Art Industry News: David Hockney Might Become the Most Expensive Artist Alive This Fall + Other Stories

Plus, Frida Kahlo's Red politics upsets hard-right Hungarians and the Kardashians fall out over a bout of "art shaming" involving Jeff Koons.

The artist David Hockney. (Photo by Hannelore Foerster/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 9.


Frida Kahlo’s Communism Sparks Debate in Hungary – Hungary’s right-wing newspaper Magyar Idok has criticized the National Gallery in Budapest for “promoting Communism” by staging a blockbuster Kahlo show. Referring to the Mexican artist’s politics and love life, the newspaper—which has been attacking galleries, artists, and even a production of the musical Billy Elliot in its campaign against “leftist-liberals”—wrote: “Trotsky has emerged in Budapest again, this time from Frida Kahlo’s bed.” (Reuters)

Museums Strive to Diversify Their Curators – US museums are training and hiring more diverse curators through a range of programs. It’s not before time. “The whitest job in the entire cultural community in New York is curator,” says Tom Finkelpearl, New York commissioner of cultural affairs. “That’s changing.” His boss, Mayor Bill de Blasio, gave cultural institutions an ultimatum last year: diversity employees and board members or risk losing funding. (New York Times)

Is David Hockney Pool Painting Worth $80 Million? – The billionaire Joe Lewis is selling Hockney’s 1972 Portrait of an Artist (Pool With Two Figures), and though Christie’s is the front-runner to bag the $80 million consignment, Sotheby’s and Phillips have also reportedly been approached. If it sells for its asking price in a fall evening sale, Hockney would become the world’s most expensive living artist at auction. (Bloomberg)

Who Are the Real Art Bros? – Well-connected young art dealers with A-list celebrity girlfriends are in the news, but Marion Maneker is underwhelmed with W magazine’s trend piece on the rise of the “Art Bros” prompted by Ellie Goulding and Caspar Jopling’s engagement this week. Real Art Bros “aren’t ladies’ men; they are aggressive art-buyers and traders,” Maneker writes. Leonardo DiCaprio, Adam Lindemann, and the “voice” of the Art Bros, artnet News’s Kenny Schachter, are the real deal, apparently. (W) (Art Market Monitor)


Billionaires Franchise the “Bland” Art Museum – Public museums have spread around the world according to a formula, writes John Gapper. Now billionaires are opening their own museums, but they can feel “expensively and immaculately bland.” With architects, curators and dealers eager to make a patron’s vision a reality, the result is “franchising, not individuality,” he says. (Financial Times)

US-China Trade War Will Hurt Asian Sales in New York – President Trump’s planned 25 percent tariffs on Chinese paintings, sculptures, and antiques will discourage overseas collectors from selling in New York, US dealers fear. “What they propose as a punitive measure in a trade war with China is nothing but good news to China,” says the US dealer James Lally. (South China Morning Post)

Egypt Recovers Manuscript Consigned at Bonhams – The Egyptian National Library and Archives has retrieved a 14th-century Islamic manuscript that had disappeared from its collection in the 1970s. Bonham’s staff spotted it for sale at their auction house, which worked with the vendor to strike a deal to return the manuscript last month. (Antiques Trade Gazette)


Rapper Killer Mike Joins High Museum Board – The Grammy-winning hip-hop star is among four new board members of the Atlanta museum. Killer Mike, otherwise known as Michael Render, is also a political activist, and has teased the idea of featuring the High Museum in a rap video. (ARTnews)

Naomi Beckwith Gets a Promotion at the MCA – Beckwith has been bumped to senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, where she has been a curator since 2011. Recently, she was responsible for organizing the first retrospective of Howardena Pindell, and was a curatorial advisor for SITE Santa Fe 2018.  (ARTnews)

Cincinnati Museum to Reveal Near Eastern Treasures – The museum has been granted $500,000 from the NEH to restore its Near East collection of art and artifacts, which has been in storage since 2004 due to lack of space. With the public money and additional funds raised, the museum plans to re-envision the entire 2,800-square-foot gallery known as the Hanna Wing. (USA Today)

Mika Rottenberg Wins the 2019 Kurt Schwitters Prize – The Argentinian video artist will receive €25,000 and an exhibition at the Sprengel Museum in Hannover at the end of next year. The biennial prize is awarded by the charitable subsidiary of the German Sparkasse Bank for important contemporary artwork that relates to the art of Kurt Schwitters. (Monopol)


Tyler Mitchell Before Beyoncé – The 23-year-old who made history as the first black photographer ever to shoot the cover of Vogue got his start filming skateboarding youth culture and indie music videos. After studying film at Tisch, he moved on to shooting campaigns for Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, and Teen Vogue, all while remaining independent and unrepresented. (Guardian)

The Kardashians Fall Out Over Jeff Koons – Khloe Kardashian calls out her mom Kris Jenner for “art shaming” her for her lack of art world knowledge after she fails to recognize a work by Jeff Koons in Jenner’s office, which her momager explains condescendingly is a “Jeff Koontz.” “Just because I’m not as knowledgeable as you, you shouldn’t turn your nose up!” she says. “I don’t understand why people like to make everyone feel like shit.” (E!)

San Francisco Gets Top-Notch Art for Public Transit – The new transit center opening in the city on August 11 features an LED screen by Jenny Holzer, a light sculpture by James Carpenter, a floor installation by Julie Chang, and a bus jet fountain by Ned Kahn. The public art bonanza is thanks to lobbying from the San Francisco Arts Commission, which convinced the government to set aside $4.75 million for the station’s public art. (Hyperallergic)

Light Tunnel Transforms Japanese Mountain – The architecture studio behind the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, MAD, has made five spectacular installations in the Kiyotsy Gorge Tunnel as part of the Echigo-Tsumari Triennale in rural Japan. Each installation represents one of the elements and includes a mirror framed lake, a foot bath inside a wooden dome, and a public toilet reimagined as a reflective capsule. (Dezeen



Mark Borghi Fine Art – Bridgehampton, New York

In celebration of its 15th summer in the Hamptons—and 20th anniversary—Mark Borghi Fine Art is mounting an ambitious show looking back at 75 years of art historical movements, from Abstract Expressionism through Pop. Aptly titled “COMPENDIUM,” the exhibition includes work by nearly 40 artists—a who’s-who of influential figures from the 20th century, including Calder, Pollock, Frankenthaler, and Warhol. “COMPENDIUM,” opens this Saturday, August 11, and will be on view through September 3 at Borghi’s outpost in Bridgehampton, New York.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.