Art Industry News: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio Will Put a Huge Black Lives Matter Mural Right Outside Trump Tower + Other Stories
Plus, a top Met curator is in hot water over an Instagram post and the Philadelphia Museum of Art plans to cut 20 percent of its staff.
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 25.
Top Met Curator Criticized for Instagram Post on Junteenth – The Met’s chairman of European paintings, Keith Christiansen, is under fire for a controversial post he made about the monuments debate on his now-deleted Instagram account. On Juneteenth, he posted an image of the French archaeologist Alexandre Lenoir with a caption praising the man who worked to save France’s historic monuments from “revolutionary zealots” during the French Revolution. “Great works of art have been lost to the desire to rid ourselves of a past of which we don’t approve,” he wrote. After pushback online and from museum staff, both Christiansen and Met leadership apologized. In a response to a letter from concerned employees, CEO Daniel Weiss acknowledged that “we have moved too slowly in building an institution that more honestly reflects the communities we serve or that honors our aspirations.” (New York Times)
Philadelphia Museum Announces Plans to Cut 100 Staff – The Philadelphia Museum of Art will shed at least 100 employees, more than 20 percent of its staff, through a mix of furloughs, voluntary departures, and possibly layoffs. The policy comes into effect July 6 as the institution seeks to recuperate losses due to the ongoing lockdown. There are also 50 vacant positions at the museum that will not be filled. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Bill de Blasio Plans BLM Mural in Front of Trump Tower – New York’s mayor is taking a page from Washington, DC, and planning to install a Black Lives Matter mural in front of Trump Tower, where President Trump stays when he is visiting the city. The idea originated from a meeting with New York community leaders, including Gwen Carr, Eric Garner’s mother. The mural will be one of seven that will be installed in locations across the five boroughs. A spokesperson for the mayor said that “any time [the President] wants to set foot in the place he claims is his hometown, he should be reminded Black Lives Matter.” Since DC residents installed a BLM mural on the street in front of the White House, many other localities have followed suit—although some activists have criticized the moves as performative and an attempt to obscure a lack of structural change. (New York Post)
Workers at the New Orleans Museum Allege a “Plantation-Like Culture” – In the latest scathing open letter from museum workers to leadership, six former employees at the New Orleans Museum of Art (three of whom are Black) have accused the institution of fostering a culture of racism. “Not only is there a recently installed plantation exhibition on display at the museum,” the letter reads, referencing an exhibition devoted to a former plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana, “but there also exists a plantation-like culture behind its facade.” The letter calls for a series of actions, including a redistribution of budgets and investigations into HR complaints. In response, the museum said in a statement that it is “committed to doing better to meet the expectations of our BIPOC and LGBTQ community members.” (ARTnews)
Former Louvre Curator Arrested in Antiquities Crackdown – A retired Louvre curator and an employee of the Pierre Bergé & Associés auction house have been arrested on suspicion of trafficking antiquities. A source says the case concerns “the sale of hundreds of pieces for tens of millions of euros” looted from Egypt, Syria, and Yemen. Neither the curator nor the auction-house employee has been identified; police can only hold the suspects in custody until Friday morning without charges. (The Art Newspaper)
London Galleries Unite on AR App – A group of London dealers who formed a WhatsApp group to discuss rent relief and other matters related to the shutdown have formalized into the London Collective. Now, 40 of the members are coming together to launch shows on Vortic, the extended reality art platform founded by Oliver Miro. Participants including Pilar Corrias, Sadie Coles HQ, and Josh Lilley will offer rotating presentations, some of which will tie into exhibitions at their IRL galleries. (TAN)
COMINGS & GOINGS
New York Historical Society Plans Quarantine Show – New York Historical Society will reopen on August 14 with a free outdoor exhibition called “Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine.” Curated by the writer Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman, the show will document New Yorkers’ experience of lockdown through more than 50 photographs and 12 audio interviews. (Press release)
The Birmingham Museum of Art Appoints Diversity Director – The Birmingham Museum of Art has created a new position for a director of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Emily G. Hanna, a senior curator and curator of the arts of Africa and the Americas, has been named to the role. (Press release)
Police Make Another Arrest in Gold Toilet Theft – You might have forgotten about this considering, well, everything going on in the world, but Maurizio Cattelan’s golden toilet is still at large and the investigation is ongoing. On Thursday, a 44-year-old man from Kent was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the audacious burglary from Blenheim Palace last September. He has since been released, but is under investigation along with four other suspects. (Oxford Mail)
FOR ART’S SAKE
Baltimore Museum Extends All-Female Programming – The Baltimore Museum of Art’s highly publicized plan to dedicate its entire 2020 program to female artists hit a bit of a snag due to the institution’s prolonged shutdown. Now, the museum has announced that it is extending its 2020 Vision exhibitions, as well as its commitment to acquire work by women, into 2021. (Press release)
The Uffizi Turns Out To Be a TikTok Star – Forget Instagram—the Uffizi Galleries in Florence have become popular on the social-media app TikTok, posting irreverent videos starring its famous masterpieces. The hilariously inventive posts are the work of Uffizi staffer Ilde Forgione, who has cultivated a following of 22,000 people since the account was set up at the end of April. (NYT)
Sculpture of Zidane’s Infamous Headbutt Is Shown in Geneva – The artist Adel Abdessemed’s sculpture commemorating the notorious moment that soccer player Zinedine Zidane headbutted opponent Marco Materazzi during the 2006 World Cup is on view in Switzerland. The sculpture is part of the second Geneva Biennial Sculpture Garden, which is presenting some 30 works outdoors through September 10. (Le Figaro)
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