Art Industry News: India’s Supreme Court Threatens to ‘Demolish’ the Taj Mahal Because It’s Dirty + Other Stories

Plus, New York unveils a monument to the Pulse nightclub shooting and Ai Weiwei reflects on the 10-year anniversary of the Sichuan earthquake.

Indian Muslims offer Eid al-Fitr prayers at the Taj Mahal in Agra on June 16, 2018. (AFP/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 this Tuesday, July 17.


Ai Weiwei Remembers the Sichuan Disaster – On the 10th anniversary of the 2008 earthquake that killed an estimated 70,000 people, including 5,000 children, the Chinese artist asks what we have learned. “Throughout China’s long history, almost every tragedy has been covered up; no facts are revealed, no inconvenient memories persist,” he writes. To mark the anniversary, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown is showing a series of sculptures Ai created based on in-depth research into the children’s deaths. The artist’s fiery online criticism of the earthquake’s toll, which was amplified by the poor construction of Sichuan’s schoolhouses, led to his notorious beating and detention by Chinese authorities. (The Art Newspaper)

Texas Museum Takes Extra Care in Showing Anti-Klan Painting – Mindful of the backlash experienced by other museums showing controversial works, the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin has spent two years preparing to show a panoramic painting by Vincent Valdez of a contemporary Ku Klux Klan gathering. After consulting community groups (including—belatedly—the NAACP), the work goes on display today, with carefully worded warning signage. (New York Times)

The Yellowing Taj Mahal Gets a Dire Warning – Pollution and insect dung are turning the white marble monument built by a Mughal emperor yellow. India’s Supreme Court has told the state of Uttar Pradesh that it must restore the Taj Mahal or the Indian government will either shut it down “or demolish it.” The Supreme Court says it will monitor the situation daily beginning on July 31. The Taj Mahal currently attracts around 70,000 visitors every day. (TAN)

Employment Dispute at London’s National Gallery – A group of 27 art educators claim the National Gallery in London has unfairly dismissed them after decades of service. Now, they are asking a court to retroactively recognize them as employees rather than freelancers. “Individuals working in the arts are in need of certainty surrounding their employment rights and it’s essential to ensure they are categorized correctly,” the group’s lawyer says. The National Gallery claims that the contractors had been offered full-time positions but declined to accept them. (Guardian)


Lloyds to Speed Up Relocation Amid Brexit – The chief executive of Lloyd’s, the insurance company with many art-world clients, says her company, along with other insurance and financial services businesses, plans to set up subsidiaries in Brussels to continue to serve the EU after Brexit. Now, Inga Beale said that the plan is “full steam ahead” due to the UK government’s “disappointing” White Paper setting out plans for EU relations post-Brexit. (BBC)

Galleries Pin Hopes on Condo New York – As the second edition of Condo New York gets underway, participating out-of-town small and mid-sized galleries hope that their guest slots will attract collectors and curators alike. “New York City is almost like a year-round art fair,” says Jim Dempsey, co-owner of Chicago’s Corbett vs. Dempsey gallery. (Observer)

Cheyenne Westphal Champions Female Talent – Phillips’s chairman says that she is “very aware that I’m in a very public leadership position as a woman” and wants to “own that space” by championing female staffers as well as female artists. Four young female auctioneers currently in Phillips’s training program have “real star-power potential,” Westphal says. (Robb Report)

Folk Art Fair Sees Record Sales in Soggy Santa Fe – Monsoon rains and lightning caused the Internet to crash, but they didn’t dampen sales at the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe. Sales were up slightly compared to 2017, totaling around $3.28 million—a new record, according to the event’s organizers. (San Francisco Chronicle)


Photographer Who Snapped Picasso in the Bath Has Died – David Douglas Duncan, who captured the world’s most famous modern painter sitting naked in the tub, has died at age 102. The celebrated war photographer had an enduring friendship with Picasso and documented the artist at home and at work in over 25,000 images. (Times)

ArtEast Foundation Grant Winners Announced – The European ArtEast Foundation and the Delfina Foundation have selected the three winners of their international research grants: Dominik Kurylek from Poland, Caterina Preda from Romania, and Ianina Prudenko from Ukraine. Winners will receive between $3,977 and $7,953 to mount a research project related to Eastern European art from the 1950s and ’60s. (Press release)

Artists’ Colony Will Open New York Space – The MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, is opening a new space in Chelsea. The hub will host panels, screenings, and other events, as well as a year-long program called MacDowell Now, celebrating the legacy of the musicians Edward and Marian MacDowell, who established the artists’ colony in 1896. (Artforum)


Mexican Earthquake Reveals Hidden Temple – Archaeologists are still dealing with fallout from the 7.1-magnitude earthquake that rattled Mexico last year. But the disaster has also led to an exciting discovery: damage to an Aztec pyramid helped reveal a previously unknown ancient temple hidden underneath. The Teopanzolco pyramid dates back to about 1300 AD, predating the famous Templo Mayor in Mexico City. The site in Morelos state, about 43 miles south of Mexico City, has been closed to the public since the September 2017 quake. (Gizmodo)

Sebastian Smee Is Not a Fan of Trevor Paglen – The Washington Post‘s art critic says that Paglen’s major retrospective at the Smithsonian American Art Museum left him cold. Paglen’s subjects—government secrecy and surveillance—are difficult to render visually, he notes, and Paglen does not rise above his subject matter. Smee says he would rather get “unspecified menace… from David Lynch: He’s better at it and takes it somewhere deeper, more disturbing.” (Washington Post

Trump’s Tweets Will Be Made Into an Art Book – A Kickstarter raising money to publish a tome dedicated to President Trump’s polarizing tweets has reached its fundraising goal. The Swiss artist collective INSERTNAME will work with 30 artists and designers from 17 countries to visually reinterepret some of Trump’s most memorable tweets. (Press release)

Pulse Nightclub Massacre Gets a Memorial in New York – Anthony Goicolea has completed the first state-commissioned monument to the shooting that killed 49 people and wounded 53 others at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in in 2016.  The work in New York’s Hudson River Park consists of nine bronze “boulders” sliced with rainbow reflective glass. They are inscribed with two quotes from Audre Lorde: “Difference is that raw and powerful connection from which our personal power is forged,” and “Without community there is no liberation….But community must not mean a shedding of our difference.” (Hyperallergic)

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