Art Industry News: Artist Sterling Ruby Says Collectors ‘Were Really Upset’ by His Foray Into Fashion Design + Other Stories

Plus, Thaddaeus Ropac plans a major Roy Lichtenstein exhibition and the Baltimore Museum of Art adds 70 works to its collection.

Sterling Ruby. © Patrick McMullan, courteys of David Crotty.
Sterling Ruby. © Patrick McMullan, courteys of David Crotty.

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 Friday, June 14.


The Corcoran Revisits That Mapplethorpe Show, 30 Years Later – The Corcoran is confronting one of the darkest moments in its history. Thirty years after the then-Corcoran Gallery cancelled a Robert Mapplethorpe show because of political pressure, the art school (now under the auspices of George Washington University) is displaying archival material documenting the controversy. In 1989, members of US Congress condemned Mapplethorpe’s sexually explicit photographs and objected to the show receiving federal funding, igniting a far-reaching battle in the culture wars. The Corcoran School’s current director, Sanjit Sethi, says cultural institutions today have an obligation to protect freedom of expression regardless of NEA funding. (Inside Higher Ed)

Artist Accuses the Museum of the Moving Image of Censorship – Cindy Hinant has written an open letter to the museum after her 2014 work Summer Hit 2014 was excluded from an upcoming exhibition, ostensibly for copyright reasons. “As I am the copyright holder of this work I believe that this censorship is in fact due to the controversial nature of my work, which is critical of America’s complicity with war in Palestine,” Hinant writes. (Instagram)

Sterling Ruby Unveils His New Fashion Line – The fashion and textile-loving artist, who says he knew about quilt-making before he learned about Ellsworth Kelly, has launched a fashion line of his own with a debut runway show in Florence. The artist’s label, S.R. STUDIO. LA. CA., runs four different lines, from a less expensive main line to a selection of unique hand-painted items like a paint-splattered parka. Ruby reveals that when he first started to mix art and fashion, some of his galleries and collectors pleaded with him to stay away. “They were like, ‘Don’t do this. Please don’t do this,’” he recalled. “And I did it. They were really upset by it.” (Financial Times)

Gallery Faces $2.5 Million Fine for Selling Imitation Aboriginal Art Australia’s consumer watchdog wants to fine the defunct company Birubi Art $2 million to $2.5 million for selling pieces made in Indonesia as genuine Aboriginal artworks. Birubi sold more than 18,000 boomerangs, didgeridoos, and message stones to retail outlets as indigenous Australian art objects. (Guardian)


Dealers Court Private Foundations at Basel Art Basel Unlimited is increasingly the place where gallerists aim to tempt private museum founders with sculptures and installations too big for even the most spacious loft or home. Galleries previously presented such projects as a marketing strategy; now, they have an expectation that the works may actually sell—and quickly, since private foundations do not go through the same lengthy acquisition approval process as museums. (Bloomberg)

South African Art Fair Gets a New Owner – South Africa’s FNB Joburg Art Fair has a new owner: its former director, Mandla Sibeko. The fair organizer will relaunch the fair as FNB Art Joburg from September 13 to 15 with a focus on art from the Global South and support by a group of the country’s top galleries, including Goodman Gallery and Stevenson. (The Art Newspaper)

Lichtenstein’s Late Paintings Go on Show With Ropac – Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac is working with the Lichtenstein family and Castelli Gallery to present a show of the American artist’s paintings, sculptures, collages, and drawings from the 1980s. The exhibition opens at Ropac’s Salzburg space on July 28. (Press release)


Baltimore Museum Announces New Acquisitions – The Baltimore Museum of Art has added more than 70 works to its collection, 17 of which were acquired with funds from their auction of deaccessioned works last year. Pieces by artists including Charles Gaines, Ebony G. Patterson, Wilmer Wilson IV, and Ana Mendieta are among the new additions. (Press release)

Curators Announced for Inaugural Tennessee Triennial – Lauren Haynes, a curator of contemporary art at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the North Carolina-based independent curator Teka Selman will co-curate the first edition of the Tennessee Triennial for Contemporary Art. The exhibition will be mounted across four cities—Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, and Chattanooga—from February 5 through May 2, 2021. (Artforum)

Sam Gilliam Installation Heads to Dia – A 3,500-square-foot gallery filled with pioneering early work by painter Sam Gilliam opens at Dia:Beacon on August 10. The installation includes two suspended “Drape” paintings that will hang from beams and hover above the floor as well as a large-scale work from the artist’s “Beveled-Edge” series. (Press release)


Collector Wilbur Ross May Be Held in Contempt of Congress – The House Oversight Committee has recommended that Wilbur Ross, the US Secretary of Commerce and a prominent art collector, be held in contempt of Congress after he refused “to comply with subpoenas” relating to the addition of a new question about citizenship status to the 2020 census. Ross, who collects contemporary Chinese and Vietnamese art, photography, 20th century American art, as well as Magritte, called the vote by the House Committee an “empty stunt.” (ARTnews)

Mexico Accuses Carolina Herrera of Appropriation – The Mexican government has accused the fashion designer Carolina Herrera of appropriating designs for her Resort 2020 line from indigenous Mexican patterns. The Mexican culture minister has written to the Venezuelan designer, asking her to explain why her fashion label is using designs based on traditional Saltillo shawls and other indigenous designs. Herrera said in a statement that the collection was conceived as a “tribute to the richness of Mexican culture.” (Guardian)

Artist-Produced Deepfake Zuckerberg Is Back for Round Two – The artists behind that viral “deepfake” of Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Posters and Daniel Howe, have dropped a second version of the controversial work on Instagram after the picture-sharing site, as well as Facebook, began classifying the artwork as “misinformation” and removing it from news feeds. “I wish I could keep telling you that our mission in life is connecting people, but it isn’t,” the doctored version of the Facebook CEO espouses. “We just want to predict your future behaviors. Spectre showed me how to manipulate you into sharing intimate data about yourself and all those you love for free. The more you express yourself, the more we own you.” (Instagram)

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