Art Industry News: Are Online Sales a Lifeline for Older Artists? + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, France returns Nazi-looted art and FIAC is on the hunt for a new home in Paris.

Photo by Thomas Malbaux via Flickr.

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, February 13.


Critics (Mostly) Praise the Obamas’ Portraits – Nine out of 10 critics agree: Amy Sherald and Kehinde Wiley’s portraits of Michelle and Barack Obama are an unconventional and a powerful addition to the National Portrait Gallery’s collection. Ever the contrarian, however, the Guardian‘s Jonathan Jones describes Wiley’s painting as “boardroom bland.” He writes: “It will not tell future ages what made Obama special.” (Washington Post, New York Times, Guardian)

Italy’s Far Right Targets Museum for Arabic Speakers’ Discount – Right-wing protestors have objected to a policy at Turin’s Egyptian Museum that offers a two-for-one discount to Arabic speakers. The Brothers of Italy party claims the deal discriminates against Italians. In response, the Museo Egizio’s director, Christian Greco, pointed out that on Valentine’s Day, the museum also offers discounts to couples. (New York Times)

Germany to Set Up Harassment Hotline for Creative Industries – German Culture Minister Monika Grütters has pledged to create and fund a help desk for victims of sexual harassment in the country’s creative industries. The plan is to build a “protected space where they can speak openly and seek advice anonymously,” Grütters says. She has held preliminary talks with representatives of the German film, theater, and music industries. (The Art Newspaper)

France Hands Back Nazi-Looted Art – France has returned three Old Master paintings by the Flemish artist Joachim Patinir to the heirs of a Jewish family forced to sell them in 1938 to escape the Nazis. Destined for Hitler’s museum in Linz, the works remained unclaimed in French state collections for decades. This week, they were finally handed back to descendants of Herta and Henry Bromberg in a ceremony at the Louvre. (AFP)​


FIAC Hunts for Home During Grand Palais Revamp – FIAC and Paris Photo have to find temporary homes large enough to accommodate major art fairs when the Grand Palais shuts from December 2020 through spring 2023 for a multi-million-euro refurbishment. FIAC’s director Jennifer Flay says a tent is uneconomic and that the fair must stay in central Paris. (Le Monde)

Rachel Uffner Takes on Five New Artists – The New York gallerist is adding five emerging and mid-career artists to her roster: Iranian artist Maryam Hoseini, American painter Arcmanoro Niles, Canadian artist Curtis Santiago, New York’s Sally Saul, and Molly Zuckerman-Hartung from California. Each artist has had a solo exhibition at the Lower East side gallery within the past year and a half. (Press release)

How Online Sales Are Boosting Older Artists’ Careers – Online sales outlets have become a lifeline for older artists whose brick-and-mortar galleries are closing down. Although the technical skills required to make a living selling online—including social media savvy and digital photography—have a steep learning curve, some direct-to-consumer outlets offer guidance for late adopters. “Instagram is your new storefront,” one gallery director said. (NYT)

Boccioni’s Futurist Painting Heads to Sotheby’s – A futurist painting by Umberto Boccioni titled Testa + luce + ambiente (1912) is hitting the block at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern sale in London on February 28 with a high estimate of $10.4 million. One of last few major paintings by the Italian artist, who died at age 33, in private hands, the work has been in the same collection for the past 50 years. (Press release)


Montblanc Foundation Announces Commissions – Artists Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze, Mercedes Dorame, and Emmanuelle Lainé are this year’s recipients of the Montblanc cultural foundation’s artist commission program. The prize funded by the German luxury brand enables artists to create new work that will eventually become part of the company’s art collection. (TAN)

New President for Museums Association – Maggie Appleton, the director  of the Royal Air Force Museum in London, will lead the UK organization for museum professionals beginning April 1. She succeeds David Fleming, the outgoing director of National Museums Liverpool. (Artforum)

PAFA Announces New Acquisitions – The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts is adding some 40 works by historic, modern, and contemporary artists to its collection. Highlights include a cache of 120 projects, books, and video by the Guerrilla Girls and works by Sam Gilliam and Martin Puryear. (Press release)

Flatbed Press Loses Its Lease in Austin – Due to skyrocketing real estate in Austin, the internationally known print studio has lost its lease and is being forced out after 19 years. Flatbed Press must vacate its longtime home by February 2019. It’s unclear where it will relocate, although its leaders are hoping to attract partners for a potential expansion. (Glasstire)


Lorna Simpson Makes a Radical Change – The renowned photographer and conceptual artist is making a shift into painting. Vogue visits the artist’s studio to look at her new body of work ahead of the March 1 opening of her show at Hauser & Wirth in London. “At first I was a little intimidated about working this way,” Simpson says. “And then I thought, Aw, fuck it. You fail, you fail. So what?” (Vogue)

Meet New York’s Only Blind Art Dealer – The publisher and poet Steve Cannon, founder of the former Lower East Side gallery and current magazine A Gathering of the Tribes, is “the only blind gallery owner in the history of New York.” He traces the seeds of this creative endeavor back to a fortuitous exchange with his friend, artist David Hammons, at an East Village bar in the ’90s. (NYT)

Nick Cave to Transform the Armory Into a Dance Hall – On June 7, the interdisciplinary artist will unveil a site-specific installation called The Let Go at the Park Avenue Armory in which participants are invited to, well, “let go.” Visitors to the part-dance hall, part-town hall can look forward to Twister, Soul Train lines, and music by New York’s leading DJs. (Press release)

Ellsworth Kelly’s ‘Temple of Light’ Is Complete – Three years after the artist’s death, the Blanton Museum of Art in Texas has completed Kelly’s final project. Titled Austin, the $23 million building in Kelly’s typical reductive style features 14 abstracted black-and-white panels that connote the 14 Stations of the Cross. In the back, where a cross would typically stand, there is a 18-foot totem sculpture by the artist. (NYT)

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