Art Industry News: It Turns Out Pop Star the Weeknd Is an Art Collector (and He Has Decidedly Cool-Kid Taste) + Other Stories

Plus, Frieze appoints its first-ever CEO and Ai Weiwei pens an op-ed for the New York Times.

Singer The Weeknd performs onstage during the 2018 Global Citizen Concert at Central Park, Great Lawn on September 29, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Kovac/FilmMagic)

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 Wednesday, January 15.


Notre-Dame Is at Risk of Further Collapse – The beloved cathedral is not out of the woods yet, according to Barbara Schock-Werner, the former master builder at Cologne Cathedral who is advising on the reconstruction of Notre-Dame after last year’s devastating blaze. While the building is still being assessed, Schock-Werner says it remains at risk of collapse because the fire may have damaged the stone more than is currently known. The building will also be particularly vulnerable after scaffolding that was welded to its interior by the heat of the fire is removed. (Deutsche Welle)

Why Don’t Museums Serve as Polling Places? – Dozens of art institutions refused to open their doors to voters as early polling sites last year, including the New-York Historical Society and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, on the grounds that doing so would “unreasonably interfere” with the building’s usual function or serve as “an extreme hardship.” Fifty other organizations, including the Bronx Museum, MoMA, the Whitney, and the Shed, similarly wrote to the Board of Elections for exemption. Museums, which receive tax benefits, should be legally obligated to provide space for voters, especially as a high turnout is anticipated for this year’s election. Without their help, more pressure will be placed on public schools, which cannot object to being poll sites. (Gothamist)

Apparently the Weeknd Is an Art Collector – ARTnews teamed up with producer and art collector Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean to pull together a list of artists, curators, and other influential people who will shape the art world in 2020. One of the most surprising inclusions: Grammy Award-winning performer the Weeknd. Apparently, in between collaborating with the likes of Daft Punk and Drake, the 29-year-old Toronto-born musician has been collecting art. His collection at home in Los Angeles includes work by Julie Mehretu, Danny Fox, and Joyce Pensato. He also reportedly has a life-size golden sculpture by Japanese artist Hajime Sorayama. (ARTnews)

Ai Weiwei on the Dark Side of Cultural Difference – The Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei has penned an op-ed in the New York Times titled “Capitalism and ‘Culturecide.'” In it, Ai argues that some of humanity’s worst crimes have often been justified by the idea of “cultural differences.” He warns that traditional democratic values are slipping away as predatory commerce learns to co-opt, and profit from, authoritarian politics. “China and Russia have shown how legacies of Communist authoritarianism can combine with predatory capitalism to build new political structures of daunting power,” Ai writes. As economic trends start to align with political ones, it places the values and ideals human societies have evolved over centuries at risk, he says. “The great challenge facing German and other Western governments is whether they can find a way to exit the carnival of profit-making with their moral integrity intact.” (New York Times)


Frieze New York Releases Exhibitor List – Frieze New York announced the lineup of 200 participating galleries in its ninth edition, which runs May 6 through 10 at Randall’s Island Park. The fair will also host a special section dedicated to the art and gallery scene in Chicago and a presentation of Latinx art organized by curators from New York’s El Museo del Barrio. (Press release)

Art Basel Hong Kong Announces “Encounters” – The fair, which is forging ahead despite protests in the region, has announced plans for its “Encounters” section, which focuses on large-scale art. The section, organized by Alexie Glass-Kantor, will include 12 works by artists including Lim Oksang, Marion Baruch, and Lee Bae, nine of which will make their world premiere at the fair. (Press release)

Art-Collecting Billionaire Yusaku Maezawa Has a New Stunt – The headline-loving Japanese billionaire art collector has posted an online ad for a girlfriend to accompany him into space on the first SpaceX flight around the moon. The ideal companion for the 44-year-old fashion mogul is over 20 years old, with a “bright and positive” personality, and an interest in space travel (and, of course, world peace). The deadline for applications is January 17. May the odds be ever in your favor. (New York Times)


Keith Haring Foundation Awards a $1 Million Grant – The Keith Haring Foundation has awarded a $1 million grant to Performance Space New York, the East Village performance venue dedicated to lesser-known artists. In recognition of the significant gift, the nonprofit will name its theater after the late artist and host a free Keith Haring lecture series. (Artforum)

FRONT Triennial Reveals Details for 2021 Edition – The artistic directors of Ohio’s FRONT Triennial, which will take place in Cleveland and two other cities in northeast Ohio, have announced plans to focus on labor, the environment, and the “alienation” caused by capital. The 2021 edition is titled “Oh, Gods of Dust and Rainbows,” after a poem by Langston Hughes. (Artforum)

Tourists Arrested at Machu Picchu – Six tourists face four years in prison if found guilty of damaging Machu Picchu in Peru. They are accused of defecating (yes, really) in the Sacred Temple of the Sun in the mountaintop ruins. (Courthouse News)


Photography Was Andy Warhol’s Secret Weapon – Jack Shainman gallery has filled its two Chelsea spaces with 193 photographs by the shutterbug Pop artist. Works range from Warhol’s Polaroid portraits to still lifes and nudes. Over the course of his career, Warhol took an estimated 170,000 images with his 35mm Minox camera—but he only printed around 17 percent of the film rolls. (NYT)

Russian Artist Arrested for Sharing Feminist Art Online – A Russian theater director who shared feminist and LGBTQ-friendly art on social media has been fined and faces six years in prison. Yulia Tsvetkova, age 26, is accused of distributing “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors.” She previously lost her job for staging a play accused of promoting “homosexual propaganda” because students played roles that challenged gender stereotypes. (Hyperallergic)

Inside a Fiery Anti-Trump Sculpture – The Australian artist Callum Morton’s Monument #32: Helter Shelter is a giant head of Donald Trump that doubles as a shelter, complete with bench seating. Made in 2018, the work’s protective interior seemed prescient as it arrived at the Art Gallery of Ballarat this week as part of an extended Australian tour. Morton, who is a professor of art at Monash University in Melbourne, drove through the ash caused by ongoing bush fires to attend its unveiling. He told the Guardian: “This figure [Trump] can create these circumstances via climate change denialism… We are living in the smoke haze.” (Guardian)



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