Art Industry News: Florence’s Uffizi Gallery Is Under Fire for Comparing a Pretty Instagram Influencer to Botticelli’s ‘Venus’ + Other News

Plus, Trump removes Clinton and Bush's presidential portraits from the White House entrance hall and Adam Szymczyk gives his first interview since 2017.

Influencer Chiara Ferragni visiting the Uffizi Galleries. Courtesy Uffizi Instagram.

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 21.


Rush for Black Art Leaves Creatives Feeling Used – Black artists have been left feeling pigeonholed as they face a sudden swell in demand from companies rushing to diversify their campaigns and projects. The most viral example came when Shantell Martin was asked by an agency to create a mural on the boarded-up facade of a Microsoft store “while the protests are still relevant.” Since then, a group of marketing professionals has been tracking actions and statements made by companies, which they say often trivialize the Black Lives Matter movement. (New York Times)

Smithsonian Removes Controversial “Whiteness” Graphic After Blowback – The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture has removed a graphic about white culture from its new online portal “Talking About Race” after blowback from Donald Trump, Jr. and other conservative figures. The graphic claimed that “objective, rational, linear thinking,” “quantitative emphasis,” and “hard work before play” are white values. In a statement, the museum said, “We need these types of frank and respectful interchanges as we as a country grapple with how we talk about race and its impact on our lives. We erred in including the chart. We have removed it, and we apologize.” (Newsweek)

The Uffizi May Be a Little Too Online – The storied Italian museum has been gaining a new audience with its irreverent TikTok videos. But now, it may have taken things a little too far. After influencer Chiara Ferragni, who has millions of followers on social media, visited the Uffizi for a magazine photo shoot, the museum posted an image of her in front of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, calling her “a sort of contemporary divinity in the social era.” Some felt the comparison cheapened the great work of art and that the museum was reducing itself to a photo set. Still, the Uffizi’s director stands by the strategy as a way to draw in new audiences. “The Uffizi don’t need Chiara Ferragni, and she doesn’t need the Uffizi,” Schmidt told La Repubblica on Sunday. “The important thing is to create a cross-over, to spark a dialogue.” (Telegraph)

Trump Removes Presidential Portraits From Entrance Hall – President Trump has moved portraits of former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush from the White House’s entrance hall to the rarely used Old Family Dining Room (what a name for a room!). Historically, the entrance hall, which is on Trump’s daily route to the Oval Office, has housed portraits of recent presidents. But Trump replaced them with portraits of William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. The president has not hidden his dislike for the Clintons as well as the Bushes, and it is rumored that he also plans to avoid unveiling his predecessor Barack Obama’s official portrait. (Hyperallergic)


Sotheby’s Launches New Memorabilia Sale – Sotheby’s is piloting a new auction series of pop culture memorabilia called “From the Archive.” The inaugural sale, which will run online from July 20 through 31, includes a LeBron James jersey from his time on the Miami Heat, which carries a high estimate of $200,000. (Art Market Monitor)

Alexis Maggiar Joins Christie’s – The French auctioneer has been appointed as Christie’s new international director of the Department of Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Maggiar previously worked as the European director of African and Oceanic arts at Sotheby’s. The next Christie’s sale in the category will take place in Paris on December 3. (Press release)


Kochi-Muziris Biennale Announces First Participants – The exhibition, titled “In Our Veins Flow Ink and Fire,” will be curated by Singaporean artist Shubigi Rao and is set to open on December 12 in Kochi, India. The first artists to be announced include Samson Young, Joan Jonas, Iman Issa, and Yinka Shonibare. (Press release)

At-Risk Frank Lloyd Wright Cottage Will Be Moved – A one-story cottage from 1913 built by the American architect has been saved from demolition. The house Wright built for his lawyer will be wheeled to a new location in the Illinois town of Glencoe, where it will be restored. (Chicago Tribune)


Is Art Really Essential? – The always-insightful summer art issue of T Magazine is this year called “True Believers,” which editor M.H. Miller says is less a theme than a “modus operandi.” Despite the “breakdown in the status quo,” the magazine’s upcoming issue will look at artists, like Marguerite Humeau and Ruth Asawa, who have persisted through overwhelming challenges in interesting ways. (T Magazine)

Adam Szymczyk on the Future of Museums – The curator and ex-artistic director of documenta 14 gives his first interview since 2017, on the subject of decolonizing museums. The new curator-at-large of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum is in favor of unconditional restitution of looted or stolen objects to their owners, and hopes to disrupt the museum’s historic pattern of collecting and programming  predominantly Western European and American art. “Museums must evolve or they will not exist: the existing model of the institution as one of the pillars of European enlightenment must be questioned and its discontents revealed,” Szymczyk says. (Frieze)

Takashi Murakami Makes Posters for BLM – The shopping app NTWRK has tapped the Japanese artist to help raise money for the Black Lives Matter movement. Murakami has created a limited-run collection including 300 artist prints featuring his trademark flower and skull designs. Each one costs $800 plus shipping and handling, and interested buyers are selected by a lottery. (Press release)


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