Art Industry News: Art-World Power Couple Simon and Michaela de Pury Part Ways, Closing Their Advisory Firm + Other Stories

Plus, Tracey Emin will turn her Margate studio into a posthumous museum and the provocative projection artist Robin Bell takes the Corcoran.

Simon and Michaela de Pury in 2012. © Patrick McMullan Photo: ADRIEL REBOH

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 Monday, February 11.


Tracey Emin Will Turn Her Studio Into a Museum – The artist has revealed plans to turn her Margate studio into a museum when she dies. Emin grew up in the UK seaside town and acquired a 30,000-square-foot space there in 2017 to house her large sculpture and painting studios. Now, she says she has started to strategize about stockpiling works so she does not have to go on a buying spree later in life for the posthumous museum. Emin’s latest show at White Cube Bermondsey, “A Fortnight of Tears,” has opened to critical acclaim. (The Art Newspaper)

Baltimore Museum’s Big Gift Endows Chief Curator’s Post – A new $3.5 million endowment—one of the largest gifts the museum has received since its founding—will support the role of chief curator. The endowment was established by Baltimore-based philanthropists Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown. The position, which will be renamed in the Browns’ honor, is currently held by Asma Naeem, a specialist in American art and contemporary Islamic art. (New York Times)

Simon and Michaela de Pury Split – The high-profile couple are putting an end to their partnership, both personally and professionally. Separating after nine years of marriage, the two former auctioneers will also reportedly pull the plug on the art advisory and private sales firm they established in 2013, de Pury de Pury, after their current projects are complete. The two held top roles at Phillips de Pury before departing together in 2012. In a joint email to friends, they wrote: “After a long person and professional relationship, we have separated our business interests and sadly decided to continue our lives separately.” (ARTnews)

Is Lagos the Next Big Art Destination? – With its growing collector base and critical mass of celebrated expat artists, the Nigerian art scene is heating up. Art X Lagos, described as West Africa’s “first international art fair,” took place last November with a keynote talk by Yinka Shonibare. Meanwhile, artists like the LA-based market phenom Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Hugo Boss Prize finalist Emeka Ogboh, and Artes Mundi Prize finalist Otobong Nkanga are among the growing list of Nigeria-born artists receiving international acclaim. (New York Times)


Hitler Paintings Fail to Sell at Auction – Five watercolors attributed to the dictator failed to sell at Weidler auction house on Saturday in a controversial auction of Nazi memorabilia that also included a wicker chair with swastika decals. The paintings were estimated to fetch between $21,000 and $50,000. Some suspect that the works had trouble finding buyers due to the fact that, just days earlier, 63 works attributed to Hitler were confiscated from the auction house on the suspicion that they were fakes. (AFP)

TEFAF Maastricht Gets More Modern – The 32nd edition of the prestigious Dutch fair is stepping it up this year, adding the largest number of new exhibitors to date. The additions are most prominent in the Modern art section, which has long been considered its weakest. Sprüth Magers, Almine Rech, and Galerie Max Hetzler are just a few of the 40 galleries making their Maastricht debut. The fair runs March 16 through March 24. (Press release)

NADA Reveals Its Armory Week Alternative – The New Art Dealers Alliance has announced an alternative to its cancelled art fair, which typically runs alongside the Armory Show in New York. Called the “New York Gallery Open,” the concept borrowed from Germany seeks to bring attendees to around 50 galleries across the city without the expense of a fair. Some out-of-town galleries will have pop-up shows inside New York dealers’ spaces. (ARTnews)


Louvre Abu Dhabi Unveils Its Rembrandt – The museum has acquired a 17th-century painting by the Dutch Old Master, Head of a Young Man, With Clasped Hands: Study of the Figure of Christ. The small painting of Christ is due to be unveiled when the loan exhibition “Rembrandt, Vermeer and the Dutch Golden Age” opens on February 14. But there is still no word about the long-delayed first appearance of Salvator Mundi in Abu Dhabi. (Emirates)

Snowstorm Shuts the Seattle Art Museum – The city’s heaviest snowfall in 70 years forced the Seattle Art Museum to close on Friday and through the weekend. In a city accustomed to rain, an average year’s snowfall came down in a mere day and forecasters are predicting more on Tuesday when the museum is due to reopen. (ARTnews)

Artsy Lays Off Eight Staffers – The online art collecting platform has laid off eight staff members “to focus on its art marketplace,” says Simon Warren, Artsy’s senior director of communications. Two posts have been cut in editorial and six in the content-sales unit, which develops brand partnerships. In total, the startup employs a staff of around 230. (ARTnews)

BOMB Magazine Announces 2019 Honorees – The artists Sam Gilliam and Adam Pendleton, as well as the Whitney Museum’s senior curator Donna De Salvo, will be honored at BOMB magazine’s 2019 gala. Meanwhile, works by Vik Muniz, Raymond Pettibon, Ugo Rondinone, and Ed Ruscha will be sold at Christie’s New York on February 28 to boost the publication’s endowment fund. (Press release)


The Corcoran Gives Anti-Trump “Poop Emoji” Artist a Show – Robin Bell, the artist who came to prominence for his political projections—including an anti-Trump “poop emoji” on the exterior of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC—is getting a museum show just a short walk from the White House. The exhibition at the Corcoran School of Art and Design at George Washington University is a prelude to “6.13.89,” a show about the cancellation of the Mapplethorpe retrospective at the then-Corcoran Gallery 30 years ago. (Art Daily)

The Whitney Acquires Its First Norman Lewis Painting – Norman Lewis’s American Totem (1960), one of his most important paintings, has been acquired by New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. The Civil Rights-era composition, which evokes the image of a hooded Klansman, will be included in the Whitney’s installation of work by New York School abstract artists opening on June 28. Longtime museum trustee Laurie Tisch contributed funds for the purchase. (Press release)

Instagram Traps Are Making Us Sad – The selfie-friendly experience the Happy Place in Toronto is just one of many pop-up exhibitions jumping on the bandwagon launched by the Museum of Ice Cream in New York. (Boston, beware: #WeAreHappyPlace pops up there in April.) But one critic notes that the act of posing in the bright and wacky settings is actually not that enjoyable at all. “The only thing that matters is that they look good online,” writes Tatum Dooley. (Walrus)

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