Art Industry News: Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib Calls Out MoMA Board Member Larry Fink, Joining Chorus of Protest + Other Stories

Plus, Sylvester Stallone surprises students at his "Rocky" statue and what happens when the "Great Wealth Transfer" comes for art?

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Alex Wong/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 on this Thursday, December 19.


Can Museums Survive Without Oil Money? – Oil giants like Shell, ExxonMobil, and BP are hefty sponsors of the world’s most prominent art museums. But in recent years, artists and activists have urged museums to cut their ties to fossil fuel companies, arguing that the businesses are using museums to “greenwash” their connection to climate change, emphasizing their sustainability initiatives while still working to expand their production. Museums, meanwhile, might even give oil bosses input into exhibitions or self-censor to keep sponsors happy. Some argue that museums are not in a position to turn down money with public funding of the arts on the decline. But the artist Imani Jacqueline Brown asks, “What does it matter if the doors to a museum are open one more year if it’s also underwater?” (Grist)

Curator of Controversial Mexican Show Gets Death Threats –  The curator of a controversial show about the revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata is now receiving death threats, he says. Despite violent protests, curator Luis Vargas Santiago stands by his decision to include a provocative portrait of Zapata, a vaunted symbol of machismo, in the style of a gay pin-up. Although the portrait by Fabián Cháirez remains on view at Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes, a new label has been addd at the request of Zapata’s descendants that communicates their disapproval of the work. Santiago says the move has “created a dangerous precedent for freedom of expression in this country.” (ARTnews)

Congresswoman Calls Out MoMA Board Member – The Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib has called out the longtime Democratic donor and BlackRock CEO Larry Fink for supporting companies that are destroying the Amazon and threatening the environment. Tlaib says billionaires like Fink are hypocritical because they pay lip service to fixing climate change while profiting from investments that exacerbate it. Tlaib and another member of Congress, Chuy García, wrote a letter cosigned by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others urging Fink, who invests in firms with ties to the Brazilian government, to call for Brazil’s president to take action against deforestation. Fink has also been the subject of protests at MoMA, where he serves on the board. (Vice)

This Museum Wants to Put Its Entire Collection on View – Most museums keep only a small portion of their collections on view at one time—around six or seven percent. But that is changing in Rotterdam, where the Boijmans van Beuningen has built a public-facing art-storage facility due to be complete in 2021 that will make the museum’s entire 151,000 artwork collection visible and accessible. The museum’s directors hope the $95 million “art depot” will attract 150,000 to 200,000 visitors a year, even while the main building is closed for renovations until 2025. Museum professionals from countries including Finland, Norway, and South Korea have come to see the radical new model as they grapple with how to manage their own vast collections. (New York Times)


What Happens When the Great Wealth Transfer Comes for Art? – Younger generations are expected to inherit more than $15 trillion in assets within the next decade, including $1.9 trillion worth of art, in what is known as the “Great Wealth Transfer.” Experts are worried that heirs will not share their elders’ passion for art collecting, however, and that swathes of works may soon hit the auction block, possibly flooding the market for artists like Andy Warhol. (New York Times)

Closing Art School Sells Its Collection – The Memphis College of Art, which announced two years ago it would close because it was no longer financially sustainable, is now selling its art collection. The school will auction off 500 works by artists including Burton Callicott, Dolph Smith, and Dorothy Strum in a series of sales in late January. (WMC)


Veteran Muralist Rina Lazo Dies – The Mexican muralist died on November 1 at age 96. Born in Guatemala, she moved to Mexico as a young artist and became one of Diego Rivera’s assistants in the 1940s. Her mural celebrating Indigenous cultures can be seen in Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology. (New York Times)

Brooklyn Library Names Artist in Residence – Mary Mattingly will become the Brooklyn Public Library’s latest artist in residence in 2020. The artist, whose work focuses on ecological spaces and shared resources, is working on a spherical sculpture embedded with plant fossils as well as a display of photographs on the industrial supply chain. (NYT)

Frieze Taps New Editor-in-Chief – Andrew Durbin will succeed Jennifer Higgie as the editor-in-chief of Frieze magazine. He joined the publication in 2017 as a senior editor; before that, he was a director and co-founder of Company Gallery in New York. (Artforum)

Nam June Paik Art Center Has a New Director – Seong-Eun Kim is the new director of the Nam June Paik Art Center in Yongin, South Korea, where she once served as a curator. Most recently, she oversaw exhibitions at the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul. (Artforum)


William Kentridge Comes to Times Square – The South African artist is taking over a dozen video screens in Times Square every night this month for the latest Midnight Moment commission, which runs from 11:57 p.m. to midnight. The screens feature text and imagery from Waiting for Sibyl, his opera that debuted in Rome earlier this year. (The Art Newspaper)

Is This the Most Important African Art Show Ever? – Dakar’s new Museum of Black Civilization is hosting a major survey of contemporary African art, a traveling survey currently on a seven-city tour of Africa. Called “Prête-moi Ton Rêve (Lend Me Your Dream),” the show has been organized by Yacouba Konaté and includes work by 30 of the continent’s biggest art stars. The curator notes that “all too often the careers of African artists are built on exhibitions in Paris, Berlin, London and New York … but go by without anybody in Africa actually noticing them.” (Guardian)

Sylvester Stallone Surprises Students at the Rocky Statue – High schools students’ field trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art was upstaged by a very famous visitor: Sylvester Stallone. They were thrilled to meet the Hollywood star next to the sculpture immortalizing his character Robert “Rocky” Balboa on the museum’s steps. The actor, artist, and art collector was revisiting the bronze, called the Statue of ROCKY™, that he commissioned in 1980. (ABC)


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