Art Industry News: Hannah Black Calls on Every Artist in the Whitney Biennial to Pull Their Work From the Show + Other Stories

Plus, Pharrell teams up with manga artist Mr. and Neil Armstrong's space suit returns to public view after a decade of conservation.

Hannah Black performing OR LIFE OR at MoMA PS1, April 9, 2017. Image courtesy MoMA PS1.

Art Industry News is normally 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 Thursday, July 18.


Pharrell Teams Up With Artist Mr. – Musician Pharrell Williams has curated an installation by the Japanese artist Mr. in the prestigious Musée Guimet in Paris. The manga- and anime-inspired paintings and sculptures feature gun-toting youth in a dystopian future created as a result of “the bad decisions of grown-ups.” The single-room exhibition in the museum of Asian art touches on issues ranging from climate change to lack of gun control in the US. Williams, who suggested the idea to the artist, says: “It’s a gift to be able to go on this visual exploration by rocket ship with his creativity.” (New York Times)

Neil Armstrong’s Space Suit Returns to the Museum – Conservators at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum have spent the past decade cleaning and conserving the space suit that Neil Armstrong wore on the moon. The 50-year-old suit went back on display Tuesday in Washington, DC, after a painstaking clean. The suit was coated with dust kicked up by millions of museum visitors during the 30 years it was on display. It was also decaying as rubber perished, zippers rusted, and adhesives discolored. (Engineers designed it for single use, after all.) The museum’s conservators confirmed that the smudges around the knees and boots are due to moon dust, and so were not to be scrubbed off. (Wall Street Journal)

Hannah Black Says Artists Should Boycott the Whitney Biennial – Three artists—Ciarán Finlayson, Tobi Haslett, and Hannah Black (who was a leading force behind the protest at the last Whitney Biennial)—have called on participating artists to pull their work from the exhibition before it closes in September. In a treatise titled “The Teargas Biennial,” they make the case for why artists should withdraw in protest of the museum’s vice chair Warren Kanders, whose company, Safariland, produces teargas that has been used at the US border, at protests in Ferguson, and at Standing Rock. They note that two of them have declined offers to work with the Whitney in the past and argue that participating artists’ works are being “instrumentalized to cleanse Kanders’s reputation.” They write: “By refusing to be totally compliant with the demands of the institution, artists are taking a risk. That’s precisely what makes these actions impactful and even inspiring: that they have stakes.” (Artforum)

Egypt Works to Restore King Tut’s Coffin – Conservators have begun restoring the gold-plated sarcophagus of the “boy king” Tutankhamun ahead of a landmark exhibition at the new Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza next year. The coffin, which has never been restored before, is badly damaged and cracked, and conservation is expected to take around eight months. (Al Jazeera)


Willy Wonka “Golden Ticket” Sells for $19,600 – A golden ticket and “chocolate” bar from the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory has sold at auction for $19,600. The props originally belonged to the actress Julie Dawn Cole, who played the Veruca Salt in the adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book. (BBC)

Hong Kong Collective Creates a New Market Model – Artists Pete Ross and Marc Allante are teaming up to organize pop-up exhibitions for artists to sell works at price points that would be unattractive for commercial galleries. Artists get a higher percentage of the sale price and much of the rest of the money will be put toward the next show. (SCMP)


Andy Warhol Foundation Grants Announced – The Andy Warhol Foundation has announced the grant recipients for its spring 2019 cycle. Some $3.8 million is being distributed among 41 arts organizations in the US and Canada, including $100,000 for a Barbara Kruger show at the Art Institute of Chicago and $100,000 for the Whitney’s planned Julie Mehretu retrospective. (ARTnews)

The Getty Will Help Preserve Eileen Gray’s French Villa – The Getty Foundation is funding the preservation of ten important 20th century buildings this year with $1.6 million in architectural conservation grants. The Eileen Gray-designed Villa E-1027 in Roque-Cap-Martin in France is among those it hopes to save through its Keeping It Modern initiative. (Press release)

Scott Walker Will Serve on the Smithsonian’s Wilson Center Board – President Donald Trump has appointed the former Republican governor—who tried to massively cut state arts funding, as well as funding for the University of Wisconsin, while in office—to the board of trustees of the Smithsonian Institution’s Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Walker will serve on the board through October 23, 2024. (Rawstory)

Pioneering Toronto Dealer Dies at 54 – Katharine Mulherin, who ran Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects, a hub for Toronto’s indie art scene, died on July 14 at age 54. According to a Facebook post written by her son, Jasper, the gallerist died by suicide. Her gallery in Toronto will be closed for the foreseeable future. Mulherin, who also ran a gallery in New York from 2010 to 2017, showed artists including Lisa Neighbour, Kris Knight, and Dean Baldwin. (ARTnews)


Kayaker Discovers Rare Roman Artifacts – A lucky kayaker stumbled upon a rare trove of Roman pottery and glassware. On a clear day at low tide, the kayaker unearthed by chance the rare Samian pottery and beautiful glassware from the sand, which might indicate the presence of a Roman shipwreck off the coast of Kent. (Guardian)

The Mona Lisa Goes Head-to-Head with Rubens – The Louvre has moved the Mona Lisa to the Médicis gallery in its Richelieu Wing while the museum’s Salle des États, which normally houses Leonardo’s famous painting, undergoes renovations. Now, La Joconde (and her bulletproof housing) is shacking up with 24 large paintings by Rubens until she can be resituated in mid-October. We’re not going to lie—it looks a bit odd. (Instagram)

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