Art Industry News: Anti-Oil Activists Sneak a Trojan Horse Into the British Museum + Other Stories

Plus, Art Institute students could have their loans forgiven and another Hong Kong art fair closes because of the coronovirus.

Protesters bring a BP Trojan Horse to British Museum. Photo by Hugh Warwick.

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 7.


Yale Art History Professor on Its Controversial New Curriculum – Yale’s head of art history, Tim Barringer, wrote an op-ed defending the university’s changes to its introduction to art history course, which sparked outrage after the department decided to abandon its two traditional, Eurocentric art history “surveys” in favor of offering four different introductory courses instead. Barringer argues that this was to offer a greater diversity of learning, wherein students might choose focus on the Arts of Asia and of Africa and its diaspora, pointing out that no course could ever be totally comprehensive anyway. Barringer says that the changes, while “initially shocking,” are actually gradual. (The Art Newspaper)

Photo of Banana Leads to Copyright Fight – An Art Basel attendee who photographed Maurizio Cattelan’s $120,000 banana is suing a website for Orlando’s CBS affiliate,, for using his photo without permission. John Taggart took out a copyright on his image of the viral artwork in December. His lawsuit has been filed by Long Island attorney Richard Liebowitz, who is known for taking on copyright cases (and sometimes being sanctioned by judges for trolling courts). (Law 360)

Activists Sneak a Trojan Horse Into the British Museum – Anti-oil activists snuck a Trojan Horse into the courtyard of the British Museum this morning in protest of BP’s sponsorship of the museum’s Troy exhibition. The 13-foot-tall wooden horse, which can fit 10 people inside, was crowdfunded by the theatrical activist group BP or not BP? The activists hope to remain in the courtyard until tomorrow morning when they have organized a mass protest action against the museum with more than 1,000 people. (Press release)

Art Institute Students Get a New Shot at Loan Forgiveness – Students at the chain of for-profit Art Institute schools, many of which closed in 2018 or lost their accreditation, have a new shot at having their debt cleared. The Education Department has agreed to lengthen the window of eligibility for loan forgiveness for the students from four months to nearly one year. The move was likely sparked by a lawsuit brought by former students at the Art Institute of Colorado and the Illinois Institute of Art last year against education secretary Betsy DeVos. (Washington Post)


Show of Miners’ Busts Sparks Controversy – A miner’s daughter whose portrait in bronze was cast by the sculptor Laurence Edwards for a public monument has objected to her bust being shown at a gallery show at Messums London. The member of a south Yorkshire mining community, Rachel Horne, has said she never gave permission for an edition of her bronze bust, which is priced at £2,895 ($3,740), to be exhibited or sold in a commercial gallery. (TAN)

Art Central Canceled – On the heels of news that Art Basel Hong Kong would be canceled due to the outbreak of coronavirus, Art Central, another large art fair that runs alongside ABHK, followed suit. “The uncertainty has made it increasingly untenable to guarantee the safety and well-being of the public,” the fair said. It was due to take place in a tent in Hong Kong’s harbor from March 18 to 22. (Press release)


Art Institute of Chicago Hosts a Barbara Kruger Survey – After signing on with David Zwirner in November, Barbara Kruger is now opening her largest survey exhibition in 20 years at the Art Institute of Chicago. Titled “Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You.,” the show will include rarely exhibited works from the early 1980s through to today. (ARTnews)

Library Offers $10,000 Reward for a Sculpture Stolen Decades Ago – The Los Angeles Public Library is offering a $10,000 reward for the return of pieces of a bronze fountain that went missing from its gardens in 1969. One section of the sculpture, Well of the Scribes, recently resurfaced after it was sold in Arizona, and the library is hoping the reward will incentivize others who might have pieces to come forward. (Hyperallergic)


Ancient Australian Rock Art May Depict Rising Seas – Rock paintings from 12,000 years ago depicting clan dynamics and ceremonies in Australia’s Kimberley region might have been painted as a result of climate change. The rock art coincides with the ending of an ice age, and rising seas flooded northern Australia, shrinking the lands by half and displacing populations. (Science)

Inside the Odd LACMA Battle Playing Out in the New York TimesAn activist group objecting to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s redevelopment plan, known as The Citizens Brigade to Save LACMA, bought two full-page ads in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times on Sunday to ask readers to “saveLACMA FROM TANKING.” The ads, which look like they were put out by the nonprofit activist group saveLACMA, depict a rendering of architect Peter Zumthor’s proposed plans for the new building sinking Titanic-like into the ocean. The saveLACMA group, which wants to dissociate from the Citizens Brigade ringleader, who has a vendetta against museum director Michael Govan, has asked the newspapers to issue a retraction. (Hyperallergic)

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.