Art Industry News: George W. Bush Is Getting a Solo Show of His Portraits of Veterans Injured in His ‘War on Terror’ + Other Stories

Plus, why artist Alfredo Jaar thinks he is a failure and the founder of the Museum of Ice Cream wants you to put away your phone.

Former US President George W. Bush holds up a print copy of his "Portraits of Courage" exhibition catalog as he stands with several of the veterans he painted. Photo: Laura Buckman/AFP/Getty Images.

Art Industry News is normally 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, August 1.


Museum of Ice Cream Founder Says He’s Over iPhones and Ice Cream – Manish Vora, the co-founder of the Instagram-friendly “experience” phenomenon now wants visitors to put away their smartphones. In a talk the Yale alumn gave students at his alma mater, he said the MoIC has rolled out phone-free days and has begun encouraging visitors to work together on answering group questions before they can have ice cream samples. “Digital technology is impacting our ability to communicate and develop strong friendships,” he said. “We provide an outlet to physically connect and get off the phone.” Vora said he has been hugely influenced by Laurie Santos, a Yale professor of psychology and cognitive science who teaches the science of “the good life.” (Santos is an unofficial advisor to the Museum of Ice Cream.) The big news? Vora revealed that in 2020 the museum will launch a second “experience” in multiple cities, and it will not be ice-cream-related at all. (Yale News)

Why Artist Alfredo Jaar Thinks He Is a Failure – While intellectually pessimistic, Jaar is an optimist at heart. In fact, he tells the Guardian, he’s is a utopian who wants to change the world—he just fails “all the time.” This struggle is summed up in his latest work, I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On, a Samuel Beckett-inspired light piece that is now view at the Edinburgh Art Festival, accompanied by people wearing the work’s title on sandwich boards. Lately, Jaar has been encouraged by the young environmental activist Greta Thunberg, as well as the millions of young people “who, against the wishes of their families and the pressures of society, have decided to become artists, and are trying to make sense of the world.” (Guardian)

George W. Bush Gets a Solo Show at the Kennedy Center – The former US President-turned-artist is getting his first solo show in Washington, D.C. His 66 portraits of veterans who have served in the US armed forces since the attacks of September 11, 2001, will go on show at the Kennedy Center in the fall. Called “Portraits of Courage,” the exhibition will travel from the Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, and features portraits Bush made of veterans who were injured in the so-called War on Terror—the grinding global conflict that encompassed the Iraq War, which his administration based on false assertions about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Bush began painting after he left the White House, taking weekly lessons to improve his technique. He joked with his art teacher: “There’s a Rembrandt trapped in this body—your job is to find it.” (The Hill)

Three Myths About Pollock’s Mural Debunked – There are tall tales surrounding Jackson Pollock’s 1943 canvas Mural, which Iowa University has sent on an epic tour while it rebuilds its flood-damaged art museum. The large-scale painting is now on show at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston alongside an even bigger work by Katharina Grosse. In the New York Times, Louis Menand debunks the myths that Marcel Duchamp trimmed Pollock’s canvas so that it could fit on the wall of Peggy Guggenheim’s New York townhouse, and he also blames Guggenheim and the artist Lee Krasner, Pollock’s wife, for the unlikely story that Jack the Dripper painted the 20-foot-wide canvas overnight. Menand also pours cold water on the story that, while drunk, Pollock stripped nude at one of Guggenheim’s party—although he thinks it’s possible that the artist did urinate in his patron’s fireplace when installing his breakthrough work, so at least one gem of art-historical bad behavior can live on. (New York Times)


NADA Adds 17 New Members – The New Art Dealers Alliance announced that 17 galleries from 10 cities across the world have joined the fair’s roster, including UV Estudios of Buenos Aires, Berthold Pott of Cologne, Baxter Street at Camera Club of New York, and Soft Opening in London. (Artforum)

Michael Findlay on His Career in the Market – The new president of the ADAA Foundation, who is also Acquavella Gallery’s longstanding director and the author of several books on the art market, says that art fairs are sucking much of the oxygen from the gallery business. He also thinks that soaring rents will mean New York won’t be the place where artistic innovation happens in the future. (The Art Newspaper)


The Whitney Promotes Two Curators – David Breslin, who joined the museum in 2016 as director of collection, will become the institution’s first director of curatorial initiatives. Associate curator Jane Panetta, co-curated this year’s Whitney Biennial with Rujeko Hockley, will succeed him as director of the collection. Panetta’s biennial, which featured a notably diverse group of artists, has been largely defined by controversy over ex-board member Warren B. Kanders. (Artforum)

Princeton Museum Acquires a Rembrandt – A moody and detailed etching by the Dutch Master, Landscape With Three Trees from 1643, is the newest addition to Princeton Museum of Art’s collection. The institution now holds 70 of the 300 Rembrandt prints in existence. (Art Daily)

The Sharjah Architecture Triennial Announces Participants – The participant list is out for the first edition of the exhibition, titled “Rights of Future Generations,” which will include collaborations between architects, artists, engineers, activists, and other cultural producers. While some names are still to come, artist duo Cooking Sections, award-winning Bangladeshi architect Marina Tabassum, and Samaneh Moafi of Forensic Architecture have been selected as among the first round of contributors. The exhibition is set to run from November 9 through February 8. (Press release)

Artist Gary Simmons Joins the Mike Kelley Foundation Board – New York artist Gary Simmons has been appointed to the Mike Kelly Foundation’s board of directors, joining chair John C. Welchman and such members as author Stephanie Barron, artist Catherine Opie, and Joan Weinstein, the board’s director. (Art Daily)


How Museums Fund Their Expansions – Credit ratings are an important tool for museums to fund their expansions—just take the Los Angeles County Museum, which has worked out a $300 million bond issued by the county, to be repaid by private donations the museum is set to receive. How do they get such a loan? Credit-rating agencies like Moody’s, which has rated Los Angeles county at AA1, are vital to a museum’s ability to lure investors and borrow money. (The Art Newspaper)

Haiti’s Museum Is Still Recovering From the 2010 Earthquake – Nine years after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Haiti killed an estimated 200,000 people and destroyed countless buildings, including the Museum of Haitian Art of St. Pierre College, that institution is still trying to restore and put 600 watercolors and paintings by prominent artists back on display. The works are in storage and in danger of decaying, and a small group of artists is rushing to restore them with scant resources. (Final Call)

El Anatsui Biggest Show Ever at Munich’s Haus der Kunst Sets a Record – The last show to be curated by the recently deceased curator and former director of the museum Okwui Enzewor has set a 10-year record for the Munich institution. Ghanian sculptor El Anatsui’s “Triumphant Scale” saw 118,000 visitors pass through since the largest-ever exhibition of his work opened in March. It travels next to Doha’s Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, opening on October 1. (Press release)

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