Art Industry News: Italian-American Groups Campaign to Keep Christopher Columbus Statues Standing Tall + Other Stories

Plus, New York's annual 9/11 Tribute in Light gets a lockdown-era makeover and Loïc Gouzer’s Fair Warning app sets another artist record.

The statue of Christopher Columbus in the middle of Columbus Circle in New York City. Photo courtesy of Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.

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 Friday, August 14.


Artists Condemn Raids on Palestinian Cultural Centers – Brian Eno, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, and Tai Shani are among 60 international musicians, artists, and creatives who have signed an open letter condemning Israel’s crackdown on three Palestinian cultural centers in East Jerusalem. A spokesman for the Israeli police said in a statement that the three centers’ directors were detained on suspicion of “tax evasion and fraud.” The open letter claims that the attacks are instead part of a campaign of intimidation that threatens to extinguish cultural life in the area. (Hyperallergic)

How an Archaeology Professor Got Conned By a Fake – A new book chronicles how a Harvard scholar was taken in by a fake second-century papyrus fragment that hinted that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene. Ariel Sabar, the author of VERITAS: a Harvard Professor, a Con Man, and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wifediscovered that an ex-director of the Stasi Museum in East Germany who had a fake degree in Egyptology was the one who had given the fragment to professor Karen King. The book dives deep into a tale of academic hubris and, despite some over-egging of the details, could be a titillating summer read. (New York Times)

Italian-Americans Campaign to Keep Columbus Monuments The Italian-American Alliance is one of many groups pushing to keep monuments to Christopher Columbus on view in cities across the US despite a rising tide of protests. The group has spoken at a conference in Chicago and organized a rally in Philadelphia urging the cities to preserve heir heritage. Some other Italian-American groups support the statues’ removal: the president of Chicago’s Italian-American Heritage Society, for example, called that city’s Columbus “a disgrace.” (The Art Newspaper)

A Lockdown-Era 9/11 Tribute Comes to New York – The annual commemoration of the September 11th attacks near Ground Zero will not go forward next month due to safety concerns. The ghostly light installation, called Tribute in Light, was first displayed in March 2002 and requires a crew of almost 40 to erect. According to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which organizes the tribute, alternative spaces around the city will be illuminated instead. The annual reading of the 2,983 victims’ names by family members onstage will also be replaced with a recording. Officials are optimistic that the beloved tradition will resume in 2021 for the 20th anniversary. (NYT)


Fair Warning App Sets Another Record – Loïc Gouzer’s auction app Fair Warning has set another record, this time for a sculpture by Yoruba artist Romuald Hazoumè, who Gouzer describes as “the Calder of the African continent.” Chouchou is typical of the artist’s work, wittily using the detritus of consumerism as readymade sculptures that he manipulates to look like ceremonial African masks. According to Fair Warning, the sale price of $69,000 is a world record for the artist. (Instagram)

Artists Donate Work to Raise Funds for Beirut – The Lebanese artist Fatima Dia is selling her painting of the devastating explosion in Beirut, which went viral online, to help survivors. Bidding for Dia’s Rising Angels is open through August 30, and the artist is donating 100 percent of the proceeds to people who lost their homes or were otherwise affected by the tragedy. The price currently stands at $43,000; it is also available to buy now at $200,000. (Arab News)


Commission Proposes a New Home for Lee Monument – Richmond, Virginia’s commission for historical statues has recommended that a monument to the Confederate general Robert E. Lee that is being moved from the US Capitol should be housed in the Virginia Museum of History & Culture. A public hearing will determine whose likeness will represent Virginia in its place in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection. (Richmond Free Press)

San Francisco Art Institute Resumes Classes – The San Francisco Art Institute is resuming essential credit classes for students who are within a year of earning their degrees—despite concerns from staff that doing so will deepen the school’s already severe funding crisis. Most of the instruction will be online, with on-campus classes set to resume in spring 2021. (ARTnews)


A New London Festival (Carefully) Celebrates Street Art – More than 100 artists are taking part in next month’s London Mural Festival at 50 sites across the city. The founder of the festival, Lee Bofkin, says it is a way to view art while socially distancing, and that murals can help regenerate neglected spaces—although he notes that they should be spread out in an effort to avoid contributing to gentrification and inflating real estate prices. (Guardian)

USPS Releases Its Ruth Asawa Stamps – Donald Trump may want to defund the postal service, but you can do your part to keep it alive by buying some of these newly released (and highly anticipated) stamps featuring the incandescent art of Japanese-American sculptor Ruth Asawa. A sheet of 20 stamps will cost you $11. (USPS)


Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.