Art Industry News: Facebook Censors the Prehistoric Venus of Willendorf as X-Rated + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, the mafia may have sent a famous Caravaggio to Switzerland and Amy Sherald offers advice to young artists.

The Venus of Willendorf, courtesy of @Naturhistorisches.Museum.Wien via Facebook.

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 28.


Pussy Riot Member Released After Detention – Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina was detained at a police station in Crimea for the second time in two days. The day before, she and two other members of the collective were detained for “medical tests.” They were in the region to protest the imprisonment of a filmmaker. (Radio Free Europe)

FBI’s Most Wanted Caravaggio Is in Switzerland (Maybe) – An informant has told Italian authorities that a top mafia boss sold Caravaggio’s Nativity With St Francis and St Lawrence to a Swiss dealer who is now dead. Stolen in 1969 from a church in Palermo, Sicily, the canvas’s theft is on the FBI’s list of top 10 art crimes. (TAN)​

Facebook Censors Venus of Willendorf – The Stone Age nude known as the Venus of Willendorf has been censored by Facebook. The image of the ancient nude form was posted by artist and activist Laura Ghianda, who tried repeatedly—and unsuccessfully—to appeal Facebook’s decision. The prudish social media giant also ignored complaints from Vienna’s Naturhistorisches Museum, where the 30,000-year-old sculpture is a star object. (The Art Newspaper)

The Hirshhorn Announces New Dates for Wodiczko Gun Projection – Krzysztof Wodiczko’s projection was due to take over the exterior of the Hirshhorn in Washington, DC, for three days earlier this month, but it was postponed after the Parkland school shooting. The project will now be restaged on March 7, 8, and 9 from 7–9:30 p.m. (Press release)


Sotheby’s to Offer Aboriginal Art in London – The auction house is preparing its third Aboriginal art sale, which will offer work by indigenous artists such as Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri and Emily Kame Kngwarreye alongside ceremonial figures and rare objects like shields. The 77-lot sale kicks off in London on March 14. (Press release)

New Executor Named for Chinese Collector’s Estate – Yien-Koo Wang has been named the new executor of her father CC Wang’s estate in the midst of a 15-year legal battle. She alleges that the initial executor, the artist and collector’s grandson, stole more than 20 paintings and sold nearly 100 works under suspect circumstances. A trial last year determined that the grandson had manipulated CC, who had dementia, into naming him executor. (ARTnews)

Berkshire Museum Trustees Call for ‘Special Master’ to Oversee Art Sale – The trustees of the Berkshire Museum have filed an action in Massachusetts’s supreme court lobbying for the appointment of an independent “Special Master” who is savvy on museum finance administration to demonstrate that the museum does, in fact, need the funds from further sales after Suffleton’s Barbershop goes under the hammer. (Press release)


Artist and Designer Getulio Alviani Dies – The Italian optical-kinetic artist, who participated in the Venice Biennale and documenta, has died at 78. Alviani had a keen interest in new materials and technologies and was included in the landmark Museum of Modern Art show “The Responsive Eye” in 1965. (Artforum)

Artists Space Adds Barbara Gladstone to Board – The veteran art dealer has joined the board of the nonprofit gallery, while Heather Harmon has been appointed development director. The downtown Manhattan fixture will move to a new building next spring. (ARTnews)

MSU Art Program Adds Two Curators – Carla Acevedo-Yates and Steven L. Bridges have been promoted from assistant to associate curators at the MSU Broad. Before Acevedo-Yates joined MSU in 2016, she was an independent curator and critic; Bridges, who came aboard in 2015, previously served as a curatorial assistant at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. (Artforum)

New Deutsche Bank Art Center Gets an Opening Date – The new forum for art, sport, and culture is scheduled to open in September 2018. Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, formerly the Deutsche Guggenheim, will be incorporated into an extension of a historic palace in Berlin, where there will be nearly 1,000 square feet of exhibition space. (Monopol)


Amy Sherald’s Advice to Young Artists – The artist behind Michelle Obama’s official portrait tells MFA students at the New York Academy of Art—who were lucky enough to have her deliver one-on-one crits—that she reads widely, is a fan of audiobooks, and often looks at street photography, especially that of Vivian Maier. (Artsy)

Museum Drops Security Firm Amid Human Rights Abuse Claims – The National Gallery of Victoria has dropped its security firm Wilson Security in light of evidence of human rights abuses at its offshore immigration centers. More than 1,500 artists and art professionals wrote an open letter urging the museum’s director to end the contract, while artist Candice Breitz renamed a work of hers on view at the museum in protest. (Art Asia Pacific)

Three Billboards Outside the UN – After protests inspired by the film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri kicked off in London and Miami, a third set of trucks emblazoned with bright red signage popped up outside the UN in New York ahead of a security council vote on Syria. The boards read: “500,000 Dead in Syria / And Still No Action? / How Come, Security Council?” (Monopol)

Inspired by the Oscar-nominated film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”, three billboards circle the United Nations on February 22, 2018 for three hours to demand action on Syria in advance of a Security Council vote in New York. Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.


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