Art Industry News: Taylor Swift Says Having ‘Evil’ Monuments in Her Home State of Tennessee ‘Makes Me Sick’ + Other Stories

Plus, Sotheby's raises its premium (again) and Los Angeles museums opt to remain closed even when they can technically reopen.

Taylor Swift. Photo: Andrew H. Walker/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 Monday, June 15.


LA Museums Take a Cautious Approach to Reopening – While museums in LA have been authorized to reopen, more than a dozen—including LACMA, MoCA, and the Getty—have not decided on reopening dates yet. Many are trying to navigate how they will deal with county guidelines, which recommend limiting capacity, checking for COVID-19 symptoms, and enforcing social distancing, as well as introducing an online timed-ticketing process, which is beyond the technological capacity of many museums. (Los Angeles Times)

On Black Artists and the London Art Scene – ARTnews takes a deep dive into the contributions of Black British artists—many of whom are getting long overdue recognition—to art history in the UK. But it seems that those exceptions prove the rule that there is still a long way to go. “The commercial success of just a handful of Black British artists of the stature of [Steve] McQueen and [Chris] Ofili makes clear that the trajectory of art as a career is still unstable, with little assistance and still no readily available blueprint for younger generations to follow,” writes Rianna Jade Parker. (ARTnews)

Taylor Swift Comes Out Against Confederate Statues – The increasingly politically outspoken pop star is throwing her influence behind the movement to remove Confederate statues in her home state of Tennessee, including one of Nathan Bedford Forrest, which lawmakers recently voted to keep on view at the state capitol, and one of publisher Edward Carmack, who once called for pioneering Black journalist Ida B. Wells’s office to be set on fire. In a Twitter thread, Swift wrote: “Taking down statues isn’t going to fix centuries of systemic oppression, violence, and hatred that black people have had to endure but it might bring us one small step closer to making all Tennesseans and visitors to our state feel safe⁠—not just the white ones.” (Vulture)

The Rise and Fall of Robert Indiana’s Caretaker – Jamie L. Thomas was inseparable from the artist Robert Indiana before his death two years ago. But now, following a bitter dispute over who has control of the Pop artist’s legacy, Thomas—designated in the artist’s final will as the head of his forthcoming museum—has been conspicuously absent from his affairs. The lawsuit between Thomas and the estate, which challenged whether the caretaker was taking advantage of the artist, was resolved last year on confidential terms, but Thomas’s departure from the foundation was evidently part of the deal. (New York Times)


Are People Actually Buying Online? – Sean Kelly says that reports of brisk online sales during lockdown have been vastly overrated. Collectors are buying, but things are moving much more slowly and offers need to be well targeted. “In the financial crises of the 1990s and 2008, there were more protected pockets of prosperity, now it’s more of a shared [negative] experience everywhere,” adds art advisor Emily Tsingou. (Financial Times

Christie’s Deputy CEO Steps Down – Stephen Brooks will leave his post as deputy chief executive officer at the end of August. Brooks, who has been with Christie’s since 2009, previously served as COO and CFO, tasked with overseeing the commercial aspects of all transactions over $10 million. The executive says he plans to transition to a portfolio career. (Art Market Monitor)

Sotheby’s Raises Its Premium—Again – The auction house will introduce a new one-percent fee called an “overhead premium” on August 1 to offset the “increasing costs” of doing business. The fee will be tacked onto the hammer price in addition to the buyer’s premium. (Twitter)

Can We Make an Art Gallery on the Moon? – A merry band of artists, curators, and scientists are teaming up to send 100 works of art to the moon. The “Petri dish-like gallery” features 100 one-centimeter-square artworks within a tiny plate, which will be installed on the exterior panel of a lunar lander. The goal of the group, which meets weekly out of the European Space Research and Technology Center, is to launch the gallery in 2022. (Observer)


Berlin Biennale Announces New Dates – The Berlin Biennale, which was originally slated to open in June, will now take place from September 5 through November 1. It will be headquartered at the art space ExRotaprint, while also unfolding at various venues around the city. (Artforum)

Aachen Kunstverein Catches Fire – A fire broke out at the Neuen Aachener Kunstverein, a contemporary art space in Aachen, on Friday morning, damaging the roof and filling the building with smoke. Some €80,000 ($90,000) worth of artwork is now being examined by a restorer. The work has been insured by the institution, while the building is insured by the city. (Monopol)


Yoshitomo Nara’s Biographer Offers a Peek Behind the Scenes – The author of the Japanese artist’s biography, Yeewan Koon, shares some details about the man behind the menacing “kawaii” paintings that have taken the art market by storm. Koon says that the artist is “quite goofy” and listens to Japanese punk while he paints, but is also a “control freak” who values loyalty. Despite his controlling nature, however, Koon says he gave her “complete freedom.” (South China Morning Post)

Checking in With Faith Ringgold – After feeling creatively paralyzed after her husband’s death and in the midst of prolonged lockdown, Faith Ringgold has been inspired anew by the vigor of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations following the death of George Floyd. The 89-year-old artist, who is preparing for upcoming shows at the Bildmuseet in Sweden and Glenstone in Maryland, now finds herself working again. “I always have to feel something to paint it,” she says. (New York Times)

March for Black Trans Lives Surrounds the Brooklyn Museum – Thousands of people rallied outside the Brooklyn Museum in New York on Sunday for a Black Trans Lives Matter rally following the deaths of two black trans women, Dominique “Rem’Mie” Fells, 27, of Philadelphia, and Riah Milton, 25, of Cincinnati, Ohio. Protesters wore white in an echo of the NAACP’s Silent Protest Parade in 1917, one of the first civil rights demonstrations organized by Black Americans. (CNN) (Instagram)

Instagram post by Kimberly Drew, @museummammy.

Instagram post by Kimberly Drew, @museummammy.

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