Art Industry News: Picasso Was Actually a ‘Great Feminist,’ His Grandson Says + Other Stories

Plus, Phillips auction house raises its buyer's premium and why so much anti-Trump art falls flat.

Pablo Picasso in Mougins, France in October 1971. (RALPH GATTI/AFP/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 Monday, February 25.


Why So Much Anti-Trump Art Fails – Too often, anti-Trump art misses the mark or is unmemorable, writes critic Jillian Steinhauer. Jennifer Rubell’s recent performance piece Ivanka Vacuuming was a striking image with muddled meaning—and, like many Trump-inspired works, it lacked “critical introspection to accompany the laughter.” Part of the problem is that Donald Trump is already caricature of himself, so “representing him as such loses some of its disruptive power.” Steinhauer prefers text works that needle the president, like Robin Bell’s projections on Trump’s DC hotel. But she says few artists today have matched the “satire infused with dread” of Philip Guston’s unsparing caricatures of Richard Nixon from the 1970s. (New York Times)

Museum Boards Face Trial by Social Media – Outrage on social media, protestors in the galleries, and close media scrutiny of the moral conduct of board members are now business as usual for major museums. Indeed, the job of a museum director has gotten much tougher: they are damned if they defend the status quo, but also damned if they don’t, with the potential to alienate trustees. “The battle front is running right through the museum lobby,” writes museum consultant Adrian Ellis. He predicts that some institutions will stop taking Sackler money “and seek to expunge the relevant Sackler names from their buildings”—but they will do it slowly, as the stakes are high. (The Art Newspaper)

Picasso Was a “Great Feminist,” Says Artist’s Grandson – Bernard Ruiz-Picasso claims that his grandfather—the one known for his abusive behavior toward women—was actually a feminist. “No one has painted as many women as he has,” he told El País. He was speaking ahead of the opening of an exhibition at the Picasso Museum in Málaga that examines the influence of Picasso’s first wife, the Russian ballet dancer Olga Khokhlova, on his work. On the other hand: “Does anyone believe, knowing Picasso, that he was influenced in his work by any woman? Not me,” Ruiz-Picasso said. “Art was his life. Everything else was secondary.” (El Pais)

Tania Bruguera Will Fight Decree 349 During the Havana Biennial – The recently detained (and released) Cuban artist is planning to continue her fight against Decree 349, a law that would muzzle artistic expression in the country, during the upcoming biennial. Bruguera and other participant artists will wear T-shirts during the exhibition, which opens April 12, to raise awareness of the fight. She is also encouraging artists to mention the bill during talks and other public events. Guardian)


Brexit Could Be a Boon for Frankfurt’s Art Dealers – Frankfurt gallerists Daniel Schierke and Ralf Seinecke predict Brexit will boost the art market in Germany’s financial capital. Several big American banks, including Goldman Sachs, Citi, and JP Morgan, are transferring highly paid staff from London to Frankfurt ahead of Brexit. Asian banks are also planning to beef up their presence in the German city. (Financial Times)

Bonhams Will Hold an African Art Sale in New York –  The auction house plans to hold a new sale of Modern and contemporary African art in New York on May 2. The sale coincides with Frieze Week in the city, which includes the African art-focused 1-54 fair. The sale will offer works by artists including Demas Nwoko, Alexander Skunder Boghossian, and Papa Ibra Tall. (Press release)

Phillips Increases Its Buyer’s Premium – In its New York sales, buyers at the auction house will now pay a fee of 13.5 percent for works that hammer above $4 million and 25 percent for works that sell for $400,000 and under. The increases are in line with Christie’s new fees, which went into effect on February 1. (Press release)


Rauschenberg Foundation Adds New Board Members – Collector A.C. Hudgins, art historian Kellie Jones, and MoMA’s director Glenn Lowry have been named board members of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, which is led by MoMA alumna Kathy Halbreich. Hudgins is a MoMA board member and collector with a focus on African American artists; Jones teaches at Columbia University and was named a MacArthur “Genius” in 2016. (ARTnews)

Winner of Australia’s National Portrait Prize Announced – Alana Holmberg has earned this year’s top prize from the Australian National Portrait Gallery for her reflective portrait of a nude pregnant woman called Greta at 36 Weeks. It comes with a cash prize of a A$30,000 ($21,480) and A$22,000 ($15,750 ) worth of Canon equipment. (Press release)

LACMA Communications Chief Hops to South Wales  In other Australia news, Miranda Carroll has joined Sydney’s Art Gallery of New South Wales as its director of public engagement. She previously served as senior director of communications at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. (Press release)


Robert Indiana’s Troubled Foundation Moves Forward With Artist’s Museum – The Star of Hope Foundation is planning to move forward with the transformation of Indiana’ s home on the island of Vinalhaven into an art museum. The presumptive chairman of the foundation, Larry Sterrs, is making plans to add board members, evaluate Indiana’s art collection, and overhaul his now-dilapidated home. But the museum cannot open until the bitter legal battle over Indiana’s estate is settled in court. (AP)

Paris Digital Art Venue Expands – The selfie-centric digital exhibition Atelier des Lumières, which opened in Paris last year, has been a major success. The light projection show dedicated to Viennese artists Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele attracted 1.2 million visitors during its nine-month run, which ended January 6. Now, organizers have unveiled a Van Gogh-themed follow-up in Paris and has launched plans to bring its Viennese show to South Korea’s Jeju island and launch a second venue in Bordeaux. (TAN)

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.