Art Industry News: How a 3D Reconstruction of Raphael’s Skull Just Solved the Mystery of His Pantheon Tomb + Other Stories

Plus, the British Museum will reopen on August 27 and France gives the green light to trade shows this fall.

Raphael, Self portrait (1506-1508). Firenze, Gallerie degli Uffizi, Galleria delle Statue e delle Pitture. Gabinetto fotografico delle Gallerie degli Uffizi - Su concessione del Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali e del Turismo.

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 Friday, August 7.


Activists Respond to Southbank Center Cuts – SaveOurSouthbank is striking back at the Southbank Centre, which defended its mass job cuts and refuted 10 claims put forth in the activists’ initial July open letter, which was signed by 7,000 people including Jeremy Deller and Kate Cooper. The museum shot back on August 4—and now, SaveOurSouthbank has responded, restating concerns about the disproportionate impact on low-income BAME workers, pricey third-party security and maintenance contracts, and underwhelming executive team pay cuts. (SaveOurSouthbank)

How the Internet Has Changed Art Criticism – What can be gained from seeing art only online? It depends on the artist’s approach. Painter Maja Ruznic posts more closeups than full images of actual works, showing that each canvas contains “multitudes.” Just as when you experience it in real life, work online that raises more questions than answers sticks with you, critic Barry Schwabsky says. “Looking at artists’ Instagram posts is more like visiting a gallery than visiting a studio—less personal, potentially more anonymous,” the author writes. “And it’s a mostly visual experience; the textual dimension is secondary.” (The Nation)

Scientists Match Skull to Raphael’s Self-Portraits – Italian art experts have created a 3D reconstruction of the head of Renaissance artist Raphael, which they say proves he was buried at the Pantheon in Rome. The 3D rendering was created using a plaster cast of the artist’s skull made after his body was first exhumed in 1833. Compared with portraits of the artist from the time, scientists say they have determined they have a match. Plans to re-exhume the body once again were put on hold due to the pandemic, but experts note that the discovery opens the door to deeper molecular research that will validate his identity and even confirm his eye and hair color. (Daily MailGuardian)

What’s the Future of an Art World That Prizes Commerce Over Community? – Louise Benson argues that all signs point to the art world, which was “already a precarious and elitist space that few can afford to enter,” becoming even smaller after it emerges from the current crisis. As museums lay off droves of workers (and as the Met triumphantly announces it will begin paying all of its interns), Benson finds that the art world’s commercial interests are laid bare. “There have been few creative solutions offered for an alternative direction that galleries and museums could take,” she writes. “If they are to open for business only in the most literal sense, what hope is left for a creative industry that continues to divide rather than connect its workforce? ” (Elephant)


France Green-Lights Art Fairs From September – Trade shows with more than 5,000 people have been given the go-ahead for September as long as they comply with a suite of health measures that will be stipulated on August 24. (Journal des Arts)

Fair Warning Sells a George Condo – The latest sale from Fair Warning, the app launched by former Christie’s exec Loïc Gouzer which offers one work per week, is a yellow dreamscape by George Condo. The painting sold for $3.68 million. (Instagram)


British Museum Announces Its Reopening Date – The British Museum in London will reopen to the public on August 27. Free timed tickets will be available to book beginning August 12. A museum spokeswoman assured Artnet News that there have been no redundancies to staff and that none are planned as a result of COVID-19. (Press release)

Video Artist David Cort Dies at 85 – The artist cofounded one of the first video-art collectives, Videofreex, in the 1960s. A firm believer in the activist and artistic power of moving-image work, he documented antiwar protests and filmed an extensive interview with Black Panther activist Fred Hampton. (ARTnews)


A Suffragist Monument Is (Finally) Coming to Central Park – Meredith Bergmann’s monument to the suffragists Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton will finally be unveiled in New York’s Central Park on August 26. The sculpture, called the Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument, is the park’s first monument celebrating non-fictional women. (NYT)

LACMA’s Façade Comes Down – The façade of one of the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts’s 1985 Art of the Americas building was demolished on Thursday, removing the last remnants of the original Pereira complex to pave the way for the museum’s controversial new build. (Twitter)

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