Art Industry News: Artist Duo Gilbert & George Quit London’s Royal Academy in a Huff After It Cancelled Their Planned Show + Other Stories

Plus, Tate and the National Gallery may cut hundreds of retail employees and a David Hockney painting sells for $14.8 million in Hong Kong.

Artists Gilbert & George on October 16, 2017 prior to their exhibition "The Beard Pictures" at Thaddaeus Ropac in Paris. (Photo credit should read STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP 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 on this Monday, July 13.


Norman Foster Slammed Over Airport Design – Architect Norman Foster is under fire after his design firm, Foster and Partners, won a contract to design a new airport at a luxury resort known as the Red Sea Project in Saudi Arabia. The firm was one of the founding signatories of the “Architects Declare” manifesto last year, which called for an “urgent need for action” on climate change. Critics see the new project, which helps expand the aviation industry, as running counter to that message. The Architects Climate Action Network has now demanded an explanation from the star architecture firm. (Guardian)

MoMA Educators Speak Out – Museum educators have become some of the first jobs to be cut as institutions look to limit costs amid the shutdown. At New York’s Museum of Modern Art, one former educator says she was abruptly sent a letter of dismissal in March and told it would be months, if not years, before her job would return. It is estimated that around 100 others received similar messages. Now, “what they have is the bare minimum, the scaffold of an education department,” says one educator. “If you don’t have educators, you don’t have a department. It’s like closing a school but the principal still shows up every day.” (The Art Newspaper)

Why Gilbert & George Quit the Royal Academy – The dapper artist duo resigned from their post as royal academicians at one of Britain’s top cultural institutions after a planned exhibition of their work was called off. In an interview earlier this year, Gilbert & George mentioned that they were in the planning stages of a “high-profile show.” When those plans fell apart, they became the first academicians to resign since 2005. An RA spokeswoman told the Observer that their departure was “regrettable,” but that not all academicians can have a show. (Guardian)

Tate and National Gallery Retail Units Cut Employees – More than 200 jobs could be cut at Tate Enterprises Ltd., the commercial branch that manages the museum network’s retail and publishing services, as Tate Galleries restructure in order to save £1 million ($1.3 million) this year. Many won’t be returning to casual contracts or part-time jobs when Tate Galleries reopens on July 27. The National Gallery Company, which manages the National Gallery’s shops and cafes, is also considering cutting 24 of its 88 positions. The jobs had been furloughed during lockdown (the National Gallery reopened at the beginning of the month) and a 30-day staff consultation plan began on July 1. (TAN)


A $14.8 Million David Hockney Sells at Sotheby’s Hong Kong – Sotheby’s summer Hong Kong sale (a rescheduled version of its normal spring sale) generated $76.8 million across 39 lots on Thursday, similar to last year’s total. A highlight was David Hockney’s 30 Sunflowers (1996), which sold for $14.8 million and became the second-most expensive artwork by a Western artist to sell in Asia. (ARTnews)

A Rare Calder Work Sells for Over $5 Million – The auction house Artcurial sold a monumental standing steel sculpture by Alexander Calder for more than €4.9 million ($5.5 million) to a European collector, above its high estimate of €3.5 million ($3.9 million). (Les Journales des Arts)


Dream House Installation in Danger of Closing – New York’s Dream House, an immersive art experience with roots dating back to the 1970s, is in jeopardy. Its owners revealed they owe $150,000 in back rent on the space, which they have occupied for 60 years in Lower Manhattan. Artists La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela and their MELA Foundation have now launched a GoFundMe campaign to save the beloved Tribeca haunt. (ARTnews)

Philanthropist Jane Walentas Dies at 76 The art patron who helped shape New York’s Dumbo neighborhood with her philanthropy has died at age 76. Walentas was behind the restoration of the 1922 carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is now known as Jane’s Carousel. (TAN)


Judge in Virginia Monuments Case Wrote Op-Ed Supporting Segregation – The judge who has consistently blocked the removal of Confederate monuments from Virginia, Bradley Cavedo, is under scrutiny after an op-ed he wrote for his college newspaper in 1977 resurfaced last week. Cavedo’s article criticized the desegregation of his former high school as well as instant voter registration. Cavedo wrote that he hoped to leave the US after graduation in order to leave behind “the solicitous paternalism of the federal courts.” (Courthouse News)

Employees at the VMFA Condemn the Presence of Armed Security – Former and current staff of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond have signed a petition decrying the museum’s handling of complaints of racist and sexual harassment and calling for the removal of armed guards in the galleries. The group, VMFA Reform, calls for the museum to ban concealed firearms and “develop and implement nonviolent security programs.” (Hyperallergic)

Pissarro Painting Owned by Scandal-Ridden Family Enters the National Gallery – A painting by Camille Pissarro that was owned by Bronwen Astor—the wife of Bill Astor, a key player in the Profumo scandal in the early 1960s—has been accepted by the United Kingdom in lieu of inheritance tax. Pissarro’s Late Afternoon in our Meadow (1887) will become part of the National Gallery’s collection, going on view in London on Friday. (Guardian)

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