Art Industry News: Egypt’s First Big Archeological Find of the Year? A Tomb of 50 Elite Mummies + Other Stories

Plus, David Adjaye says the UK needs a museum of black culture and billionaires are struggling to protect art on their yachts.

An archaeologist points at newly-discovered mummies at the necropolis of Tuna el-Gebel in Egypt. Photo: Mohamed El-Shahed/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 4.


Art Historian Claims National Gallery Painting Is a Forgery – Old Masters expert Christopher Wright is challenging the attribution of a 15th-century work to the studio of the Dutch painter Rogier van der Weyden, asserting that the museum’s painting is actually a 20th-century fake that was probably created by the infamous art forger Eric Hebborn. Two alleged clues that A Man Reading isn’t authentic? The 1960s Beatles-style haircut sported by its subject, thought to be a depiction of Saint Ivo, and the “gobbledegook” writing on the paper he is perusing. Experts at the National Gallery disagree, but Wright says that Hebborn repeatedly claimed authorship of the work. (Guardian)

David Adjaye Says the UK Needs a Black Culture Museum – The British-Ghanaian architect who designed the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, has called for the United Kingdom to build its own museum celebrating black culture. Adjaye says black people have been contributing to British culture since the Elizabethan era, and that an institution documenting this history is “long overdue,” arguing that it would help younger generations feel part of “the language, DNA, and roots” of the UK. (BBC)

Egypt Unveils 50 Fresh Mummies in the First Archaeological Find of 2019 – Archaeologists have discovered an ancient tomb in the south of Cairo containing 50 mummies from the Ptolemaic era. The identities of the mummies found at the Tuna el-Gebel archaeological site, 12 of which are children, are unknown because no identifying hieroglyphs were uncovered. That said, officials at the Egyptian ministry of antiquities believe they held important positions because of the mummification method used to preserve them. (Guardian)

San Francisco Gets a Newly Authenticated Van Gogh –  Still Life with Fruit and Chestnuts is the real deal, according the the Van Gogh museum in the Netherlands. The work was donated to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in 1960, but remained in storage for most of the time as its authenticity was in question. Now, the painting has been dated to 1886 and is confirmed to having been made while the artist was in Paris. Infrared also revealed that the Van Gogh painted over a portrait of a woman to make the work; he often reused canvases to save money. (TAN)


Stuart Shave Now Reps Michael E. Smith – The London gallery has added the sculptor to its roster, and will hold his first show at Stuart Shave on Vyner street this coming October. Smith continues to be represented by Andrew Kreps gallery in the US. (ARTnews)

Shows to See During Zona Maco in Mexico City – There are many unmissable museum and gallery shows going outside of the city’s two main fairs Zona Maco and Material Art Fair (opening February 6 and 7, respectively) during its annual art work. The Observer’s top picks include a Helen Escobedo show at Proyectos Monclova and Nancy Spero at the Museo Tamayo. (Observer)


Renaissance Society of Chicago Gets $1 Million – The University of Chicago’s Renaissance Society has received the largest individual gift in its over 100-year history. Joe Mansueto, a billionaire alumnus, and his wife Rika have pledged $1 million to help establish an accompanying publications program for the contemporary art museum’s exhibitions over the next 10 years. (ARTnews)

Former documenta Curator-at-Large Heads to Sonsbeek – Bonaventure Ndikung, the Berlin-based curator who served as documenta 14’s curator-at-large, has been named the artistic director of the upcoming sonsbeek contemporary, set to open in summer 2020 in Arnhem, Netherlands. Not unlike documenta, sonsbeek was founded as a critical exhibition in the wake of the atrocities of World War II, and has taken place at irregular intervals since 1948. (ARTnews)

Rio’s Slave Wharf Is Set to Become a Museum – The Valongo Wharf in Rio de Janeiro, which saw nearly one million Africans in forced migration disembark ships between 1811 and 1831, is being restored as an open-air museum until the accompanying Afro-Brazilian History and Culture Museum debuts as a nearby center in 2020. The archaeological site was found during preparations for the 2016 Olympics and gained Unesco World Heritage in 2017, though it is unclear if the recently elected president Jair Bolsonaro will affect the future of historic site. (TAN)


How to Avoid the Crowds at Blockbuster Shows – Officials from major museums including the Whitney, the Met, SFMoMA, and the Tate offer tips on the best way to take in a jam-packed exhibition. Suggested strategies to beat the crowds include visiting in the evenings or during late hours, taking advantage of the half-hour window you have to show up for a reserved time slot, and going through the exhibits in the wrong order. Although there is no hard-and-fast rule to adhere to, everyone agreed that Sunday afternoons are the worst, and Saturdays and holidays should also be avoided when possible. Ditto for the first and last weeks of exhibitions. (Wall Street Journal)

Who Should Pay for Graffiti Upkeep? – Banksy’s artworks, which can pop up in the most unassuming places, can send building owners and entire communities into a state of upheaval as everyone scrambles to protect and profit from the bestowed work. Should Banksy be more fiscally responsible for this cause-and-affect of his iconic stencils? (Independent)

Joel Mesler Drops Teasers for His Felix Booth Featuring Our Columnist – The founder of East Hampton’s Rental gallery has released a few teasers for his upcoming booth at the inaugural edition of Felix in Los Angeles. The previews, affectionately called “Kenny & Me,” star both Mesler and Kenny Schachter as themselves, being the collaborating dynamo that they are. In a recent column on artnet News, Schachter, whose art output is represented by Mesler, referred to the gallerist as the “younger version of” himself. We are looking forward to what they cook up this time. (Press release)

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