Art Industry News: Larry Gagosian, Sheena Wagstaff, and David Zwirner Reveal How They Weathered Lockdown + Other Stories

Plus, the director of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is axed after a dispute with the board and Steven Parrino gets a new auction record—via an app.

Larry Gagosian in 2017 in Basel, Switzerland. Photo by Harold Cunningham/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 Tuesday, July 14.


Montreal Museum Director Axed After Public Spat – Nathalie Bondil, the director and chief curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, has been let go due to what the board of directors described as “disturbing” reports from staff about workplace climate. The move comes as tensions rose between the board and Bondil over her future at the institution; the long-serving director claimed she was being sidelined to make way for her presumptive successor, Mary-Dailey Desmarais, whose family members are major patrons of the museum. (The Art Newspaper)

Tokyo Art Exhibit Invites Theft – An exhibition at Same gallery in Tokyo invited visitors to come back after the opening and stage their own robbery of the gallery at midnight. The response to the participatory experiment organized by Tota Hasegawa was almost too good, with 200 people clamoring to get their hands on the artworks and smuggle them into their getaway vehicles. Within ten minutes, the show, which was meant to last ten days, had been depleted, and hours later some of the works began to show up for sale online. (Unseen Japan)

An Oral History of the Art World in 2020 – Top dealers, auctioneers, collectors, and curators recount the first time they heard about the coronavirus and reflect on how the events of 2020 will impact the art world. “I thought ‘this shit’s for real'” says Larry Gagosian when he noticed the influx of obituaries due to coronavirus. Without a vaccine, it is hard to imagine art fairs and their attendant travel and schmoozing will return. Museums could ditch loan shows to refocus on their permanent collections. One thing is for sure, as MoMA curator Ann Temkin puts it: “After this, none of us will be able to take for granted the ability to see works of art every day.” (Wall Street Journal)

Art Schools Try to Block Trump’s New Immigration Ban – Art schools in the US are pushing back against against new guidelines issued by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the US Department of Homeland Security that aim to prevent international students from staying in the country if they are taking only online courses. Schools including the Pratt Institute, the Otis College of Art and Design, the Parsons School of Design, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and RISD are coming out in support of a lawsuit against the new rules filed by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (Hyperallergic)


Steven Parrino Painting Sets a Record on the Fair Warning App – Loïc Gouzer’s newfangled art auction app has set another artist record, this time for ’80s bad-boy painter Steven Parrino. The artist’s neon-yellow “misshapen monochrome” SCREW BALL (1988) sold for $977,000, a world record for the artist at auction, on an estimate of $650,000 to $850,000. (Instagram)

Miart Will Be Held Online – The Milanese art fair miart 2020, which was originally postponed from April to September, has now canceled its physical fair this year. A digital version of the event will open online in September. (Press release)

Stanley Whitney and Agnes Gund Unite for Benefit Show – The artist and collector are teaming up to mount a special online exhibition at Lisson Gallery to support criminal justice reform. The show, “Stanley Whitney: No to Prison Life,” includes work created in protest of mass incarceration and runs through July 26. Ten percent of the profits will go to Gund’s Art for Justice Fund. (ARTnews)


V&A and London’s Exhibition Road Will Open August 6 – The V&A will reopen its ground-floor galleries to visitors on August 6, initially from Thursday to Sunday each week, before opening its second- and third-floor galleries on August 27. Its Exhibition Road neighbors will stagger their reopening dates in order to ensure safe visitor flow to the district: the Natural History Museum will open August 5 and the Science Museum on August 19. (Press release)

Colby College Names New Museum Director – Jacqueline Terrassa has been named the next director of the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine. Terrassa, who has led education initiatives at the Art Institute of Chicago since 2016, will take over for Sharon Corwin, who has been named CEO of the Terra Foundation, in October. Terrassa says that she hopes to create “an expansive, inclusive model for what an art museum can be.” (Press release)

Art Historian Frank Popper Dies – The art historian, who was among the first to explore the relationship between Modern art and technology, has died. Born in the Czech Republic in 1918, Popper started out as a textile designer and wireless operator in the Royal Air Force before moving to Paris and studying art history at the Sorbonne, where he focused on kinetic art. His books include Art—Action and Participation (1975) and Art of the Electronic Age (1993). (Artforum)


UC San Francisco May Destroy a Landmark Mural of Black History — A mural commemorating the 19th-century African American midwife and real estate owner Biddy Mason is at risk of being demolished alongside nine other murals from the UC San Francisco’s UC Hall. In charting California’s medical history for the commission, the artist, Polish-born Bernard Zakheim, placed Biddy Mason center stage. (Los Angeles Times)

Bonnie Lucas, Still Playing With Dolls – The artist Bonnie Lucas speaks about her memorable collage works. During lockdown, she has been dipping into her stockpile of tchotchkes, sourced over years of trips to discount stores. The artworks, which are often bubble-gum pink and adorned with dolls, toys, and craft supplies, are Lucas’s response to the conventional notions of femininity and sex. “I think the power, the pleasure, and my feeling of mastery come when I’ve destroyed these feminine things and I’ve repurposed them in my own way,” Lucas says. (NYT)

David Lee Roth Is an Artist Now – Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth has traded late nights on stage in spandex for long days in the studio wearing ink-stained clothes. Unable to tour internationally, Roth has spent lockdown making drawings, which he calls “comics,” and sharing them weekly on social media. “Social commentary is what I do,” he said. “It’s what I’ve always done.” (New York Times)

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