s Artists Paint on Boarded-Up Stores – Plywood may be going up all over Seattle as shops close due to the pandemic, but local artists are making sure it doesn’t stay drab. A handful of artists have coordinated with property owners to paint lively murals on boarded-up storefronts in an effort to boost morale and bring some color and joy to the otherwise somber streets. (Seattle Times)

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