Art Industry News: Washington Post Critic Calls for the Breakup of the ‘Chaotic’ Barnes Collection + Other Stories

Plus, the artist Molly Crabapple is arrested at an ICE protest and New York's Culture Pass program signs up 70,000 in its first year.

Visitors tour the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. (Photo by Mark Makela/Corbis via 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 Wednesday, August 14.


Artist Molly Crabapple Arrested at ICE Protest… – In a day of action in New York on Sunday against Amazon’s relationship to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, some 40 people were arrested, including artist Molly Crabapple. Jewish protesters from Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and Never Again Action demonstrated at an Amazon bookstore, demanding that the corporation stop its collaboration with ICE. (Amazon provides cloud computing resources to companies like Palantir, which provides software and technical support to ICE.) Crabapple wrote about the arrest over Twitter. “Many people who follow me are furious at ICE’s horrific actions but feel helpless,” she wrote. “Start by reaching out to local groups.” (Democracy Now!)

…While Another Artist Is Arrested Over a Performance in Cuba – In other artist-activist news, the Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara was arrested outside the Museum of Dissidence in Havana and detained for two days for wearing the Cuban flag as a part of a performance. Alcántara has been actively campaigning against Decree 349, a law that restricts independent cultural activity in the country. His 30-day flag-wearing performance, called Drapeau, was a protest against a law passed earlier this year regulating how national symbols can be displayed. Under the new legislation, Cuban flags cannot be shown with other symbols, altered in any way, or worn. (Artforum)

Washington Post Critic Calls for the Breakup of the Barnes Collection – A review like this one doesn’t come along every day. In a rave review of the Barnes Foundation’s current survey of Bill Viola’s “astonishing work,” Philip Kennicott blasts the museum’s legendary permanent collection—which the eccentric collector Albert Barnes insisted remain in its visionary context mixing Impressionism, Renaissance, and African art with farming implements and other demotic craft, only to have it extirpated from is suburban setting and moved to Philadelphia—as “a colossal vanity project that holds great art hostage to the narcissistic self-indulgence of its founder.” Kennicott continues that “the old painting galleries at this world-renowned museum are a failure” due to their “chockablock” curation of Renaissance art. “There are dozens of works on view in the other galleries that deserve similar attention. And they would attract it if they could be taken out of the chaotic menagerie in which they have been imprisoned for decades.” His solution? “Sell off about two dozen second-rate Renoirs, update the existing collection to include contemporary work in its mix, and cycle the best of the collection in and out of a more manageable display, curated by a new generation of scholars who aren’t beholden to the antiquated theories that Barnes espoused.” (Washington Post)

New York Culture Pass Signs Up 70,000 New Yorkers – Culture Pass, which offers New York residents free admission to dozens of museums and cultural institutions when they sign up for a library card, has had a banner first year. Approximately 70,000 people have signed on to the program since it launched in July 2018. The list of participating cultural institutions has also expanded from 33 to 50, and now includes the Shed, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. (New York Times)


Fashion Designers Are Pulling NYFW Shows From the Shed – Rag & Bone and Prabal Gurung have pulled their planned runway shows from Hudson Yards and the Shed, where they were set to present their spring 2020 collections this fall. The withdrawal comes amid backlash against Hudson Yards’s real estate developer Stephen Ross, who hosted a Hamptons fundraiser for President Donald Trump at his Hamptons home last week that raised $12 million. (WWD)

Michael St. John Joins Team Gallery – Michael St. John, whose work pulls from Instagram and the internet and who has been described as a “painter of paranoia,” will join New York’s Team Gallery. He was previously represented by Andrea Rosen. The multimedia artist will have a solo exhibition with Team in 2020. (Press release)

art berlin Announces Exhibitor List – The art berlin fair released its lineup for the 2019 edition, which is set to run at Tempelhof Airport from September 12 through 15 during the annual Berlin Art Week. This year, the fair is also collaborating with Basel’s Liste, which will present videos by artists selected by the Swiss fair’s committee from participating Liste galleries. (Art Daily


Fire Extinguished at the Singapore Art Museum – A small fire broke out at the Singapore Art Museum on Sunday. The cause of the blaze, which was swiftly extinguished by the fire department, is still being investigated. The museum is currently undergoing refurbishment and the fire affected construction materials, but no injuries were reported. (Art Asia Pacific)

Noguchi Museum Hires New Assistant Curator – The sculpture museum in Queens has named Kate Wiener an assistant curator. She joins the institution from the New Museum, where she was a curatorial assistant in its education department. (Artforum)

The New York Public Library Lions Are Getting a Facelift – The pair of 108-year-old lions that flank the New York Public Library’s Fifth Avenue entrance are getting a $250,000 restoration. The lions, which were nicknamed Patience and Fortitude during the Great Depression, will go under the knife for nine weeks beginning September 2. (Curbed)


Lessons From an Art Handler – The founder of the American art logistics company Atelier 4 recalls his first-ever art handling experience and the valuable lesson he learned when a Jasper Johns went missing for terrifying stint when he was on the job alone in the 1980s. He now maintains that art handlers should always work in pairs. (Observer)

A New Show Maps Displacement Through Art – An exhibition at the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, maps out 75 artists’ relationships to the plight of refugees. “The Warmth of Other Suns,” which spans Lewis Hine’s bleak 1920s portraits of arrivals at Ellis Island to Anna Boghiguian’s contemporary drawings of Syrian refugees, is, in the words of critic Jason Farago, a “poignant, solemn and utterly shaming exhibition.” (NYT)

One Month After Its Founder Was Killed, Vandals Attack Baton Rouge Museum – Just a month after the murder of its founder Sadie Roberts-Joseph, the Odell S. Williams African-American Museum in Baton Rouge has been vandalized. Police are investigating the incident, which saw windows broken and benches overturned inside the Louisiana museum. (New York Post)

Elle Pérez’s Photographs Come to New York Bus Stops – New York City bus stops have just gotten a whole lot more interesting. The Public Art Fund has installed works by photographer Elle Pérez across 100 New York City bus shelters in over 13 neighborhoods. The citywide exhibition, called “from sun to sun,” explores the New York City places and communities where Pérez grew up and lives. (Instagram)

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