Art Industry News: Mount Holyoke Art Professor Arrested for Attempted Murder of Her Colleague + Other Stories

Plus, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art returns a looted painting and the Hirshhorn Museum plans yet another Kusama extravaganza.

Rie Hachiyanagi, an art professor at Mount Holyoke College. Courtesy of Mount Holyoke's faculty website.

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 Tuesday, January 7.


How a Nazi-Looted Painting Entered an Israeli Museum – The Tel Aviv Museum of Art is returning a 19th-century painting to the heirs of the German-Jewish publisher and art collector Rudolf Mosse. But first, it will mount a presentation about the history of the Dutch painter Jozef Israëls’s From Darkness to Light (1871) and how it came to be donated to the museum. The painting, which was sold under duress in the Nazi era, resurfaced on the market in 1993, when it was bought in good faith by the Tel Aviv-based art dealer Meir Stern, who was himself an Auschwitz survivor. He sold the work to a private collector who donated it to the museum, which has now pledged to step up its provenance research to identify any other looted art in its holdings. (TAN

More Join the Chorus Speaking Out Against Trump’s Threat – More museum leaders and heritage professionals are speaking out after US President Trump threatened to attack Iran’s cultural sites. Jim Cuno, the CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, wrote that “it is tragic that today there would be any contemplation or rhetorical threat of further destruction of cultural heritage, particularly when what precious little remains in the world is already suffering from wanton destruction, looting, neglect, reckless overdevelopment, and climate change.” The director of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Matthew Teitelbaum, went further on Twitter, writing: “The preservation of antiquities and cultural sites should not be endangered by any US administration.” (TwitterGetty)

The German Museum Director Who Talked to Her Far-Right Haters – The remarkable director of Dresden’s Albertinum, Hilke Wagner, has received hate mail from supporters of Germany’s far-right AfD party. Instead of throwing them away, she called her attackers. “We didn’t necessarily reach a point of agreement, but we cleared up misconceptions,” she says. “I understood some of the grievances better.” She didn’t stop there. Next, she organized a town hall-style meeting for the museum’s constituents, including AfD supporters, called “We Need to Talk.” Curators have responded to demands to show more art about the city’s wartime destruction, but have chosen to show the material alongside antiwar works by artists such as Maria Lassnig, Marlene Dumas, and Wolfgang Tillmans. They have also highlighted the work of East Germany’s overlooked female artists. (Guardian) 

Performance Artist and Professor Arrested – In a story that seems fit for a Netflix true-crime documentary, the performance artist and Mount Holyoke art professor Rie Hachiyanagi has been arraigned for an alleged attack on a professor in her 60s to whom she confessed her love. When the fellow professor revealed she did not share her feelings, Hachiyanagi is accused of attacking her, stopping only when the woman pretended to have a change of heart, at which point they called for medical help. Hachiyanagi, who has taught at the college since 2004, is known for her installations of handmade paper. (Daily Beast)


A.I.R. Gallery Plans Feminist Book Fair – The nonprofit A.I.R. Gallery is launching a feminist and queer art book fair, which will take place in its Brooklyn space on January 18. The event, organized by one of the first women-led, artist-run nonprofit galleries in the US, will host publishers including Belladonna, GenderFail, Visual AIDS, and more. (Hyperallergic)

Bonhams Launches Designer Handbags Division – The auction house is launching a new designer handbag and fashion department—a niche but growing and fiercely competitive sector. It will hold its first sale in April at Bonhams Knightsbridge. The division will be led by Meg Randall and Winnie Gee, specialists lured from Chiswick Auctions. (Press release)


British Museum Fights to Keep an Indian Miniature in the UK – The British Museum has raised the necessary funds to acquire an 18th-century miniature by the Indian painter Nainsukh of Guler that had been at risk of leaving the country. The UK government placed an export bar on the painting, which depicts a set of trumpeters, in order to allow time for a UK institution to raise £440,000 ($580,000) to halt its sale overseas. (Guardian)

Foundation for Contemporary Arts Launches Painting Award – The New York-based foundation is launching a new annual grant: the Helen Frankenthaler Award for Painting. The inaugural edition of the $40,000 grant, established to honor the legacy of the pioneering Abstract Expressionist who was also an early advocate for the foundation, has been awarded to the New York-based painter Kerstin Brätsch. (Artforum)

Legal Challenge to Moving Confederate Monuments Fails – The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the relocation of Confederate monuments from the University of Texas campus at Austin and a park in San Antonio. The court found that the objecting parties—an organization called the Sons of Confederate Veterans and two descendants of Confederate soldiers—failed to claim a “particularized injury,” or damage that affects them directly in a personal and individual way. (Courthouse News)


How This Stunning Artist Almost Disappeared From History – As part of an ongoing series in which critics celebrate artists who remain underappreciated, Jerry Saltz sings the praises of Beauford Delaney, the 20th-century painter whose portraits, street scenes, and still lifes offered a graphic, strong, and thoroughly contemporary answer to Cubism and Surrealism in the late 1920s. Delaney, a close friend of James Baldwin, rose to prominence in New York for his portraits of dancers and society figures, but he died a lonely alcoholic in 1979 and has been largely overlooked since, in large part because he was black and gay in an art world that made little room for either identity. (Vulture)

Hikers Find Skeleton of Japanese-American Artist – A pair of hikers in California stumbled upon a skeleton last fall, which has now been identified as that of Giichi Matsumura, a Japanese-American artist who, in the final days of World War II, left an internment camp to paint in the mountains. His remains were buried in the mountains after Matsumura died in a freak summer snowstorm. (NBC)

Hirshhorn Plans Another Kusama Show – From April 4 through September 20, the Hirshhorn—which found extreme success with Kusama in 2017—is mounting yet another exhibition dedicated to the Japanese artist. “One With Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection” will include three new acquisitions displayed alongside a number of early paintings, sculptures, and photographs of the artist. Two of her “Infinity Mirror Rooms” will be on view. (Press release)

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field (1965) at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York. © Yayoi Kusama. Photo by Cathy Carver.

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field (1965) at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York. © Yayoi Kusama. Photo by Cathy Carver.

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