Art Industry News: Okwui Enwezor Pushes Back Against ‘Shocking’ Allegations of Financial Mismanagement + Other Stories

Plus, artists compare Trump to a killer clown on a billboard in LA and Brazil reopens its Queermuseu after right-wing attack.

Okwui Enwezor. Photo by Joerg Koch/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 20.


New York Seeks an Artist for a Great Woman Memorial – The public has had its say, suggesting more than 2,000 names of women who should be commemorated with monuments in the She Built NYC initiative, which aims to redress the enormous gender imbalance among the city’s public statues. Now, Mayor Bill de Blasio and his advisory committee are looking for a suitable artist to get cracking on the job. The budget is $1 million, and the deadline for expressions of interest is September 30. (Artforum)

Alex Katz Is in It to Win It – Calvin Tomkins gives Alex Katz the profile treatment in the New Yorker, painting a portrait of the 90-year-old artist as ambitious as ever, with a bit of a chip on his shoulder about certain popular perceptions of his work (which has yet to crack the million-dollar mark at auction). “My work is like pablum to them,” Katz says of his detractors. “You know, pretty girls, flowers, you can’t be serious. I refuse to make sincere art.” Unquestionable, though, is the fact that Katz is a canny athlete on the field of art history, who has always seen himself as going toe-to-toe with the biggest competitors of his time (Rauschenberg, Johns, Lichtenstein), and whose own pantheon stretches back to Thutmose, the 14th-century BC sculptor of Nefertiti, who he calls “one of his favorite artists.” (New Yorker)

Okwui Enwezor Hits Back at Besmirchers – The former director of the Haus der Kunst has responded to critics who blamed him for the Munich museum’s financial problems. He told Der Spiegel magazine that he was “shocked” but not surprised his achievements were being “besmirched.” Bernhard Spies, the museum’s commercial director, has promised no more staff cuts, choosing instead to axe high-profile exhibitions, including a Joan Jonas survey. (Monopol) (TAN)

Belgian Bishop Locked Up in Art Theft – The Bishop of Liege was tied up and robbed as thieves took paintings, chalices, and cash from his apartment. But they left his personal crucifix “out of respect,” said Bishop Jean-Pierre Delville. The shaken cleric together with his godson were discovered unharmed the next morning in the bishop’s apartment within his palace. (Le Journal des Arts) (Brussels Times)


Monet’s Rodin Is Snapped Up by a Museum – A small plaster sculpture by Rodin dedicated to Monet has been acquired at auction by the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris. Sold by Monet’s heirs, the entwined figures of followers of Bacchus went €108,000 ($123,000) at Besch Cannes Auction. (Le Monde)

EXPO Chicago Goes Large and Hits the Road – Around Chicago’s Navy Pier, Guggenheim curator-at-large Pablo León de la Barra will organize large-scale, suspended sculptures and site-specific works. Beyond the fair, 28 Chicago billboards will feature work by 12 artists. Called Override, the program will run from September 17 through October 7. (Press release)

Freemans Reveals Top Lot in Its Asian Sale – A large Chinese carved wooden figure of a Buddhist deity atop an elephant is the marquee lot in the auction house’s September 7 Asian art sale. The figure of Samantabhadra, which comes from a private Philadelphia collection, carries a $25,000-30,000 estimate. (Press release)

Moniker Art Fair Announces Projects – The fair is presenting the work of emerging street artists, including Kaili Smith of the Netherlands and US artist Erik Jones. Bom. K, the Paris-born veteran of the 1990s scene, is creating new work for the Moniker Art Fair, which will take place at the Truman Brewery in East London (October 4-7). (Press release)


New Chair of SVA’s Photo and Video Department – The artist and teacher Joseph Maida succeeded Stephen Frailey, taking the position at the School of Visual Arts on August 1. Maida has been teaching at the college for 17 years and his art practice consists primarily of photography and video work. (Press release)

MFA Boston Receives $1 Million Gift for Japanese Art – The Tokyo-based Ishibashi Foundation has granted the institution $1 million to support the training of curators in Japanese art through five new fellowships. Fellows will serve as assistant curators of Japanese art for two year periods. (Artforum)

Hong Kong’s M+ Chief Builder Is Fired – A new contractor is being sought after Hsin Chong Construction Company Limited, the main contractor of the contemporary art museum in the West Kowloon Cultural District, was let go by the district authority because of construction delays and apparent insolvency. The contractor’s parent company, Hsin Chong Group Holdings, disputes the reason for the termination of its contract, saying its financial state is irrelevant. (Hong Kong Free Press)

Couple Donates 150 Beuys Works to Münster Museum – Manfred and Ingrid Rotert have donated their collection of works by Joseph Beuys to the LWL Museum of Art and Culture. The objects are editions of Beuys’s multiples, including the famous felt suit and the 1985 Capri battery, and will be on show for a year from September 29. (Monopol)


Brazil Reopens “Queer Museum” Show After Right-Wing Attack – The Queermuseu art show is reopening for a month-long show in Rio after being forced to close last year because conservatives said it promoted pedophilia, blasphemy, and bestiality. Campaigners crowdfunded $275,000 to stage the exhibition at the local School for Visual Arts after the city’s mayor banned the use of Rio’s arts museum.  (Agence France Presse)

Billboard Features Naked Trump as a Killer Clown – A sign quoting the serial killer John Wayne Gacy’s notorious boast that a clown can get away with murder has been installed over a Los Angeles freeway. The latest work of the guerrilla group Indecline, the billboard appeared on Friday complete with a naked Trump. (The Art Newspaper)

Artists Design Tennis Courts – Artists in Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cincinnati, and New York are transforming tennis courts for a United States Tennis Association project titled “Art Courts.” Chase bank has provided $500,000 for artists including Justus Roe and collective Sen2 Figueroa to paint community tennis courts in underserved neighborhoods in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the US Open. (NYT)

Celebs Matched with Art History Lookalike Three graduates seeking to “democratize art history” through viral Twitter and Instagram accounts called “Tabloid Art History” are placing photos of celebrities including Beyoncé, the Kardashians, and Britney Spears next to their art history analogues. See some of the unlikely juxtapositions here. (Times)

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