Art Industry News: A ‘Hideous’ Sculpture of a Giant Hand Is Sparking Fear and Confusion in New Zealand + Other Stories

Plus, why giant cruise ships will continue to sail through Venice and MFA Boston diversifies its Americas galleries.

Ronnie van Hout, Quasi (2019). Image courtesy @CityGalleryWellington via Facebook.

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 Tuesday, August 20.


Venice Cruise Ships Will Keep on Sailing – It seems reports that Italy has banned giant cruise ships from sailing near Venice have been exaggerated. The Italian minister of infrastructure, Danilo Toninelli, has only begun a consultation on the issue; he also lacks political clout to ban them, and Italy’s coalition government may fall at any time. Because of earlier “bans,” no ship over 40,0000 tonnes should have been sailing down the Giudecca canal for the past six years. The rules, however, were not enough to keep out the MSC Opera (65,000 tonnes), which hit a quayside in July, or another even bigger ship being involved in near miss this summer. (The Art Newspaper)

Maus Creator Pulled an Essay on Marvel – The graphic novelist Art Spiegelman says he pulled an introduction he had written for a collection of Marvel comics after he was told to remove a jab at US President Trump. Comparing comic book heroes’ fascist nemeses to Trump, Speigelman wrote: “In today’s all too real world Captain America’s most nefarious villain, the Red Skull, is alive on screen and an Orange Skull haunts America.” The publishers asked him to remove the analogy because Marvel, which is run by Trump ally Isaac Perlmutter, is meant to be “apolitical.” (Huffington Post)

A Giant Hand Sculpture Strikes Again in New Zealand – A sculpture that has been called a “hideous malevolent being” has caused an upset within hours of arriving in the capital of New Zealand. The giant hand landed via helicopter on the roof of the City Gallery Wellington on Monday and instantly became a talking point. Some remarked on social media that the face could be US President Trump, but the work is, in fact, a “partial self-portrait” by the artist Ronnie van Hout. Called Quasi, it is also a reference to the Hunchback of Notre Dame. The artist’s work has divided opinion before. It caused an uproar when first installed in the artist’s home city of Christchurch, but now some miss its creepy presence. (Guardian)

MFA Boston Diversifies Its Americas Galleries – The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has rehung level three of its Americas wing with work by more than 100 female artists. The feminist takeover marks the start of the museum’s yearlong celebration of the centenary of woman’s suffrage in the US. Artists on display range from Frida Kahlo, Alice Neel, and Georgia O’Keeffe to living icons like Sheila Hicks as well as to lesser-known names. The curatorial team behind the hang made sure that work by African American, Asian American, Latin American, and indigenous women are included. Senior curator Nonie Gadsden has overseen the project—called “Women Take the Floor”—and said that it questions how museums “have perpetuated a white-, male-dominated history of American art since their inception.” (Boston Magazine)


JTT Gallery Adds Three Artists to its Roster – The New York gallery has announced that it now represent Elaine Cameron-Weir, Sam McKinniss, and Issy Wood. Cameron-Weir’s first solo show in its Chrystie Street space opens on September 8, while Wood’s and McKinniss’s shows open in January and February 2020 respectively. (Instagram)

The Hemingway Gallery Moves to Tribeca – The Hemingway African Gallery, which was co-founded by Gregory Hemingway, the late son of Ernest Hemingway, has moved to a storefront location at 88 Leonard Street. Co-founder Brian Gaisford had been based in the Manhattan Art and Antiques Center. (TAN)


Meadows Museum Announces New Acquisitions – The museum in Dallas has acquired four works of Spanish art. The works by Manuel Ramírez de Arellano, Salvador Dalí, Ignacio Zuloaga, and Emilio Sánchez Perrier span three centuries and will be exhibited in dialogue with the museum’s existing collections. (Art Daily)

Trove of Rare Film Posters Head to Auction – Ewbanks, an auction house in the South of England, is selling a trove of movie posters assembled by a film superfan. The 2,000-strong collection includes an early promotion for Return of the Jedi when it was still called Revenge of the Jedi, and is expected to fetch up to £100,000 ($120,000) in the August 23 sale. (Guardian)

Moody Center Appoints Two Curators – Ylinka Barotto and Frauke V. Josenhans have joined the staff at the Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University in Houston, Texas. The curators, who come from the Guggenheim and Yale University Art Gallery respectively, will take up positions as associate curators. (Artforum)


Columbia Publishes an Oral History of Robert Rauschenberg – Columbia’s Oral History Project is publishing the first volume of transcripts from its Robert Rauschenberg recordings. The editors put his closest friends and family in conversation with each other to tell the life story of the influential artist, and his rise to fame in the 1960s art scene in New York. (Columbia)

This Dealer-Artist Duo Have Launched a Graphic T Line – The artist Andrew Kuo and gallerist Pascal Spengemann have created a baseball cap and clothing line called Shrits. Their graphic tees and hats are replete with insider art-world references, pop cultural references, and riffs on famous artists, including Monet and Chagall. The merch sprang from a mutual interest in hybridization, and is available to purchase at Spengemann’s Chelsea gallery, Marlborough Contemporary, as well as online. (GQ)

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