Very important: Don't forget your Picasso. (Photo by AB/NurPhoto via 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 Wednesday, February 27.


SFMOMA Rothko Sale Divides Critics – SFMOMA’s decision to sell a 1960 painting by Mark Rothko at Sotheby’s for an estimated $35 million to $50 million to raise funds to diversify its collection is generating debate in the Bay Area. Some critics, like Charles Desmarais, think it is an imperfect but understandable solution to an entrenched problem: “I, for one, have no problem with pruning the tree to promote greater vigor of the larger organism,” he writes. Ben Luke disagrees. He says the decision, which comes on the heels of a $610 million capital campaign and new building, suggests the museum’s leadership does not have its priorities straight. (San Francisco Chronicle, The Art Newspaper)

Pearl Jam Guitarist Is Making Art – Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready and Seattle- and New York-based artist Kate Neckel have teamed up to face their art-making fears. McCready has begun to paint while Neckel has taken up singing. The duo met last year at the Seattle Art Fair and started collaborating in October as a multimedia collective called Infinite Color & Sound. Their first show opens on March 22 at Seattle’s Winston Wächter Fine Art. Called “Sway,” after a Rolling Stones track, the exhibition of paintings, sculpture, and performance is all about pushing through the terror of unfamiliar territory, McCready says. (Rolling Stone)

A German Man Forgot His Picasso on the Train – An elderly man was changing trains in Germany when he forgot a very important piece of luggage. It contained a ceramic jug by Pablo Picasso worth an estimated €10,000 ($11,000), titled Le Hibou. Police are now hoping to help him track the work down. (DW)

Pomona College Will Open the Benton Museum – Southern California is getting a new museum: the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College. The $44 million institution, due to open in fall 2020, will be named after alumna Janet Inskeep Benton, who has pledged $15 million to the project. The museum’s 14,000-object collection includes Native American art, Italian Renaissance paintings, and American photography. Work by the school’s notable alumni, including James Turrell and Chris Burden, is also represented. (LA Times)


Exec’s Art Basel Trip Dragged Into Corporate Battle – An activist investor is accusing the CEO of the Bermuda-based insurance company Argo Group of profligate spending—including his decision to take a jet to visit Art Basel Miami Beach. Argo, which has offices in Miami and insures art, has not responded to the allegations made against CEO Mark E. Watson III. (WSJ)

Lehmann Maupin Names Senior Director – Emma Son has been promoted to senior director of the gallery’s outpost in Seoul, which she joined in 2017. She has been working with its artists, including Nari Ward, on their South Korean debuts. (ARTnews)

Kasmin Will Represent Matvey Levenstein – The painter, whose work is on view now at Kasmin’s 293 Tenth Avenue space, has officially joined the roster. Works by the Moscow-born and New York-based artist channel the spirit of 19th-century Romanticism and often reflect on the immigrant experience. (Press release)

Hollis Taggart Adds Two Artists’ Estates – The estates of Michael (Corinne) West (1908–91), the female Abstract Expressionist who painted under a male pseudonym, and Leon Berkowitz (1919–87), the Washington, DC-based color field painter, will be exclusively represented by Hollis Taggart. The New York gallery will present paintings by both artists at the Armory Show next week. (Press release)


Meow Wolf Is Opening a Hotel – The wildly successful art collective known for its immersive art experiences is opening a 400-room hotel in Phoenix, Arizona. Each room will be designed by a local artist; the building will also include a 75,000-square-foot exhibition space. (ABC15)

America Gets a Bobblehead Museum – It’s another zany museum concept you didn’t know you needed: The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum in Milwaukee is now open for business. It houses the world’s largest collection of bobbleheads as well as a bobblehead-themed restaurant. (Washington Post)

Joan Jonas Performance Will Launch Ocean Space in Venice – The American performance artist is bringing an immersive, multimedia installation to Venice on March 24. Called Moving Off the Land II, the work will be the first public project at Ocean Space, a new global oceanic center in the restored Church of San Lorenzo. (Press release)


Watermarks Reveal Rembrandt’s Secrets – A new project focused on Rembrandt at Cornell University is bringing art history and engineering students together. The two departments are developing a website that will allow users to upload images of watermarks found on Rembrandt prints and receive detailed information about the works. Watermarks on Rembrandt’s copperplates help trace works to specific batches of paper that the artist bought, allowing experts to precisely date them. (TAN)

Why Protesters Should Stop Picking on Museums – It is wrong, even absurd, for Nan Goldin and anti-opioid protestors to picket the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian, whose Sackler funding predates the introduction of OxyContin, writes the Wall Street Journal critic Terry Teachout. He does not like the rise of “spur-of-the-moment outrage mobs,” galvanized by social media, and thinks there should be a “statute of limitations” for toxic donors. That said, public perception evolves, and he doesn’t think that a museum like London’s National Portrait Gallery should accept new Sackler money. (Wall Street Journal)

Santiago Sierra Creates a “Burning” Sculpture of the Spanish King – If you want to buy the newest sculpture by Santiago Sierra and Eugenio Marino, you have to pay €200,000 ($228,000)—and also agree that you will torch the work in a year. The provocative sculpture of the Spanish King Felipe VI is on view at ARCO Madrid at Prometeo Gallery’s booth. The King and Queen are due to visit the fair tomorrow,. Last year, Sierra’s works depicting jailed Catalan activists were removed from the fair, which the artist denounced as censorship. (El Pais)

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