Art Industry News: Philadelphia Museum CEO Apologizes for the Museum’s Handling of Harassment Allegations + Other Stories

Plus, the Shed's front-of-house staff officially unionizes and Christie's will auction a rare Shakespeare First Folio.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo Peter Miller, via Flickr.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo Peter Miller, via Flickr.

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 23.


Artists and Celebrities Back Campaign to Purchase Derek Jarman’s Cottage – Actor Tilda Swinton and artist Jeremy Deller are among the boldface names campaigning to save the former seaside cottage of the artist, filmmaker, and LGBT rights defender Derek Jarman. The Art Fund is organizing a public fundraising campaign in an effort to raise £3.5 million ($4.6 million) within 10 weeks to save Prospect Cottage in Kent. Prints by artists including Deller, Tacita Dean, and Michael Craig-Martin are available as rewards for donating; half of the target sum has already been raised. Tate has volunteered to look after the artist’s archive, while a local organization, Creative Folkestone, hopes to oversee the cottage and open it up for public tours and artist residencies. (BBC)

Documenta Benefited From Sindika Dokolo’s Patronage – Together with his wife, Isabel dos Santos, art collector Sindika Dokolo is at the center of the Luanda Leaks report, which details the origins of the wealth of the powerful African couple, some of which was built on public funds. Currently, their assets in Angola have been frozen as the government attempts to recover state money. Dokolo, who has an impressive collection of contemporary and traditional African art, was an important supporter of documenta 14, which took place in Kassel, Germany, and Athens, Greece, in 2017. He supported projects like Olu Oguibe’s headline-grabbing obelisk sculpture, as well as many of the African artists who participated in the show. An exhibition related to documenta 14 was planned for Dokolo’s Luanda-based foundation in 2018, but the editor-in-chief of Monopol speculates that it may have been called off due to the new government, which replaced dos Santos’s father, the former president of Angola. (Monopol)

Philadelphia Museum CEO Apologizes for Former Employee’s Behavior – The chief executive of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Timothy Rub, has apologized to staffers for its response to the behavior of a former manager, Joshua Helmer, two weeks after allegations of sexual harassment against him surfaced in the New York Times. In a general staff meeting, Rub apologized for putting his confidence in Helmer, the museum’s former assistant director for interpretation who went on to become director at the Erie Art Museum. But some members of staff regretted that he did not offer specific details of policy improvements that might help avoid a repeat incident. “I hoped for strong policy statements that empower staff, like, ‘This is how we will respond consistently to reports of harassment,’” a museum educator tells the Philadelphia Inquirer. “But I didn’t hear that.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Artist Tobias Madison Pleads Guilty to Assault Charges – The New York-based artist Tobias Madison has pleaded guilty to charges of domestic violence. After it was alleged that he strangled and hit a girlfriend in December 2018, he pleaded guilty to one criminal count of assault in the third degree and one count of harassment. The issue first came to light last fall, when a group of artists who supported the woman wrote a letter asking for a dialogue with the Swiss Institute, where one of Madison’s works was on view. Madison has now been ordered to attend at 26-week batterers’ program in his native Switzerland and have weekly sessions with a therapist over the next year, after which the charge of assault could be dropped. (The Art Newspaper)


Christie’s Will Auction Shakespeare’s First Folio – Christie’s will sell the First Folio of William Shakespeare’s collected plays as part of its Exceptional Sale in New York on April 24. The valuable tome—which marks the first time the plays of Shakespeare were collected together—carries an estimate of $4 million to $6 million. This copy, one of only six in private hands, is being sold on behalf of Mills College in Oakland. (Salon Privé)

Artist Torkwase Dyson Joins Pace – Pace Gallery has welcomed the American painter Torkwase Dyson into the fold. Dyson, who helped inaugurate Pace’s new performance program Pace Live, creates drawings, performances, and installations that explore environmental and racial justice. Pace will represent Dyson alongside her existing gallery, Rhona Hoffman in Chicago. (Press release)


The Shed’s Front-of-House Staff Has Unionized – Leadership at the Shed in New York has voluntarily waived the need for an election and opted to voluntarily recognize the union formed by members of its visitor experience staff. The gallery assistants, ticket sellers, ushers, and greeters will now join UAW Local 2110, the same union that represents workers at MoMA and the New Museum. Maryann Jordan, the institution’s chief operating officer, said in a statement: “We welcome UAW Local 2110 and anticipate forging a constructive relationship with their representatives.” (Hyperallergic)

Indianapolis Contemporary Names New Executive Director – Braydee Euliss is the new director of Indianapolis Contemporary. She joined the institution’s last April as the director of development; she previously served as executive director of the Muncie Arts & Culture Council. (Artforum)

Austrian Artist Oswald Oberhuber Has Died – The Austrian artist, critic, educator, and gallerist Oswald Oberhuber has died at age 89. He represented Austria at the 1972 Venice Biennale and was for many years the rector of the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Oberhuber is also the father of Nikolaus and Raphael Oberhuber, directors of Berlin’s KOW gallery. (Artforum)


Performance Space New York Turns Over Its Management to Artists – What happens when you give artists both the keys and the purse strings? Performance Space New York is about to find out. The venue, housed in a former school in the East Village, has decided to pursue a radical management shake-up for 2020, giving artists full control of its programming budget. Executive artistic director Jenny Schlenzka and the choreographer Sarah Michelson will be on hand to offer advice and guidance. (ARTnews)

Darren Bader’s Salad Gets a Wilting Review – The artist has turned the eighth floor of the Whitney Museum into an installation resembling a farmers’ market, offering up more than 40 different fresh fruits and vegetables. The edible art is sliced and served to visitors when ripe. But the experience left one reviewer underwhelmed. After a hungry wait, Cassidy George was not impressed with the “mad salad” delivered from the kitchen. (The Cut)

United States Artists Names 2020 Fellows – United States Artists, the Chicago-based national arts funding organization, has named its 2020 USA Fellows. Fifty creatives—including visual artists Howardena Pindell, Martine Syms, Cameron Rowland, and Nari Ward—will receive unrestricted $50,000 cash awards in recognition of their pioneering work. (Press release)

Boy George Makes His Environmental Art Debut – The singer-songwriter Boy George has created a public artwork for a billboard in Carnaby Street in London. He made the massive work, titled Punks Against Pollution, for the Project Zero environmental campaign. A print of Boy George’s mural will be sold on Paddle8 to raise funds for the London Zoological Society. (Instagram)



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