Art Industry News: Far Side Cartoon Artist Gary Larson Just Published His First New Cartoons in 25 Years + Other Stories

Plus, Sotheby's Modern art sale in Hong Kong brings in more than $107 million and MOCAD's director is placed on leave.

A woman viewing some of Gary Larson's Far Side cartoons at the Museum of Natural History in 1986. Credit: The Denver Post (Denver Post via Getty Images)

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 Thursday, July 9.


MOCAD Director Is Put on Leave – The director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, Elysia Borowy-Reeder, has been placed on leave after 40 current and former staff members sent an open letter to the board accusing her of racism and sexism. The board told staff it had engaged outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation of the allegations and has set up a confidential tip line for further information. (ARTnews)

Artists May Leave Hong Kong in Light of New Law – Hong Kong artists are preparing to leave the city in response to a new national security law that they fear will compromise freedom of expression. “Today it can be the [protest slogan],” artist Kacey Wong says. “Tomorrow it can be books, or the color of your shirt. Anything can be deemed anti-state materials and there is no way you can defend yourself.” Many artists are planning an exodus to Taiwan or elsewhere; others are optimistic about the creative potential that can arise from extreme circumstances. (The Art Newspaper)

Far Side Creator Gary Larson Publishes New Cartoons – The creator of The Far Side has published his first new cartoons in 25 years. Larson promised a “new online era” last September when he launched a digital archive. On Wednesday, he shared three brand new strips alongside an essay explaining what brought him out of retirement: He had been newly inspired by drawing with a digital tablet rather than a pen. “I’ve got my coffee, I’ve got this cool gizmo, and I’ve got no deadlines. And—to borrow from Sherlock Holmes—the game is afoot,” he wrote. (Guardian)

Royal College of Art Diversity Head Dismissed – The Royal College of Art has withdrawn a job offer from Mark Harrison, a white man hired to serve as head of inclusion, after more than 800 staff members signed a letter arguing the appointment demonstrated “overt and insidious systemic racism.” The letter was also signed by all four winners of this year’s Turner Prize. (Independent)


Sotheby’s Hong Kong Sale Brings in Over $100 Million – It seems the shutdown has not dampened bidding in Asia. Sotheby’s first major evening sale this year in Hong Kong, which focused on Modern art, realized more than $107 million, the second highest total ever for the category. The top lot was Sanyu’s Quatre Nus, which sold for $33.3 million after a 10-minute bidding battle among four parties. (Press release)

Christie’s Prepares for a Major Market Test – The next test for the masterpiece art market comes Friday, when Christie’s relay-style “One” sale, which carries a $337 million low estimate, is held across time zones. Around 30 of the 82 lots are guaranteed, either by the house or a third party. Although a few bidders have been invited to attend the sale in person in select cities, Christie’s also created an online skybox where VIP bidders can take in the event together. Pop the virtual champagne. (Wall Street Journal)


Liverpool Biennial Announces New Dates – The Liverpool Biennial has announced the dates for its postponed 11th edition, which will now run March 20 through June 6, 2021. Titled “The Stomach and the Port,” the biennial will retain its original 2020 curatorial framework and artist list. (Press release)

Carnegie International Names Next Curator – The writer and curator Sohrab Mohebbi will steer the next edition of the Carnegie International in 2022. He previously served as a curator at SculptureCenter in Long Island City. He plans to focus his research on themes of “reconstitution” and “decentralization,” bringing the show outside the museum’s walls and into the city of Pittsburgh. (Artforum)


Estonia Names Its Venice Artists – Artists Kristina Norman and Bita Razavi will represent Estonia at the 2022 Venice Biennale. The exhibition, curated by Corina L. Apostol, takes the work of early 20th-century artist Emilie Rosalie Saal, who photographed and painted tropical plants in the then-Dutch colony of Indonesia, as a jumping-off point to explore the history of colonialism. (ERR)  

Tate Announces Highlights of 2021 Exhibition Program – Art lovers can look forward to solo shows of work by Philip Guston, Petrit Halilaj, Lubaina Himid, Paula Rego, Auguste Rodin, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, and a display of infinity mirror rooms by Yayoi Kusama in the spring. Also on deck are new commissions by Fourth Plinth artist Heather Phillipson, Anicka Yi, and Emily Speed. (Press release)

Melania Trump’s Wooden Statue Is Set on Fire – A folksy wooden sculpture of Melania Trump in her home country of Slovenia was set alight by vandals on July 4. The artist who commissioned the sculpture, Brad Downey, says he doesn’t know why it was burned as he had meant for it to highlight the First Lady’s position as an immigrant married to a president who has taken a position against immigration. See the blackened sculpture being removed below. (Reuters)


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