Art Industry News: Chinese Tech Billionaire Jack Ma Has Taken Up Abstract Painting While Hiding From the Government + Other Stories

Plus, Josephine Baker will become the first Black woman interred at the Pantheon, and the National Gallery cancels a blockbuster.

Jack Ma delivers a speech during the 4th edition of the Viva Technology show at Parc des Expositions Porte de Versailles on May 16, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Chesnot/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 Monday, August 23.


National Gallery of Art Cancels Genoese Blockbuster – The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., has canceled its highly anticipated exhibition of Genoese art, scheduled to open in September, due to ongoing complications caused by the pandemic. A version of the highly anticipated show, “A Superb Baroque,” is still scheduled to proceed at Rome’s Scuderie del Quirinale in 2022. The NGA made the eleventh-hour decision as loans were due to depart from churches in Genoa last week because of “complex” visa authorization processes and continued uncertainty over transportation. (ARTnews)

Jack Ma Is a Painter Now – It’s widely known at this point that Jack Ma, the Chinese business magnate who formerly led the Alibaba Group, has gone into hiding. The Chinese government, once a major supporter of his tech empire, has begun to crack down on Ma’s businesses (and China’s private sector more broadly). But perhaps less known is what Ma has been doing outside of the spotlight. The answer: painting! Apparently, Ma has been studying oil painting, beginning with images of birds and flowers and then shifting to an abstract style, “according to photos of his artwork viewed by the Wall Street Journal.” (WSJ)

Josephine Baker Will Be the First Black Woman Interred at the Pantheon – The remains of the American performer and French resistance hero Josephine Baker will be re-interred at the Pantheon in Paris. French president Emmanuel Macron has announced that a ceremony will take place on November 30, when Baker will become the fifth woman ever, and the first Black woman, to be buried in the national monument alongside such luminaries as Marie Curie and Voltaire. (Sky News)


Adam Sheffer Has Left Pace – Pace Gallery’s vice president Adam Sheffer, who was most recently holding down the fort at the gallery’s Palm Beach outpost, has left his post after three years. Before Pace, he was a partner at Cheim & Read. (Vanity Fair)

Smithsonian Names Advisors for Women’s History Museum – The Smithsonian has unveiled its new advisory council for planning the forthcoming American Women’s History Museum in Washington, D.C. Members include Catherine Allgor, president of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the Smithsonian’s secretary Lonnie Bunch, and tennis star Billie Jean King. (The Art Newspaper)

MASP Plans Major Expansion – The Museu de Arte de São Paulo is adding a 14-floor expansion, which is due to open in January 2024. The 75,000-square-foot space will be connected to the original building designed by Lina Bo Bardi via an underground tunnel. The $33.3 million project will be a carbon conscious design by Metro Arquitetos Associados. (ARTnews)


Tom Sachs Launches NFT Rocket Factory – The artist Tom Sachs has launched a new marketplace for NFTs of his art. (There are a lot of moving parts to this one, just bear with us.) Sachs created components for 1,000 rockets, which comprise three unique elements (think: a “Chanel” branded nose cone, a McDonalds body, and a Hello Kitty tail). Buyers can combine these three forms into a completed “Frankenrocket” that will be minted as an NFT. The artist will also create—and launch—a physical version of the same rocket. The recovered fired rocket will then be shipped to its owner, and it, its digital twin, and a video documenting the launch will become a new completed rocket NFT. (Instagram


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