Art Industry News: North Korea’s Former Propaganda Artists Blast Trump-Kim Summit + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, thieves trick dealer to steal a Renoir and Rubens and Christo makes a colorful splash down in London.

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) during their historic U.S.-DPRK summit. Photo by Kevin Lim/The Strait Times/Handout/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 this Wednesday, June 13.


Klaus Biesenbach Looks Back at the First Berlin Biennale On the occasion of the 10th Berlin Biennale, the famed MoMA PS1 curator reminisces about the first edition of the event that he co-founded back in 1998 as a place for emerging radical art. “We had expected thousands of visitors every day and were disappointed it was only hundreds per day,” he writes, adding that it was only after they activated the “lounges and clubs and social spaces in the Biennale” that it became popular. The show also inspired Carsten Höller’s very first slide. (ARTnews)

Instagram-Focused Design Is Making Art a Must – Being Instagram-friendly has become an important design requirement for hotels, bars, or restaurants everywhere. Scott Valentine of Vale Architects pens a report for professional architects, advising that adding neon quotes to bathroom walls and “funky murals” throughout a space give a building a social media boost. (Dezeen)

North Korean Propaganda Artists Question Trump-Kim Summit  Two former North Korean “state artists,” Song Byeok and Choi Seong-guk, who defected from the regime after being tortured and interned in prison camps, warn against romanticizing the dictator. They question whether Kim’s photo ops with Trump are all for show and argue that they feed the state propaganda machine they were once a part of: “In North Korea, art can only be beautiful. The homeless do not exist and everyone is chubby as they are well-fed.” (BBC)

Thieves Trick Dealer Into Stealing a Renoir and Rubens – A gang of five men allegedly posed as wealthy art buyers to hoodwink a dealer in Italy out of $30 million worth of art. The thieves rented an office below an Albanian honorary consul to con the dealer and then made off with with the paintings. Italian police have caught up with the fraudsters, but Rubens’s The Holy Family and Renoir’s The Girls in the Meadow, are missing. (The Times)


Blum & Poe Now Represents Tony Lewis – The Chicago-based artist currently showing an installation at the Hirshhorn Museum has joined the roster of the gallery. Lewis will be the subject of a solo show at the gallery in Los Angeles in spring of 2019. (Press release)

Judge Rules Christie’s Can Sell Schiele Drawings – Two Schiele watercolors in the midst of a Holocaust restitution lawsuit have been given the OK from a New York judge to be sold at auction. Woman In a Black Pinafore (1911) and Woman Hiding Her Face (1912) were confiscated from the Salon of Art + Design fair in New York in 2015 after heirs of the original Jewish owner claimed them. Dealer Richard Nagy plans to appeal the court decision, arguing that the works were sold legitimately and not looted by the Nazis. (The Art Newspaper)

Mozart and Van Gogh Ephemera Hit the Auction Block – The bankrupt French investment group Aristophil is auctioning off a 130,000 lot collection of art, music, and literature, including a Mozart score estimated at $141,500 to $177,000 and a letter from Van Gogh to his friend Anthon van Rappard that is expected to bring in $294,000 to $352,000. (Reuters)

Rodeo Gallery Will Expand to Greece – Sylvia Kouvali’s London-based gallery hired the Berlin-based architect Etienne Descloux to design a second space in the Greek port city of Piraeus. It opens on June 18 with a solo show, including new works by the American painter Leidy Churchman. (Artforum)


The Menil Collection Will Reopen its Main Building – Houston’s Menil Collection is reopening its main museum building after seven months of renovations. The building will host new installations from its permanent collection, which focuses on Byzantine art, West and Central African art, Surrealism, and 20th and 21st century American and European art. (Press release)

New Chief General Counsel at Phillips – Martin Wilson has been lured to Phillips after two decades at Christie’s, where he served as global managing director and general counsel to the president. (ARTnews)

Kochi-Muziris Biennial Names Participating Artists – Thomas Hirschhorn, the Guerrilla Girls, and Marlene Dumas are among the 36 artists and collectives onboard for the upcoming 2018 edition of the Indian event, which opens on December 12 and runs until March 29, 2019. (Artforum)

French Fund Covers Shows for Tatiana Trouvé and Kapwani Kiwanga The 15 grantees selected by the Etant Donnés Artistic Committee for projects taking place over the next year in the US include a solo show by the Paris-based Canadian artist Kapwani Kiwanga at MIT’s List Visual Arts Center and the first major US solo museum show by Tatiana Trouvé at the Eli and Edythe Broad Museum in Michigan (Press release)


Miriam Escofet Wins BP Portrait Award  The petroleum company-sponsored prize was awarded at the National Portrait Gallery to the London-based, Barcelona-born artist for her subtly surreal portrait of her mother, An Angel at my Table. Escofet receives $47,000 plus another $9,300 for a future commission. (Guardian)

Christo Decodes His New Mastaba in London – Unlike other works by the artist, Serpetine’s new Mastaba doesn’t involve fabric, but rather 7,506 stacked barrels. The giant, floating sculpture’s hues of deep red, blue, and mauve were chosen to parallel the colors of London’s Hyde Park and work well in the city’s variable summer weather, the artist explains. (Evening Standard)

Meet the Internet Art Critics Known as “White Pube” The 23-year-old duo Gabrielle de la Puente and Zarina Muhammad are sick of hearing the same (white, male) perspectives in art criticism. They denounce non-black or “white-passing” artists for depicting people of color and offer emoji translations of their reviews on Instagram. (Guardian)

Bansky’s Royal Academy Work Was Initially Rejected – The street artist has revealed that his first submission—under the alias Bryan S Gaakman, which is an anagram of “Banksy anagram”—to the Royal Academy’s 250th Summer Exhibition was rejected. He was then re-invited to apply by curator Grayson Perry, with a work riffing on the Brexit referendum now hanging in the galleries. (Instagram)

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