Art Industry News: The Restoration of Notre Dame Is Delayed Due to Fears of Lead Poisoning + Other Stories

Plus, students at the Glasgow School of Art revolt and the Met's former head of security reveals a narrowly averted disaster in his new book.

A worker sprays a gel on the ground to absorb lead as he takes part in a clean-up operation at Saint Benoit school near Notre-Dame cathedral. Photo: Martin Bureau/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 Monday, August 12.


Glasgow Art School Students Want Refunds – Students at the accident-prone Glasgow School of Art are demanding compensation for tuition fees that can run more than $24,000 a year. In an open letter, they complain of chaotic courses, absentee lecturers, and having to work in dilapidated studios. Their protest comes in the aftermath of a fire in 2018 that destroyed the school’s historic home in the Scottish city. Around 70 members of the teaching staff have left: some 40 have resigned, including the director, and 30 have been laid off amid reports of bullying by senior management. A spokeswoman for the art school said: “Our staff turnover is comparable with the higher education sector.” (Sunday PostTimes)

How Do Artists Preserve Their Legacy? – For a long time, artists would simply leave it to their heirs to sort out their archives after they died—Donald Judd, Louise Bourgeois, and Andy Warhol famously kept everything, leaving a trove for researchers to comb through and decide what was or wasn’t important. But today, artists are taking matters into their own hands. As she turns 80, for example, Judy Chicago is ensuring her legacy by building out a climate-controlled storage space near her home in Belen, New Mexico, for works she never sold. Her archive is already being preserved by three institutions: the Schlesinger Library of the History of Women in America at Harvard, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, and Penn State University. She plans to unveil a digital portal to the trio’s holdings later this year. (New York Times)

Due to Fear Over Lead Poisoning, Notre Dame Cathedral’s Restoration Is Delayed – Paris authorities are rushing to decontaminate the area surrounding Notre Dame so that work on the fire-ravaged cathedral can resume. The restoration, which was halted in mid-July, was due to restart this week, but has now been pushed back to August 19. After weeks of denial, officials admitted that high levels of lead particles had been found in the area. The contamination could pose a risk to workers as well as children and pregnant women. Now, authorities have stepped up a deep clean of nearby schools and of the square in front of the cathedral. But they have rejected calls to cover the entire cathedral with protective cladding to contain the particles, arguing that the job would be too costly and complex. (AFP)

The Met’s Ex-Head of Security Publishes a Memoir – What was it like to be the head of security at the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Now you can find out thanks to Stealing the Show, a new memoir due to be released August 22 by John Barelli. His colorful account of life at the museum ranges from keeping watch on the night Princess Diana attended the Met Gala to working out how to dispose of shrunken heads sent to a curator in the mail. (They ended up in the city morgue.) The ex-cop told the Wall Street Journal he thought he and his colleagues would be fired when a truck delivering a Roman statue on loan from the Vatican raced out of control and hurtled down a loading ramp. Luckily for everyone involved, the statue survived the near-miss unscathed. (Wall Street Journal)


Inside Pace’s New $110 Million HQ – Pace founder Arne Glimcher and his son, gallery president Marc Glimcher, give the Times sneak peek of their new, $100 million headquarters in Chelsea, which is due to open next month. The eight-story building will host talks, live art, and offer open storage and fine dining, not to mention an outdoor food truck. Marc Glimcher says galleries of the future will serve as cultural spaces where people will want to congregate, “like church.” (NYT)

Artcurial to Sell Antique Dealer’s Collection – A 400-work collection amassed by the Paris-based dealer Joseph Altounian (1890–1954) is heading to the French auction house in September. Top lots include six works on paper by Modigliani, among them the drawing Tête (around 1911–12), which has an upper estimate of €350,000 (£324,000). (Press release)

Pricey Monet Blocked From UK Export – UK museums have three months to raise more than $33 million to stop Monet’s 1908 painting of the Doge’s Palace in Venice from heading abroad. An unknown international buyer purchased the canvas at February’s Impressionist and Modern evening sale at Sotheby’s London. (BBC)


Nancy Reddin Kienholz Dies at 75 – The artist known for her provocative collaborations with her late partner Ed Kienholz has died after complications related to an illness. Together, the two artists made installations that investigated American society, race, and sex. Their landmark work recreating a lynching, Five Car Stud (1969–72), debuted at documenta V and has been shown around the globe. (The Art Newspaper)

LAND Names New Director – The Los Angeles-based public art non-profit organization Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND) has appointed Laura Hyatt as its executive director. Hyatt, who was a founding staff member in 2010, will leave the Hammer Museum, where she most recently served as a senior fundraising manager. (Press release)

Don McFarlane Prize Awarded – The multimedia artist Susan Norrie has won the third annual $50,000 Don McFarlane Prize. The award goes to an Australian artist in recognition of their “unwavering, agenda-setting arts practice.” (Artforum)


Hong Kong Becomes a New Hub for Street Art – The sixth edition of HKwalls’s street art and mural festival ended this March in Hong Kong, but the legacy of its murals lives on. The fact that street art is growing in acceptance and popularity in the currently protest-ridden city illustrates how its inhabitants are, in the words of journalist Lauren James, “becoming comfortable expressing [their] values through visual public media.” (South China Morning Post)

Escape Rembrandt: the Sequel Comes to the Rijksmuseum – After a successful the first edition of its escape game—a mix between an Escape Room and a museum scavenger hunt—last year, which was played by almost 20,000 visitors, the Rijksmuseum has launched a new challenge. For “Rijksmuseum Escape Game: In the Shadow of Rembrandt,” participants must chase through the museum and find clues in its collection to solve a mystery surrounding the Netherlands’s most famous artist. (Press release)

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