Art Industry News: How Zombie Formalism Gave Way to a New Haunting Art Trend, Zombie Figuration + Other Stories

Plus, experts say Notre Dame's spire should rebuilt just as it was and the Shed in New York lays off 28 employees.

Jamian Juliano-Villani, Messy View (2013), from the SculptureCenter's "puddle, pothole, porthole."

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 Friday, July 10.


Experts Want Notre Dame’s Spire Rebuilt as It Was – France’s head architect for historic monuments, Philippe Villeneuve, says the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral should be restored exactly as it was before the devastating blaze that shocked the world last April. Debate has raged in France over the reconstruction after the French president Emmanuel Macron suggested that the spire could be replaced with a contemporary version. While Macron will have the final say, the majority of the French establishment and the public tend to agree that the cathedral should be restored to its original splendor. (Guardian)

The Director of the V&A East on England’s Reluctance to Confront Its Past – The UK has never formally confronted its own colonial history and its legacy, writes Gus Casely-Hayford, which has made it all the more difficult to resolve racism in contemporary society. Black students still face more hurdles in accessing the arts and careers in the art world, mostly because the sector reinforces the status quo. “We super-serve tiny groups, audiences who just happen to resemble our staff—we know it and still do not stop it,” he writes. “Diversity should not be consigned to an action plan or a role. It is what we are here to celebrate and it is our founding raison d’être.” (The Art Newspaper)

Zombie Figuration Is the Next Zombie Formalism – If the mid-2010s were defined by Zombie Formalism, a macho, theatrical style of abstraction that ultimately failed to move the art-historical needle in any substantial way, the late 2010s have been defined by what Alex Greenberger calls “Zombie Figuration”—a form of painting heavily indebted to Surrealism that, in his words, “is simply no longer moving things forward.” Influenced by the work of artists like Peter Saul, Dorothea Tanning, and Leonor Fini, these younger artists—among them Jamian Juliano-Villani, Mathieu Malouf, and Issy Wood—pursue unnerving juxtapositions and images of distorted bodies, but they lack, in Greenberger’s estimation, “any sense of subtlety or nuance.” (ARTnews)

Virginia Judge Blocks Removal of Confederate Statues – A judge in Richmond, Virginia, has blocked the removal of war monuments from the former capital of the Confederacy. Calling the Confederate general A.P. Hill, who is celebrated in the last such remaining monument, an “American war veteran,” Judge Bradley Cavedo sided with an anonymous Virginian who stated that the statue “belonged to the people,” and ruled that Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney might have violated the law by having removed about half a dozen statues from the city. (Courthouse News)


David Zwirner to Represent the Juan Muñoz Estate – After 30 years on the roster at Marian Goodman, the estate of Juan Muñoz is now exclusively represented by mega-dealer David Zwirner. The late Spanish sculptor was the second artist to win the Tate Modern’s prestigious Turbine Hall commission in 2000. Zwirner will present a solo show of Muñoz’s work in Chelsea next year organized by former Tate Modern director Vicente Todolí. (ARTnews)

The Musée Rodin Makes New Casts to Make Ends Meet – The Rodin Museum in Paris is thinking up ways to offset a €3 million ($3.4 million) loss in income during lockdown. The institution has managed the Rodin estate since 1919 and can issue up to 12 editions of original bronzes per work, a possibility that habitually accounts for 30 percent of its budget, but the museum is hoping that collectors and institutions will respond more enthusiastically to the prospect this year. (Le Figaro)


The Shed Makes Major Staff Cuts – The Shed in New York is the latest institution to lay off a significant portion of its staff. The interdisciplinary art organization said that despite generous donations and restrictive cost-cutting measures, it was forced to lay off 28 full-time staffers. The institution had made furloughs earlier this spring, and when the institution reopens, those employees will come back on an as-needed basis. (Press release)

The Lucas Museum Beefs Up Its Staff – The hotly-anticipated Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is building out an impressive team. Director Sandra Jackson-Dumont announced the hire of Pilar Tompkins-Rivas, the director of the Vincent Price Museum of Art, as chief curator. Star curator Amanda Hunt, director of education at MOCA Los Angeles, will also join the institution alongside Anais Disla, Nenette Luarca-Shoaf, Larissa Gentile, and Erica Neal. (ARTnews)


Jerry Saltz Is Obsessed With Paintings of The Last Supper New York magazine’s art critic has been spending most of lockdown exploring two depictions of The Last Supper: Leonardo da Vinci’s famous work and an almost unknown Middle Renaissance version by Andrea del Castagno from around 1445. “Even if it doesn’t represent an Olympian height and will never be on a fridge magnet, I love it more than Leonardo’s,” Saltz writes of the latter. “Castagno’s picture flattens like a fabulous kaleidoscopic illuminated manuscript.” (Vulture)

Sophie Taeuber-Arp Finally Gets Her Due – The Swiss Dada artist, who for so long was overshadowed by her husband Jean Arp, is finally getting overdue recognition with a major exhibition. A museum survey, “Sophie Taeuber-Arp: Living Abstraction,” will open in March 2021 at the Kunstmuseum Basel followed by tours to Tate Modern in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. (New York Times)

Shepard Fairey to Paint Voting Rights Mural in Milwaukee – The street artist is painting a massive voting rights mural on the side of Milwaukee’s Railway Exchange building. The piece, which depicts a Black man surrounded by references to gerrymandering, voting rights, and anti-war protests, will be finished before the Democratic National Convention in mid-August and remain stay in place for years to come. (

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