Art Industry News: A British Filmmaker Recounts That Time He Randomly Met Banksy at a Soccer Game + Other Stories

Plus, the Jewish Museum staff petition their director for greater diversity in an open letter and Giuseppe Penone donates over 600 drawings.

Filmmaker Louis Theroux during the filming for the Graham Norton Show. (Photo by Isabel Infantes/PA Images 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, June 18.


Jewish Museum Petitions for Diversity in Open Letter – Staff at New York’s Jewish Museum have circulated an open letter calling for more diversity and transparency within the institution. The letter, addressed to the museum’s director Claudia Gould, points out that the majority of staff is white and upper middle class, and asked her to “acknowledge the ways systemic racism is replicated within our institution” and to carry out “an audit of institutional systems and structures that impede active staff engagement.” The museum has since responded to the letter, creating an internal anti-racist working group and a complementary task force within its board as well as initiating board training in diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion. (The Art Newspaper)

UC Berkeley Has Not Returned Native American Remains – A New California auditor report shows that the University of California and its campuses have not returned all the Native American human remains and artifacts in their possession, despite a law requiring them to do so. The schools and institutions, including UC Berkeley’s Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, have reportedly delayed the repatriation of artifacts stolen from Indigenous graves by requiring tribes to submit proof, beyond geographic and oral evidence, linking them to the objects. A federal law in place since the 1990s ordered all government agencies and museums to repatriate remains and related cultural objects to tribes, but Berkeley’s Anthropology Museum has so far only returned 20 percent of its half a million objects. (Hyperallergic)

British Filmmaker Recounts His Unlikely Banksy Encounter – British filmmaker Louis Theroux revealed he is one of the few people to have met the elusive street artist in the flesh. Back in 2001, he recounted on a recent episode of That Peter Crouch Podcast, he attended a Queens Park Rangers soccer game. One of the other people in the box was a young artist. “He was a little bit sheepish, he wasn’t terribly outgoing, and I said, ‘What do you do?’” Theroux recalled. “He said, ‘I’m a street artist,’ and he gave me a little booklet of his art, and I looked at it and it looked quite good and I kind of made awkward chit-chat, and I said, ‘Oh, what’s your name?’ and he said, ‘Banksy.’” (Independent)

On Glass Ceilings in the British Art World – A staff member whose contract was not renewed at the William Morris Gallery after four years on temporary contracts has written of her anger at the “hypocrisy, fake solidarity, and glass ceilings” within the culture sector in the UK. In an open letter, Teanne Andrews recounts how she was passed over for a promotion, how Black, Asian, and ethnic minority people often passed through the gallery as trainees but were never taken on, and how white colleagues gaslit or dismissed her when she pointed to systemic racism embedded in the organization. While Andrews was given a better position during the local council’s year as “Borough of Culture,” she believes it was because they wanted her, a self-described “unapologetically black woman from East London,” to be “the diversity flag bearer” during that time, and that the gallery used the pandemic as an excuse not to renew her contract afterwards. (We Are Parable)


Art Basel Booths Offer Monumental Sculpture – Some dealers are taking advantage of Art Basel’s virtual format to offer monumental work that would never fit in an art-fair booth—something that is particularly timely given the ongoing debate around the globe about sculpture in public spaces. Lehmann Maupin Gallery is presenting the $3 million large-scale sculpture Public Figures (2001) by South Korean artist Do Ho Suh, while Sikkema Jenkins is offering a four-part archive relating to Kara Walker’s monumental fountain and slavery memorial for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. (Financial Times)

Sotheby’s to Sell Nike Founder’s Sneakers – A pair of handmade sprint shoes created by Nike cofounder Bill Bowerman are the latest collectible kicks heading to the (virtual) auction block at Sotheby’s. The seller is sprinter John Mays, who received the prototype from Bowerman, his then-track coach, in the early 1970s. Bidding begins at $130,000; the sale is open through June 26. (Wall Street Journal)

Christie’s to Offer $8 Million Magritte – Christie’s is offering a Magritte painting, L’Arc de Triomphe (1962), in the London leg of its July relay-style auction. The painting—which depicts a tree set against a background of leaves—carries an estimate of $8.1 million to $11.9 million. (ARTnews)


Escape Artist Turned Real Artist Ronald Tackmann Dies – The thief who discovered his talent for art while imprisoned has died at 66. He managed to escape from jail three times, but spent most of his life behind bars. His detailed drawings and sculptures (made from materials like soap) depicted life in and out of prison. (New York Times)

Getty Distributes $2 Million in Relief Funds – The Getty Foundation has named 80 recipients for its first wave of COVID relief funding to aid artists and arts organizations affected by the shutdown. Among them are LA’s Plaza de la Raza, the Women’s Center for Creative Work, the ONE Archives Foundation, and the Underground Museum. (Los Angeles Times)

Video Artist Luther Price Dies at 58 – The artist known for creating indelible assemblages of found footage has died of unknown causes, his gallery Callicoon Fine Arts confirmed. A key figure in the underground film scene, he made his name with Sodom (1989), a compilation largely of shots of men having sex sourced from gay porn Price found in dumpsters. (ARTnews)


Giuseppe Penone Makes Epic Gift to Two Institutions – The Italian artist is making two gifts of nearly 350 drawings each—more than 660 in total—to the Centre Pompidou and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Many of the works have never been exhibited before; highlights will be shown publicly in 2022. (Press release)

On Graffiti’s Role in Protest – Graffiti scholar Susan Phillips argues that the public wall art sprouting up around the world during the ongoing protests for racial justice will play an essential role in creating a narrative about this moment in history. “Even after protests have dispersed, graffiti stands as a testament to the protesters’ collective voice,” she writes. (Los Angeles Times)

A Sculpture of an Essential Worker Is Unveiled in Latvia – While many statues around the world are coming down, a new one memorializing frontline workers is going up. Sculptor Aigars Bikše’s six-meter-tall sculpture, Medics to the World, has been unveiled at the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga to honor doctors and other essential workers. (Instagram)

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