Art Industry News: Silverfish, Beetles, and Other Grungy Critters Threaten to Overrun the Art in Locked-Down Museums + Other Stories

Plus, Jerry Saltz worried about Gavin Brown joining Barbara Gladstone and 100 Dutch museums could fold.

Louise Bourgeois, Crouching Spider (2003). Photo by Robert Berg. Image courtesy Donum Sculpture Collection.

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 Friday, July 24.


Balenciaga Is Under Fire for Allegedly Stealing Art Students’ Work – Tra My Nguyen, a former art student at the University of Arts in Berlin, is calling out Balenciaga for allegedly stealing her sculptural style in one of the brand’s Instagram posts. The designer’s image of a bicycle wrapped with clothing and fabrics is uncannily similar to a sculpture Nguyen created for her master’s project, and she had previously been contacted twice by a creative development strategist asking for her artist portfolio as part of a potential internship. She supplied her images, she says, but never received a response. (Diet Prada)

New California Bill Expands Indigenous Rights to Reclaim Remains – A new bill would expand Indigenous people’s rights in California to reclaim ancestral objects from museums and institutions. The proposed repatriation law, called AB-275 Native American Cultural Preservation, received a unanimous vote in the State Senate and is expected to be fully approved on August 31. The bill seeks to expand which tribes are recognized and consulted in repatriation matters. (The Art Newspaper)

Museums on Lockdown Threatened by Pests – As the weather heats up and many museums remain closed, they are facing a silent threat: bugs. Institutions have seen a spike in pest infestation during lockdown, according to the South West Museum Development Program, which has launched an emergency campaign to support organizations in tackling the issue. “We used to have to worry about objects being damaged by visitors, now we’re worried because they’re not here to ward off the pests,” said SS Great Britain Trust’s Nick Booth. The biggest dangers, experts say, are Webbing Clothes Moths, Carpet Beetles, and Grey Silverfish. (TAN)

Jerry Saltz Weighs in on Gavin Brown’s Big Move – Despite his great respect for Brown and Barbara Gladstone, the Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic worries about what the partnership between the two means for the art world. “People might wonder, If Gavin can’t survive then who can? What can? In which form? At what cost? Why?” The loss of Brown’s enterprise means the loss of gallery representation for many artists and jobs for many staff members—not to mention further consolidation in the art market. I don’t want to believe that Gladstone-Brown represents a wave of the future,” he writes. “As much as I love and admire them both, I wish it weren’t happening.” (Vulture)


What a Boom in Auction Sales Means During COVID – The luxury art market has suffered losses during the pandemic, but other parts of the collectibles market have expanded in surprising ways as wealth has continued to consolidate during this rocky year. At auction, a dozen pairs of Michael Jordan’s sneakers are starring as a highly anticipated sale, with the top lot expected to go for between $350,000 and $550,000. (Financial Times)

Auction Analysis of Zao Wou-Ki’s Market – The late French-Chinese painter is on a path to art-market domination. His total auction sales have grown by almost 530 percent since 2007, from an annual total of $37.8 million to $238 million in 2019. While his success is fueled in part by growing demand in Asia, his crossover into Europe, where he studied and lived for many years, has made him a global sensation. (Art Market Monitor)


A Critic Visits Museums in the Berkshires – With New York museums still on lockdown, critic Jason Farago headed up to the Berkshires to take in the offerings at MASS MoCA and the Clark Art Institute. There, he homed in on the meaning he found in historical paintings by Constable and Manet. “If one of the hallmarks of the COVID crisis has been its acceleration of changes already in progress,” Farago writes, “then in the art world we’ve seen how quite a few practitioners who trumpeted their relevance are not as relevant as they claimed.” (NYT)

100 Dutch Museums Could Fold – A new survey of 430 museums by Amsterdam’s museum association reveals that as many as 100 Dutch art institutions could fold due to the economic fallout from the pandemic. With a projected €2.6 billion ($3 billion) in losses this year, the association’s members are calling for greater government aid, particularly for smaller museums. (Monopol)


Robert Longo Calls on Artists to Donate for Benefit Show – The American artist is calling on fellow creatives to donate $1 million in art to help raise funds for Guild Hall. The East Hampton institution was forced to call off its annual gala, and Longo has given up his own exhibition slot for a benefit show called All for the Hall. Opening August 8 and running through the end of the year, the show includes work by 60 artists, from Laurie Anderson and Kiki Smith to lesser-known figures like Jeremy Dennis. (TAN)

Winner of LGBTQ+ Photography Grant Announced – Emerging photographer Annie Flanagan has won the Robert Giard Grant for Emerging LGBTQ+ Photographers. She will receive $10,000 from Queer|Art and the Robert Giard Foundation to support her work capturing the rural United States from a queer perspective. (Artforum)

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