Art Industry News: How Collectors Use Museum Boards to Boost the Value of Their Own Art + Other Stories

Plus, Darth Vader's helmet heads to auction and Chairman Mao's official portrait painter has died at age 88.

It turns out that donating to a museum is not always a selfless act. (RAYMOND ROIG/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 Thursday, August 29.


Architects Reveal Ideas for Revamped La Brea Tar Pits – The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has unveiled its shortlisted designs for the revamp of the La Brea Tar Pits, located next door to LACMA. Architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro have proposed the most radical overhaul, with a new building to house the prehistoric finds from the tar lake. Liz Diller admits that moving the now-prominent fiberglass mammoth by sculptor Howard Ball indoors may prove controversial. “We might get into trouble with that,” she said. Other firms vying for the Tar Pits gig include Weiss/Manfredi, which worked on Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park, and the Danish architect Dorte Mandrup. (LA Times)

Art-World Figures Come to the Defense of di Rosa Foundation’s Plans to Sell – Two prominent figures in the California art world, Gloria Marchant and Tim Kelly, have come out in favor of the Rene and Veronica di Rosa Foundation’s controversial decision to deaccession the bulk of its 1,600-work collection. In open letters sent to ARTnews, the widow of artist Roy De Forest and the former board member argue that the move is in keeping with the museum’s legacy and is necessary for its survival. “My sincere hope is that the decision to move forward with deaccessioning a portion of the collection will be a positive step,” Kelly wrote. (ARTnews)

How Collectors Use Museums to Enhance Their Own Holdings – It would be nice if all of the collectors who sat on museum boards were just in it to make selfless donations of art and money. But, as Felix Salmon writes for The Art Newspaper, they’re not. A seat on a museum board offers collectors a competitive advantage in the art market; if they encourage the museum to acquire artists in their collection, they can expect those artist’s prices to rise, along with the value of their holdings. Most of the time, board members also get priority when it comes to buying new work. As Salmon puts it, “increasingly we live not in a world where museums collect collectors, but rather in a world where collectors collect museums.” (The Art Newspaper)

Will the National Gallery Buy a Gentileschi’s Moses? –The UK’s National Gallery might be preparing to bid for Orazio Gentileschi’s The Finding of Moses, which is currently owned by the furniture billionaire Graham Kirkham. The early 1630s painting is on long-term loan to the museum, but the collector is in the midst of selling off part of his collection, having unloaded five Old Master works at Sotheby’s in July. Kirkham originally bought the work for £5 million at Sotheby’s in 1995, and it is now estimated to be worth “several tens of millions,” which would make it the most expensive museum acquisition in the UK since the National Gallery and National Galleries of Scotland bought two Titian paintings ten years ago. (TAN)


Paddle8 Launches Artist Residencies – The auction house has launched a new artist-in-residence program in New York. Called Paddle8 Salon, the program will commission artists each year to take over the company’s headquarters to create site-specific work, beginning with the Madrid-based street artist Nuria Mora. (Art Daily)

Darth Vader’s Helmet Heads to Auction – Darth Vader’s helmet from The Empire Strikes Back is going on sale at a Profiles in History auction on September 25 and 26 in Los Angeles. The Hollywood treasure is estimated to sell for $500,000. All told, the 1,000-lot Icons and Legends of Hollywood sale is expected to fetch some $10 million. (AFP)

Bureau Announces New Artists – The New York gallery has added three new emerging artists to its roster. Bureau now represents the Rhode Island-based artist Harry Gould Harvey IV, the Brooklyn-based sculptor Brandon Ndife, and the photographer Diane Severin Nguyen. (Press release)


The Philadelphia Museum Is Hiking Its Admission Fee – As some museums go free, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is heading in the other direction. After eliminating free admission for local college art students, the museum has opted to raise general admission by $5, to $25, on October 1. People 18 and under can still visit for free. (Philly Voice)

Swimwear Designer Leaves $2.5 Million to Otis – The Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles has announced a $2.5 million bequest from the late swimwear designer Anne Cole. The school will dedicate the building housing its fashion department to Cole, the daughter of Fred Cole, a silent film star who founded the swimwear company Cole of California. Anne went on to launch a swimwear line of her own, pioneering the tankini swimsuit. (The Hollywood Reporter)

Chairman Mao’s Portraitist Wang Guodong Has Died – The Chinese artist who painted monumental portraits of Mao Zedong has died at age 88. From 1964 until 1976, Wang was the official painter of the works in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, which are changed annually. He taught students that Mao’s face must be painted extra red “to show his robust spirit.” (New York Times)


Irish Gallery Conserves Its Female Old Master in Public – The National Gallery of Ireland is conserving Lavinia Fontana’s masterwork, The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon (around 1600). Next spring, visitors will be able to watch the female Renaissance artist’s canvas be cleaned by experts. Technical studies have already revealed Fontana made significant alterations to her large-scale canvas as it developed. (TAN)

Inside Nicolas Party’s Dinner Party – The in-demand Swiss artist’s latest dinner party performance piece took place in an opulent house built by the Vanderbilts in Newport, Rhode Island. “There was an aura of decadent Rome,” said MoMA PS1’s founder Alanna Heiss of the operatic dinner, complete with a “butler” played by countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, who sang while standing on top of the table. The 24 guests included fellow artists Leo Villareal, Elizabeth Colomba, and Jesse Wine. (T Magazine)

Stone Circle Revealed by Drought in Spain – Spain’s answer to “Stonehenge” has been revealed as the waters of a reservoir receded during a drought. The circle of ancient megaliths in the province of Cáceres in the west of Spain disappeared when a valley was flooded in 1963. Campaigners hope to move the stones to a dry site before the drought ends. (Archaeology Wiki)

See the Protest Art in Response to Boris Johnson’s Power Play – The UK Prime Minister’s move to suspend Parliament, making it harder for his opponents to stop a no-deal Brexit, has led to demonstrations and an online petition with one million signatures. Artists and designers were quick to respond to Boris Johnson’s power play, which is either bold or dictatorial, depending on your point of view. The collage artist Cold War Steve (Christopher Spencer) posted his #FuckBoris response on Instagram. His large-scale work, currently on show at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, celebrates Britain’s artists, including David Hockney, Lubaina Himid, and Antony Gormley. Meanwhile, artist Simon Periton riffed on the Queen’s consent to the controversial “proroguing” of Parliament with a punk-inspired post. (Instagram


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#resistUK #dictatorship #Parliamentshutdown #BrexitShambles #BorisJohnson #BorisOut #BlockTheCoup

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