Art Industry News: Why Controversial Education Tsar Betsy DeVos Is Hosting an Edgy Art Show + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, artist-turned-architect Olafur Eliasson opens his first building and New York City is getting a candy museum.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos delivers remarks to staff on "the importance of the work and mission" of the Education Department on her first day as secretary in Washington, DC, February 8, 2017. Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

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 5.


Olafur Eliasson Opens His First Building – The Danish-Icelandic artist has created his first autonomous building, a castle-like office for the investment company Kirk Kapital, in Denmark. The surreal structure has a wave-like brick facade that references the nearby Veje fjord. Eliasson set up a dedicated architectural practice, Studio Other Spaces (SOS), in 2014 with Sebastian Behmann to complete the project and has ambitions to design more buildings in the future. (Dezeen)

Supreme Court Favors Cake Designer Who Refused Gay Couple – A 7–2 decision in the Supreme Court has voted in favor of a Colorado cake designer who turned away a gay couple who had approached him to design a cake for their wedding. Phillips’s cakes are artistic expression worthy of First Amendment protection, wrote Justice Thomas. (New York Times)

Why Betsy DeVos Is Hosting an Edgy Art Show – “Total Tolerance” is the name of a group show at the education department in Washington, DC. It features 20 paintings, photographs, and drawings by high school students tackling issues including racism, transphobia, immigration, gender identity, disability, and suicide. The National YoungArts Foundation, a Miami nonprofit organization, organized the show to bring a conversation about diversity to ​a department that, under DeVos, has been rolling back LGBTQ and ​disabled students’ rights. (Washington Post)

What the NGA Needs in its Next Director – As Earl “Rusty” Powell, the director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, prepares to retire after more than 25 years, many have wondered where the august institution should go next. For decades, Glenn Dixon writes, it has been a maintainer of canons rather than a boundary-pusher. It could begin, he notes, with bolstering its attendance by taking risks and embracing more women and people of color in its collection. (Washingtonian)



Matthew Marks and Greene Naftali Team Up for Painting Show – The two galleries are organizing “Painting: Now and Forever III,” a 46-artist show across their four New York venues that kicks off on June 28. The ambitious group show is the third installment of an exhibition first organized by Pat Hearn and Matthew Marks back in 1998. It will include works by boldface names like Sam Gilliam, Nicole Eisenman, and Jasper Johns, as well as 97-year-old Luchita Hurtado. (ARTnews)

Will Sanctions Hurt Russian Art Sales? – Specialists contend that there will almost certainly be a slump in the buying and selling from Russian dealers in the UK following the attempted nerve-gas poisoning in Salisbury of the former MI6 spy Sergei Skripal. Upcoming London Russian sales have seen wavering interest from Russia and Ukraine’s top buyers. Meanwhile, Christie’s is offering a Malevich landscape from 1911 in its Impressionist and Modern art sale rather than its Russian auction. (TAN)

Early Van Gogh Landscape Nabs $8.3 Million – Vincent van Gogh’s 1882 painting Fishing Net Menders in the Dunes was purchased for €7 million ($8.3 million) by an American collector at Artcurial in Paris. It’s the first Van Gogh to come to market in France in more than 20 years, and a bidding war drove the price above its €3 million to €5 million estimate. (BBC)

What Happens to Celebrated Artist’s Estates (and Why You Need a Will) – The last days of Robert Indiana’s life were marked by a growing legal battle over the fate of his work and control of his estate. It’s a story that is not unfamiliar to many famous artists, from Mark Rothko to Pablo Picasso. Sometimes, no amount of due diligence in building a will can protect you from an unprepared or greedy relative. (Observer)



Belgium’s Colonial Museum to Reopen The African museum just outside of Brussels is reopening in December after a $77 million revamp of its neoclassical building. Extra space will allow the museum to expand its collection and show contemporary art from Central Africa alongside colonial artifacts. (Jakarta Post)

New York Is Getting a Candy Museum – The museums of ice cream and pizza will get some competition in early 2019 when a candy museum opens in New York’s storied Limelight Club. Tickets ranging from $15 and $25 will grant you access to an Instagram wonderland complete with a gumdrop room, candy cane fashion show, and a 10-foot-tall candy unicorn. The project is the first of three museums founded by Sugar Factory, with another set to open in LA in 2020. (Forbes)

Locals Pledge to Boycott Glendale Biennial – More than 50 people have signed a letter to the Pit Gallery criticizing its exhibition “Vision Valley” on view at the Brand Library Art Galleries for “whitewalling” the neighborhood’s immigrant communities. Originally called the “Glendale Biennial,” the show includes 32 predominately white artists that do not reflect the neighborhood’s Armenian, Filipino, Korean, or Latino population, and the gallery has apparently been trying to suppress or ignore criticisms. (Hyperallergic)

Selfridge’s Gets a Fourth Plinth – The London department store has partnered with Yorkshire Sculpture Park on a David Chipperfield-designed marble and steel “Art Block” on which new sculptural works will be unveiled every six months. The inaugural commission, on view until October 31, is Holly Henry’s Phyllismade from rubble drawn from the construction of the department store’s new accessories hall. (TAN)


French Performance Artist Shuts Himself Inside a Sculpture – As part of his “journeys in capsules” series, Abraham Poincheval plans to spend a week inside a Paleolithic carving in the garden of the Aurignac Museum in France. The carving of a lion man is the world’s oldest known anthropomorphic sculpture. The artist has previously spent a week inside a rock at the Palais de Tokyo and two weeks inside a stuffed bear. (RFI)

How to Read James Franco’s New Film – After multiple women accused Franco of sexual misconduct and the actor tried to pass off his behavior as self-aware performance, his new film Future World becomes difficult to read. Is the film, like much of the actor/artist’s work, a self-consciously bad, parodic send-up, or is it just plain bad? (Vulture)

Art From WWI Goes on View at Tate Britain – Members of the armed forces and veterans are invited to see “Aftermath: Art in the Wake of World War I” for free during its run until September 23. The German, British, and French artists in the exhibition largely draw on their experiences of the first modern war, exploring traumas and injuries that still resonate with soldiers today. (Guardian)

Robert Capa Photos on Sale for a Steal – A special sale running from June 4 through June 8 at Magnum Photos online features historic images by the renowned photojournalist and photographer among 78 works by others from the agency, includin Stuart Franklin and Bruce Davidson. The selection focuses on photographs that define and document the pursuit of freedom. The signed, six-square-inch prints are on offer for $100. (SF Gate)

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