Art Industry News: Museum Curators Are More Widely Trusted Than Judges or Scientists, Per a New Survey + Other Stories

Plus, the director of the Parrish Art Museum departs after less than a year, and new research may rewrite the history of Ethiopian art.

Curator Karen Serres at London's Courtauld Gallery on March 18, 2015. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Eurostar)

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 Thursday, December 23.


Inside the Freakonomics of the Art Industry – Freakonomics author Stephen Dubner has released a three-part podcast deep-dive into “the Hidden Side of the Art Market.” Having come out the other side, he likens the industry’s strange and opaque machinations to the diamond trade. “Diamonds are plentiful, they’re not at all rare,” he explained. “That’s another case where supply is purposefully constrained by dealers, and intense and emotional marketing creates a demand that drives the price up well beyond what any normal person would think that piece of not-very-beautiful rock is worth.” His final verdict is that the art market’s winners are, unsurprisingly, mega-galleries, top-selling artists, and a handful of museums. The losers? Those accepting poorly paid jobs as they try to climb the industry ladder. (The Art Newspaper)

How Do We Reckon With the Prices for Young Artists? – Speaking of the nonsensical art market, Scott Reyburn asks: have price and value parted ways entirely? For young artists, the answer may be yes. “At present, it becomes almost impossible to objectify the construction of the prices for many young artists, apart from emphasising the importance of the demand for new names,” says Jean Minguet, the head of art econometrics at Artprice. (TAN)

Curators Are Among the Most Trusted Professionals – Say what you will about museum scandals, they seem to have done little to dampen the public’s trust in art professionals. The latest edition of the Ipsos MORI Veracity Index, Britain’s longest-running poll on trust in professions, found that museum curators were the fifth-most trusted, behind nurses, librarians, doctors, and teachers. Who are curators more trusted than? The surprisingly long list includes judges, engineers, scientists, and professors. (Hyperallergic)

Was This Ethiopian Icon Done By an Italian? – A French art historian has a theory that Ethiopia’s oldest religious icon, thought to have been made in Byzantium in the mid-1400s, might actually have been made by an Italian artist in the 14th century. In his new book, Jacques Mercier argues that the triptych, Image of Our Lord Jesus Christ, has similarities to the art of the Italian city of Siena from the earlier period but also appeals to Ethiopian tastes, suggesting that a Sienese goldsmith painted it in Ethiopia. The theory would make the object one of the earliest direct artistic links between Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa after Roman times. (TAN)


Parrish Director Departs in Record Time – Kelly Taxter has left her post as director of the Parrish Art Museum in the Hamptons after less than a year on the job. No reason was given publicly; Parrish board president Mary E. Frank told ARTnews it was “the right thing to do at this point in time.” Taxter, who previously worked as a curator at the Jewish Museum, began the role in March 2021. (ARTnews)

Norwegian Artist Opens Gallery – One of Norway’s wealthiest artists, Kjell Erik Killi Olsen, has opened a cutting-edge art center in his conservative hometown of Trondheim, near the Arctic Circle. The inaugural show at Kjøpmannsgata Ung Kunst (KUK) has been curated by Elmgreen & Dragset with curator Rhea Dahl. The gallery, which provides artists with an exhibiting fee and production costs, takes a 40 percent commission from sales to support its operation. (TAN)

Possible Caravaggio Gets Protected Status – A small painting withdrawn from an auction in Spain in April has been granted protected status as an item of cultural interest while experts examine whether it could be an original Caravaggio worth as much as €50 million ($56.6 million). Spain’s culture ministry previously barred its export; its status has now been upgraded by the city of Madrid. (Guardian)

Felix Releases Exhibitor List – While some European fairs are pushing off dates in early 2022, Felix in Los Angeles is forging ahead. The fair has announced its 60-gallery lineup, including more than 20 first-timers, from Broadway (New York), Misako and Rosen (Tokyo), and One Trick Pony (Los Angeles), to The Ranch (Montauk). The event runs February 17 to 20 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. (Press release)


Drake Pays Tribute to Virgil Abloh With Tattoo – Toronto-based studio Ganga Tattoo has revealed that it inked the the rapper with an homage to the late creative genius Virgil Abloh, who died last month after a quiet battle with cancer. The image is based on a photograph of Abloh throwing a kite down a Louis Vuitton runway in 2018. Drake was one of many celebrities and thinkers who mourned Abloh’s loss, writing in a tribute on his Instagram, “My plan is to touch the sky 1,000 more times for you.” (Complex)


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