Art Industry News: Does the ‘Museum Model’ Even Work Anymore? Some Insiders Say No + Other Stories

Plus, the Brooklyn Museum curator whose hire sparked controversy gets a new gig and demand for US freeports is on the rise.

Bruce Nauman, Kassel Corridor: Elliptical Space (1972), installation view, "Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts" at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Martin Seck, ©2018 the Museum of Modern Art, New York; courtesy of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Panza Collection; ©2018 Bruce Nauman/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

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 Friday, January 3.


Meet the Art World’s 20 Least Powerful People – At the top of Hyperallergic’s annual list of the least powerful people in the art world are adjunct professors, who suffer from low pay and job insecurity, often earning just a few thousand dollars for teaching a whole course. People who call out sexual harassment come in at number two, who have seen little concrete consequences for those they have accused more than two years after the start of the MeToo movement. Also highly placed on the list are the feminist artists fighting Instagram censorship and workers laid off by the now-shuttered Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles. (Hyperallergic)

Can a Perspex Flood Barrier Save St. Mark’s? – St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice wants to build a transparent flood barrier to protect its medieval facade. The church’s governing body is working on a plan to erect a two-meter-high Perspex wall, with sink sheet piles planted four meters deep into St. Mark’s Square. The project’s budget has not been revealed, though the the cost to repair the damage to the church following catastrophic flooding in November is estimated to be around $3.4 million. (TAN)

Does the Museum Model Work? – Jezebel asks a variety of curators, art workers, and activists a provocative question: who does the existing museum model serve? Chaédria LaBouvier, who organized the exhibition “Basquiat’s ‘Defacement’: The Untold Story” at New York’s Guggenheim Museum last year, says she was shocked by how the institution struggled to engage with “an empowered person of color.” Izzy Johnson, a former docent and organizer at the Marciano Art Foundation, thinks that you still need to independently wealthy or have some other source of income to afford to work in an art museum. New Museum union organizer Dana Kopel puts it more bluntly: the whole museum model in the US is “unethical and unsustainable,” she writes. (Jezebel)

Remai Modern’s Former Director Removed From Harassment Complaint – Gregory Burke, the former director of Remai Modern in Saskatoon, tweeted his relief that a Canadian judge had suspended a harassment complaint made by a former staffer in 2015. Judge Brenda Hildebrandt ordered Burke’s name be removed from the complaint to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, writing that a 31-month-long investigation had resulted in “significant prejudice” against the director. Burke resigned from the Canadian museum last year and was due to take the helm of the Auckland Art Gallery in New Zealand, but withdrew from the post when the harassment allegation surfaced. “I look forward to resuming my career in 2020,” he tweeted. (ARTnews)


Demand for US Freeports on the Rise – As the US imposes new tariffs on art and antiques, demand is spiking for New York’s first freeport art storage facility. Arcis in Harlem has found particular success with its viewing rooms, which allow international sellers to show work to prospective buyers without ever having to pay import taxes (though they will need to pony up once the work leaves the facility—unless the buyer has space at Arcis, too). (The Art Newspaper)


Hong Kong Artist Cheung Yee Has Died – The Chinese artist has died in Los Angeles at the age of 83. Cheung Yee, who came to prominence in Hong Kong in the 1960s, is best known for his sculptural bronzes, which combine Western and traditional Chinese aesthetics. (Artforum)

Brooklyn Museum Curator Heads to Cleveland – Kristen Windmuller-Luna is the Cleveland Museum of Art’s new curator of African arts. She previously served as African art curator at the Brooklyn Museum, where her hire sparked controversy in 2018 over whether the institution should have hired a white academic for the job. (ARTnews)

Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye Will Become a Museum – The influential Modernist architect’s masterwork, Villa Savoye, will become a museum and library dedicated to Le Corbusier. Work to turn the house in Poissy, on the edge of Paris, into a museum could begin in 2024, with a public opening scheduled for 2027. (Le Parisien)


Damien Hirst Sculptures Get a Facelift Ahead of Retrospective – The British artist is preparing for a retrospective by sprucing up some of his older works. Several large-scale bronzes surfaced outside his Gloucestershire studio complex last week, including Charity (2002–3), The Virgin Mother (2005–6), and Temple (2008). A spokeswoman confirmed they “are currently being worked on for a retrospective exhibition.” (The Art Newspaper)

Princeton’s Newest Portraits Honor Blue-Collar Workers – The Ivy League university typically hangs portraits that honor (almost entirely white) founders, presidents, and donors. But Princeton’s latest display is different: a new series of 10 portraits by Mario Moore honors workers from across campus, including those in the facilities, dining, and security departments. Moore said he wanted to put the predominantly African American workers “in positions of power.” Some of the works will now enter the Princeton University Art Museum’s collection. (CNN)


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