Art Industry News: Damien Hirst Confesses to the Crime That Launched His Career + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, the Newseum in Washington, DC, considers selling its building and Larry Gagosian dishes on the future of his gallery empire.

Damien Hirst in 2012. Photo: Carl Court/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 Thursday, February 8.


Billionaire Collector Steve Wynn Resigns From Wynn Resorts – The casino owner and blue-chip art collector resigned this week following an investigation by the Wall Street Journal that found he had harassed female employees for decades and coerced them into sex. Wynn denies the allegations, calling them “preposterous,” but said he was stepping aside to avoid “an avalanche of negative publicity.” (New York Times)

Jasper Johns Doesn’t Want to Be Understood  The American artist gives a rare interview on the occasion of his retrospective “Something Resembling Truth” at the Broad in Los Angeles. But he remains elusive as ever and avoids endorsing easy—or, really, any—interpretations of his art. He says his favorite book about his work is in Japanese precisely because he can’t understand it. (NYT)

Damien Hirst on How He Got His Start – Every artist has their personal origin story. In an excerpt of the Guardian‘s new culture podcast, Hirst describes his, which involves breaking into his former neighbor’s abandoned apartment. Then a penniless artist, he found hoards of materials and tools that he used to make collages. (Guardian)

Newseum in Talks About Possible Sale – The board of the struggling museum dedicated to journalism in Washington, DC, will meet with a top real estate firm today to explore selling its building or moving to another location. One person familiar with the museum’s finances called the situation “a slow-motion disaster.” (Washington Post)


Larry Gagosian on the Future of the Gallery  At a talk on Wednesday night, the mega-gallerist offered some insight into what will happen to his gallery and his personal art collection after his death. The 72-year-old dealer said he has “just really started focusing” on legacy planning for the gallery and suggested he would like his collection—reportedly worth more than $1 billion—to stay (mostly) together and be donated to a museum. (ARTnews)

Robert Blumenthal Gallery on the Move – The dealer is leaving his Upper East Side location to take over a new space in Chinatown. The collector-turned-dealer says he wants to be “in an area where there’s a little more experimentation happening.” Ahead of his move, he has been presenting a temporary series of works on a 10-by-20-foot billboard atop the new space. (Observer)

Lehmann Maupin Signs Chilean Artist – The Chilean-born artist Cecilia Vicuña, who figured prominently in last year’s documenta 14 in Athens, is now represented by New York’s Lehmann Maupin gallery. Her first solo exhibition opens at the gallery on May 19 and will coincide with projects at the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. (Financial Times)

New Gallery Opens in Beirut – Dealers Mohamad Al Hamoud and Annie Vartivarian have opened a new contemporary art space in Beirut called Letitia Gallery. The space, which is in the trendy Hamra neighborhood, will focus on exhibitions organized by international curators. It kicks off with a solo show by British artist Eileen Cooper. (Artforum)


Martin-Gropius-Bau Reveals 2018 Program – Stephanie Rosenthal, the former chief curator of the Hayward Gallery and new director of Martin-Gropius-Bau, has revealed plans to launch a new studio residency program. The inaugural resident is Wu Tsang. Later this year, the institution will host exhibitions of work by Ana Mendieta and Lee Bul. (Press release)

Künstlerhaus Wien Taps New Director – Tim Voss became the first artistic director of the Vienna institution on February 1, winning out over 62 international competitors. The German director, who has previously worked at the Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof, W139 Amsterdam, and Künstlerhäuser Worpswede, will be responsible for steering programming. (Monopol)

Mellon Foundation Appoints Elizabeth Alexander as President – The poet and essayist—who also helped design Agnes Gund’s Art for Justice Fund—will preside over America’s largest humanities philanthropy organization beginning in March. She succeeds Earl Lewis and will be the first female president of the foundation. (NYT)

Tate Gets $1.5 Million Conservation Grant – The Mellon Foundation has given Tate a $1.5 million research grant—the largest ever awarded to a UK museum—to develop new models for conservation of contemporary art over the next three-and-a-half years. Six works from the Tate’s collection, likely examples of time-based media, digital, and performance art, will be selected as case studies. (The Art Newspaper)


The Fate of Jeff Koons’s ‘Bouquet’ Lies With the Culture Minister – On Tuesday, the French minister of culture, Françoise Nyssen, met with “representatives of young French creation” to discuss Koons’s controversial sculpture. The work was also on the agenda for this week’s Paris Council meeting. Full details of both discussions have yet to be revealed. (Le Monde)

Imprisoned Dealer Details Charges Against Him – Writing from Evin Prison, Karan Vafadari, the Iranian-American art dealer sentenced to 27 years in prison, a hefty fine, and 124 lashes, has revealed details of the charges against him, which include: collusion in plots against national security, storing smuggled foreign alcohol, and possession of his father’s opium pipe, 124 “inappropriate” movies, six packs of playing cards, and marijuana. (Artfix Daily)

Wes Anderson Will Organize a Show in ViennaVienna’s Museum of Art History is reaching further afield for guest curators this fall. It has invited the indie film director Wes Anderson and his partner, designer and novelist Juman Malouf, to organize their first exhibition. The couple will draw on the museum’s permanent collection of Old Masters, arms and armor, and musical instruments. (TAN)

Jennifer Rubell Wants You to Throw Pie at Her—Or Does She? – Garage magazine interviewed the artist about her latest show, “Consent,” at the new Meredith Rosen Gallery in New York. Visitors can lob cream pies in her face and call her personal phone number in an exploration of personal boundaries. See images teasing the show, on view through March 17, from Rubell’s Instagram. (Garage)

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