Art Industry News: Museum Director Says Blockbuster Shows Are ‘Killing Museums’ + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, half a million visitors have attended the Met's Michelangelo show and the Guggenheim takes a "risk" on conceptual artist Danh Vo.

Pinacoteca di Brera director James M. Bradburne in Florence, Italy. Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/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 Tuesday, January 23.


What the US Tax Changes Will Mean for Artists – Next year the newly passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) kicks in with complicated implications for artists and other creative freelancers. Many will receive an initial tax cut and could find themselves in a lower tax bracket, but those living in high-tax areas like New York City may see bills rise as city tax deductions are eliminated. (Art F City)

Louvre Abu Dhabi Belatedly Puts Qatar on the Map – The Louvre Abu Dhabi has replaced a map of the Arabian Peninsula in its Children’s Museum that previously excluded Qatar, AFP reports. Qatar Museums Authority head Al Mayassa Al-Thani tweeted about the initial omission on January 19. The UAE Emirati foreign minister called it a “slight oversight.” Meanwhile, the Emirate’s blockade of Qatar continues. (Art Daily)

Do Museums Have a Blockbuster Addiction? – James Bradburne, the head of Milan’s Pinacoteca di Brera, says blockbusters are “killing museums” and need to me moderated. “We lost our way in the ’80s when directors were forced to use blockbusters to drive a museum’s economy by increasing visitor numbers,” he says. “Now they have become a drug because without them a museum won’t be able to survive, but that betrays the very nature of our stewardship of the collections.” (Financial Times)​

Guggenheim Takes a “Risk” on Danh Vo – Ahead of his major survey at the Guggenheim in February, Calvin Tomkins profiles the Vietnamese-born artist. Vo “is very good at pressing us to be less rigid,” says a curator at the Guggenheim, which will present works inspired by the profanity-spewing demon in the ‘70s horror classic The Exorcist, with one in particular consisting of a text work that Vo offered to Dutch collector Bert Kreuk to settle their legal battle in 2015. (New Yorker)


Mana Founder Talks Up New Jersey – The Israeli-born, US-based entrepreneur Moishe Mana outlines his vision for Jersey City—and it’s based around Mana Contemporary, his art storage and studio complex that he dubs “Tribeca West.” Mana is renovating apartment buildings and promises that artists will not be priced out even if the post-industrial city gentrifies. (Haaretz)

NADA Gives Bronx Museum an Acquisition Fund – Bronx Museum of the Arts curators will acquire a work for their collection from NADA New York in March, thanks to funds provided by the New Art Dealers Alliance in a new initiative. Proceeds from the art fair’s ticket sales will fund the NADA Acquisition Gift. (Press release)

EXPO Chicago Recruits Power Curators – Guggenheim curator-at-large Pablo León de la Barra will organize EXPO Chicago’s large-scale installations for In/Situ during the fair on Navy Pier in September. KW Institute for Contemporary Art curator Anna Gritz will organize EXPO Video, while Dallas Contemporary’s deputy director Justine Ludwig will oversee the younger galleries in the fair’s Exposure section. (ARTnews)

Superfine! Fair Heads to Washington, DC – The art fair Superfine! adds a Washington, DC, edition, which is due to open on October 31 in Dock 5 at Union Market, with 85 exhibitors and 24 international brick-and-mortar galleries. The self-described “hyper-curated” fair launched in Miami and has a New York edition and plans to debut a Los Angeles one in 2019. (Press release)


Korean Culture Minister Imprisoned for Artist Blacklist – An appeals court sentenced former South Korean Culture Minister Cho Yoon-sun to two years in jail for drafting a blacklist of 10,000 artists that she deemed critical of the former government. The appeal came after Cho had been acquitted in July. (Channel News Asia)

Meg Stuart Wins Venice Biennale Dance Award – The American choreographer will receive the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 12th International Festival of Contemporary Dance in Venice on June 22. She joins a list of past recipients that includes Merce Cunningham, William Forythe, and Lucinda Childs. (Artforum)

Seattle’s Asian Art Museum Gets $54 Million Upgrade – The museum’s Art Deco building, which still runs on its original 1933 heating system, will finally be modernized and expanded with an additional 13,650 square feet of galleries, offices, and studio spaces that will stretch eastward into park land. (Curbed Seattle)

Mari Spirito to Curate Hale Tenger Work at Alserkal Ave – Launching during Dubai Art Week in March, the commission will bring a new installation by the Istanbul-based artist to the Yard space on Dubai’s art avenue founded by Emirati philanthropist Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal. (Press release)


Fig-2 Follows Up With Fig Futures – The hyperactive project curated by Fatos Ustek called Fig-2, featuring 50 shows in 50 weeks at London’s Institute of Contemporary Art in 2015, will be rolled out across England in 2018-19 as Fig Futures. Sixteen exhibitions will take place at four venues in Cambridge, Blackpool, Leicester, and Plymouth, resulting in new acquisitions supported by Outset, the Art Fund, and Arts Council England. (Press release) ​

Berlin Museums Return Oppenheim’s Nazi-Looted Works – Two museums in the German capital restituted works to the heirs of Margarete Oppenheim, whose collection was once considered the most valuable in Germany, and was forced to liquidate during World War II. Five of the returned works were repurchased by the foundation managing the Berlin museums. (Press release)

Met’s Michelangelo Attendance Tops 500,000 – Averaging 7,000 visitors a day since the exhibition opened in November, the Metropolitan Museum of Art passed the half-million mark last week, and is still counting. “Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer” closes on February 12. (Artfix daily)

First Posthumous Show for German Painter Axel Kasseböhmer – In February, Sprüth Magers Berlin will present the artist’s first show since his death last September, including works from his “Walchensee” series—a body of paintings that have never been seen by the public before. (Press release)

Axel Kasseböhmer’s Walchensee 37 (2014) ©Axel Kasseböhmer. Photo by Timo Ohler, courtesy of Sprüth Magers.

Axel Kasseböhmer’s Walchensee 38 (2014) ©Axel Kasseböhmer. Photo by Timo Ohler, courtesy of Sprüth Magers.

Work by Axel Kasseböhmer, ©Axel Kasseböhmer. Photo by Timo Ohler, courtesy of Sprüth Magers.

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