Art Industry News: One Denmark Mermaid Statue Is Suing Another for Copyright Infringement (But Mermaids All Look the Same?) + Other Stories

Plus, a star of HBO's "Silicon Valley" is writing a movie about Chinese art theft, and Mr. Doodle's fans crash his gallery's server.

The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen. The bronze statue of the Hans Christian Andersen character was made by Edvard Eriksen and sits at the entrance to Copenhagen harbor . (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via 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 Wednesday, August 18.


Women Artists Are Woefully Underrepresented in Swiss Museums – Two years after the website Swissinfo completed a survey measuring gender parity in museum exhibitions, little has changed. Of the seven largest Swiss art museums surveyed in 2019, the Kunsthalle Basel was the only institution to have parity in its programming. One of the underlying issues could be financing: The federal office of culture does not have an “equality clause” and gives no directives on representation when it issues funding to museums. (Swissinfo)

Roxane Gay and Jenny Saville Talk Shop – The author of the book Hunger and the artist, famous for painting women at monumental scale, share notes about fatness and feminism. At the end of the chat, Saville asks Gay if she will pose for her (“I was watching a video of you speaking at the 92nd Street Y in New York, and wow, you’ve got the best thighs I’ve ever seen,” the artist said. Gay, surprising even herself, said yes. (Art in America

Denmark’s Mermaid Statues Are Feuding – The heirs of the artist behind Denmark’s famous mermaid statue in Copenhagen are suing local authorities in the small town of Asaa over a mermaid statue in their own harbor that the heirs say bears too close a resemblance to the landmark. The local mayor argues the subject (and her pose) may be the same, but the figure is significantly different. “How else is she going to sit?” asked mayor Mikael Klitgaard. “She’s a mermaid. You can’t put her in a chair.” (New York Times)

The Problem With Oversimplified Images of the Withdrawal in Afghanistan – The Washington Post‘s senior art critic writes poignantly about the realities facing Afghanistan, and why comparing photographs of U.S. troops leaving Saigon with recent scenes in Kabul does not dig deep enough. “Countries… want to make sense of things, which is why we reach for an image—a quick metaphor, a ready-made analogy—that will seal history in amber,” Philip Kennicott writes. But the comparison with Vietnam overlooks the fact that “the failure in Afghanistan isn’t just a matter of not knowing history…. Too many people were fatally ignorant of the present.” (Washington Post)


NEH Announces Latest Round of Grants – The National Endowment for the Humanities will award $28.4 million to 239 museums, libraries, universities, and historic sites in the United States and Puerto Rico. Recipients include New York’s Queens Museum and Stanford University—the latter will use the grant to fund the publication of two volumes of Martin Luther King Jr.’s papers. (Artforum)

Jimmy Yang to Pen Movie About Chinese Art Theft – Jimmy O. Yang, the writer and actor made famous as a hapless web developer on the HBO series Silicon Valley, has been tapped to write the adaptation of the Great Chinese Art Heist for Warner Brothers along with his two partners, Jessica Gao and Ken Cheng. The movie, directed by Jon M. Chu, adapts a 2018 GQ article that explores the nationalist motivations behind a series of thefts of Chinese art from European museums. (Hollywood Reporter)

Servers Crash as Fans Clamor to Scoop Up New Mr. Doodle Edition – Pearl Lam Galleries’ servers crashed last weekend due to high demand during Mr. Doodle’s Pop Heart print sale, which he released to mark his engagement to the future Mrs. Doodle. (Confused? Here’s a backgrounder on the artist.) Users were also unable to log on to Artsy at certain points, which was also offering the works. The drop included three prints from the nine-print series, produced in an edition of 300. (Press release)


Thomas Campbell Did Not Like “Immersive Van Gogh” – Asking an old-school museum director for an honest review of “Immersive Van Gogh” is like asking a cow for an honest review of Peter Luger Steakhouse. Regardless of potential conflicts of interest, Thomas Campbell visited the wildly popular immersive experience with an open mind—and he still didn’t like it. The projections were “surprisingly unsophisticated for the price of entry” ($55) and the toilets were “more suited to a drugged-out rave.” He concluded: “My advice, don’t bother, unless you go with young kids or, if that’s your thing, infused with chemicals.” (Instagram)

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