Art Industry News: The Star of the Obamas’ First Netflix Movie Is an Art-Collecting Chinese Billionaire + Other Stories

Plus, Ai Weiwei leaving Berlin for Cambridge and historians are wary of a new statue in Central Park dedicated to the suffrage movement.

Dewang Cao, the Chairman/CEO of Fuyao Glass. Photo by Simon Song/South China Morning Post 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 this Friday, August 23.


Historians Concerned Over Central Park Suffrage Sculpture – Plans to build a monument to women’s suffrage in New York’s Central Park have not gone smoothly. After the initial proposal to create a monument to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony drew criticism for including only white women, organizers adapted the proposal to add black suffrage activist Sojourner Truth. But now, some 20 academics have signed a letter expressing concern that the new design could obscure the different struggles that white and black people experienced during the suffrage movement. To stave off any misleading imagery, they have asked to see sketches of the adapted sculpture in advance. (Hyperallergic)

Di Rosa Center Director Defends Deaccession Plan – Robert Sain, the director of the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art in Napa, California, has addressed the mounting criticism of the institution’s decision to deaccession hundreds of artworks. In response to the 120 arts professionals who signed a petition decrying the move, Sain says that “it is unfortunate that di Rosa has been inadequately funded since it opened its doors, and that we finally had to face the reckoning—grow the endowment to provide a sustainable future for the organization, including the proper care of the art that will remain in the collection, which has now, at great expense, been safely housed in climate controlled storage—or close our doors forever.” (Artforum)

The Obamas’ First Netflix Movie Spotlights an Art-Collecting Chinese Billionaire – The first movie that Barack and Michelle Obama’s company Higher Ground Productions has released with Netflix looks at what happened when Chinese art collector and billionaire Cao Dewang swooped into the US to open an auto-glass manufacturing company in a former GM factory in Ohio. The documentary American Factory looks at the cultural divide between Chinese and American laborers. In Cao’s office, the camera lingers on a couple of Social Realist paintings that depict him “against the sky like a sleekly updated Mao.” (New York Times)

Ai Weiwei Is Moving to the UK – The activist artist, who has lived in Berlin since 2015 following his exile from China, says he no longer feels comfortable in Germany because of its growing intolerance toward refugees. He will maintain a studio in the capital, but plans to move to Cambridge with his partner and 10-year-old son. Although he recognizes that the UK has problems of its own—”they seem to have lost courage and vision in this fast-changing world,” he says—he feels Germany is no longer an option for him. For the record, Ai has previously said he was moving to Connecticut and Upstate New York.  (Guardian)


Collector Leonard Lauder Is Working on a Memoir – Leonard A. Lauder, the billionaire and renowned art collector, is working on a memoir. He will focus on the epic rise of the cosmetics company that his mother founded in 1946, which her son helped grow into an international empire. (AP)

Berlin’s Inaugural Collection Night Opens Across the City – The pilot edition of Collection Night Berlin will see around a dozen private collections open their doors to the public—some for the first time ever—in the German capital this evening. The goal is to challenge the city’s reputation as a home for artists, but not top collectors. (artnet News)


Conservative Donor David Koch Has Died – The right-wing billionaire political activist and philanthropist has died at age 79. Koch stepped down from Koch Industries, the energy and chemical company he co-owned with his brother, due to declining health last year. In 2014, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s plaza was renamed the David H. Koch Plaza following a $65 million donation. (NBC)

United States Artists Taps New Chair – The board of trustees at the organization, which offers grants to artists, has named the president and CEO of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ed Henry, as its new chair. A trustee since 2014, Henry succeeds Steven H. Oliver in the role. (Press release)

Four New Trustees for the Noguchi Museum – The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum in Queens has added four new board members: investment banker Maximilian Coreth, art startup exec Sarah Wendell Sherrill, architect Kulapat Yantrasast, and gallerist Sundaram Tagore. (Press release)

Istanbul Design Biennial Names Curator – Architect and curator Mariana Pestana, who previously served as a curator at London’s V&A, will organize the fifth Istanbul Design Biennial next year. The exhibition runs from September 26 through November 8, 2020. (Art Daily)


Court Rules to Constrain New York Art Vendors – Nine years after litigation began, an appeals court has overturned an injunction against rules limiting the number of art and book vendors allowed in four Manhattan parks (Central Park, Battery Park, High Line Park, and Union Square Park). The court says the rule meant to limit congestion is constitutional despite artists protesting that it was illegal discrimination that violated their free speech and equal protection rights. (Reuters)

Visit Thousands of Museums for Free on September 21 – Are you an art lover on a budget? We’ve got good news for you: September 21 marks the 15th annual Smithsonian Museum Day, when you can get free admission to hundreds of museums across the US. You can find participating museums on the Smithsonian Museum Day site, and download one ticket per email address, which will get you free admission for two people. (Living on the Cheap)

A Museum of Missy Elliott Is Coming to NYC—and It’s Sold Out – The people have voted. Missy Elliott’s pop-up museum is most definitely worth it. Tickets to the Museum of Missy Elliott sold out within a minute of their drop, with fans eager to take selfies inside installations from the rapper’s music videos and get their hair and nails done at a Missy-themed beauty bar. (Page Six)

A Conceptual Cookbook Makes Food Into Sculptures – Are you ever hungry—but, like, conceptually? The artist and writer Esther Choi’s brilliantly titled Le Corbuffet has got you covered. The conceptual cookbook coming out on October 1 gives us art-inspired recipes—think Frida Kale-o salad, or Rhubarbara Kruger Compote—presented as sculptures. Why didn’t we think of that? (Colossal)


Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.