Art Industry News: Frustrated New Museum Union Members March Outside the Museum’s Summer Opening + Other Stories

Plus, the National Portrait Gallery opens a major retrospective of Cindy Sherman and opposition to the new LACMA grows.

The collective bargaining unit at the New Museum. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Art Industry News is normally 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 Wednesday, July 26.


The Gay Rights Champion Who Co-Founded a Museum – Stonewall veterans, gallerists, and life partners Charles W. Leslie and Fritz Lohman co-founded a museum of gay and lesbian art in New York at a time when few major institutions paid it much attention. Now, the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art is hosting part of the exhibition “Art after Stonewall, 1969–1989” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic Greenwich Village protest. (The show was organized by the Columbus Museum of Art.) Talking to the New York Times, he recalls how museum directors and dealers once openly shunned gay artists, and how panic during the AIDS/HIV epidemic in the 1980s forced the closure of their Wooster Street space. “Everything closed in New York: the baths, bars, social clubs,” he said. “People were afraid to go into public venues. They stopped coming to the shows.” (NYT)

Opposition to the New LACMA Grows – When opponents of the Peter Zumthor-designed LACMA expansion met to discuss their next move over the weekend, a vocal couple that runs a bus-tour business demanded that the museum “go back to the drawing table for a better, more reasonable architectural solution.” Upset that gallery space will be 10 percent less than originally planned, they also called upon LACMA to reveal the floor plans, and questioned director Michael Govan’s vision of satellite spaces. The museum is in listening mode. “This ongoing dialogue has resulted in many positive outcomes that are incorporated into the new design,” a LACMA spokesperson said. Indeed, the latest renderings show at least one major new feature: an external staircase leading to the upper floor of the $650 million new building. (LA Times

New Museum Workers Protest Its Summer Opening Party – Demonstrations of all stripes are sweeping New York’s art museums, and so it was last night as members of the New Museum’s fledgling union massed outside the doors of the institution during last night’s opening to seek leverage in their ongoing contract negotiations. As guests streamed in to celebrate the new exhibitions, some four dozen staffers marched a circuit around the entrance, handing out leaflets accusing the institution’s leadership of “disparag[ing]” the union’s proposals—all the while chanting slogans like “Worker power, every minute, every hour! Union strong!” Previously, a June 18th letter the union sent to the New Museum’s director claimed that the institution failed to pay enough workers a living wage. (Artnews)

Max Stern’s Heirs Will Be Paid for Nazi-Looted Paintings – The heirs of Max Stern have been compensated for two paintings that the dealer was forced to sell during the Nazi era. The Max and Iris Stern Foundation and its three beneficiaries—Concordia University, McGill University, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalemwill all benefit from settlements reached with the purchasers of Happy Family in Garden by Otto Heichert and Stormy Sea by Martinus Schouman. The German auction houses Lempertz and Ketterer Kunst were involved in the deals, which means the unnamed collectors will keep the art that was looted in the 1930s. (Concordia)


Lucas Zwirner Leads Gallery’s Digital Expansion – David Zwirner’s son will lead digital content for the entire gallery, and his first move is hiring W magazine’s digital director Fan Zhong—whose previous employer was just sold to Surface magazine’s owners—to become the gallery’s digital editorial director. (ARTnews)

A New App Aims to, Yes, Democratize Art Collecting – Called Art Money, the this-is-what-life-is-like-in-2019 app provides collectors who can claim a basic income a loan to buy work valued between $1,000 and $50,000. They repay the purchase in 10 interest-free monthly installments. Galleries will get the sale price in full upfront, minus a 10 percent fee. (Hyperallergic)


Sculptor Charles Ginnever Has Died – The artist known for his monumental steel forms has died at age 87. Ginnever’s geometric sculptures seemed delicately balanced, as if defying gravity, and are a staple in public parks and campuses across the US. (NYT)

The Bruce Museum Gets $15 Million to Renovate – The art and science institution in Greenwich, Connecticut, that is entirely unrelated to the Boss has received its largest donation ever for an expansion project that includes a new wing for showing art. William L. Richter, the co-founder of “distressed investing” private-equity firm Cerberus Capital, was behind the generous gift. (New Haven Register)

Indiana University Gets a Big Boost for Woman-Artist Research – The estate of the recently deceased philanthropist Jane Fortune—who, as founder of Advancing Women in the Arts, spearheaded restorations of female Renaissance painters in Florence—has given the the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University 61 works of fine art, including a rare drawing by female Renaissance master Plautilla Nelli, as well as funds to establish the Dr. Jane Fortune Endowment for Women Artists and the Dr. Jane Fortune Fund for Virtual Advancement of Women Artists. (Press release)

Artist Nancy Fouts Has Died – The imaginative artist renowned for bringing together miscellaneous everyday objects and transforming them into surrealistic new sculptures has died at age 74. A major figure in London’s art scene, Fouts came to prominence in the 1980s. (Guardian)


Diplo Raises Money for Burning Man Art – San Francisco’s Burner community is organizing a five-stage block party fundraiser called “The Menagerie” to raise money for the production of Burning Man’s artworks. DJ extraordinaire Diplo will headline the program, which takes places on July 6. (Billboard)

Baltimore Museum of Art Opens Satellite Space – Lexington Market is getting a miniature version of the Baltimore Museum. The 250-square-foot space, which opens on Thursday, will feature reproductions of works from the museum as well as offer collaborative activities. (Baltimore Biz Journals)

A Major Cindy Sherman Retrospective Opens at the National Portrait Gallery – The London museum is taking a deep dive into the 40-year career of the American photographer. The show includes 150 works, including five from Sherman’s “Cover Girl” series as well as important series like “Centerfolds” and “History Portraits.” Some works that have never been seen by the public are also on view for the first time. (Instagram)

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