Art Industry News: Boris Johnson Once Wrote an Article Saying the Parthenon Marbles Must Return to Greece ‘Where They Belong’ + Other Stories

Plus, Pompidou architect Richard Rogers has died at 88, and museums are opening across Australia thanks to a major investment.

Boris Johnson poses outside the Conservative Leadership Headquarters on July 23, 2019 in London, England. Photo by Dan Kitwood/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 Monday, December 20.


Artist Has @Metaverse Handle Reinstated Following Meta Block – Artist Thea-Mai Baumann’s Instagram profile, @metaverse, has been restored more than a month after Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, disabled it—conveniently around the same time it unveiled its new name. The artist received no answer from Meta when she tried to inquire about the disappearance of her account, where she had chronicled 10 years of her life and work. But after the New York Times picked up her story and contacted the company, Baumann was told it was a mistake and her account was restored. The power of the press! (Guardian)

Architect Richard Rogers Dies at 88 – The renowned U.K. architect Richard Rogers has died at the age of 88. The celebrated figure was responsible for the designs of some of the world’s most famous buildings, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, and Three World Trade Center in New York. Describing Rogers as “a tireless supporter of the compact, sustainable, pedestrian-friendly city and a passionate opponent of mindless suburban sprawl,” fellow architect Norman Foster said that he had “fire in his belly… up to the very end.” (Guardian)

Student Boris Johnson Actually Wanted to Return the Parthenon Marbles – A resurfaced article written by Boris Johnson when he was a student in 1986 reveals that the prime minister once believed passionately that the Parthenon sculptures should be repatriated to Greece. The 21-year-old Johnson, who was studying classics at Oxford University at the time, wrote: “The Elgin marbles should leave this northern whisky-drinking guilt-culture, and be displayed where they belong: in a country of bright sunshine and the landscape of Achilles, ‘the shadowy mountains and the echoing sea.’” The article was republished in a Greek newspaper shortly after Johnson doubled down on his stance that the marbles were legally acquired and should remain in London. (Guardian)

Tracey Emin Criticizes U.K.’s Covid Testing System – Artist Tracey Emin has hit out at the U.K.’s disorganized testing regime after experiencing it firsthand on return from her holiday. In an Instagram post, Emin complained that the government mistakenly called her up and said they were coming to “get” her because they could not locate her. “There were absolutely no checks at Heathrow [airport]. It was like coming back to a third world country. Then the government spends money on chasing after the wrong people with the wrong information,” Emin wrote. “Now like many people who have low immunity, I’m scared to leave my house. But I’m not scared to speak my mind… What a f*cking mess this country is in.” (Independent)


LACMA Acquires 60 Works With a Focus on Black Artists – Over the past two years, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has acquired 60 works that will increase the representation of Black artists in its collection through a combination of cash gifts and donations from patrons. New gets include a promised gift from Willow Bay and Robert Iger, Amy Sherald’s An Ocean Away (2020), and Kehinde Wiley’s Yachinboaz Ben Yisrael II (2021), pledged by sports agent (and Adele boyfriend!) Rich Paul. (The Art Newspaper)

Pussy Riot Members Jailed – Maria Alekhina and Lucy Shteyn, members of the Russian activist art collective, have been arrested in Moscow and sentenced to 15 days in prison on charges of spreading “propaganda of Nazi symbolism.” Alekhina reposted a photo of the Belarusian dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko surrounded by swastikas, and Shteyn ironically tweeted an image someone made denouncing her as a fascist in which she is depicted wearing a Nazi officer’s cap. (TAN)

Museums Are Opening Across Australia – The Australian government has invested $2.4 billion in cultural infrastructure and plans to open nine new museums. The funding has largely come from the country’s regional development budget, which museum director Rebecca Coates said evinces a “breakthrough” in the government’s attitude toward art and culture. “It is government saying: ‘What core essentials do we need to develop functional communities? We need roads. We need schools. We need hospitals. And we need places that define who we are,’” she said. (Financial Review)

New Director for UNESCO World Heritage Center – UNESCO has appointed Lazare Eloundou Assomo as director of the UNESCO World Heritage Center. The Cameroonian architect has been with the organization since 2003. (Press release)


Oneida Nation Uses Art to Highlight Pandemic Inequality – The Oneida Indian Nation, located in central New York, has unveiled an art installation highlighting the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on Indigenous Americans and Alaska Natives. The installation, called Passage of Peace, consists of seven illuminated tipis and will be on view on Oneida Indian Nation lands through the end of the month. (WBUR)

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.