Art Industry News: The Guggenheim’s Director Made $1.5 Million Last Year as His Staff Was Being Decimated + Other Stories

Plus, New York museums fear nobody will show up to their holiday art programs, and artist and curator Jenni Crain dies at 30.

A view of the exterior facade of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Photo by Ben Hider/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 Tuesday, December 21.


Artist and Curator Jenni Crain Dies at 30 – The New York-based artist, curator, and dealer Jenni Crain has died at age 30 from complications related to Covid-19. The young talent was known for her minimalist sculptures as well as her writing that furthered the legacies of women artists. She will have two exhibitions in 2022, at Gordon Robichaux and Kerry Schuss gallery. (ARTnews)

Brian Eno Is Not a Fan of NFTs – Musician and artist Brian Eno has said he—and, looking at the state of things, he alone—is not tempted to make an NFT. He didn’t mince words when asked to expand: “‘Worth making’ for me implies bringing something into existence that adds value to the world, not just to a bank account. If I had primarily wanted to make money, I would have had a different career as a different kind of person. I probably wouldn’t have chosen to be an artist.” (The Crypto Syllabus)

While Staff Was Cut, the Guggenheim’s Director Earned Big – New tax filings show that while the Guggenheim was laying off staff and cutting salaries, its director, Richard Armstrong, saw his total compensation rise by 40 percent in 2020, to $1.5 million. That year, 11 percent of the museum’s staff was laid off and senior employees (including Armstrong) had their pay cut by 25 percent. A large chunk of Armstrong’s earnings was due to a deferred compensation plan determined in advance of the pandemic; a spokesperson for the Guggenheim noted that the pay cut “did not apply to compensation earned in prior years that was paid in 2020.” (Hyperallergic)

Will Kids Actually Show Up to Holiday Art Programming? – Kid-friendly holiday programming has long been a staple of New York City cultural organizations. This year, it was supposed to double as a way to welcome families back during the school holidays after a long hiatus. But amid the latest surge of Covid-19 and new vaccination requirements for children five and over, many museums and theaters are left wondering: will anyone come? (New York Times)


Jeff Koons on His Show in Qatar – Jeff Koons is being especially Koonsy in a new interview to promote “Lost in America,” his ongoing retrospective at QM Gallery ALRIWAQt in Qatar. Of the show’s title, he said, “Using the name of an Albert Brooks movie left the art open to interpretation. It could mean anything. It references a universal vocabulary.” O.K. then! (Town & Country)

Beatrice Bulgari to Hold an Exhibition in Venice – Designer Beatrice Bulgari’s Fondazione In Between Art Film, which supports artists, curators, and writers working in the field of the moving image, is holding an exhibition in Venice to coincide with the 59th Biennale. “Penumbra,” at the Ospedaletto and Church of Santa Maria dei Derelitti, will present new work by artists including Anna Vaz, James Richards, and Aziz Hazara. (Press release)

Artcurial Closes the Year at $191 Million – The French auction house achieved €169 million ($191 million) in total sales in 2021, with highlights including a $3.3 million Mikhaïl Larionov painting and Salvador Dalí’s Machine à coudre avec parapluies dans un paysage surréaliste (1941), which sold for $2.9 million. “Paris is once again entering the chessboard of the international art market and is extremely attractive,” said the house’s European director Martin Guesnet. (Press release)

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Names New Curator – Rosie Razzall (great name, no?) will join the Dutch museum on January 24 as its new curator of drawings. The London-based art historian previously looked after drawings in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. (Press release)


There’s a Louis Wain Show at the Hospital Where He Lived – The Bethlem Museum of the Mind, a museum dedicated to the history of mental healthcare sited at the former psychiatric hospital where English artist and illustrator Louis Wain lived in Kent, is showing an exhibition his cat pictures. Titled “Animal Therapy: the Cats of Louis Wain,” it is on view through April 14, 2022. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the artist in a film about his life, out now. (Press release)

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