Art Industry News: Your Art May Be Shipped by One of America’s Most Influential Conservative Donors + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, Frieze London launches a female-only section and the Berkshire Museum plans to sell off nine more works of art.

The Uihlein family, from left: Brian, VP of Merchandising; Liz, President; Freddy, Corporate Planner; Steve, Vice President; Dick, CEO; Duke, Vice President. Image courtesy of ULINE.

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 Tuesday, June 26.


Meet the Unsung Heroes of the Art World – As art schools emphasize idea over execution and the art market’s frenetic pace turns artists into industries, art fabricators are increasingly the secret stalwarts that hold up many important careers. Sometimes, artist and fabricator work side-by-side. Other times, fabricators are only given a set of cursory instructions. When Yoko Ono saw her fabricator at an opening, she asked, “How did you enjoy making the piece?” (New York Times)

Berkshire Museum to Sell More Works – The embattled museum has confirmed it will sell off nine additional works in the coming weeks in an effort to reach its court-approved $55 million goal. Works including Alexander Calder’s Dancing Torpedo Shape will be offered through Sotheby’s private sales, while a screen and a vase from the Qing Dynasty are set to go under the hammer at Sotheby’s Asia Week in the fall. (MassLive)

The Most Influential Political Donors You’ve Never Heard Of – Liz and Dick Uihlein are deep-pocketed, hard-right Republican donors who sustain their fortune with Uline, a successful shipping company that also handles artwork shipments. In an extensive exposé, the NYT details how the couple are quietly reshaping American politics and seeking to influence the 2018 mid-term elections. They even support a network of newspapers and websites that resemble legitimate news outlets but make one-sided attacks against their opponents. (NYT)

Frick’s Renovation Ignites Protest and Lawsuit – The controversial $160 million renovation triggered protests on Monday from critics who say the revamp will destroy the building’s iconic music room and garden. Upper East Side preservationists and activists have taken the issue to court, filing a suit on June 24. (Courthouse News)


Belgium Investigates Antiquities Trafficking – Two art-dealing brothers are being investigated for the possible trafficking of looted antiquities from Syria. Belgian customs authorities seized two bas-reliefs at the Brussels Antiques & Fine Art Fair in 2016 from Phoenix Ancient Art, which is run by Ali and Hicham Aboutaam. No charges have been filed but the investigation is ongoing. (Wall Street Journal)

Frieze London Adds Female-Only Section – The fair will dedicate a special themed section, called “Social Work,” to female artists who emerged in the male-dominated art market of the 1980s. They will be selected by an all-female, 11-strong panel, including Whitechapel Gallery’s director Iwona Blazwick and curators Fatos Üstek and Lydia Yee. The section was inspired by research from the Freelands Foundation, which found that just 22 percent of the solo shows at major London galleries last year were by women artists. (Evening Standard)

Unit London Opens in Mayfair – The artist-founded gallery Unit London is inaugurating its newest undertaking, a 6,000-square-foot space in London’s Mayfair, today with an exhibition by South African artist Ryan Hewett. (Press release)

Berlin Museum Returns Nazi-Looted Art – A 15th-century wooden sculpture depicting angels holding a baby Jesus has been returned to the heirs of a Jewish family. The object was looted by the Nazi regime and ended up in Berlin’s Bode Museum. The family has agreed to sell it back to the museum. (Press release)


West Bank Gets a Cultural Hub – The Palestinian philanthropist Omar Al-Qattan is opening the A.M. Qattan Foundation, a cultural center in the West Bank, on June 28. Housing artists’ studios, an exhibition space, library, and theater, the project—which cost more than $15 million—has long been delayed due to conflict as well as a lack of materials and skilled workers. (The Art Newspaper)

Artist Kevin Wolff Has Died – The Chicago-based artist and teacher, best known for his colorful, homoerotic figuration, has died at age 63. His paintings were included in the Feature Hudson Foundation’s booth at Frieze New York this year. (Artforum)

Storm King Celebrates the Summer Solstice – Dozens gathered under the stars at Storm King this weekend to tour its summer exhibition, “Indicators: Artists on Climate Change,” and eat a meal inspired by the show and prepared by Michael Anthony, the executive chef at Gramercy Tavern in New York City, and local chef Shelley Boris. In keeping with the theme of sustainability, all the food came from within 20 miles of the sculpture park. (Press release)

Palais de Tokyo Gets a New President – The French businessman Laurent Dumas, the founder of the real estate company Emerige Group, is the new chair of the Paris institution’s board. He succeeds the entrepreneur Jacques-Antoine Granjon. (Journals des Arts)


Albright-Knox Announces Rehabbed Expansion Plan – A dramatically different direction for the Albright-Knox’s long-planned expansion was approved unanimously last night by the Buffalo gallery’s board. Local preservationists had objected to the original design, which would have modified the museum’s Modernist 1962 building designed by Gordon Bunshaft. The space is preserved in the new design, which adds a new glass gallery building. (Buffalo News)

Rashid Johnson Wraps Up His First Feature Film – The American artist’s first Hollywood movie is now in post-production. Johnson—who also found time to unveil new paintings and sculpture at a solo show at David Kordansky in LA this spring—has just finished filming his adaptation of Richard Wright’s 1940 novel Native Son. (ARTnews)

British Museum’s LGBTQ Exhibition Goes on Tour The museum is expanding its show about LGBTQ histories, “Desire, Love, Identity,” and sending it to four British cities. Star objects include a bust of Emperor Hadrian’s lover and a 11,000-year-old pebble depicting a couple having sex. (Guardian)

Banksy’s Alleged Paris Works Defaced – Street art widely attributed to the British artist has been vandalized and customized in Paris. A rat has been chiseled off a wall and another piece referring to the spirit of May 1968 got a Summer of Love-themed makeover by a local street artist. See before-and-after video here. (Le Monde)

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