Art Industry News: Jeff Koons Has Joined MasterClass to Teach His Uniquely Cosmic Perspective on Making Art + Other Stories

Plus, the staff at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museums vote to unionize and the Mapplethorpe Foundation is under scrutiny for taking a PPP loan.

Jeff Koons, mid-lesson. Courtesy of MasterClass.
Jeff Koons, mid-lesson. Courtesy of MasterClass.

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 Thursday, December 17.


Carnegie Museums Staff Vote to Unionize – Employees at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museums are the latest in a wave of museum workforces to vote in favor of joining a union. Full-time and part-time staff at the Andy Warhol Museum, Carnegie Science Center, and Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History voted 278 to 75 to join the United Steelworkers’ 500-member United Museum Workers unit. (Artforum)

Cultural Grants Roll in Before the End of the Year – A phalanx of US grantmakers at federal and city agencies, as well as nonprofit foundations, have stepped up to help arts institutions survive the social-distancing era. The National Endowment for the Humanities recently announced $32.8 million in grants, while the Lily Endowment of Indianapolis has released more than $43 million to develop exhibitions and education programs that foster a better understanding of religion. (The Art Newspaper)

Jeff Koons Teaches a MasterClass – The famous artist has teamed up with MasterClass, the streaming platform where celebrities offer lessons in everything from acting (Natalie Portman) to cooking (Thomas Keller), which you might recognize from their omnipresent Instagram advertising campaign. Koons will teach “art and creativity,” offering students insight into the inspiration behind his Balloon Dog sculpture and a behind-the-scenes peek at the production of one of his newest works, Pink Ballerina. “In my MasterClass,” Koons said in a statement, “I’m going to ask you to be courageous, confident, and not think of art as the finished product but as a process of becoming something vaster.” By vaster, we can only suspect he means richer. (Press release)

Mapplethorpe Foundation in Hot Water for PPP Loan – The foundation of the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe was among a list of at least 120 charitable foundations that received money from the US government’s Paycheck Protection Program. While private foundations with employees were eligible for the program, critics take issue with the move given their already deep pockets and tax-exempt nonprofit status. (NPR)


Louvre Fundraiser Generates €2.4 Million – Drouot and Christie’s fundraising auction for the Louvre brought in €2.4 million ($2.9 million). In addition to works of art, such as a Pierre Soulages that sold for €1.4 million ($1.7 million), on the block was the chance to get up close and personal with the Mona Lisa when she is removed from her protective casing for her annual inspection. The experience sold for €80,000 ($97,955). (FAZ)

Asian Buying Is on the Rise – The Western market is still recovering from the events of 2020—but the Asian market has taken off. Ben Clark of the art advisor Gurr Johns says he’s seen “a definite shift in the past six months,” driven by the entry of new young buyers into the market via the luxury goods and jewelry sectors; a softening of the real estate market; and a lack of alternative opportunities for investment. (The Art Newspaper)


Collector Gifts the Courtauld £10 Million – Ukranian art collector and philanthropist Leonard Blavatnik has gifted London’s Courtauld Institute of Art with £10 million ($13.5 million). The gallery will reopen in 2021 following three years of extensive renovations. (ARTnews)

Police Follow Lead in Bode Museum Theft – Police have carried out a series of raids in Berlin, searching a number of apartments and jewelry stores in connection with the theft of a massive commemorative gold coin from the Bode Museum in 2017. They suspect the coin may have been melted down. (Monopol)


Howard Stern Is a Painter Now – The popular radio host is the latest celebrity to take up art while in quarantine. A watercolor beach scene he painted graced a recent cover of the local Hamptons newspaper Dan’s Papers. The paper’s publisher has suggested that the shock jock could “make millions” selling his art. (Page Six)

See Nathan Coley’s Light Sculpture in Liverpool – The Turner Prize-shortlisted artist has created a new work for Liverpool’s waterfront. Commissioned by the Liverpool Biennial and Culture Liverpool, the text-based light installation reads “From Here, All the World’s Futures, From Here All the World’s Pasts.” It is inspired by the German philosopher Walter Benjamin and nods to the title of the late curator Okwui Enwezor’s 2015 Venice Biennale. (Press release)

Nathan Coley, <i>From Here</i> (2020). St George’s Dock Pumping Station, Mann Island, Liverpool. ©Photography by Mark McNulty.

Nathan Coley, From Here (2020). St George’s Dock Pumping Station, Mann Island, Liverpool. ©Photography by Mark McNulty.

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