Art Industry News: Revered New Yorker Art Critic Peter Schjeldahl Writes of Fatal Cancer Diagnosis + Other Stories

Plus, how the one percent control art museums and Kerry James Marshall makes an appearance at Diddy's birthday party.

Art critic Peter Schjeldahl at the New Yorker Festival in 2011 in New York, United States. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The New Yorker)
Art critic Peter Schjeldahl at the New Yorker Festival in 2011 in New York, United States. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The New Yorker)

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 Monday, December 16.


Budi Tek on His Plans to Bring Islamic Art to Shanghai – The Indonesian-Chinese collector discusses his decision to expand the partnership between his Yuz Museum and LACMA by bringing on Qatar Museums for a three-institution joint show. Asked whether he fears Qatar’s Islamic art might upset Chinese censors considering the government’s treatment of the country’s Islamic Uygur minority, Tek demurs. “We are going to be talking about good art, not religion that upsets people,” he says. “The shows will be in the interest of the public rather than damaging public interest,” he adds. (South China Morning Post)

Workers at Mexico’s Top Cultural Institute Protest Late Pay – To protest late payments, staff members forced the temporary closure of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura in Mexico City last week. The institute oversees several of Mexico’s major museums, including Museo Mural Diego Rivera and Museo Tamayo. Payment delays, a problem workers say has been going on for years, has lasted up to seven months at a time for some. (Hyperallergic)

Peter Schjeldahl on His Cancer Diagnosis – In a wrenching essay, New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl reflects on being diagnosed with lung cancer at 77. “Death is like painting rather than like sculpture, because it’s seen from only one side,” he writes. “Monochrome—like the mausoleum-gray former Berlin Wall, which kids in West Berlin glamorized with graffiti.” He traces his upbringing in Minnesota and his lifelong love affair with words as he wrestles with what lies ahead. “Dying is my turn to survey life from its far—now near—shore. These extra months are a luxury that I hope to have put to good use,” he writes. “Like a camera situated nowhere and taking in every last detail of the pulsating world.” (New Yorker)

How the One Percent Control US Museums – In a lengthy op-ed, the author Michael Massing explores “how the superrich took over the museum world,” arguing that the reopening of New York’s Museum of Modern Art epitomizes the new normal for museums, in which board members are chosen overwhelmingly for their wealth. Of MoMA’s 51 voting trustees, he estimates that at least 45 come from the finance, real estate, law, or corporate worlds, or they are heirs or spouses of the super-rich. Massing fears that this status quo is having an impact on the art museums present: “In the end, it’s hard to measure the impact of trustees’ wealth on a museum’s content,” he writes, “and no doubt someone will be able to point to this or that exception, but it’s a subject that deserves much more discussion than it has received.” (New York Times)


Gerhard Richter Is Angry at Sales of Early Work – Helge Achenbach, a once-prominent art dealer currently imprisoned for fraud, is trying to sell early drawings said to be by Gerhard Richter to the Gerhard Richter Archive in Dresden for between €5 million and €6 million ($5.6 million and $6.7 million). But an auction house expert says the drawings are worth considerably less—around €100,000 ($111,000). The painter himself is frustrated by the whole situation and doubts that all the works are even by his hand, as some are missing a signature. “There are a lot of things I didn’t do,” the artist said. “Half of it is junk and should be burned.” (Monopol)

John Lennon’s Broken Sunglasses Sell for $183,000 – The Beatle accidentally left them in the car of his bandmate Ringo Starr in 1968. More than 50 years later, the specs were sold by Starr’s former chauffeur, Alan Herring, at Sotheby’s London. They were broken, but that was part of the “look,” according to Lennon. (BBC)

Nuns Investigated Over Sculpture on Offer at TEFAF – Spanish police are looking into whether a 17th-century wooden sculpture of Saint Margarita de Cortona by the Baroque sculptor José de Mora was illegally sold from a convent in Grenada. The piece was shown at TEFAF in New York when it was spotted by a scholar. Art dealer Nicolás Cortés had it on view priced at €350,000 ($389,000). He says bought it from an antique dealer for €100,000 ($111,000). (The Art Newspaper)


Belgian Artist Panamarenko Has Died – The artist and engineer known simply as Panamarenko has died at age 79. Born Henri Van Herwegen, his inventive assemblages and sculptures often explored the theme of flight and movement—but his imagined airplanes were never constructed to actually leave the ground. (La Libre)

Di Rosa Deaccessioning Moves Ahead – News that Napa’s di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art would sell of most of its 1,600-work collection caused a stir over the summer. Now, the institution has begun to quietly circulate the first 18 key works for sale to dealers and collectors. They include sculptures by Mark di Suvero and Viola Frey as well as major works by Bruce Conner and Peter Saul. (SF Chronicle

AES+F Collective Launches NYC Residency – The art collective AES+F is launching a New York residency for emerging Russian artists. The goal, according to the collective, is to help redress both a lack of opportunity for Russian artists and a lack of representation in the United States. The three-month residencies, beginning in 2020, will take place at the International Studio and Curatorial Program. (Press release)

Was This Queer Art Show in Dallas Censored? – The group show “Queer Me Now” opened on December 7 at the arts space 500x, but was taken down by its organizers just two days later. The exhibition on fantastical queer sex received an alleged complaint from the building’s owner, the Gibson Company. (Glasstire)


Inside the Home of Françoise Gilot – The 98-year-old artist gives New York magazine a tour of her Upper West Side home and studio, where she paints every day. A selection of old and new works—many created in the apartment—is on view now at New York’s Elkon Gallery. The only woman who left Picasso, his ex-muse and mistress recalls that she wasn’t afraid of the famous and much older artist. “Pablo had a temper much like my father, so it was a continuation,” she says. (The Cut)

Kerry James Marshall Guest Stars at Diddy’s 50th Birthday – Kerry James Marshall’s Past Times (1997), which Diddy purchased at auction for a record $21.1 million last year, was the music mogul’s backdrop of choice when he celebrated his 50th birthday on Saturday. The painting brightened up a group photo of Diddy alongside Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, and Jay-Z. (Although some onlookers on Twitter were more worried about the health of the painting, presuming the photographer used a flash.) The birthday bash took place at Diddy’s $40 million mansion in Los Angeles. (Twitter)

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