Art Industry News: UK Museum Says ‘Just Kidding’ and Puts Notorious Nymphs Back + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, a truck mows into an irreplaceable ancient land art masterpiece and two more galleries close in Berlin.

The Manchester Art Gallery. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/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 5.


Truck Drives Over Ancient Peruvian Archaeological Site –  A 2,000-year-old ruin was severely damaged late last week when a truck inexplicably plowed into it. The Nazca Lines are massive designs of animals, plants, and imaginary beings scratched into the ground’s surface outside of Lima. The driver was arrested and then released, as there was little evidence to show his actions were anything but a mistake caused by bad driving. (The Washington Post)

Ronald Lauder Criticizes Germany Over Restitution – An exhibition in Düsseldorf focusing on the Nazi-persecuted Jewish art dealer Max Stern remains in limbo after it was suddenly canceled and then reinstated late last year. Speaking at an event last week to commemorate the 1994 Washington Declaration (in which Germany committed itself to recovering Nazi-stolen artworks), the Estée Lauder heir and collector Ronald Lauder indirectly called out Düsseldorf and its mayor. (ARTnews)

Pre-Raphaelite Painting Back on View in Manchester After a controversial seven-day absence, Manchester Art Gallery has rehung the so-called “soft porn” painting by JW Waterhouse, which depicts topless nymphs luring a young man into the water. In fact, the museum says, Hylas and the Nymphs was only temporarily removed to stimulate public discussion as part of a project by artist Sonia Boyce ahead of her solo show at the museum in March. By that measure, it was certainly successful. (Guardian)

More Money for the Haus der Kunst – After a string of scandals last year that included an investigation of staff members’ Scientology affiliations (it’s illegal in parts of Germany), sexual harassment scandals, and alleged financial troubles, the country’s foremost contemporary art institution is hoping easier times are ahead. The municipal government has offered a €1.2 million ($1.5 million) boost in funding for the year and the museum released a statement calling for “exciting art, but no more excitement.” (Monopol)


Asian Collectors Migrate to Western Art – Asian buyers took home more Western art than Asian art for the first time ever last year, according to Christie’s 2017 results. The numbers also indicate that Asian collectors are taking an increased interest in works valued above $10 million; one Asian collector, it turns out, bid for Leonardo Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi in New York last November. (South China Morning Post)

Sotheby’s Old Masters Sale Exceeds Expectations – The auction house’s annual Masters Week, which just concluded in New York, nearly doubled its results from last year. More than 650 paintings, drawings, and sculptures fetched a total of $82.5 million (2017 closed at $41.9 million); its masters painting evening sale totaled $48.4 million. (Press release)

When Will Reality Catch Up to the Auction Market? – Although the world’s three major auction houses reported strong 2017 results, Scott Reyburn notes that their business practices have not changed dramatically since the 18th century. How can the art trade continue to expand when almost half of contemporary art auction sales are generated by 25 artists, and areas of traditional collecting like decorative arts are losing traction? (New York Times)

Two More Galleries Have Closed in Berlin – The list of gallery closures continues to grow. The Berlin gallery Aanant & Zoo shuttered its exhibition space in December after 10 years, while the German dealer and curator Stephan Koal closed his 12-year-old gallery to found a nonprofit, the Kunstverein Ost in Berlin. (Kobels Kunstwoche, Monopol)


Queens Museum Board Member Resigns – Following Laura Raicovich’s decision to step down as director of the Queens Museum, trustee Kristian Nammack has also resigned. In a letter to friends and colleagues, he says he stands in solidarity with Raicovich and opposes the museum’s decision to host an event organized by the Israeli delegation to the UN. (ARTnews)

LACMA’s Japanese Pavilion Closes for Renovation – The Bruce Goff-designed Japanese pavilion at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art closed today in order to undergo a two-year makeover. The space is one of several buildings that will remain in place when LACMA moves ahead with its Peter Zumthor-designed expansion, which will demolish a number of its current buildings. (Artforum)

FotoFocus Announces Details for 2018 – The Cincinnati photography biennial has revealed the lineup for its fourth iteration, “Open Archive,” which opens October 4. The star-studded list of participating artists includes Teju Cole, Isaac Julien, Marilyn Minter, and Thomas Ruff, among others. (Artforum)


Modern and Contemporary Art Museum to Open in Florence – The city’s first modern and contemporary art museum will open its doors next month in the Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni, a High Renaissance palace. Founded by Roberto Casamonti—the Italian collector and founder of Tornabuoni Art gallery—the private museum is open by appointment only and will display his personal collection. (Artforum)

Bjarne Melgaard Plans to Build Home Next to Munch’s Estate – The Norwegian artist has teamed up with the architecture firm Snøhetta to build a UFO-looking home on Edward Munch’s former property. (It also features a “drug room.”) Unsurprisingly, the project has ruffled some feathers; authorities will decide in the coming weeks whether or not to give it the go-ahead. (NYT)

Japanese Grandma Wins Over Instagram – A 92-year-old grandmother, who only recently discovered a passion for photography, has skyrocketed to Insta-fame, accruing a 53,600-strong following after she began posting her original—and hilarious—selfies. Check out Kimiko Nishimoto’s work here. (El País)

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