Art Industry News: Financiers Are Investing Piles of Cash Into Immersive Art Centers Following Mass Layoffs in the Sector + Other Stories
Plus, the opening of François Pinault's Paris museum has been postponed yet again and the Louvre saw a 72 percent drop in attendance in 2020.
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 Monday, January 11.
Louvre Sees 72 Percent Attendance Drop – The most visited museum in the world was visited… a whole lot less in 2020. Paris’s Louvre museum welcomed 72 percent fewer visitors due to a drop in tourism and various lockdowns that forced it to close for nearly half the year. Far from the 9.6 million people it saw in 2019, the home of the Mona Lisa welcomed just 2.7 million visitors last year—and lost around €90 million ($109.3 million) in revenue. (The Art Newspaper)
US Theaters Could Reopen This Fall – Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci told performing arts experts in a virtual conference over the weekend that theaters and other venues may be able to reopen in the US sometime this fall. But, he cautioned, it will only happen if 70 to 85 percent of the population has been vaccinated by that time, and audience members will still likely be required to wear masks. The prediction was welcome news for performing arts professionals, who have been hit even harder than museums by lockdown measures. (New York Times)
Immersive Art Is Still Big in the Social-Distancing Era – Investors are still interested in gambling on large-scale experiential art centers despite the coronavirus. Fotografiska—which laid off a third of its workforce in Stockholm and saw its founders resign—has just announced plans for a fourth location in Berlin. The immersive art house Meow Wolf is launching in four more cities despite laying off half its workforce. And after a delay, the Pace CEO-backed Superblue is expected to open in Miami in March, followed by further expansions. “There are tough times ahead, but if I look at the next 10 years, I’m confident,” says Fotografiska’s board chairman Yoram Roth. (NYT)
Prosecutors Investigate Artist Claude Lévêque – French prosecutors are investigating Claude Lévêque after sculptor Laurent Faulon came forward with allegations that the artist, who is known for his work in neon and represented France at the Venice Biennale in 2009, sexually abused him and his two brothers as minors in the 1980s. Lévêque’s lawyer said that the artist has filed complaints for defamation, slander, and blackmail, and “reserves the right to bring any action against any person directly or indirectly harming him in order to assert his rights.” (Le Monde)
Moderna Vaccine Billionaire Is a Chinese Art Collector – Immunologist Timothy Springer, a founding investor in the biotech firm behind one of the COVID vaccines, is an avid collector of gongshi, or Chinese scholars’ rocks. His collection of the objects, which are naturally sculpted by erosion over centuries, even inspired the name of one of his biopharmaceutical companies, Scholar Rock. (TAN)
Batman Comic Sets a Record at Auction – Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, says that a Batman comic from 1940 has already secured a $1.53 million bid ahead of its inclusion in a planned live sale on January 14. The bid for the mint-condition comic surpasses the previous record for any Batman comic. (Monopol)
COMINGS & GOINGS
Landscape Architect Carol Johnson Dies – Johnson, who built one of America’s largest landscape architecture firms owned by a woman, died at age 91 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. She was known for large-scale public projects that involved transforming dilapidated sites, like toxic landfills and an oil-soaked storage facilities, into lush parks. (NYT)
The Marcel Duchamp Prize Names Short List – Julian Charrière, Isabelle Cornaro, Julien Creuzet, and Lili Reynaud-Dewar have been nominated for the 2021 edition of the top French art prize. The shortlisted artists will be featured in a group exhibition at the Centre Pompidou beginning October 6; the winner will be named on October 18. (Le Monde)
FOR ART’S SAKE
Confederate Flag Found Tied to Jewish Heritage Museum – Vandals placed a banner depicting the Confederate flag onto New York’s Jewish Heritage Museum last week following the violent events at the US Capitol. The museum’s director has filed a police report and authorities are searching for the perpetrator of the “atrocious attack on our community and on our institution.” (Hyperallergic)
The Lockdown’s Toll on Cultural Heritage – Heritage sites around the world are at increased risk amid the pandemic as vital conservation work is interrupted and they become vulnerable to looting and funding cuts. Organizations such as the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas and the World Monuments Fund are urgently working to raise and distribute funds to address these new dangers. (TAN)
Pinault’s New Paris Museum Postponed Again – The opening of François Pinault’s hotly anticipated Paris museum project, the Bourse de Commerce, has been postponed (again) due to the French lockdown. France’s cultural institutions should be able to reopen next month; a new opening date for the mega-collector’s museum will be evaluated on January 20. (TAN)
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