Art Industry News: Rainy Venice Has Realized That Santiago Calatrava’s Slip n’ Slide of a Glass-Bottomed Bridge Was a Bad Idea + Other Stories

Plus, South Africa's art collection is spared in a fire at parliament and the trade-show industry is recovering at a snail's pace.

The Constitution Bridge, also called the Calatrava Bridge, on July 18, 2011 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Marco Secchi/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 4.


Art Treasures Survived South Africa Parliament Fire – Thousands of rare South African artworks were spared by a fire that broke out in Cape Town on Sunday and ripped through the country’s parliamentary buildings. It took more than nine hours to extinguish the blaze and some areas of the building still need to be checked. The 4,000 work-strong parliamentary collection encompasses objects dating back to the 17th century, including the celebrated 394-foot-long Keiskamma Tapestry. (Bloomberg, Sunday Times)

The Trade Show Industry Is Struggling – The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the trade show industry at large, and the art market sector was not immune. According to a report in the Financial Times, trade show attendance, exhibitors, and revenue in 2020 were just about a fifth of what they had been the year before—and only recovered by approximately 20 percent in 2021. Some are expecting that the headwinds will cause a sector-wide consolidation as larger fairs acquire smaller ones. (Financial Times)

Calatrava’s Venice Bridge Is Getting a Makeover – The Ponte della Costituzione, a multimillion-dollar glass bridge designed by architect Santiago Calatrava that opened in 2008, is getting an overhaul after years of complaints from those who tripped, fell, and sometimes suffered injuries on its slippery glass steps. In the daily use of the bridge, heavy items and acts of vandalism caused some of the original non-stick glass panes to break and these were later replaced with inadequate glass, says Calatrava’s office. The city has now agreed to spend €500,000 ($565,000) to replace the glass with stone. (New York Times)

Art-World Expert and Parkett Publisher Has Died – Dieter von Graffenried, the publisher of the acclaimed art publication Parkett, which ended its run in 2017 after 33 years, died suddenly from a heart attack while cross-country skiing in the Engadin Valley in Switzerland. He ran his own art consultancy and was co-chairman of the Swiss Institute in New York from 2001 to 2008. He was 69. (KleinReport)


The Dresden Jewel Theft Trial Begins in January – The trial of six alleged perpetrators in the 2019 jewel heist at Dresden’s Green Vault Museum begins on January 28. Because two defendants were minors at the time of the crime, the trial will begin in juvenile court. All six suspects have connections to a well-known Arabic crime family based in Berlin and two are already serving juvenile sentences for the 2017 robbery of the Bode Museum in Berlin, where a massive golden coin was stolen. (Monopol)

Faith Ringgold Mural Heads to Brooklyn Museum – A mural Ringgold made in 1971 for the former women’s prison on Rikers Island, New York’s major jail complex, will be transferred to the Brooklyn Museum this month. For the Women’s House was on view at the correctional facility until 1998, when the building became a male prison. It was later relocated to the Rose M. Singer Center, a women’s prison. Agnes Gund’s Art for Justice Fund will support the creation of a new artwork that will replace Ringgold’s mural. (The Art Newspaper)

​​Rodin Bronze From Family Plot Hits the Auction Block – A bronze statue by Auguste Rodin of a dying girl in the arms of her mother has been removed from a cemetery in Middleburg, Virginia, and will be sold at Freeman’s in Philadelphia on February 22. The descendants of philanthropist Elizabeth Musgrave Croswell Merrill, the grieving woman depicted in the work, removed the piece from her grave, ostensibly to protect it from theft. The sculpture is estimated to fetch $250,000 to $400,000. (New York Times)

A Former Prison Becomes a Museum in Tangier – A new contemporary art museum opened on December 23 in a former prison in Tangier, Morocco. The Contemporary Art Museum of the Kasbah cost 13 million dirhams ($1.4 million) to restore and is being overseen by the National Museum Foundation of Morocco. (Le Journal des Arts)


A Banksy-Themed Nightclub Pops Up in Mexico – Party like a… street artist? The new Banksy Social Club in Mazatlán, Mexico, has a dance floor, bar, and bottle service, but also sells baseball hats embroidered with peace signs from the artist’s CND Soldiers (2005). The walls are adorned with replicas of Banksy’s most famous works. It is unlikely the establishment will be sued considering the amount of fakes out there, and Banksy’s apparent disinterest in copyright. (TAN)

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