Art Industry News: Art Basel’s Marc Spiegler Promises ‘the Future of the Art World Is Not Digital’ on the Eve of His Latest Online Fair + Other Stories

Plus, Francis Alÿs will represent Belgium at the 2022 Venice Biennale and the only Black staff member at London's top art school quits.

Art Basel director Marc Spiegler. Photo courtesy of Art Basel.

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 Tuesday, June 16.


Van Gogh Museum Reopens—Without Tourists – After 11 weeks of closure, the Van Gogh Museum reopened to the public on June 1 under its new director, Emilie Gordenker, who took the helm right before it shuttered. Now, Gordenker is reorienting the focus of one of Amsterdam’s most popular museums toward a local Dutch audience, who she expects will enjoy the opportunity to visit without the tourists. (The museum can welcome a maximum of 750 visitors a day, rather than the pre-pandemic 6,000.) The biggest problem will be making up for lost funds, as 89 percent of the museum’s budget came from earned income from visitors. It has lost about $4.3 million each month it has been closed. (New York Times)

Goldsmiths’ Only Black Staffer Quits – The only Black full-time member of staff at London’s top art school, Goldsmiths, has resigned from their position in response to the “unreflective and combative racism” they say they experienced. In a widely shared letter, Evan Ifekoya wrote, “I refuse to carry the burden of being the only permanently employed black member of academic staff within the Art Department at Goldsmiths. To be so within a team of 70+ people—a tiny fraction of whom are people of color—in 2020 is not acceptable.” The school has been subject to scrutiny over the way it has dealt with race over the past year; last summer, a group known as the Goldsmiths Anti-Racist Action occupied one of the university’s buildings for 137 days. (ARTnews)

Marc Spiegler Pens a Defense of the IRL Art Experience – On the eve of the online version of the Art Basel fair, the global director of the fair network opines, “The future of the art world is not digital.” While the pandemic catalyzed “a rapid digital renaissance” of art-world operations, Spiegler says that despite the bells and whistles, galleries are still relying on existing relationships—forged in person—to drive sales during lockdown. Still, this period may result in lasting changes. Spiegler predicts that, moving forward, there will be a mixture of in-person and online operations, events will be more spread out, and there will be more content available locally and outside the major market hubs. (Financial Times)

Under Pressure, Asian Art Museum Removes Bust of Patron – San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum will remove the bust of its founder, Avery Brundage—the domineering former chairman of the International Olympic Committee who was dogged by accusations that he was racist and a Nazi sympathizer—from its foyer when it reopens this summer. The symbolic move is part of a broader effort on the part of the museum to “decolonize” after facing criticism that it presents Asian art from a white perspective. The museum’s director, Jay Xu, the first Chinese American to helm the museum, tells the New York Times that it is true that the collection “reflected a fetishization of the ‘Orient’ that was common among white collectors of the time.” In an open letter to the public on June 4, Xu promised to contend with that history and examine Brundage and his legacy in its programming, as well as look into important questions around provenance and restitution. (New York Times)


Almine Rech Takes on Kenny Scharf – Almine Rech now represents the American painter and street artist, who came to prominence painting brightly colored amorphous figures on the streets of the East Village in the 1980s. The gallery will open Scharf’s inaugural solo exhibition in New York on September 10. (Press release)

Luhring Augustine to Rep Salman Toor – The New York-based painter whose Old Masters-influenced work portrays the lives of brown, queer men has joined Luhring Augustine gallery. A rising star, Toor is due to have his first-ever institutional solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art when it reopens to the public. (ARTnews)

Sotheby’s Will Offer a Basquiat Head in June Sale – Sotheby’s livestreamed big-money evening sale on June 29 will include a “head” on paper by Jean-Michel Basquiat, estimated at $9 million to $12 million. Other highlights include a Vija Celmins “Night Sky” painting that was included in the artist’s 2019 retrospective at the Met, which carries an estimate of $6 million to $8 million. (Press release)


Francis Alÿs Will Represent Belgium in Venice – The Belgian-born, Mexico-based artist, whose multidisciplinary work spans performance, architecture, and social practice, has been selected to represent Belgium for the (now-2022) Venice Biennale. Hilde Teerlinck, a curator at the Han Nefkens Foundation in Barcelona, Spain, will organize the pavilion. Alÿs’s work for Venice will build off his 2017 video Children’s Games #19: Haram Soccer. (ARTnews)

New Resource Center Opens in Gee’s Bend – Souls Grown Deep Community Partnership, the Atlanta-based foundation Souls Grown Deep’s parent organization that works to support the community of quilters in Gee’s Bend, has opened the Gee’s Bend Resource Center. It is a free public space with internet access and seeks to help increase census participation, assist with voter registration, and facilitate economic stimulus check payments. (Hyperallergic)

Academy Museum Delays Opening—Again – The long-awaited Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles has been delayed yet again (along with the Oscars). The institution, originally scheduled to open December 14, will now make its red-carpet debut on April 30, 2021, due to delays caused by the lockdown. (Los Angeles Times)


Do Diversity Fellowships Set Participants Up for Success? — Naiomy Guerrero reflects on her time as a postgraduate curatorial fellow at the the Pérez Art Museum Miami. Geurrero was part of the Diversifying Art Museum Leadership Initiative, which places aspiring museum professionals into fellowships at 22 museums across the country. It’s a “curious position,” she writes. “You are counted among the staff—but are not in a permanent position. You are tasked with responsibilities—but also feel pulled between those and others that arise from the needs of the wider communities to which you belong. You are poised, in such a situation, between visibility and invisibility.” (ARTnews)

Tracey Emin on Life and Loss in Lockdown – The YBA artist has found lockdown creatively liberating, but she experienced the tragic loss of her cousin to COVID-19. The work she created during isolation is on view now in an online exhibition at White Cube, fittingly titled “I Thrive on Solitude.” Emin says she finds the slower pace better for the art world: “You’re better off staying at home reading a book about Velázquez than jetting off to the next art fair.” (Guardian)

Elmgreen & Dragset’s Holocaust Memorial Is Damaged – The Berlin memorial to gay people murdered by the Nazis has again been damaged. Due to recurring attacks, the monument has been monitored by cameras for the past year. According to the Berlin police, witnesses observed a cyclist taking two glass bottles from a garbage can and throwing them against the monument, smashing the window through which the artist’s video of couples embracing can be viewed. (Monopol)

Photo: Jan Gumpinger. Via Wikimedia Commons

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.