Art Industry News: Marina Ambramovic and James Turrell Are Teaming Up to Design a Spa + Other Stories

Plus, Arthur Jafa's latest work explores whiteness and Julie Mehretu is getting an ambitious cross-country survey next year.

“Measuring the Magic of Mutual Gaze,” by Marina Abramovic, Suzanne Dikker, Matthias Oostrik. ©Marina Abramovic, 2011. Photo by Maxim Lubimov, Garage Center for Contemporary Culture.

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 for Thursday, December 13.


TJ Clark on the Miracle of Mantegna and Bellini – The great art historian calls the National Gallery in London’s double bill of Renaissance artists a “once-in-a-lifetime feast.” Since many of the paintings are almost too fragile to travel, Clark calls the Uffizi’s loan of Mantegna’s Lamentation nothing short of “miraculous.” But his review is tinged with sadness and incredulity that he did not have to have to “press my way to such treasures through a great crowd of people.” (London Review of Books)

NEH Goes Big on VR in New Grants – The National Endowment for the Humanities has announced its latest round of grants, which total $14.8 million. Among the futuristic projects securing funding are an augmented reality version of the 1898 World’s Fair developed by the Chicago Historical Society and a virtual reality game allowing users to explore the ancient pueblo of Mesa Verde. Another grant funds a new digital database that will allow museums to share information to help track the international exchange of works of art. (New York Times)

All-Star Artists Join Forces to Design… a Spa? – The Tasmanian collector and gambling mogul David Walsh plans to launch a vast new luxury hotel complex near his Museum of New and Old Art in Hobart, Tasmania. Motown, as the development is called, will include a library, a 1,075-seat theater, a conference center, as well as the pièce de résistance: a spa designed by James Turrell and Marina Abramović. (No word yet on whether the treatments include sitting on a chair for days on end or staring into an expanse of light.) The project, which costs an estimated $300 million, is expected to open around 2024. (The Art Newspaper)

Arthur Jafa’s New Work Focuses on Whiteness – After rising to fame for his portrayal of the ordinary and extraordinary extremes of black life, Jafa says he won’t be doing anything like it again. (He does not want to give a “microwave epiphany” on the black experience.) Instead, the artist’s next project provides a black perspective on whiteness. His new work, The White Album, debuted at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) yesterday. Sourced from videos online like his previous work, this new film looks at the black experience of whiteness, which he says “is a conception that exists not as a definition of what it is but as a definition of what it isn’t.” (Guardian)


Gladstone and Anish Kapoor Part Ways – Bloomberg’s Katya Kazakina noted on Twitter that Anish Kapoor—the market force perhaps known for his mirrored discs, which are omnipresent at art fairs—will be represented in both New York and London by Lisson Gallery. The artist and Gladstone Gallery, which previously worked with him in New York, have apparently parted company. (Twitter)

Auction of Marilyn Monroe’s Belongings Tops $1.6 Million – Monroe memorabilia fetched $1.6 million at the “Essential Marilyn” auction in Los Angeles on Tuesday. The top lot was a version of the star’s famous white dress from the film The Seven Year Itch. Made for Monroe to wear on promotional tours, it sold for $120,000. (Associated Press)

Night Gallery Hires a New Senior Director – Brian Faucette is leaving New York’s Derek Eller Gallery to become senior director of Night Gallery in Los Angeles. He heads to the West Coast after 15 years working in New York, including as co-founder of Brooklyn’s now-closed Know More Games gallery. (ARTnews)


São Paulo Biennial Names New President – José Olympio da Veiga Pereira, the president of Credit Suisse in Brazil, has been appointed president of the Brazilian exhibition for a two-year term. Olympio and his wife Andréa have one of the most significant collections of contemporary art in Brazil. He sits on boards at MoMA, Tate Modern, and the New Museum, among others. (Press release)

Meow Wolf Is Coming to Washington – The creators of the viral interaction art installation House of Eternal Return announced their third expansion, to Washington, DC. The group has previously announced projects in Denver and Las Vegas. In the District, Meow Wolf plans to open a three-level, 75,000-square-foot permanent installation in 2022. The local Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation approached the collective about launching the project. (Sante Fe New Mexican)

Mike Nelson Will Take Over Tate Britain – The British artist will take over the Tate’s sprawling Duveen Galleries on March 18 for next year’s major commission. Nelson follows Anthea Hamilton, who this year presented a tiled landscape that was populated by performers with large vegetable head masks. (Guardian)

Saint Louis Museum Buys a Caspar David Friedrich – Sunburst in the Riesengebirge, a painting by German Romantic landscape painter Caspar David Friedrich, is the newest acquisition by the Saint Louis Art Museum. The institution bought the work at auction from Sotheby’s London for $2.75 million. (Art Daily)


Staff Sues to Stop Russian Museum Expansion – Staff of the State Russian Museum have filed a lawsuit in hopes of preventing the $17 million reconstruction of the Mikhailovsky Palace in St. Petersburg. Critics worry the project will destroy the architecture of the heritage site, which was built by the tsars. According to one critic, suing city heritage officials is a last resort to prevent an “impending catastrophe.” (TAN)

Julie Mehretu Will Get a Traveling Survey – The abstract artist’s mid-career survey will open at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in fall 2019 before traveling to New York’s Whitney in 2020 and then to the High Museum in Atlanta and the Walker in Minneapolis. Featuring 65 works, it is co-organized by LACMA’s Christine Y. Kim and Rujeko Hockley of the Whitney, both of whom have worked with Mehretu in the past. Mehretu says: “There will be fresh work in the show that also really relates to this moment in time, socially and politically, and also just from me making.” (ARTnews)

Antony Gormley to Bring Together Rocky Sculptures in Philadelphia – Ten massive sculptures by the 1994 Turner Prize winner will be on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art beginning in January. Called Stand and part of his “Blockworks” series, the works are “like standing stones” that engage with the viewer’s concept of time, Gormley explains. (Philly Voice)

Michelle Obama Makes a Surprise Visit to the Motown Museum – Detroit’s Motown Museum had a special visitor recently: none other than former American first lady Michelle Obama. On tour for her new book (and smash hit) Becoming, she surprised a group of 18 male students from Wayne State University and joined in on a roundtable conversation about education. (Instagram)

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