Art Industry News: Top Art Critics Denounce the Met’s New Admission Policy + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, the Museum of Ice Cream is fined for its environmentally hazardous sprinkles and rumors fly over the sale of Warhol's Orange Marilyn.

The exterior of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. Photo by Lorina Capitulo/Newsday RM via 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 Friday, January 5.


Quai Branly Museum Chief Says It Will Return African Art – The president of the ethnographic museum, Stéphane Martin, embraced French President Macron’s pledge to return artifacts to Africa and called for collaboration between French and African museums. The Parisian institution’s holdings include more than 70,000 artifacts from the African continent. (The Art Newspaper)

Thomas Roma Retires After Accusations of Misconduct – The renowned photographer and Columbia School of the Arts professor notified the university of his departure, effective immediately, following accusations of sexual misconduct by five former students, including one account of “oral rape.” (New York Times)

Critics on the Met’s New Admission Policy – Almost across the board, critics are outraged. Holland Cotter and Roberta Smith say the Met’s new approach is a “mistake,” arguing that museums—as nonprofits supported by taxpayer money—should be free. Meanwhile, Jerry Saltz imagines the chaotic, dark, and Kafkaesque encounters between visitors and ticket attendants that might be caused by a policy granting free access only to local residents. (New York Times, New York Magazine)

Lily Cole Calls Out Prejudice at Brontë Museum – The British model-turned-actress was named “creative planner” of the Brontë Museum’s upcoming celebrations of author Emily Brontë’s bicentenary. The appointment led an expert to resign from his post in protest. Now, Cole—a Cambridge University graduate with a double first in art history—is hitting back, saying the Wuthering Heights author would not have been so prejudicial, proposing to participate under a pseudonym so as not to color the proceedings with “my name, my gender, my image or my teenage decisions.” (BBC)


Asia Week New York Lineup Announced – Asia Week returns to New York from March 15 to March 24. Forty-three international galleries—including newcomers Robert Kuo and Findlay Galleries—as well as five auction houses will present art and antiquities from Southeast Asia, China, Japan, and Korea. (Press release)

The Story Behind a $1 Million Thiebaud Sale – Wayne Thiebaud’s Lollipop Tree (1969) sold at auction in Windsor, Connecticut, on New Year’s Day for $1.08 million to a Paris-based phone bidder. The oil-on-board painting was a surprise consignment for Ed Nadeau of Nadeau’s Auction Gallery. He had never heard of Thiebaud. (Hartford Courant)

Brussels Fair to Honor Christo – BRAFA, the Brussels international art fair due to open at the city’s Tour & Taxis building on January 27 (until February 4), will feature 133 galleries from 15 countries. Christo will be the guest of honor; the fair is presenting the artist’s early sculpture Three Store Fronts (1965–66), which measures more than 14 meters long. (Press release)

Who Bought Warhol’s Orange Marilyn? – The Andy Warhol rumor mill has been going into overdrive over the rumored sale of Orange Marilyn (1964) from the collection of the late S.I. Newhouse, Jr, for some $250 million. Josh Baer has speculated in the Baer Faxt that the buyer is financier Kenneth Griffin. Now, Marion Maneker says that whoever bought it may have gotten a bargain. (Art Market Monitor​)


Director of National Museums Liverpool to Retire David Fleming has announced that he is retiring in March, having led the National Museums Liverpool, a group that includes the Walker Art Gallery and International Slavery Museum, since 2001. (Press release)

Manhattan Children’s Museum to Move – The Children’s Museum of Manhattan is moving to a former church on 96th Street overlooking Central Park. It bought the 1903 building for $45 million; renovations are expected to cost more than $75 million. The museum, which hopes to reopen at the end of 2021, plans to use the extra space to showcase child-friendly installations by contemporary artists. (NYT)

Collector Bruce Halle Has DiedThe American collector and philanthropist Bruce Halle, who made millions as founder of the wheel retailer Discount Tire, has died at 87. He collected sculpture by Maillol, Arp, and other Modern masters, but will be best remembered for supporting his wife Diane’s love of Latin American art, the focus of the 300-work Halle Collection. (ARTnews)


Museum of Ice Cream Fined for Environmental Hazard – The museum’s viral sprinkle installation, which opened last month during Art Basel Miami Beach, came under fire when a local environmentalist called the museum out for its “sprinkle litter,” predicting that the trails of brightly colored plastic would surely end up in the ocean and be mistaken for food by marine life. Now, the sprinkles have been officially declared an “environmental hazard” and the city is fining the museum’s organizers $1,000. (Miami New Times)

Corcoran Renovation May Be Making Students Sick – Students at the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design have been complaining about headaches, respiratory disorders, nosebleeds, and rashes. Some have linked the symptoms to the ongoing—and perhaps toxic—$47.5 million renovation of the school’s building. (Washington City Paper)

Terry Richardson Is Under Investigation – The celebrity photographer is under investigation by the NYPD’s Special Victims Squad after model Caron Bernstein accused him of rape. Richardson has been accused of assault and sexual harassment by women for years, but has continued to work with prominent magazines and brands like Supreme. (Hollywood Reporter)

Solange Knowles on Her Transition Into Visual Art – In a cover story for Surface magazine, the pop star discusses her transformation from music maker to politically minded visual artist. Writer Antwaun Sargent visits Knowles in her adopted hometown of New Orleans to discuss her early art education and influences ranging from Donald Judd to Claudia Rankine. (Press release)

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