Art Industry News: Richard Serra Is Finally Lightening Up Ahead of His Heaviest Show Ever + Other Stories

Plus, more artists join the protest against Shed board member Stephen Ross and the Sackler family offers $12 billion to settle a wave of lawsuits.

Richard Serra. Photo Bertrand Guay/AFP/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 Wednesday, August 28.


The Sacklers Offer $12 Billion to Stop Lawsuits – The eight Sackler family members who own Purdue Pharma have offered up to $12 billion—including $3 billion of their own money—to settle more than 2,000 lawsuits against them and their company. According to leaked discussions between their lawyers and the City of Cleveland, the company will file for bankruptcy. It will then become a “public beneficiary trust,” allowing profits to go to the plaintiffs. In a statement, Purdue Pharma said it “believes a constructive global resolution is the best path forward.” The artist-activist Nan Goldin and the anti-opioid campaign group P.A.I.N. have pointed out that if Purdue goes bankrupt in the US, the Sacklers still own a European sister company called Mundipharma. (Guardian)

Hong Kong Artists Accuse an Australian Museum of Censorship – The National Gallery of Victoria has been accused of self-censorship by artist-activists who tried to organize a discussion about protest art in Hong Kong. The singer Denise Ho and the Chinese-Australian political cartoonist Badiucao believe that the NGV did not want to host the talk to avoid upsetting China. In a statement, the NGV said that it was “unable to accommodate the security and logistics required to book this event with short notice.” Ho tweeted: “If everyone turns away due to fear, what will our world become?” Ho and Badiucao will now stage the event at another venue in Melbourne instead. (Guardian)

Richard Serra Thinks Color Is a Joke – On the occasion of three upcoming concurrent exhibitions this fall at Gagosian, Deborah Solomon profiles the perpetually serious Richard Serra, who seems finally to be lightening up in his 80th year. His latest works are 50-ton steel cylinders of various sizes, reflecting his persistent interest in weight and shape. (Serra says the latest show is the heaviest he’s ever done.) Gagosian will also show new black-and-white works on paper, which prompted Solomon to ask the artist if he ever considered working in any other colors. “A pink painting,” he tells her. “I am working on it. It is in my closet.” Isn’t that just rich? (New York Times)

More Artists Protest the Shed’s Pro-Trump Board Member – The artist and DJ Thanushka Yakupitiyage and musician Elsz have joined the criticism of Shed board member and Hudson Yards developer Stephen M. Ross, who came under fire for organizing a pricey Trump fundraiser earlier this month. When the duo performed at the Shed this past weekend, they wore T-shirts with the slogan, “DECOLONIZE THIS PLACE.” The shirts were a reference to the organization of the same name, which led the campaign against the Whitney Museum’s former vice chair Warren Kanders. Signs surrounding the duo read “$250,000 = ONE TICKET TO TRUMP FUNDRAISER” and “250,000+ IMMIGRANTS DEPORTED IN 2018.” The action followed news last week that two other artists had quietly removed their work from a Shed show in protest of the venue’s billionaire board member. (ARTnews)


Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi Wants Gender Parity in His Collection – The Sharjah-based collector is buying more work by female Arab artists for his Barjeel Art Foundation. “I’m going to push to 50/50, if possible, but it’s hard,” he said. “Their work has not been catalogued, not been documented, and not been stocked by galleries.” (The National)

Contemporary Istanbul Announces Exhibitor List – The Istanbul fair is returning to the Istanbul Congress Center with 73 galleries from 22 countries, including new participants HIGH ART from Paris, Vienna’s Galerie Krinzinger, and LOVAAS Projects from Munich. The 14th edition will run from September 12 through 15. (Press release)

Bonhams Names a New Asian Art Head – The auction house has named Wang Zineng as its new head of Modern and contemporary art, Asia. Wang, who has been a consultant for the auction house since 2017 and previously operated his own curatorial and market advisory firm, will be based in Hong Kong. (ArtAsiaPacific)


University of Chicago Acquires Trove of Vivian Maier Photographs – Collector John Maloof has donated more than 2,700 vintage prints by the photographer, who worked as a nanny during her life and became a cult figure  after her death. Only a few of the images in the collection have ever been published or displayed. The University of Chicago Library is now home to the largest institutional collection of Maier’s prints. (UChicago News)

Italian Artist Eliseo Mattiacci Has Died – The postwar Italian artist known for his dreamy, large-scale metallic sculptures has died. Mattiacci, who was born in 1940, was affiliated with Arte Povera and Minimalism. (Artforum)

Dallas Museum Appoints Latin American Art Curator – Mark A. Castro has been appointed the Dallas Museum’s first curator of Latin American art, a new position created earlier this year. For the past decade, Castro has worked on the curatorial team at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (Press release)

Kusama’s Infinity Room Heads to Crystal Bridges – The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, has acquired Kusama’s 2018 installation Infinity Mirrored Room―My Heart is Dancing Into the Universe from London’s Victoria Miro Gallery for an undisclosed sum. It will go on permanent view October 2, but museum members will get to experience it early—and without the crowds—beginning this Saturday. (ARTnews)


Berlin Celebrates the Anniversary of the Fall of the Wall With Art – The German capital is planning a week-long festival to mark 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. As part of the event, artist Patrick Shearn will fly some 30,000 messages above the Brandenburg Gate on November 9; each message will be written by Berlin residents or visitors about their hopes, wishes, and memories. The festival runs from November 4 to 10. (TAN)

International Curators Call for Aichi Show to Reopen – The International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art (CIMAM) has issued a statement calling on the Aichi Triennale to reopen after it shuttered an exhibition about artistic freedom following security threats and criticism from politicians. The group, which includes leading directors and curators, called the closure of the show “a serious violation of freedom of expression” and expressed support for the participating artists who have protested the decision to close the show. CIMAM asked that safety measures be put in place to ensure the exhibition can reopen. (Art Asia Pacific)

Anish Kapoor Supports Arms Fair Protest Show – The world-famous artist has donated an untitled, signed print that will be displayed and sold at the upcoming Art the Arms Fair exhibition, which runs from September 3 to 13 at Maverick Projects in Peckham. The award-winning display, which explores war, conflict, and peace, is intended to offer counter-programming to London’s largest arms fair, which runs around the same time. (Press release)

Alex Israel’s Awkward Television Art Show “As It Lays” Is Back – Before “Between Two Ferns,” there was artist Alex Israel’s oddly fascinating video series “As It Lays.” For the second season, Israel has interviewed 33 famous Los Angeles figures, including Billy Idol, Cindy Crawford, and Gwyneth Paltrow. You can watch them all here, or get a sneak peek below. (Instagram)

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