Art Industry News: Kerry James Marshall’s New Paintings Explore the Theory That John James Audubon Was Black + Other Stories

Plus, New York's Black Lives Matter mural has already been vandalized five times and Art Basel's parent company expects its sales to halve in 2020.

Kerry James Marshall, Black and part Black Birds in America: (Crow, Goldfinch) (2020). Courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner.
Kerry James Marshall, Black and part Black Birds in America: (Crow, Goldfinch) (2020). Courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner.

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 Wednesday, July 29.


New York’s Black Lives Matter Mural Has Been Vandalized Repeatedly – Vandals have targeted New York’s giant Black Lives Matter mural in front of Trump Tower at least five times since it was painted in early July. The mural appears to have become a battleground for political animus toward the civil rights movement, President Trump, and New York’s mayor Bill de Blasio. One pair of vandals who smeared paint across the text ran away shouting “all lives matter,” while another targeted de Blasio, shouting that he “doesn’t care about Black people.” (New York Times)

Philadelphia Museum Workplace Investigation Complete – After conducting an official assessment of its workplace environment following allegations of inappropriate behavior and abuse from two managers, the Philadelphia Museum of Art has informed staff of its findings: that there are issues at all levels of the museum. VallotKarp Consulting interviewed staff extensively over several months to come to the conclusion, and now, the museum’s board chair Leslie Anne Miller has pledged to enact changes to the way the museum hires, listens to, and treats its staff. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Kerry James Marshall Unveils New Series – A chance encounter with a crow 10 years ago informed Kerry James Marshall’s latest series, which will be unveiled tomorrow in an online show at David Zwirner Gallery. The works—which have been brewing in his mind ever since, but which he began in earnest just before lockdowns swept the United States—are his reimagining of John James Audubon’s famous Birds of America. The series is also informed by the belief held by some scholars that Audobon, who was born in Haiti, was “part Black.” Marshall says he “never forgot” seeing Audobon’s work in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art exhibition “Two Centuries of Black American Art: 1750–1950” back in 1976. (NYT)

Turin Museum Pays Settlement for Looted Madonna – The Cerruti Foundation of Turin, now part of the Castello di Rivoli, has reached a financial settlement with the rightful heirs to a painting by Jacopo del Sellaio that was looted by Nazi authorities in France during WWII. The painting, which was plundered along with the rest of Jewish art collector Gustav Arens’s collection in the 1940s, was sold twice before it was acquired by Francesco Federico Cerruti, who was unaware of its past. As part of the settlement, the painting will remain at the Italian museum. (The Art Newspaper)


MCH Anticipates a Halving of Sales – The MCH Group, Art Basel’s parent company, is expecting sales to halve in 2020, projecting an annual loss in the tens of millions. The group is hoping that emergency financial bailout measures—including a cash infusion from media scion James Murdoch—will be approved at a meeting on August 3. (Press release)

Seattle Dealers Organize Their Own Upstart Fair – Galleries in Seattle have created their own art fair (of sorts) in the absence of the now-cancelled Seattle Art Fair. Some 40 galleries will hold  shows in their own spaces throughout August under the umbrella “Seattle Deconstructed Art Fair,” which will be marketed on a group website. (Seattle Times)

Rubens Portrait Heads to Christie’s – Christie’s will auction off a Rubens portrait in London tonight in its Classic Art evening sale. The unsigned Rubens, which was for a time under an export bar in the UK to offer museums a shot at acquiring it, carries a high estimate of £6 million ($7.7 million). (Observer)


Hagia Sophia’s Artifacts Head to a Separate Museum – Most of the artifacts that had been on display at the Hagia Sophia since it became a museum in 1934 will be relocated to a nearby building now that the famous site has been converted into a mosque at the direction of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Last week, Christian mosaics were covered up at the site during Muslim prayer. (Hurriyet Daily News)

Met Acquires Wangechi Mutu Sculptures – The museum has acquired two of the Kenyan-American artist’s four bronze statues that currently adorn the Met’s facade. The series, collectively titled “The NewOnes, will free Us,” was commissioned by the Met as part of an ongoing push to engage with contemporary art. The works, which were unveiled last fall, will be deinstalled in November. (NYT)


What’s the Future of the Art History Survey? – News that Yale University’s art history department would dissolve its traditional Art History 101 course in favor of a mix of survey classes less focused on Europe and the United States was the most public chapter in a long debate over how to teach art history. The challenge for schools to construct “a cultural lingua franca for art history in the US,” Dushko Petrovich writes, is that scholars must “learn other cultural ‘languages'” and undo “the network of blindnesses.” (ARTnews)

Artists Commission Works to Support Detained Children  Artists Mary Ellen Carroll and Lucas Michael have co-founded “Do You Know Where the Children Are?” The initiative has commissioned more than 100 artists to create and donate artworks made in response to transcripts of detained children’s first-hand accounts of their experiences. The works went on sale July 27. (Press release)

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