Art Industry News: Marina Abramović Texts With Her Ex (Ulay) Every Day + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, Sotheby's acquires an interior design marketplace and leading museum directors beseech Trump not to end the NEA.

Marina Abramovic in "The Method Space" in Athens
Photo: Panos Kokkinias

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 Wednesday, February 14.


Leni Riefenstahl Estate Goes to Berlin Museums – Hitler’s favorite filmmaker’s heir and former secretary has donated her archive to the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. Riefenstahl, who directed Nazi propaganda epics including Triumph of the Will, became friends with fellow Berliner Helmut Newton late in life, and the city’s Newton Foundation will house her photographs. (The Art Newspaper)

Leading Museum Directors Ask Trump to Spare the NEA – The Association of Art Museum Directors has asked President Trump to reconsider his plan to “defund” the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. An “orderly shutdown” of the agencies would impact children and adults with disabilities and put many jobs at risk, the AAMD’s director writes. (Press release)

Marina Abramović on Texting Ulay – In a wide-ranging interview on the occasion of her latest exhibition at Sean Kelly, the performance artist reveals that she and her former partner Ulay now exchange daily text messages. Their three-decade rift ended last year when they met and buried the hatchet on a retreat in India. Meanwhile, the artist is creating new work for a solo show at the Royal Academy in London in 2020. (Guardian)

Sackler Dynasty Divided Over Opioid Crisis – The Guardian has published a deep dive into the Sackler family tree as controversy over their ties to the opioid crisis heats up. Royal Academy donor Jillian Sackler says other branches of the family have a duty to “atone for any mistakes made” in relation to the crisis. But any “assertion that [patriarch] Arthur’s marketing of Valium makes him culpable with his brothers is simply wrong.” (Guardian)​


Sex Sells at Sotheby’s—If It’s Tasteful – The auction house’s erotic art sale went “gangbusters” last year, so Sotheby’s is repeating the Valentine’s Day special. But shocking images are not bestsellers, says Constantine Frangos, who organizes the event. Lots on offer at Sotheby’s London range from Mapplethorpe’s photographs of male nudes to wooden mannequins posed in flagrante delicto by Man Ray. (Bloomberg)

Legal Fight Against the Berkshire Museum Sale Continues – Current and former members of the Berkshire Museum are not satisfied with the compromise announced last week between the museum and the Massachusetts Attorney General office. They have pledged to continue to fight the museum’s plan to sell off 40 works through Sotheby’s to generate up to $55 million. (ARTnews)

Sotheby’s Acquires Viyet Online Marketplace – Sotheby’s has acquired the North American interior design online marketplace, which specializes decorative art and furniture priced around $5,000. The acquisition provides Sotheby’s a “low-touch model” to handle more moderately-priced items. Launched in 2013 and based in New York, the Viyet team—including chief executive Elizabeth Brown—will now join the auction house. (Press release)​

Bernarducci Gallery to Launch New Chelsea Space – New York’s Bernarducci Gallery is opening a new ground-floor space in Chelsea on March 1 to showcase works by contemporary photorealist painters and 20th-century American Precisionists. The gallery, which has long been located in Midtown, opened a temporary Chelsea space this fall. (Press release)


Art Institute of Chicago Acquires Duchamp Readymade – The Art Institute of Chicago has acquired Bottle Rack (1914/59), a readymade by Marcel Duchamp. The work was previously owned by Robert Rauschenberg (and the older artist even paid a visit to Rauschenberg’s studio in 1960 to sign it). The AIC bought it from the Rauschenberg Foundation through Thaddaeus Ropac. (ARTnews)

NADA Welcomes 16 New Members – The New Art Dealers Alliance has added 16 new gallery members to its roster, 11 of which will participate in NADA New York next month. The new members include Reyes Projects (Detroit), NEOCHROME (Turin), and Fisher Parrish Gallery (Brooklyn, New York). (Press release)

Inés de Castro Pulls Out of Humboldt Collections Role – The director of the Linden Museum in Stuttgart was recently appointed to lead the Humboldt Forum’s ethnological and Asian art collections. Now, she has rejected the job offer for reasons that are not yet clear. The ambitious reconstructed palace scheduled to open in 2019 currently lacks both a director and a head of collections. (DPA)

Belgian Conceptualist Jef Geys Has Died – The Flanders-based artist known for his political installations, photographs, and conceptual work has died at 83. Geys notoriously proposed blowing up the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp in 1971, represented Belgium at the 53rd Venice Biennale, and took part in documenta 11. Last year, he produced a series of stamps for Belgium’s national postal service. (Artlyst)


Check Out the Artist List for ‘Made in LA 2018’ – The Hammer Museum has released the lineup for this year’s edition of its “Made in LA” biennial, which opens in June. The roster of 32 emerging or under-represented artists includes Nikita Gale, Lauren Halsey, and Nancy Lupo. Some better-known figures, including Candice Line and Daniel Joseph Martinez, also made the cut. (Los Angeles Times)

Amalia Ulman Goes to North Korea – In an essay titled “Pyongyang Elegance: Notes on Communism,” the artist reflects on an “eerie” four-day trip to the DPRK. She describes how the country reminded her of her own upbringing in post-industrial northern Spain, with all its poverty, pride, and hatred of American imperialism. (Affidavit)

The Olsen Twins Debut New Line Alongside Noguchi  Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen presented their label The Row’s ready-to-wear fall collection at the Isamu Noguchi Museum in Queens. The show was accompanied by an essay by the museum’s curator Dakin Hart that aligned the twins’s minimalist design philosophy with that of Noguchi. “The Row’s principles’ scorn for the balkanisation of creativity into narrow silos mirrors Noguchi’s own,” he wrote. (Business of Fashion)

‘LOVE’ Returns to Philly – Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture returned to Philadelphia yesterday—just in time for Valentine’s Day—nearly a year after it was removed for a $55,000 restoration. The city hosted a parade called “Love on the Move” as the sculpture—repainted in its original red, green, and purple hues—was reinstalled in Love Park at the bottom of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. (NBC)

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