Art Industry News: The Getty Is Forced to Apologize After Its Bland Statement on Protests Sparks an Online Backlash + Other News

Plus, the Nelson-Atkins responds to anger over the police's use of its grounds and the Minneapolis art community memorializes George Floyd.

The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Photo: Don Kelsen/Los Angeles Times 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 Tuesday, June 2.


Minneapolis Art Community Honors George Floyd – Across the Twin Cities, artists have been finding ways to express solidarity with the demands for justice following the death of George Floyd and other African Americans who have died in police custody. Some have contributed squares to the Power Tree Quilt, a project ongoing since 2014 and organized by Million Artist Movement, where participants decorate individual panels to reflect on the fight for black liberation. Three artists also created a mural on the site where Floyd died—one of a number of memorial murals that have popped up around the world. “There wasn’t even enough space to write all the names of black people who, like Floyd, had died in police custody,” said one of the artists behind the mural. “That says something about America.” (ARTnews)

Virgil Abloh Apologizes For His Protest Comments and $50 Donation The art-world-adjacent fashion designer came under fire for his social-media response to the protests this weekend in which he shamed looters of an independent streetwear store and shared that he was donating $50 to a Miami-based bail fund. Following the backlash, Abloh posted a long statement apologizing for how his comments came across and defending his work as a black man and an immigrant, including donating more than $20,500 to bail funds and other causes related to the movement. “I apologize that it seemed like my concern for those stores outweighed my concern for our right to protest injustice and express our anger and rage in this moment,” he said. He also pointed to future work he has in the pipeline to bring more black voices into the cultural sphere, including “a new art publication that centers the voices and work of black artists and writers.” (Vulture)

Getty Apologizes After Bland Social-Media Post – Many have issued calls for museums to engage directly with the current protests, wrestling openly with police violence and structural racism rather than remaining silent. But social media is equally sensitive to pretense—and the Getty’s followers did not take kindly to its post over the weekend, which did not mention George Floyd or black lives, but instead stated that the museum stands “for equity and fairness” and shares hope for “justice and peace for all, and a spirit of caring for one another.” After commenters criticized the statement as “vague,” “a throwaway,” and “a non-statement,” the Getty’s CEO James Cuno responded with a lengthy apology, pledging to “do much better expressing our Getty values.” (Instagram)

Nelson-Atkins Responds to Anger Over Police Use of the Museum’s Grounds – Julián Zugazagoitia, the Kansas City museum’s director and CEO, asked officers not to continue meeting at the museum’s northern drive ahead of protests in Missouri. Police had assembled at the staging area after being granted permission by security personnel at the museum on Friday night, but Zugazagoitia claimed he was unaware until he saw images on social media the next morning (and some angry comments from community members); he then requested that the force find another venue. “The optics, the picture with the police stationed in front, with the background of the museum, does break the trust that we have worked for many years to establish with many communities,” he said, “so that image was something that was hurtful.” In a press release issued over the weekend, Zugazogoitia apologized personally for the museum’s role, writing, “We deeply regret and understand the hurt and the confusion that this caused.” (


Frith Street Gallery Represents Nancy Spero Estate – The London gallery now represents the estate of the feminist artist in collaboration with Galerie Lelong & Co. and the Nancy Spero and Leon Golub Foundation for the Arts. Frith Street Gallery will present an exhibition of Spero’s work, known for its engagement with political and social issues, in 2021. (ARTnews)

Philip Guston and Amoako Boafo Headline Christie’s Sale  Among the highlights of Christie’s postwar and contemporary day sale on July 10 is Guston’s Raoul’s Tools (1973), which is expected to sell for $1.5 million to $2 million. “Some of the artists like Guston, who have had very robust markets for a very long time and seen continued growth, are the ones that a lot of our more traditional collectors are continuing to look at,” said specialist Emily Kaplan. Meanwhile, demand remains strong for new stars like Amoako Boafo, whose Orange Shirt (2019) carries an estimate of $40,000–$60,000. (Art Market Monitor)

Why This Collector Bought Kent Monkman’s Most Controversial Painting – Howard Levitt, the Canadian collector who acquired the explicit painting by Monkman of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, discusses why his was interested in the “six-figure” work, how he called Monkman to ask for a “deal,” and what he thinks of the painting’s critics. “I think that the painting is mischievous, fun, and turns the colonial narrative on its head,” Levitt writes. “I object to this straitjacketing of minority artists by members of their own group telling them how they should paint and think.” (National Post)


Tate Appoints New Chairman – Roland Rudd has been appointed to succeed Lionel Barber as the next chairman of the Tate museums. Rudd, the founder of a London-based PR firm, has served on Tate’s board since 2017 and will begin his new role on January 20. (ARTnews)

Artistic Director of Lincoln Center to Depart – Jane Moss, who spent more than 20 years as the artistic director of Lincoln Center, is retiring on August 1. Moss, who in 2015 said that “live performance is going to be the most avant-garde aspect of our lives” in the smart-phone era, noted that she had considered leaving even before the shutdown, but the lull in programming provided a “smooth transition.” (Artforum)

Met Opera Cancels All 2020 Performances – In a move bound to be watched by many museums and multidisciplinary arts organizations, the Metropolitan Opera said the public-health situation would force the company to cancel its fall season, thrusting the institution into one of the deepest financial crises in its history. Many of its artists have not been paid since March; the Met expects to lost close to $100 million. (Vulture)


Tatiana Trouvé’s Latest Work Draws on Lockdown Headlines – The Italian-born, Paris-based artist has created a new body of work inspired by newspaper coverage of the lockdown era. “The idea was that by reading the newspapers I would find out about life outside of my apartment and studio,” she said. “It was about being connected to the rest of the world.” A total of 40 works based on newspapers from 34 countries seek to offer a collage of this moment in history, from the heroic actions of frontline workers to the mundane days spent at home. (Guardian)

The Brooklyn Museum Will Become Pop-Up Food Bank – The museum is teaming up with the Bed-Stuy nonprofit The Campaign Against Hunger to transform its biergarten into a temporary food bank. Beginning on June 1, the museum opened its doors to those suffering food insecurity with groceries available for the taking. (Patch)

National Portrait Gallery’s People’s Choice Award Is a Poignant, Devastating Image –  A record 17,000 votes were cast for the triennial People’s Choice Award in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. The winning photograph, by the artist known as ADÁL, depicts a masked figure underwater wearing a shirt that reads, “Muerto Rico.” The inspiration came, according to the artist, when he was walking through Old San Juan and encountered a man wearing the shirt. He turned out to be the t-shirt’s designer; before long, the two planned a collaborative photo shoot. (Smithsonian)

ADÁL, Muerto Rico (2017). Courtesy of the artist and the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

ADÁL, Muerto Rico (2017). Courtesy of the artist and the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

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