Art Industry News: Philadelphia’s Mayor Says the City’s Biggest Art Museum Needs an HR Overhaul Following Harassment Scandal + Other Stories

Plus, George Condo's move to Hauser & Wirth is official and Ed Ruscha remains unmoved by his record auction sale.

Mayor Jim Kenney attends a ceremony re-opening the city's iconic Love Park, home of the famous LOVE statue by artist Robert Indiana, after more than two years of renovations. (Photo by Michael Candelori/Pacific Press/LightRocket via 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 on this Thursday, January 16.


Macklowe Collection Headed to Auction Soon – The battle is on for what is expected to be the most lucrative consignment of 2020. Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips have been invited to submit pitches to a custodian—famed art dealer Michael Findlay—who has been tasked with selling off the art collection of billionaire couple Harry and Linda Macklowe as part of an ongoing effort to settle their bitter divorce. According to a court order, some 65 artworks are due to be sold and the profits split between the feuding exes. The trove is said to be worth up to $700 million and includes works by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Mark Rothko. (Bloomberg)

Ed Ruscha Gets the Profile Treatment – T Magazine‘s M.H. Miller meets the celebrated 82-year-old LA-based artist—who he says has the charisma of a cowboy and the looks of a movie star—at his studio in Culver City. Over the past 50 years, Ruscha has become a master at deconstructing American imagery, from road signs (he wanted to become a sign painter when he was 18) to the 20th Century Fox logo. But he remains even-tempered regarding his recent stratospheric auction sale, when one of his works sold for $52.5 million. “It’s just the flow of commerce, and here we are, little helpless creatures while it all whooshes by,” he says.  For his newest works, the Oklahoma-born artist worked with drum skins, painting patois sayings from his home state (one says: “I Never Done Nobody No Harm”). His newest show, “Drum Skins,” at the Blanton Museum of Art is on view until June. (New York Times)

Mayor Encourages Philadelphia Museum to Revamp HR Policies – Fallout continues from the investigation surrounding Joshua Helmer, the former assistant director of interpretation at the Philadelphia Museum of Art who was dismissed from his current role at the Erie Art Museum after the New York Times revealed accusations of harassment from nine women, eight of which dated from his time at the PMA. Now, the city’s mayor, Jim Kenney, has called for the institution to revamp its personnel policies. A spokesman for the mayor said that the museum “should review and strengthen its policies regarding anti-fraternization and sexual harassment, and require training for all staff.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

The New Museum Is Opening a Mixed Reality Lab – The New Museum is teaming up with the Onassis Foundation to launch a mixed reality lab in New York, which will include artist residencies and an exhibition gallery. In its first year, ONX Studio, located in the Onassis Gallery of Midtown’s Olympic Tower, will welcome a dozen artists for a year-long residency. (The Art Newspaper)


George Condo’s Move to Hauser & Wirth Is Official – It was reported in Wet Paint back in December, but now it’s press-release official: The mega-gallery has announced representation of the New York-based artist and market heavyweight George Condo. His first exhibition will take place ahead of Art Basel in June at Hauser & Wirth in Zürich. Condo will no longer work directly with longtime New York dealer Skarstedt, though he will continue to be represented by Spruth Magers. (Press release)

Condo Is Coming to Berlin – In other Condo news that has nothing to do with George, art dealer Vanessa Carlos told the Financial Times that she is planning to launch the gallery-sharing event she founded, Condo, in Berlin later this year. “I’ve been approached by some galleries there to organize something in September, when they no longer have an art fair,” Carlos said, referring to the recent news that Art Berlin would close up shop. (Financial Times)

Paris Auctions Surged in 2019 – Global sales at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips fell 20 percent in 2019, according to a new report from ArtTactic. But while New York and Brexit-battered London saw sharp dips in total sales, Paris was on the rise: the City of Lights saw its global market share rise from 4.4 percent in 2018 to 6.8 percent last year. (FT)


Former Pompidou Chief to Lead Palazzo Grassi – Billionaire art collector François Pinault has named Bruno Racine as the new director of his two Venice museums, Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana. Racine, a former director of the Centre Pompidou, will take up the post at the end of March so that the Palazzo’s current director, Martin Bethenod, can focus on heading up Pinault’s forthcoming Paris museum at the former stock exchange. (Press release)

Forensic Artist Betty Pat Gatliff Dies – Betty Pat Gatliff, a forensic sculptor who helped solve crimes by using clay to reconstruct the faces of murder victims and missing people, has died. Gatliff was a pioneer of facial reconstruction and had a 70 percent identification rate over some 300 faces in 40 years. She died on January 5, at age 89, from complications of a stroke. (NYT)

Cindy Sherman Wins Wolf Prize – The decorated photographer has won the 2020 Wolf Prize in Art, which is given annually by the Wolf Foundation for “achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples.” Sherman is being recognized for “redefining the concept of art made with a camera.” The prize will be awarded at a ceremony on June 11 in Jerusalem. (Press release)


NEA Announces Art Grants – The chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, Mary Anne Carter, has announced that organizations in all 50 states, plus Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico, will get funding for arts projects this year. Some $27.3 million will be spread across 1,187 grants for projects ranging from visual art programs for incarcerated youth to celebrations marking the centennial of women’s suffrage. (Artfix Daily)

Instagram Photoshop Crackdown Hits Digital Artists – An algorithm designed to detect fake news is flagging digitally altered photos on Instagram—including digital art made using Photoshop. Now, artists are up in arms over the new policy to hide “faked” images, which it introduced in December and has since declined to alter to accommodate art. (Peta Pixel)

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