Art Industry News: New Met Director Max Hollein Makes His Vogue Debut + Other Stories

Plus, Renzo Piano says the Genoa bridge's collapse was "no accident" and a rare US nickel sells for $4.5 million.

Max Hollein. Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

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 this Thursday, August 16.


Eisenman Reduces the Price of Münster Fountain – To ensure that the city of Münster can raise enough to buy Sketch for a Fountain, the artist has cut down her fee and her New York gallery, Anton Kern, waived its cut altogether. The public artwork will now cost around $910,000, down from the original price of $1.3 million. The target of repeated attacks by vandals, Nicole Eisenman’s work was also the most popular sculpture in last year’s Skulptur Projekte Munster exhibition. (The Art Newspaper)

Bible Museum Returns Stolen Manuscript – The museum in Washington, DC, is returning a medieval New Testament manuscript to the University of Athens after learning the document had been stolen. Hobby Lobby president and museum backer Steve Green says he bought the manuscript in good faith in 2010. Chief curatorial officer Jeff Kloha calls it a case of “do unto others as you would have others do unto you” (Matthew 7:12). (Religion News)

Max Hollein Makes His Vogue Debut – As he heads to the Met, the new director says the Breuer is a great space but “a temporary solution” for contemporary and Modern art, which he wants to see spread across entire Fifth Avenue museum in a “more complex, sometimes more surprising dialogue” with older art. He also says encyclopedic museums have to embrace diversity. The first Met director who loves punk rock and electronic music, Hollein could have a long run at the Met, his predecessor, Tom Campbell, predicts. “The only downside,” Vogue‘s Dodie Kazanjian writes, “is that he’s not a woman.” (Vogue)

Renzo Piano Says Bridge Collapse Was “No Accident” – The Genoa-based architect said the fatal collapse of a motorway bridge cannot termed as such, given the gross dereliction of oversight necessary for a collapse to occur. He calls for improved technical analysis or “diagnostics” of sites before construction begins. “I hope that this cursed event will make us reflect on the cultural obscurantism” that prevails in Italy, he added. (TAN)


How Zao Wou-Ki’s Market Took Off – Marion Maneker debunks the idea that Lévy Gorvy’s show of the Chinese artist’s paintings alongside Willem de Kooning’s jump-started  Zao Wou-Ki’s market. “Asian buyers were not taking their cues from New York gallerists,” he says, having crunched the Chinese artist’s market before and after the exhibition in 2017. (Art Market Monitor)

UK Police Return Stolen Buddha to India – A 12th-century statue stolen 60 years ago from a museum in India was handed over to the Indian High Commissioner on Wednesday. A London-based dealer and the artifact’s consignor cooperated with the Metropolitan Police after it was spotted on sale at in March at TEFAF Maastricht. (Guardian)

US Nickel Sells for $4.5 million – The Eliasberg 1913 Liberty Head nickel became the most valuable non-precious-metal coin sold at auction when it hammered for $4,560,000 at Stack’s Bowers Galleries in Philadelphia. It was sold by the heirs of William Morton-Smith, “an old-time” coin collector. There are five of the rare nickels, one of which is in the Smithsonian. (Art Daily)  

Rod Stewart Auctions His Antiques – As the musician downsizes his mansions, he is selling off spare antiques. The 60-lot sale on September 11 at Sworders in his home county of Essex includes some tasteful bling. Items range from bronze-mounted side tables and gilded mirrors, to a teak lounge armchair that comes with a faux leopard-print cushion. (Antiques Trade Gazette)


Wallace Foundation Names New Director – Bahia Ramos will take over from Daniel Windham as director of arts at the charitable foundation after he retires, on September 6. Ramos, who was previously the national director of arts at the Knight Foundation, will lead the arts program and oversee the Wallace’s grantmaking arm. (Press release)

Philadelphia Art Collective Loses Longtime Home – Space 1026 is losing its home of 20 years in Philly’s Chinatown after its building was sold to a developer for $3.3 million. More than 20 artists have studio spaces in the Arch Street building, which also has a screen-printing facility and an exhibition space, but the new landlord is upping the rent and the collective will leave the space in the spring after a farewell show in December. Space 1026 is now crowdfunding for its own building. (WHYY)

The Clark Taps New Research Chief – Following a stint as the A. W. Mellon Fellow at Yale University, Caroline Fowler is the new associate director of research and academics at the Massachusetts institute. Fowler has published a book called Drawing and the Senses about the intersections between art and philosophy. (ARTnews)

MFA Boston Names Three New Curators – Akili Tommasino will begin as associate curator of modern and contemporary art in October; Anne E. Havinga is the new chair of photography, and Christine Kondoleon is the Greek and Roman art chair. Tommasino joins the museum from MoMA in New York, while Havinga and Kondoleon are longtime employees and senior curators. (ARTnews)


How to Get the Most Out of Art You Don’t Get – Studies in holistic medicine show that even if you’re an art novice or skeptic, your brain can benefit from looking at it anyway. Engaging with art can lower your stress levels, so if you don’t get it, ask yourself how it makes you feel, think about how it was made, or set yourself a fun museum challenge such as picking out three works you might want to “Buy, Steal, or Burn.” (New York Times)

Egyptians Were Making Mummies Long Before Experts Knew – New tests on the “Turin Mummy” have revealed that the Ancient Egyptians started embalming people 1,500 years earlier than previously thought. The preserved prehistoric body has never undergone any conservation since it was entombed between 3700 BC and 3500 BC. (Daily Mail)

Backlash Over Plans to Move Suffragette Statue – Londoners are not happy with plans to move a statue of Emmeline Pankhurst from Victoria Tower Gardens near Parliament to a remote site in Regent’s Park because it “makes a limited and neutral-to-positive contribution to the settings of the World Heritage Site.” It’s a controversial decision in the centenary year of some women earning the right to vote in the UK. Earlier this year, Millicent Fawcett was the first statue of and by a woman to grace the male dominated Parliament Square nearby. (TAN)

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