Art Industry News: Ai Weiwei Says He Fears a Tiananmen-Style Crackdown on Hong Kong’s Protesters + Other Stories

Plus, gallerists are racing to ship art out of the UK ahead of Brexit and the boy who fell from the Tate's balcony is in stable condition.

Ai Weiwei. Photo by Maja Hitij/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 this Monday, August 19.


Dealers Will Move Art to Avoid Fallout of a Messy Brexit – Art dealers are expected to move works of art from the UK to the EU ahead of October 31 as a hard Brexit looks increasingly likely. Gallerists who don’t want to run the risk of a new VAT and customs regime—not to mention shipping delays—are making sure works due to go on show arrive in Europe before November. Nervous international collectors with homes in London are already rumored to be sending their works abroad, too. (Financial Times)

Artists Trapped by Kashmir Lockdown – Two young artists from Kashmir due to take part in a residency for students run by the Kochi Biennale in southern India have been trapped in the northern state that borders Pakistan. They are caught up in the lockdown imposed by India’s Hindu nationalist government, which is attempting to end the Muslim-majority state’s special status. The artist Owais Ahmed, who managed to leave Kashmir for Kochi the day before the borders closed, says: “We feel like we have lost our identity.” (The Art Newspaper)

Ai Weiwei Says He Fears a Tiananmen-Style Crackdown in Hong Kong – The Berlin-based Chinese artist fears that Beijing will crack down on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong with violence reminiscent of the government’s reaction to student protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989. “I don’t think any prediction is too big,” Ai told the AFP. He believes that China will send in troops from the mainland if the protests continue. “There is no other way, they can’t talk about the situation or negotiate,” he said. “That’s not a skill they have. All they have is the military and the police.” The artist’s assistants have been filming the protests since the unrest began in June. (AFP)

Family of Tate Victim Says He Is Stable – The French parents of a six-year-old boy who was allegedly thrown from a viewing platform at Tate Modern still do not know the full extent of his injuries. In a statement thanking the donors to a crowdfunding campaign, they said their son is stable, and has had two operations. “He is struggling with all his strength, and we remain hopeful,” they wrote. “You cannot imagine how [the gift] helps us to see so much humanity in this tragic ordeal.” So far, the campaign launched by a London nurse has raised more than $50,000. Tate Modern has since reopened the viewing balcony, which it closed after the incident. The mental health of the 17-year-old accused of attempted murder is being assessed ahead of his next court hearing. (Guardian)


Christie’s Nabs Ed Ruscha Trove – Looking to buy an Ed Ruscha? Now is a good time. Thirty-five works on paper, prints, and other works by the California artist from the collection of architect Fred Clarke and his wife Laura Weir Clarke are heading to auction at Christie’s New York in a dedicated sale on September 27. The top lot is Ruscha’s A Person Who is Very Nice (1988), which has an upper estimate of $700,000. (Press release)

Investment Group Acquires Clars Auction Gallery – In the latest in a string of shifts for regional auction houses, the Bay Area business Clars Auction Gallery has been acquired by a private investment group. Richard G. Unruh, who is on the board of directors and also served as Clars’s director of fine arts, has been named the auction house’s new CEO and president. (Press release)

FIAC Announces Exhibitor List – The Paris art fair, which takes place from October 17 to October 20 in the Grand Palais, will feature 197 galleries from 29 countries. Newcomers to this year’s event include Soft Opening (London), The Box (Los Angeles) and Contemporary Fine Arts (Berlin). (Press release)


Middle East Institute Launches Art Gallery – The Middle East Institute, a non-profit think tank, is opening an art space on September 14 in Washington, DC. The non-commercial gallery will examine art and cultural production from Morocco to Afghanistan. The first show, “Arabicity|Ourouba,” looks at contemporary art in the Arab world. (Art Daily)

Toronto Biennial Announces Exhibitor List – The first edition of the Toronto Biennial is set to open on September 21 across various locations in the Canadian city. Called “What does it mean to be in relation?,” the show will include work by 44 artists, including AA Bronson, Judy Chicago, and Moyra Davey. (Art Daily)

Wallach Art Gallery Names New Director – Betti-Sue Hertz, who most recently served as the director of visual arts at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, has been named director and chief curator of Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery. She will take up her new role on September 1, succeeding Deborah Cullen-Morales, who took the helm of the Bronx Museum of the Arts last year. (Artforum)


The Case for Taking Photos in an Art Gallery – A communications official from Tate Liverpool pens a defense of the much-maligned practice of taking photographs in museums. “The important thing about art is just that you experience it, not how, and for many people, taking photos on your phone is a natural extension of that experience,” Tom Emery writes. “Factors such as the safety of people and the art itself must be taken into consideration, but by regulating how people should behave in art exhibitions, we’re ultimately saying that some people are less welcome than others.” (Guardian)

What It’s Like to Be a Nude Life Model – Modeling nude is not everyone’s idea of a good gig, but life models tell the Guardian that the work can be incredibly liberating, moving, and even collaborative. But like any job, there are challenges, too: it is difficult to remain still that long, and models and artists sometimes disagree over compensation. “Some painters who have asked to work with me are selling works for £40,000,” says nude model Dominic Blake. “It would be grotesquely unfair if my cut was £200.” (Guardian)

Shepard Fairey Donates Work to Fight the Arms Trade The artist Shepard Fairey has donated three prints, all of them artist’s proofs, to support a campaign against the arms trade. They will be on show in “Art the Arms Fair,” a protest exhibition coinciding with a big arms fair in London next month. In a statement, the artist said: “I’m proud to contribute to a show that shares my values along with a group of outspoken peers.” The 70 participating artists include Hito Steyerl, Peter Kennard, and the Guerrilla Girls. Fairey’s work will be auctioned on September 13 at Maverick Projects in Peckham, South London. (Press release)

Peace Guard 2. Screen Print, 18 inches by 24 inches. Last one (AP) of a limited edition set of 550, issued 2019

End Gun Violence Together Peace Fingers, by Shepard Fairey 2019

Shepard Fairey, End Gun Violence Together Peace Fingers. Screen Print. Last one (artist’s proof) of a limited edition set of 550, issued 2019.

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