Art Industry News: Artist Xaviera Simmons Says Critics Got This Year’s Whitney Biennial Totally, Offensively Wrong + Other Stories

Plus, a German city rejects a bid to reclaim four paintings by Mondrian and former Sotheby's rainmaker Jamie Niven joins Phillips.

Xaviera Simmons Photo: Jemal Countess/WireImage for Noise Marketing.

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 Wednesday, July 3.


German City Rejects Claim for Mondrian Paintings – Authorities in the city of Krefeld have rebuffed a claim from the heirs of Piet Mondrian to four works by the artist in the city’s Kaiser Wilhelm Museum. The heirs argue the works were loaned, not given, to the institution 90 years ago, when the artist fled Europe during World War II. Official research commissioned by the city, however, supports the museum’s belief that there are no grounds for restitution and that the paintings might have been donated to the city by one of the museum’s patrons. The heirs have not yet sued to reclaim the works, although they have suggested that legal action is under consideration. (New York Times)

Beijing’s Picasso Exhibition Draws More than 100,000 Visitors In Under a Month – In its first month alone, 134,000 people have visited the blockbuster Picasso exhibition at the UCCA Contemporary Art Center in Beijing. “Picasso—Birth of a Genius,“ on view through September 1, presents 103 works from the first 30 years of Picasso’s career on loan from the Musée National Picasso-Paris. On June 23, a staggering 12,268 people turned up to the show, doubling the museum’s previous record for daily attendance. Exhibition organizers are confident that record will be broken again before the end of the exhibition’s three-month run. (ARTnews)

Artist Slams Whitney Biennial Critics in a Powerful Op-Ed – The New York-based artist Xaviera Simmons has penned an opinion piece breaking down the critical response to this year’s Whitney Biennial, which some dismissed as “not radical enough… simple, preachy or heavy-handed.” In response, Simmons—who does not have a work in the show, although she has friends included—asks: “What kind of radical risk-taking would you like to see from people who have already put so much on the line in the era of Trump, when black bodies breathing literally cause white discomfort?” (TAN)

Female Curators’ Pay Lags Behind Male Peers – Museums in the US—and particularly in Washington, DC—have been appointing more women to senior roles, with Anthea Hartig helming the National Museum of American History and Kaywin Feldman becoming the first woman to lead the National Gallery of Art. But will this wave of female museum directors come with a disruption of the gender pay gap that has long favored men? The 2017 National Museum Salary Survey found that the median salary for male chief curators was $71,050, compared to $55,550 for women. Gender pay gap surveys and other initiatives, such as a spreadsheet that has been circulating to increase pay transparency at museums, aim to disrupt the secrecy that often reinforces unequal pay. (Washington Post)


Bonhams Withdraws Contentious Kantharos – Bonhams has withdrawn an ancient Greek drinking vessel from its scheduled July 3 auction in London after a forensic archeologist identified it as a possibly tainted antiquity. Christos Tsirogiannis—a thorn in the side of auction houses the world over—traced the Apulian red figure janiform kantharos to the convicted Italian antiquities trafficker Gianfranco Becchina, and the auction house swiftly removed it from the sale. (ARCA Blog)

Jamie Niven Joins Phillips – The former Sotheby’s chairman of the Americas has joined Phillips as a senior advisor to the auction house’s CEO Edward Dolman. Niven—the son of Pink Panther star Jamie Niven, who interestingly enough played a suave connoisseur of the location of luxury objects in grand collections—is well connected and will work to attract more top clients to Phillips. He worked at Sotheby’s for almost 20 years before leaving in 2015. (Press release)

Art Dealer Buys a Painting for $6.5 Million, Hoping it’s a Botticelli – An anonymous art dealer set a record at Schuler Auctions in Zürich after bidding CHF 6.4 million ($6.5 million) for a late medieval or early modern painting. The work obliterated its CHF 7,000 ($7,100) estimate because the buyer suspects the heavily overpainted work might have originally been by the Florentine painter Sandro Botticelli. (NZZ)


Sam Moyer Joins Kayne Griffin Corcoran – The Los Angeles gallery now represents Brooklyn-based artist Sam Moyer, known for her meditative abstract compositions. Her first solo exhibition with the gallery, titled “Flowers,” is on view now through July 6. (ARTnews)

New Museum Names Director of Education and Public Engagement – The New Museum has named Andrew An Westover the Keith Haring Director of Education and Public Engagement, filling a role left vacant by the departure of Johanna Burton. Westover, who begins his new position on August 5, previously worked at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. (ARTnews)


Getty Plans Online Bauhaus Exhibition – To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus this year, the Getty Research Institute is launching an online exhibition titled “Bauhaus: Building the New Artist.” The show includes dozens of documents not currently on view at the Getty as well as interactive exercises that aim to help viewers better understand the teaching philosophy of the famous German design school. (Los Angeles Times)

An Alternative History of Chinese Art at Lisson – Berlin-based artist Li Binyuan premiered his politically charged work Breakthrough at Lisson Gallery last night in London. The performance is a part of a group show sprawling across the gallery’s two spaces curated by Victor Wang that includes work by artists Wang Youshen, Yu Hong, Lin Tianmao and Xiang Jing and seeks to offer an alternative history of the development of Chinese contemporary art. (Instagram)

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