Art Industry News: Frida Kahlo’s Non-Unibrowed Barbie Doll Infuriates the Artist’s Kin + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, Marina Abramović is making her opera debut and Peggy Guggenheim's heirs have lost their case against the Solomon Guggenheim Foundation.

The Frieda Kahlo Barbie. Courtesy Mattel.

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 Friday, March 9.


Peggy Guggenheim’s Heirs Lose Case Against Guggenheim Foundation – The case lodged by Peggy Guggenheim’s heirs against the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation has been dismissed by France’s court of final appeal. The New York-based foundation has been tied up in court since 2013 after a branch of the family objected to the display of works from other donors alongside her art in her Venice Palazzo. (AFP)

Marina Abramović to Make Her Opera Debut – The performance artist is immersing herself in the role of a legendary diva, playing on film the singer Maria Callas in death scenes from Tosca and other operas in a production due to get its premiere in Munich in 2020. Abramović has long hoped to stage the project, called Seven Deaths, nursing the ambition for 30 years. (The Art Newspaper)

Kahlo’s Family Member Decries Frida Barbie – The great-niece of Frida Kahlo is threatening to take action against Barbie manufacturer Mattel for including a new doll based on the Mexican artist in its “Inspiring Women” series, alongside Amelia Earheart and Katherine Johnson. But the Miami-based Frida Kahlo Corporation, which partnered with the US toy-maker, insists it owns of the rights to the artist’s likeness and is free to license the doll (even if it doesn’t have a unibrow). (AFP)

Grandson’s Story of Picasso’s Messy Love Life – Picasso’s grandson tells the story of how the artist met his grandmother, Marie-Thérèse Walter, who became his muse and young mistress, leading to feverish years of creativity and frustration in the 1930s. (Picasso’s first wife, Olga, flatly refused a divorce.) Olivier Widmaier Picasso also describes his own fraught relationship with the artist: “My grandfather only began to come to life for me the day he died,” (Guardian)​


Blank Projects Wins Armory Show Booth Award – Chosen by a jury including Pamela Joyner, Naomi Beckwith, Glenn Fuhrman, and Marguerite Hoffman, the second annual “Presents” booth prize for an outstanding and innovative presentation went to Cape Town gallery blank projects. The gallery’s display of Igshaan Adams and Cinga Samson won the $10,000 prize in the fair’s section for young galleries. (Press release)

Sotheby’s Sees Success With Online Contemporary Art Sale – The auction house’s online-only sales are picking up, with Sotheby’s making $2.2 million in its Contemporary Art Online sale, which ran from February 21 through March 6. Over 500 people registered with an average of “more than 10 bids per lot” in the auction led by John Chamberlain’s String of Perils (1991), a scaled-down metal sculpture that more than doubled its estimate to bring in $170,000. (Art Market Monitor)

Do Art Fairs Actually Make Any Money? – As the spring art-fair season begins, James Tarmey looks at how these fairs make their money. They have to balance the cost of running the event, which encompasses renting a space, production expenses, and year-round labor, against the cash flowing in from booth rental fees, ticket sales, and corporate sponsorship. (Bloomberg)


Former Le Corbusier Assistant Awarded Top Prize – Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi has won the 45th Pritzker Architecture Prize. The 90-year-old once apprenticed under Le Corbusier (even though he did not even speak French at the time). The prize is the highest award in the field, and Doshi is the first Indian architect to win. (Architectural Record)

Director of Ghent’s Museum of Fine Arts Is Suspended – Following her alleged mishandling of a recent exhibition of Russian avant-garde art of disputed provenance, Catherine de Zegher is being suspended from her position, accused of misleading officials from the institution’s cultural committee when she claimed that the works in question had been examined by two external experts prior to the exhibition. (Apollo Magazine)

Lili Chopra Appointed to Lower Manhattan Cultural Council – Chopra will take over as executive director of cultural programs, grants, and services on April 9. Currently, Chopra is the executive vice president and artistic director of the French Institute Alliance Française. (Artforum)

Acclaimed Hip Hop Photographer Dies at 52 – Nitin Vadukul rose to prominence throughout the ’90s, creating iconic imagery within hip hop culture, including Eminem holding a chainsaw and Dr. Dre bursting through a wall of flames. He died from cancer in New York City. (The New York Times)


Graffiti Permanently Damages Pre-Columbian Cave Paintings – A Twitter user brought to light some irreparable vandalism on cave paintings in Chile that date back around 1,400 years. The graffiti is actually not new, according to the Ministry of Public Works, but it has nevertheless brought attention to the complete lack of surveillance of such historic sites. (Hyperallergic)

Damien Hirst Washes Up on Australian Beach – The monumental sculpture Damien Hirst Looking for Sharks is on view until March 19 as a part of Sculpture by the Sea in Cottesloe, Australia. The work, which depicts Hirst with a snorkel and water-filled goggles, is by artist duo Danger Dave and Christian Rager. (TAN)

Artists Crochet Guggenheim Toilet – A fourth-floor bathroom at the museum has been yarn-bombed by a mysterious artist, who covered the toilet with a skein of gold yarn. Clearly a reference to the viral golden toilet by Maurizio Cattelan that the Guggenheim offered to give the White House, the guerilla work stayed in place for only two hours. (Hyperallergic)

Something Very Important Happened at the 2016 Met Ball – Finally opening up about the painful incident, the pop star Demi Lovato explained that she had a “terrible experience” at the 2016 Met Gala because of “one celebrity [who] was a complete bitch,” and, while she refused to divulge the culprit, available Instagram evidence suggests it was none other than Nicki Minaj. (People)



de Sarthe at the Armory Show
Wang Xin & 20th-Century Masters
March 2018

This week, Hong Kong’s de Sarthe gallery is presenting two ambitious projects at the Armory Show: a focus on the artist Wang Xin’s social art project The Gallery in “Platform” and a showcase of work by 20th-century masters in the “Insights” section. Initiated in 2014, The Gallery is an experimental multimedia enterprise that offers anyone who wants to participate to submit their own artworks for display—including spontaneous, DIY contributions—in its “alternative exhibition space,” which can pop up in museums, galleries, or any other venue.

Wang Xin’s The Gallery. Image courtesy of de Sarthe.

Hans Hartung’s T1981-E46 (1980). Available for €350,000. Courtesy of de Sarthe Gallery.

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