Art Industry News: Beto O’Rourke Says This Painting of George Washington Convinced Him to Impeach Trump + Other Stories

Plus, the House of Representatives approves a funding boost for the NEA and Goodman Gallery hires a Frieze veteran to run its London outpost.

John Trumbull's General George Washington Resigning His Commission, 1824. Courtesy of the public domain.

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 Thursday, June 27.


Art Is Censored From a Show About the US-Mexico Border Crisis – Two works of art about the plight of migrants at the US-Mexico border have been removed by San Francisco’s Jewish Community Center because they referenced the Gaza Strip and the West Bank wall built by Israel and the now-famous image of a Syrian-Kurdish child refugee who drowned in Turkey. The move has been condemned by the artists and the National Coalition Against Censorship, which called it “absurd” that an exhibition that explores issues of migration, borders, and human rights would “reduce its content to material that would not disturb a child.” (Press releaseJewish News of Northern California)

Kim Kardashian Teams Up With Vanessa Beecroft, Again – To help launch her “Kimono” collection, the reality TV star and fashion designer has enlisted the help of her friend, artist Vanessa Beecroft, who photographed models wearing Kardashian’s “shapewear solutions,” aka underwear. Kardashian tweeted the images to her followers, saying she had been working on the clothing line for the past year. Beecroft has previously collaborated with Kardashian on the release of her fragrance KKW Body, and the artist has also worked with her husband, Kanye West, on a fashion show/performance to launch his Yeezy clothing line. (ARTnews)

Beto O’Rourke Says a Painting Demands Trump’s Impeachment – In the Democratic debates last night, the distinguished former art-handler from Texas decisively broke out of the pack when it comes to wooing the niche art-history caucus. Asked by moderator Chuck Todd about how he would address the “potential crimes” detailed in the Mueller Report, O’Rourke replied: “One of the most powerful pieces of art in the US Capitol is the [John] Trumbull painting of General George Washington resigning his commission to the Continental Congress at the height of his power, submitting to the rule of law and the will of the people. That has withstood the test of time for the last 243 years. If we set another precedent now, that a candidate who invited the participation of a foreign power, a president who sought to obstruct the investigation into the invasion of our democracy—if we allow him to get away with this with complete impunity then we will have set a new standard…. We cannot allow that.” We at artnet are fully on board with that argument. The painting has spoken! (Splinter News)

US House of Representatives Approves Funding Boost for the NEA – The Association of Art Museum Directors welcomed the news that the House of Representatives has approved an additional $12.5 million for the National Endowment for the Arts’s budget next year. It also thanked the House for a similar boost to the National Endowment for the Humanities. Both now head to the Senate for a vote. Congress has repeatedly increased funding for the federal agencies that US President Trump would like eliminate. The AAMD also gave a special shout-out for the agencies’ champion, Representative Betty Louise McCollum of Minnesota. (Twitter)


Another Perspective on the Sale of Sotheby’s – In a podcast, two market experts analyzed the French telecommuniations mogul Patrick Drahi’s decision to pay a 61 percent premium to buy the auction house for $3.7 billion. Sotheby’s staffers are looking “over their shoulder” to see what he will do once he secures the trophy asset. (Financial Times)

Frieze Director Will Lead Goodman Gallery in London – The artistic director of Frieze, Jo Stella-Sawicka, has been named director of Goodman Gallery’s new London branch. The South African gallery is due to open on Cork Street in the fall. During her nine-year tenure at Frieze, Stella-Sawicka championed female artists and turned Frieze Sculpture into a three-month-long public exhibition. (Press release)

Defunct Gallery Fined $2.3 Million for Selling Fake Aboriginal Artworks – But the Australian gallery fined the giant sum for selling fake Indigenous works, Birubi Art, is unlikely to pay up since before the business was put into voluntary liquidation and its assets sold to Gifts Mate, which is “established and controlled by Birubi’s former director Mr [Ben] Wooster.” (Guardian)


Artsy Appoints New CEO – Mike Steib will replace current CEO Carter Cleveland, who co-founded the company and is moving to the newly created role of executive chairman. Steib joins Artsy after five years as CEO of XO Group Inc., the parent company of the wedding-services online portal the Knot and maternity and parenting portal, the Bump. (ARTnews)

Kate Middleton Has a New Arty Duty – The Duchess of Cambridge has been handed patronage of the Royal Photographic Society by the Queen, who was the society’s patron for 67 years. The society has 11,000 members and a program of more than 500 UK and international events. It’s a fitting assignment for the Duchess, who studied art history. (Twitter)

V&A Director Rules Out Prayer Rooms in Museums – During a panel this week, Tristram Hunt said he is not interested in the Victoria & Albert Museum having a prayer room, though other art centers may offer them. “We live in a discourse where notions of being offended by culture… is so prevalent, you want to hold the ring quite firmly about the civic function of an organization,” he said. Another panelist said the director might want to reconsider, especially since the V&A is planning a new museum and collections center in East London, which has a very large Muslim population. (Arts Professionals)


Actor Russell Tovey Will Curate a Festival in Margate – The cornucopia of art, events, and performances, called Margate NOW, will be held across the British town from September 28 to October 13 in celebration of this year’s Turner Prize being held at Margate’s Turner Contemporary. The citywide program will be guest-curated by actor and collector Russell Tovey. (Press release)

A Replica Clock Holds Promise for Notre Dame Restoration – A 19th-century replica of the clock that burned in the Notre Dame fire was found in an old church storage unit in Paris. The timepiece may be able to be used to replace the original, which was located under the roof and spire that collapsed this April. Authorities at the cathedral are calling it a “miracle.” (Yahoo News)

See Yoko Ono’s New York Horizon – “Have you seen the Horizon lately?” inquires a new work in New York by Yoko Ono. The line references a well-known song by the artist and musician, and it has been featured on billboards and walls outside of museums over the years. This newest iteration is at One Chase Manhattan Plaza. (Instagram)

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