Art Industry News: America’s Museum Directors Have United to Say, ‘Hey, We Should Finally Start Paying Our Interns’ + Other Stories

Plus, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is delayed yet again and Frida Kahlo's friends and family debunk that newly surfaced voice recording.

Soon, museum interns may not have to work for free. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Soon, museum interns may not have to work for free. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group 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 this Friday, June 21.


Facebook Reverses Ban on Led Zeppelin Cover Art – Facebook has overturned a ban it made earlier this week on showing the cover of Led Zeppelin’s 1973 album “Houses of the Holy,” which includes images of naked children. After pushback, the site opted to restore posts containing the cover because “we know this is a culturally significant image,” a spokesperson said. The move comes amid growing frustration with Facebook’s policies on nudity and artwork. (Guardian)

Friends and Family Say That’s Not Frida Kahlo’s Voice – The family of Frida Kahlo and her former students have dismissed reports that the recording unearthed by Mexico’s National Sound Library is the voice of the artist. Her former student Guillermo Monroy Becerril says the recording does not resemble Kahlo’s “cheerful and lively” tone. Skeptics also point out that the artist was very ill in 1953 or 1954, when the tape is believed to have been made. Amparo Garrido, a Mexican actress who dubbed Snow White’s voice in the Spanish-language version of the Disney classic, thinks she may be the woman on the recording reading Kahlo’s essay on Diego Rivera. (Guardian)

Museum Directors Call for the End Unpaid Internships – The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) has adopted a resolution to end unpaid internships. The organization is urging its members to create “diverse, equitable, accessible, and inclusive” paid opportunities for people trying to enter the art world. (They make an exception for special circumstances, like when a student is precluded from being paid because he or she is receiving course credit.) ICA Boston director Jill Medvedow, who co-authored the resolution, said: “By failing to pay interns, we ensure that these experiences are only really accessible to those who already financially secure and, often, people who have established career networks available to them.” Last year, the AAMD launched a paid internship pilot program with 10 participating museums. (Press release)

Ai Weiwei Is Designing an Opera Now – Ai has become the latest contemporary artist to tackle opera, following in the footsteps of William Kentridge, Shirin Neshat, and others. He will direct and design the sets and costume design for the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma’s production of Turandot, a 1926 piece by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini. (Contra Replica)


Pink Floyd Frontman’s Guitar Sells for a Record Sum – David Gilmour’s 1969 Black Strat smashed the auction record for an acoustic guitar when it sold for $3.98 million at Christie’s yesterday. The sale of the Pink Floyd frontman’s collection of instruments generated a total of $21.5 million. Ahead of the sale, Gilmour told Guitar World that he hoped it would “raise a fair bit of money, which I plan donate to charity, and that will do some direct good in this world with all its difficulties.” (Guitar World)

Can AI Crack Provenance Mysteries? – Christie’s photography specialist Anne Bracegirdle, who is co-organizing the company’s art and tech conference on June 25, says the potential for AI to help resolve provenance issues is in the “AOL dial-up stage.” In other words, there is much more in store. The event’s co-organizer Marisa Kayyem recently met experts in Switzerland who are using machine learning to identify marks in a painting made by different individuals. The potential for AI to differentiate between the work of a studio assistant and the artist “blew our minds,” she said. (New York Observer)

Frieze London Announces 2019 Program – The 17th edition of Frieze London, which runs from October 4–6, is its most international to date, with more than 160 galleries from 36 countries participating. A new themed section, Woven, will feature solo presentations by eight artists from Brazil, the Philippines, India, China, and Madagascar who employ textiles, weaving, and tapestry in their work. (Press release)

Why Collectors’ Estates End Up in Court – Soaring prices for blue-chip art can mean that a collector’s heirs are increasingly tempted to challenge their deceased relative’s wishes and withdraw promised gifts to museums. One way for museums to “child-proof” loans is to record commitments related to the loan before the donor’s death. Collectors can also put their art into a trust. (Financial Times)


Amsterdam Has an Edgy New Arts Center – A former ammunitions factory is now home to HEM, a new arts institution on the outskirts of the Dutch capital. HEM will offer multi-pronged programming, including visual art, music, performance, and dance, as well as educational activities. The program has launched with a kinetic installation by RAAAF and a project by former streetwear design duo Edson Sabajo & Guillaume Schmidt. (Press release)

Academy Museum Delayed Again – Those eagerly awaiting the debut of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles will have to wait a little longer. The opening of the museum, scheduled for this fall, has been pushed back to an unspecified date sometime after the Oscars in February 2020. The Renzo Piano-designed museum was first announced in 2012, with a target opening date of 2017. (Deadline)

Far-Right Theater Director Will Lead Brazil Arts Organization – Roberto Alvim has been appointed the director of the federally-funded theater of the National Foundation of the Arts (Funarte) after showing support for Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. Alvim is calling on conservative artists, actors, theatre directors, dramatists, arts professors, and others to join a database of right-wing arts professionals that will create “a cultural war machine.” (The Art Newspaper)

Poster House Opens in New York – A new museum in New York dedicated to the medium of posters is now open. With a focus on the cultural and aesthetic impact of posters throughout history, the Manhattan museum has launched with two shows, “Alphonse Mucha: Art Nouveau / Nouvelle Femme,” an examination of the the Czech artist’s Art Nouveau designs, and “Designing Through the Wall: Cyan in the 1990s,” which explores the work of the East Berlin graphic design collective. Both shows will be on view through October 6. (Press release)


Art Students Find They No Longer Qualify for Debt Elimination – Former students at the now-defunct Art Institute of Phoenix sought to have their loans forgiven under a program that eliminates debt for students whose schools have closed. But several have now been told they must repay their loans anyway because the Art Institute of Las Vegas—a sister campus they did not attend—remains open. On Wednesday, Susie Lee, the Democratic representative for Nevada, raised the students’ bureaucratic nightmare in a Congressional committee hearing. (AZ Central)

Olafur Eliasson Will Light Up the Arc de Triomphe – Olafur Eliasson has been commissioned to create a lighting installation for the Arc de Triomphe in 2020 as Paris seeks to spruce up its image ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games. The permanent work will cost around €3 million ($3.4 million), though the exact plans for the piece are still being finalized. (TAN)

Chicago Pulls Off a Frida Kahlo Coup – A suburban community college in Chicago is going to invest millions into expanding their contemporary art gallery, the Cleve Carney Museum of Art, in order to host a major Frida Kahlo show in 2020. It will be the most comprehensive show of Kahlo’s work in Chicago since 1978, and will include 26 original artworks and many important portraits. (Press release)

The Met Gets Colorful for New York City’s Pride Parade – The Metropolitan Museum of Art has unveiled new rainbow banners for Pride Month and ahead of Pride Day, which is the last Sunday of June. The institution’s logo has gotten the Pride treatment as well. (Instagram)

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