Art Industry News: Steve McQueen Is Preparing to Debut a Wrenching Film Based on the Grenfell Tower Fire + Other Stories

Plus, the Supreme Court is asked to consider a lawsuit over a Picasso in the Met's collection and the market for fake prints is on the rise.

Director Steve McQueen in 2018. (Photo by Steve Jennings/WireImage)

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 27.


Study Says Blockbuster Shows Limit Opportunities for Minority Artists A new study from the London School of Economics warns that there is a dark side to the growing trend of blockbuster shows. Though these sure-to-be-popular exhibitions by big names, like Tate Modern’s recent Picasso show or the V&A’s David Bowie extravaganza, might guarantee high attendance and offset a decline in public funding, they may also make it even harder for experimental or minority artists to break through. “Museums are having to gravitate towards projects that are going to guarantee a return and which tend to build on pre-existing popularity, reducing the scope for encounters with unknown art forms,” Ernst Vegelin, the head of the Courtauld Gallery in London, told the researchers. (Guardian)

Supreme Court Asked to Consider Lawsuit Over the Met’s Picasso – The heirs of a Jewish art-collecting couple are petitioning the US Supreme Court to take up the case of whether the Metropolitan Museum of Art should restitute Pablo Picasso’s The Actor (1904), which has been in its collection since 1952. The painting was previously owned by a Jewish couple who were forced to sell it to fund their escape from Nazi persecution in 1937. Last summer, an appeals court ruled that the Met could keep the work—now estimated to be worth more than $100 million—because the couple’s heirs had waited too long to file their restitution claim. (Press release)

Steve McQueen Will Soon Unveil a Film About the Grenfell Tower – The Oscar-winning filmmaker and Turner Prize-winning artist plans to debut a film about the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people in June 2017, later this year. McQueen, who self-funded the project, will show it to the public free of charge in London ahead of donating it to a museum. The film is based on footage McQueen gathered from a helicopter in December 2017 before scaffolding was erected around the building. The artist made an agreement with the local authority not to show the footage for at least two years. (The Art Newspaper)

How Art Is Boosting India’s Latest Protest Movement – Artists are joining protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in India, which fast-tracks naturalization for non-Muslim refugees, a measure they have deemed discriminatory. The Indian art world has helped organize peaceful protest gatherings against the law, complete with dancing, singing, and poetry readings. Some of these demonstrations have been broken up violently by police. The anonymous collective Artists Unite has also been churning out artworks in the form of posters that respond to the protests; other creatives are producing meme-ready works for social media and Whatsapp. (Frieze


The Market for Fake Prints Is on the Rise – Basel and New York are on the front lines of the battle against the production of forged artist prints, an illicit activity that has expanded dramatically in recent years due to advances in photomechanical reproduction technology. The proliferation of online art sales has also worsened the problem, allowing suspect works to avoid the gallery system. Plus, prints are priced low enough to attract less experienced buyers. (New York Times)

Australian Minister Calls to Protect Indigenous Art  – Last November, reports surfaced that elderly Aboriginal artists were being captured, enslaved, and forced to paint for a dealer in the Australian town of Alice Springs. According to a letter sent to the government last year by concerned parties, this case is not unique. Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt is holding a meeting next month with federal and state ministers to look into how to protect against the unethical treatment of the nation’s Aboriginal artists. (Guardian)

Inside Shanyan Koder’s Astounding Art Collection – The elegant Hong Kong-born and London-based collector’s influence extends far and wide. Koder is a council member of London’s Serpentine Galleries and a board member of Unit London; she started her own art advisory business; and she is the founder of Hua Gallery in London. Her first art piece was a graduation gift from her art-collecting parents: a Degas charcoal on paper entitled Woman in the Bath. (Singapore Tatler)


Museum of Art & Design Names Research Curator – The New York museum has named Christian Larsen, a former  associate curator of modern decorative arts and design at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as its new research curator. In his new role, Larsen will run a partnership with the Bard Graduate Center in an effort to increase the visibility of craft and design. (Artforum)

The Humboldt Forum Will Open in September – Berlin’s highly anticipated Humboldt Forum, which houses art from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Ocania in a reconstructed palace, finally has an opening date. The institution is slated to debut with a series of inaugural events from September 9 to 13. Many are hoping the long-awaited opening will revitalize the debate surrounding the restitution of looted colonial-era objects in Germany. (Monopol)


Celebrated Polish Art Collection Returns to Public View – The storied Czartoryski collection, which includes Leonardo’s Lady with an Ermine, is going on view at the newly expanded Krakow National Museum. The Polish state acquired the trove in 2016 from an heir who lives in Spain for €100 million, an estimated five percent of its true value. (Guardian)

Thomas Campbell’s Vision for San Francisco – After a year at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Thomas Campbell (the former Met director who notoriously swapped jobs with the current Met director, Max Hollein) has presented a six-year plan for the museum. Campbell wants to rebrand the museum’s two institutions, the de Young and the Legion of Honor; open them up further to contemporary art; and solve its financial woes by recruiting Silicon Valley billionaires to the board with a show about AI.  (The Art Newspaper)

Trump’s New Space Force Logo Looks a Lot Like Star Trek’s – Donald Trump has unveiled the logo for his new $738 billion Space Force, and it looks a lot like the fictional logo for Star Trek’s Starfleet. Many have been quick to point out the resemblance on Twitter, including Star Trek’s own George Takei, who said, “Ahem. We are expecting some royalties from this…” (The Verge)

The Art World Is Obsessed With the Dolly Parton Meme Challenge – The art world loves a meme, so it’s not surprising that museums and other art-world figures are having fun with the Dolly Parton challenge, inspired by a post from the legendary country singer in which she presented four different photos of herself suited for four very different websites (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and the dating app Tinder). See some of the art-world’s own efforts here. (Hyperallergic)

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