Art Industry News: The True Story of the Five-Year Battle to Build George Lucas’s Narrative Museum + Other Stories

Plus, Birmingham's new mural wasn't by Banksy after all and activists plan a vigil outside the Berkshire Museum.

George Lucas Museum designed by MAD Architects.

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, July 10.


Meet the Internet’s Most Famous Artistic Twins – The Montauk Beach House hosted an opening last weekend for the most famous artists you’ve likely never heard of: 25-year-old sisters Allie and Lexi Kaplan, better known as the Kaplan Twins. Their oil paintings of blown-up memes are priced between $7,500 and $17,500 and shamelessly tailored to Instagram, where they have 160,000 followers. They met their current art dealer Damien Roman when they were loitering outside a Jeffrey Deitch exhibition at Art Basel Miami Beach three years ago. (Vanity Fair)

Chus Martinez on Being a Woman in the Art World – In a wide-ranging essay, Spanish curator Chus Martinez argues that the art world still has a long way to go before women are treated with parity. She cites recent dismissals of qualified women from leadership positions in the museum sector as one of a number of indications that women are not judged according to the same standard as men in directorial roles. “We should fight for new policies and measures, not only rights,” she writes. “The art world is very conservative; one could almost call it reactionary, despite its sympathy for left-leaning activism.” (e-flux)

The Battle to Build the Lucas Museum Rages On – Now that George Lucas’s Lucas Museum of Narrative Art has finally broken ground in Los Angeles, Vanity Fair delves into the five-year saga to build it. The project was greeted with disdain in Lucas’s hometown of San Francisco and his wife Mellody Hobson’s hometown of Chicago. Now, the Star Wars director is aiming to show both towns—as well as the art world—what they missed out on. A rare preview of the collection left writer Paul Goldberger impressed: “They were the kinds of pieces that showed a serious collector’s eye,” he wrote. (Vanity Fair)

How an Artist Is Helping New Orleans Remember Its Past – An unsolved case of arson in 1973 left 32 people dead at a gay nightclub in New Orleans—the largest targeted murder of gay people in American history until the Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016. Now, local artist Skylar Fein is working to preserve the memory of the fire’s largely forgotten victims as part of the show “Changing Course: Reflections on New Orleans Histories” at the New Orleans Museum of Art. (New York Times)


Sotheby’s to Stage the First-Ever Auction Dedicated to Gold – The universal symbol of value, desire, and beauty will get a dedicated auction at Sotheby’s London in October. Titled “The Midas Touch,” the sale will feature exclusively gold-based objects ranging from contemporary sculpture to sacred antiquities. (Press release)

Opponents to Berkshire Sale Plan a Vigil – The activist group protesting the Berkshire Museum’s controversial deaccession are planning a rally outside the institution this Saturday, July 14, to mark the one-year anniversary since the planned sale was first announced. (Berkshire Eagle)

Regen Projects Will Represent Christina Quarles – The LA-based artist is known for her semi-figurative and colorful paintings that tackle issues of identity. The artist’s work is currently on view at the Hammer Museum’s “Made in L.A. 2018” biennial. She will have a solo show at her new Los Angeles gallery next year. (ARTnews)

Bonhams Appoints Florida Director – The auction house has tapped Alexis Cronin Butler to source auction items and raise the company’s profile in the state. Butler comes to Bonhams from Christie’s New York, where she was a specialist in the Impressionist and Modern art department. (Press release)


The Hayward Gallery Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary – To mark the half-century of the historic gallery, the Hayward in London will offer a series of special discounts on Wednesday. All visitors will pay just 50p (67¢) to access the gallery’s current show, “Lee Bul: Crashing,” while memberships to the Southbank Center will be available for just £50. Books will also be on sale for half price. (Press release)

Israeli Art Prize Awarded – Photographer Daniel Tsal is the fourth recipient of the annual $5,000 prize for a young Israeli artist. Known for his photographs of the body, color fields, and domestic interiors, Tsal will also get a solo show at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. (Artforum)

Painter Felix Pène du Bois Dies – The 61-year-old artist, who was known for her allegorical scenes inspired by New York City in the 1980s and was a regular at 56 Bleecker Gallery, died by suicide on May 31 in New Orleans. “This is an artist who has learned how to make pictures shimmer,” the poet Rene Ricard wrote in a 1986 essay on her work. (Artforum)

New York City Releases New Grant Recipients – The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone has given out 37 grants as part of an arts engagement program it launched last year. A total of $250,000 in packages between $2,000 and $10,000 will be distributed to individual artists and nonprofits that create public works or programming in the area. Grantees include the African Diaspora Film Festival, Andrea Arroyo, José Carlos Casado, and Marne Lucas. (ARTnews)


Birmingham Mural Was Not By Banksy After All – An artwork stenciled onto a wall in Birmingham is not, in fact, by the elusive street artist, despite widespread speculation to the contrary. A different, unnamed street artist has claimed the work and said he created it in tribute to a deceased artist friend, Tame, who died after falling off of a roof in 2013. (BBC)

North America’s Largest Painting Returns to Public View – The 1,275-foot-long painting (no, that’s not a typo) will go on view at Kilburn Mill in New Bedford, Massachusetts beginning October 8. Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World (1848) by Benjamin Russell (who used to narrate the work in a two-hour performance) and Caleb Purrington is equivalent in length to 14 blue whales. (ARTnews)

Director of French Art Academy Denounces Culture Minister – The outgoing director of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Jean-Marc Bustamante, has criticized Françoise Nyssen for not renewing his contract after he was attacked by students for failing to respond to sexual harassment allegations against some of the school’s teachers. (The Art Newspaper)

See the National Geographic Photo of the Year – The Grand Prize winner of this year’s travel photographer of the year contest in the “nature” category was Reiko Takahashi for a portrait of a humpback whale calf. In the “people” category, Alessandra Meniconzi took home the top prize for her depiction of a Kazakh hunter, while the winner for an urban photograph was Hiro Kurashina, who shot a rainy street in Nagasaki from a passing tram. (National Geographic)

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