Art Industry News: Art Basel’s Parent Company Postpones More Major Events as Switzerland Bans Mass Public Gatherings + Other Stories

Plus, German museums team up to celebrate Joseph Beuys's 100th birthday and one of the world's oldest art galleries has a new owner.

The entrance to Baselworld in Basel, Switzerland 2018. Courtesy of Baselworld.

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 on this Friday, February 28.


Museums Celebrate Joseph Beuys’s 100th Birthday – To celebrate the centenary of Joseph Beuys’s birth next year, 20 German institutions in 12 cities are planning exhibitions, theater productions, and events related to the pioneering artist’s legacy. The K20 in Düsseldorf, the city where he taught for many years, will look at Beuys’s various personae; the Museum Kurhaus in Kleve, where Beuys spent his childhood, will focus on his early work. In his birth city of Krefeld, the local art museum will examine how Marcel Duchamp influenced him. Beuys, who died in 1986, is one of the most influential artists to come out of Germany. (The Art Newspaper)

Documenta’s Troubling Nazi Roots – Last year, it came to light that a close advisor to Arnold Bode, who founded the art show documenta in 1955 in the ashes of World War II, was a member of the Nazi Party from 1937 to 1945. The prestigious quinquennial exhibition—which was conceived in part to show artists excluded or persecuted during the Nazi era—is currently trying to reckon with this past as it opens a new dedicated building for its archive. At the same time, the German History Museum is planning a major show called “Political History of the documenta” focused the exhibition’s reappraisal of its Nazi past. The next edition of the exhibition is scheduled to take place in Kassel in 2022. (Deutsche Welle)

Switzerland Pauses Large-Scale Events Due to Coronavirus – The Swiss government has announced that it is banning large-scale events where more than 1,000 people gather until at least March 15 to limit the spread of the novel 2019 strain of coronavirus. To date, more than 15 cases of the disease have been reported in the country, which borders northern Italy, the site of the largest outbreak in Europe. As a result of the ordinance, MCH Group, Art Basel’s parent company, announced it would reschedule the Baselworld watch fair to January 2021—one of a number of cultural events to be cancelled or delayed in Europe. The group will also postpone “until further notice” the garden exhibition Giardina in Zurich and the lifestyle trade show Habitat-Jardin in Lausanne, originally scheduled for March 2020. (Press release)

You Will Never Experience Jan Van Eyck Like This – Critic Jason Farago swoons over the new exhibition dedicated to Renaissance master Jan van Eyck in Ghent, Belgium. “Van Eyck: An Optical Revolution,” on view until April 30 at the Museum of Fine Arts, is the largest exhibition ever of his work, and Farago says it lives up to the hype, calling it a “perpetual stupefaction machine.” Besides the famous altarpiece with that viral humanoid sheep, only 22 paintings attributed to van Eyck’s hand survive, and 12 of them are on view in Ghent alongside nine attributed to the artist and his workshop. (New York Times)


One of the Oldest Galleries in the World Gets a New Owner – The historic London gallery Colnaghi will be participating at this year’s TEFAF, which opens on March 7, under new ownership. Victoria Golembiovskaya, the founder of the art consultancy House of the Nobleman, has taken a stake in the gallery. She joins Jorge Coll as joint chief executive. (FT)

Rebecca Horn Gets a Gallery in Her Home Country – Berlin gallery Thomas Schulte has announced the representation of postwar German artist Rebecca Horn, who is known for her surreal body sculptures. The gallery will present a solo exhibition of her work during Berlin Gallery Weekend 2020, which is coming up in May. (Press release)


Grayson Perry Wins the Erasmus Prize – The King of the Netherlands will award the British artist Grayson Perry the 2020 Erasmus prize. The prestigious award—considered the Dutch equivalent of the Nobel Prize—comes with €150,000 ($165,000) and a large titanium-plated medal. The artist says he will probably design an outfit to match his new bling. (Guardian)

Former Berkeley Museum Director Has Died – Kevin Consey, who oversaw the expansion of the University of California’s Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, has died at age 68 following an illness. In the 1990s, he led the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. (ARTnews)

The Getty Acquires the Simone Forti Archive – The Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles has acquired the archive of the avant-garde dancer, performer, and writer Simone Forti. Born in 1935, she became a pioneer of experimental dance in the US, coming to the fore in the 1970s in Los Angeles and New York. (Press release)


Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in Coronavirus Lockdown – A Van Gogh Sunflowers painting is one of 60 masterpieces on loan from London’s National Gallery now on lockdown in Japan. The opening of the extraordinary exhibition at the Tokyo’s National Museum of Western Art has been postponed after Japan shuttered major museums due to the coronavirus. (The Art Newspaper)

Mexico Returns a Looted Bronze to Nigeria – An ancient African sculpture recently seized in Mexico City has been returned to Nigeria. Customs officers at the city’s main airport thwarted an attempt to smuggle the bronze Yoruba figure into the country. (BBC)

After a Blockbuster, the Louvre Rehangs Its Leonardos – Five of the key paintings in the Louvre’s record-setting Leonardo show do not have far to travel home. While other works returned to London, Munich, and Florence, these canvases were rehung in the Paris museum’s Grande Galerie, where they usually reside. (The Mona Lisa remained in her usual spot for the duration of the exhibition for crowd-control purposes.) On Instagram, the museum shared behind-the-scenes images of the return operation. (Instagram)



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.