Art Industry News: Met CEO Dan Weiss Defends the Museum’s Ticket Price Hike + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, Damien Hirst's new spot paintings go on show and a Canadian museum plans a Justin Bieber exhibition.

Daniel H. Weiss © the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2017.

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 9.


Is the UK Government Art Collection Sexist? – The UK government’s art collection is still biased against female artists, the opposition Labour party claims. Of more than 340 acquisitions over the past five years, around 70 percent were made by men. The culture department attributes the imbalance to the purchase of a large number of works by three male artists, including Michael Craig-Martin. (Guardian)

Artists Defend Lorde’s Decision to Cancel Tel Aviv Concert – More than 100 artists—including street artist Shepard Fairey, photomontage artist Peter Kennard, and sculptor Emily Young—have signed a letter supporting singer Lorde’s right to cancel a concert in Tel Aviv as a symbol of support of Palestinians. The letter comes after controversial rabbi Shmuley Boteach took out a full-page advertisement in the Washington Post to accuse her of supporting a “global antisemitic boycott of Israel.” (The Art Newspaper)

Met Museum CEO Dan Weiss Talks Tickets – In an interview with Hrag Vartanian, Weiss agrees in principle that museums should be free to the public but notes “that it is never free. I don’t think the question is ‘Should it be free?’ the question is ‘Who should pay?’” He explains that when the pay-as-you-wish policy went into place, the museum received 25 percent of its funding from New York City, whereas today that number has dropped to about 9 percent. Furthermore, “the average visitor to this museum costs us about $42 dollars,” meaning that even a $25 ticket is subsidized by the endowment. (Hyperallergic)

Hirst to Show More Spot Paintings – In March, Damien Hirst will take over an 18th-century mansion, Houghton Hall in Norfolk, to show 50 new Colour Space works, a development of his spot paintings. The mansion was originally built for the first British prime minister Sir Robert Walpole and meant to house Walpole’s world-class art collection. (Guardian)


How Kippenberger Became a Market Darling – Although the artist, who died in 1997, was no big-ticket seller in his lifetime—his first work sold for just $833—his prices have skyrocketed over the past five years. Most loved are his so-called “underwear paintings,” based on photographs of Picasso, and recently demand for his large scale self-portraits has apparently hit a “fever pitch.” (ARTnews)

Charles Bronson Art Removed From Auction – It is unclear why the Oxford group Homes4All had to remove the five donated artworks by Britain’s most notorious criminal, a bare-knuckle boxer who first went to prison for armed robbery in 1974. A team member had previously said the group was “super excited” to have him on board. (BBC)

Phillips Appoints New Photo Specialist – Christopher Mahoney took up the post of senior international specialist of photographs at Phillips earlier this month. Mahoney was previously the head of photographs at Sotheby’s and, after 2016, served as a private consultant. (Press release)

Zwirner to Rep Franz West Estate – The gallery that represented West during his lifetime (from 1993 to 2000) now represents the estate of the Austrian artist, whose work will figure in the upcoming “David Zwirner: 25 Years” show in New York. The West estate was previously represented by Gagosian. (Press release)


Portikus Frankfurt Names New Curator – Christina Lehnert, the former curator of the Kunstverein Braunschweig, will take over as the new head curator at the Portikus in Frankfurt. She succeeds Fabian Schöneich who is at the end of his tenure. (Press release)​

Marfa Contemporary to Close – The Texas-based nonprofit will host its final event on January 13, a performance by Autumn Knight. The space opened its exhibition and residency program in the artist enclave in 2012. (Artforum)

Speed Art Museum Makes Interim Director Permanent – Stephen Reily will lead the Speed Art Museum until at least April 2020, the museum in Louisville, Kentucky, announced. Reily, who was on the board for 10 years, is described as a successful entrepreneur, civic leader, and lawyer. He has been the institution’s interim director since last April. (WFPL)

New UK Culture Secretary After Cabinet Reshuffle – Matt Hancock is the UK’s new culture secretary after his boss, Karen Bradley, was made Northern Ireland secretary in Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle. Hancock, who now heads the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, has been the culture minister in the past. (Guardian)


BBC’s Antiques Roadshow to Review Ivory Policy – Facing criticism by the actress and wildlife activist Virginia McKenna, among others, the BBC is reviewing its policy of allowing objects made of ivory to appear on Antiques Roadshow, although it stopped short of an outright ban. A BBC spokesperson says that the media company will inform viewers about current legislation and draw attention to the “horrors of modern-day poaching.” (BBC)

Berlin Biennale Gets a Theme – The organizers of the Berlin Biennale announced the title and theme of the event’s 10th edition, due to run from June 9 to September 9. The show will be called “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” after the 1985 Tina Turner song. The announcement, made on Instagram, consisted of an annotated printout of the song’s lyrics. (Instagram)

Louvre Sees Attendance Increase – After suffering a substantial drop in visitors in 2016 due to the Paris terror attacks and floods, the museum rebounded with a 10.1 percent increase in attedance, counting 8.1 million visitors in 2017. (RFI)

Canadian Museum Plans Justin Bieber Show – “Steps to Stardom” is the name of the show dedicated to Bieber at the Stratford Perth Museum in his childhood hometown. It’s a pun meant to remind visitors how the mega star started out busking on the steps of the local theater, and the show, which got the singer’s approval, will include images from that time. (Stratford Beacon Herald)​

Justin Bieber playing drums at age 8. This photo, along with many others, will be on display at the Stratford Perth Museum as part of its Bieber exhibit, opening on February 18. Image: file photo/The Beacon Herald/Postmedia Network.

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