Art Industry News: How the Search for a Fireproof Building Changed New York’s Art World Forever + Other Stories

Plus, David Lynch has a message for Donald Trump and Agnes Gund awards a new round of Art for Justice grants.

Visitors outside a gallery on 27th Street in New York's Chelsea gallery district. Photograph by Etienne Frossard.

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 Monday, July 2.


Britain Accused of Trying to Stifle China Critic – The cultural arm of Britain’s Foreign Office is embroiled in a censorship battle over a show in the Caribbean. The director of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas says the British Council pulled its logo from the catalogue because of an essay criticizing China’s growing influence in the island. The council gave no explanation for its withdrawal, other than saying that the material was “too political.” (Guardian)

Agnes Gund Awards New Round of Art for Justice Grants – The philanthropist and collector has awarded nearly $10 million in grants to 38 recipients in the second round of awards from the Art for Justice Fund. Among the recipients of the grants ranging from $25,000 to $2 million are the artists Xaviera Simmons, Cameron Rowland, and Hank Willis Thomas, who were given funds to create work that “elevates ideas and stories about the injustice and inequality of mass incarceration.” (Artforum)

How Chelsea Became New York’s Art Hot Spot – In honor of its 50th anniversary, New York magazine is telling the stories behind key moments that shaped the culture of the city. One of those was the arrival of the Dia Art Foundation in Chelsea in the 1970s, which touched off the transformation of the neighborhood into an art mecca. Why go to the far West Side? The foundation was looking for a fireproof building to house Barnet Newman’s works, and found one in Chelsea. “A lot of gallerists in SoHo said, ‘That’s nutty—nobody will go,’” recalled Dia’s former director Charles Wright. Although the Newman project never materialized, the rest is art-world history. (Vulture)

In Case You Missed It, David Lynch Rolled Back His Trump Shout-Out – The film director and artist has rushed to clarify a quote that suggested President Donald Trump could be one of the US’s greatest leaders. Lynch posted on Facebook that the quote has been “taken a bit out of context.” He wrote to Trump: “Unfortunately, if you continue as you have been, you will not have a chance to go down in history as a great president.” (Facebook)


TEFAF New York Is Under European Control – The Netherlands-based organization will manage its two New York fairs in-house after its two-year agreement with the US-based Artvest comes to an end. The firm’s American founders, Michael Plummer and Jeff Rabin, will remain shareholders of the fairs, while Sofie Scheerlinck become the new managing director of the spring and fall events. (The Art Newspaper)

Ancient Bunny Seized at New York Gallery – A New York court has granted the Manhattan district attorney’s office a seizure warrant for an ancient Etruscan vessel shaped like a reclining rabbit. The artifact, which was recently sold by an Italian-based online auction house, was found at Fortuna Fine Arts, a gallery on New York’s Upper East Side. (ARCA Blog)

Anish Kapoor’s Indian Market Heats Up – A mirrored sculpture by Anish Kapoor has become the most expensive work by an Indian contemporary artist ever to sell at auction in the country. The Indian businessman Manoj Israni paid a record 6.5 crore rupees ($944,425) for the stainless steel mirror piece at Astaguru, and online auction company in India. Israni says he plans to build a private museum to house his growing contemporary art collection. (Economic Times)​

Thierry Goldberg Gallery on the Move – Lower East Side gallery is moving three doors over on Norfolk Street, opening its new, bigger space at number 109 with a group show on July 20. For the past six months, Thierry Goldberg operated a pop-up space in Miami, presenting shows by Tschabalala Self and David Shrobe. (ARTnews)


Philadelphia’s History Museum to Close – Temple University has pulled out of partnership talks with the struggling museum, which is now preparing to close for at least six months (and potentially indefinitely). The museum will keep its collection for now, while city officials strategize about its future. It is unclear why the university stepped away from the negotiations. (New York Times)

Jordan Schnitzer Museum Names Director – The museum at the University of Washington, which opened in April, has appointed creative strategist Robin Held as its new executive director. Held previously served as deputy director of the Frye Art Museum in Seattle between 2004 and 2012 and worked at the University of Washington’s Henry Art Gallery between 1998 and 2005. (Artforum)

Helly Nahmad Buys Pricey Duplex – In what was the most expensive real estate closing in New York City last month, the gallery owner and collector Hillel “Helly” Nahmad—who already owns the 51st floor of Trump Tower, among other primo real estate—bought two half-floor penthouses at 432 Park Avenue for $60 million. He is expected to combine them into one mega-apartment. (NYT)


Othoniel Lands at Qatar Airport – A new, large-scale public work by the French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel called Cosmos has been installed at Hamad International Airport. The gilded steel rose-shaped structure was inspired by an object in Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art and joins work by KAWS, Urs Fischer, and Adel Abdessemed at what is surely one of the world’s best decorated airports. (Gulf News)

Guggenheim Unveils Restored Manet – The New York museum has unveiled Édouard Manet’s late painting Woman in Striped Dress (1877–80) after three years of conservation work. By removing two layers of discolored varnish, conservators revealed Manet’s light, expressive brushstrokes and use of vibrant colors. The painting will be included in the show “Van Gogh to Picasso: the Thannhauser Legacy,” which is due to open at the Guggenheim Bilbao on September 21. (TAN)

Ukrainian Artist Runs Art Rehabilitation for Veterans – The artist Zinaïda—a protégé of Marina Abramović—is running a program called ART REHUB in New York City that aims to serve American veterans suffering from trauma. She will hold art therapy sessions at local Veterans Affairs centers following the success of a session at WhiteBox and a year of work with veterans from the East Ukraine border war in Ukraine. (ARTFIXdaily)

Nancy Rubins Stars in Sculpture in the City – The eighth edition of the London’s summer sculpture show launched on June 27 with 18 works erected across the Square Mile. Nancy Rubins’s monumental menagerie, Crocodylius Philodendrus (2016–17), steals the show. Thomas J Price’s charismatic busts of young black men and Shaun C Badham’s Brexit-themed work are also standouts. (Instagram)

Nancy Rubins Crocodylius Philodendrus (2016–17). ©Nancy Rubins. Photo by Lucy Dawkins. Courtesy of Gagosian.

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