Art Industry News: Art Basel Acknowledges New Reality by Allowing Non-Physical Galleries Into Its Fair for the First Time + Other Stories

Plus, Picasso's paint palette sells for $71,000 and the September 11 Memorial & Museum cuts back 60 percent of its staff.

Sadie Coles HQ at Art Basel Hong Kong 2017. Photo: Jessica Hromas for 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 23.


September 11 Museum Plans Massive Cutbacks – The September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York is one of the more frequented tourist destinations in the city—which also makes it one of the hardest hit by the shutdown. Deprived of ticket sales and other earned revenue, which usually covers more than 95 percent of its annual expenses, the institution is facing a deficit of up to $45 million over the next year. To make up the shortfall, the organization is launching a fundraising campaign and has furloughed or laid off nearly 60 percent of its staff. (New York Times)

An Unemployment Crisis Looms Over UK Art Academia – Thousands of lecturers across London are facing unemployment as schools cut back on casual contracts over the summer—a move that some say disproportionately affects Black and minority ethnic academics, especially women. The senior management team at the art school Goldsmiths, at University of London, will let go 472 casual contracts this summer, 40 percent of the overall staff. “We are poised to lose a whole generation of ethnically, but also otherwise diverse, young academics—the future of academia will just be even more pale, male and stale than it already is,” a lecturer at UCL said. (The Art Newspaper)

Art Basel Relaxes Application Restrictions 2021 for Hong Kong Fair – The world’s leading Modern and contemporary art fair has relaxed the rules for applicants for its next Hong Kong edition to encourage struggling galleries to participate. For the 2021 event, galleries will only be required to make a down payment of 25 percent for their booth in advance, rather than the full amount. Thanks to an initiative by the Hong Kong Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, dealers will also be offered a one-off 15 percent discount for stands in the Galleries, Insights, and Dialogues sections (and a 30 percent discount for first-time exhibitors in the main section who have previously participated in the Discoveries sector). Perhaps most significantly, Art Basel Hong Kong will also temporarily suspend the requirement for applicants to maintain a permanent exhibition space, provided the gallery is staging shows for its program. The criteria for the minimum number of shows a gallery must hold per year has also been relaxed. (The Art Newspaper)

On Luxury Stores Decorating With Protest Art – “The reflexive impulse to protect property is a deeply American one, ingrained in this country’s foundation and upheld more consistently than probably anything else,” writes Max Lakin in a biting critique of the luxury stores in Manhattan that have seized on the symbolism of the Black Lives Matter movement to adorn their boarded-up storefronts. Meanwhile, he notes, companies have reached out to Black artists for such projects as a form of “performative allyship.” Lakin notes: “Art can soothe, but it can also manipulate, cajoling pacification when rage is more appropriate.” (New York Times)


Beijing Gallery Expands to London – The Beijing gallery Tabula Rasa, founded in the 798 art district in 2015, is opening a London location this fall. The aim is to present a program that may be too sensitive for mainland China as well as to promote Chinese artists in the UK. (The Art Newspaper)

Picasso’s Paint Palette Sells for $71,000 – A paint-stained palette that had been in the collection of the artist’s granddaughter, Marina Picasso, sold for 11 times its original estimate after 39 bids. The relic from Picasso’s working process was one of 60 works from Marina’s personal collection, which sold at Sotheby’s as part of a broader Picasso online sale that fetched $6.1 million. (Press release)

Is the Future of Auction Sales Online? – The brick-and-mortar auction market was thrown into the deep end of the virtual pool this year. Will it sink or swim? The growth in online auction sales has been considerable, but they still provided less than 10 percent of the overall sales revenues of 2019 to date. (Financial Times)


UCL Will Rename Spaces Named After Eugenicists – University College London is renaming lecture halls and a building named after the eugenicists Francis Galton and Karl Pearson. Galton was a Victorian scientist who coined the term eugenics and left his collection to the university as well as an endowment for a “professorial chair of eugenics”; Pearson was the first to hold the position. (Independent)

Opera House Replaces Audience With Plants – As a statement about the significance of art and nature to our lives, Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu has opened its concert hall to thousands of house plants. The opera house’s first performance by UceLi Quartet, a prelude to its 2020–2021 season, was played to the rooted audience. After the show, the plants will be donated to health care workers at the city’s Hospital Clinic. (Vulture)


Two Baby Trump Balloons Flew Over Tulsa During Disastrous Trump Rally – Two of those giant Baby Trump balloons made their way to Tulsa over the weekend ahead of the president’s evening rally, flying above the historic Vernon AME Church. Admirers of the floating caricatures made donations to restore the building, which is the only standing black-owned structure in the Black Wall Street neighborhood. (The Hill)

Artist Yang Chul Mo Admits to Sexual Harassment – The Korean artist Yang Chul Mo, half of the husband-and-wife artist duo mixrice, has retired from art after admitting to sexually harassing female coworkers at the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture. Yang was outed in local media for inappropriate comments made during his tenure as as director of the government-funded art project Collective Chungjeongro. (Art Asia Pacific)

Kadir Nelson’s New Yorker Cover “Say Their Names” Honors George Floyd – The artist Kadir Nelson’s cover art for the June 22 issue of the New Yorker depicts George Floyd embodying other victims of racist violence in the US, including Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, and Breonna Taylor. Nelson says that they are not offering prints of the image out of respect for the victims and their families. (New Yorker)


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