Art Industry News: An Argument for Why Viewing Art During a Pandemic Might Be Unethical + Other Stories

Plus, Donald Marron's storied collection heads to the Hamptons and the Future Generation Art Prize releases its shortlist.

Chelsea's gallery district. Photo via Flickr.

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 Thursday, August 6.

NEED-TO-READ

Lincoln Library Cancels Exhibition Over Racial Sensitivity Concerns – The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, has cancelled a traveling exhibition about domestic terrorism after Black community leaders expressed concerns. Originally created by the International Spy Museum in 2006, community leaders and staff who previewed it said that some of the displays—particularly three sets of Ku Klux Klan robes and exhibits that addressed the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the Black Panther Party—were outdated and lacked appropriate context. The museum decided to cancel the show, “Spies, Traitors, Saboteurs: Fear and Freedom in America,” saying in a statement that they had concluded that “updating another institution’s exhibit was not a wise use of our time and resources.” (New York Times)

A Replica of the Hagia Sophia Is Coming – The Russian government is backing the construction of a miniature replica of the Hagia Sophia in Syria. The move follows the controversial decision by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to turn the original site in Istanbul from a museum back into a mosque. The replica will be built in the Western province of Hama and, once complete, will operate as an Orthodox cathedral. Russia, an ally of Syria’s president, is reportedly “angry with Turkey” over its decision to revert the sixth-century site into a mosque. (The Art Newspaper)

What Viewing Art During a Pandemic Really Says About Us – Visiting an art gallery these days is a different experience, complete with timed tickets and temperature checks. But the most striking difference might be the stakes: You have deemed that seeing art during a pandemic is worth the risk. Museum directors and gallery owners pushing for reopening have insisted that art sustains us; seeing visitors return to galleries, uncertain if they will catch the virus, proves that many do indeed believe that. But what does the decision actually say about our values? “Just by being in the space, visitors are defining its emotional, moral, and ethical boundaries,” one returning visitor writes for Prospect. “They might see themselves as defiant, sensible, or supportive; in reality, they may be foolish and selfish—even dangerous.” (Prospect)

Chanel Miller Makes Her Museum Debut – The artist, author, and sexual assault survivor Chanel Miller, known for her testimony against Brock Turner, is making her museum debut at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. The institution has installed a 75-foot-long mural by Miller chronicling a process of trauma and healing. The vinyl mural, called I was, I am, I will be, is visible from the street. “Sometimes people put me on a pedestal for the final level of evolution for a survivor: You’ve achieved what you needed to achieve, you’ve healed,” Miller says of the mural. “But I want to promote this idea of perpetual healing. You start curled up and might curl up again and again, but you have the tools needed to wobble your way back up.” (NYT)

ART MARKET

Sales at Top Auction Houses Decline Almost 80 Percent – Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips have seen a 79 percent drop in revenue in the second quarter of 2020, falling by $3.5 billion compared with the same period last year, according to a new report. The dip is even bigger than that suffered during the 2008 financial crisis, when the auction houses saw a $3.2 billion drop in the second quarter. (Art Market Monitor)

Marron’s Art Heads to the Hamptons – Some 38 remaining items from the collection of the late financier Donald Marron are going on sale at Pace Gallery’s new Hamptons space beginning August 12. The sale is co-presented by Gagosian and Acquavella Galleries, which won the right to sell the $450 million collection along with Pace back in February. (Bloomberg)

COMINGS & GOINGS

Influential Gallerist James Powers Dies at 80 – The owner of Spiral Gallery in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn is dead from complications related to COVID-19. Powers, who opened his influential gallery after being laid off from his job as a medical supply salesman in his 40s, showed work by up-and-coming Black artists including Ronald Walton, Verna Hart, and Lamerol Gatewood. (New York Times)

Huntington Library Lays Off Eight – Los Angeles’s Huntington Library and Art Museum has laid off eight staff members, including its chief curator of European art, Catherine Hess. The institution is known for its collection of 15th- to the early 20th-century European paintings. (Los Angeles Times)

FOR ART’S SAKE

Future Generation Art Prize Shortlist Announced – The American artist Rindon Johnson, South Africa’s Bronwyn Katz, and Norwegian collagist Frida Orupabo are among the 21 international artists shortlisted for the prestigious award, which will be given in December 2021. The winner receives $100,000 (a $60,000 cash prize plus a $40,000 investment in their practice). (Future Generation Art Prize)

It Turns Out They Just Forgot to Mail That Missing Richter – A work on paper that had been reported missing earlier this week when it never arrived at its destination has been found. Apparently, it was not stolen—it simply never left its place of origin when the rest of the shipment headed from a small Austrian town to Vienna. (Monopol)

Late Haida Artist Immortalized on Canadian Coin – To honor the 100th birthday of the late Haida artist and cultural advocate Bill Reid, the Canadian government has issued a new $2 coin adorned with his art.  Work by the late Indigenous artist was included in documenta 14. (TAN)


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