Art Industry News: A Wheelchair User Slams Olafur Eliasson’s Tate Show for Inaccessibility + Other Stories

Plus, Sadiq Kahn backs a proposal for a slavery museum in London and the Grand Egyptian Museum is offering early bird tours for $250.

Olafur Eliasson, Your spiral view (2002). ©Olafur Eliason. Photo by Jens Ziehe. Boros Collection, Berlin, Germany.

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 Tuesday, August 13.


How to Get a Sneak Peek of the Grand Egyptian Museum – Can’t wait to lay eyes on the 20,000 Ancient Egyptian relics set to populate the Grand Egyptian Museum? Never fear. The highly anticipated new museum is offering private tours of its 5.2 million-square-foot space for a cool $250 before it opens to the public next year. If you can wait till 2020, however, tickets to the museum will run you just 60 cents. (Travel and Leisure)

The Mayor of London Backs a Slavery Museum – London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has welcomed a proposal to create a museum in London about Britain’s role in the slave trade. Traditionally, UK history museums have preferred to focus on the abolition movement and its leading advocates. The idea for an alternative institution has been put forward by the British socialist organization the Fabian Society, which argues that an honest and accurate accounting of the city and the nation’s role in the slave trade could help combat modern-day racism and inform the debate about reparations in the UK. “It’s right and fair that all Londoners see themselves and their history reflected in our city’s museums and cultural institutions,” Khan said. (Guardian)

Wheelchair User Decries Eliasson’s Tunnel at the Tate – A Twitter thread posted by a museum visitor who uses a wheelchair about her frustrating visit to Tate Modern’s Olafur Eliasson exhibition has prompted a broader conversation about accessibility for disabled people. Ciara O’Connor, who writes for the Irish Sunday Independent newspaper, recounted having been unable to enter the mirrored tunnel Your Spiral View (2002), a highlight of the artist’s survey show that is accessible only via stairs. The Tate says there is currently no ramp available because the mirrored walkway itself is too narrow to be safe for wheelchair use. Eliasson says his studio is exploring ways to make the work fully accessible. (The Art Newspaper)

Chinese Police Crack Down on Protest Art – Chinese authorities questioned a performance artist who goes by the name Nut Brother after he mounted a demonstration against the forced relocation of more than 1,000 households in Shenzhen. In the performance, a crane picked up hundreds of dolls donated by the residents to highlight their fears that their children would not get a spot in school once they move. (SCMP)


African Women Lead the Continent’s Market – Women, it turns out, boast the four highest auction records for African artists: Marlene Dumas ($6.3 million), Julie Mehretu ($5.6 million), Irma Stern ($4 million) and Njideka Akunyili Crosby ($3.4 million). These prices far exceed such prominent Africa artists as El Anatsui and William Kentridge (both $1.5 million). Work by African women is in demand because buyers are “looking to fill gaps in the market,” says Sotheby’s Hannah O’Leary. (The Art Newspaper)

Acquavella Plans Wang Yan Cheng Show – A growing number of elite New York galleries are looking to promote lesser-known Chinese painters, and now Acquavella is getting in on the trend. The Beijing- and Paris-based Chinese artist Wang Yan Cheng will get his first solo show in New York in September, when he debuts 20 new paintings at Acquavella. (Press release)


Cultural Landscape Foundation Launches Major Prize – The Cultural Landscape Foundation is launching a $100,000 biennial prize for landscape architects, artists, urban planners, and designers. The first winner of the award, which comes with two years of public engagement opportunities and aims to promote broader understanding of this often misunderstood art form, will be chosen in 2021. (Architect’s Newspaper)

Conceptual Artist Ronald Jones Dies at 67 – The interdisciplinary artist Ronald Jones, best known for blending sculptures of recognizable cultural objects with text, has died. The artist, who has work in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum collections in New York, among other institutions, was also a critic and scholar who worked as a senior tutor in service design at the Royal College of Art in London. (ARTnews)

How Many Objects Did UK Museums Lend Last Year? – Museums in Britain lent 450,000 objects to exhibitions around the world last year, according to the UK government’s most recent Museum Partnership Report. Many of these were scientific materials loaned for research purposes, but 69,000 went on display in cultural institutions—though just 9,000 of these went on view outside the UK. (TAN)

Joslyn Art Museum Names Native Art Curator – Nebraska’s Joslyn Art Museum has appointed Annika K. Johnson as its first-ever associate curator of Native American art. The position has been endowed by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the next four years. (Artforum)


Princeton Works to Diversify Museum Leadership – The university’s museum has teamed up with historically black colleges and universities across the US in an effort to diversify museum leadership. The director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, Thelma Golden, was a guest speaker during the week-long program for students, which offered classes with art museum staff, studio visits, and research trips to New York. “The art museum field simply doesn’t look like the people of this country,” says James Steward, the director of the Princeton University Art Museum. He hopes that “museums and the humanities [will] remain relevant” by encouraging students from diverse backgrounds to consider a career at a museum administrator or director. (Princeton)

Trisha Brown Dance Company Gets Rave Reviews at Jupiter Artland – Critics are raving about a recent performance by Trisha Brown’s dance company at Jupiter Artland, a sculpture park in Scotland. The 90-minute performance, titled “In Plain Site,” spanned the verdant grounds, including a pond where Brown’s company staged a “breathtaking and unforgettable” recreation of Raft Piece, originally performed on the Hudson River. (Scotsman)

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