Art Industry News: The Brooklyn Museum Has Opened Up Its Lobby to Protesters as a Place for Rest and Relief + Other Stories

Plus, UK art institutions prepare a class action against their insurance companies and Steve McQueen dedicates his new films to George Floyd.

Exterior of the Brooklyn Museum. Courtesy Brooklyn Museum. Photo: Jonathan Dorado.

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 Friday, June 5.


The UK Art World Sues Insurers – UK art organizations are preparing to file a class-action lawsuit against insurers for failure to pay out as the lockdown era continues to decimate their bottom lines. The group of more than 50 claimants—all of whom remain unnamed for now—includes art galleries, museums, and individual proprietors who claim losses ranging from £50,000 ($63,498) to £35 million ($45 million). The dispute may come down to whether the public-health situation and the resulting shutdown are covered by the wording of specific policies for business interruption insurance. (The Art Newspaper)

Steve McQueen Dedicates Films to George Floyd – The artist and Oscar-winning filmmaker has dedicated his two films selected for the Cannes Film Festival to George Floyd “and all the other black people that have been murdered, seen or unseen, because of who they are, in the US, UK, and elsewhere.” The films, Mangrove and Lovers Rock, were scheduled to be shown at the prestigious festival before its cancellation due to the public-health situation. The films are both part of McQueen’s “Small Axe” anthology, named after a quote from the protest singer and reggae artist Bob Marley: “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe.” (BBC)

Brooklyn Museum Opens Its Bathrooms to Protesters – The Brooklyn Museum is the first major art museum to join a group of New York institutions and theaters in opening up their lobbies and bathrooms to protesters. The museum—which is located near a frequent gathering site for protests in the borough—will make itself available between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. A representative for the Brooklyn Museum told Artnet News that staff will be on hand to direct protesters to the bathrooms and help maintain social distancing. Over the past week, demonstrators have been bottlenecked by police and trapped without access to water or bathrooms; public rest points also give people the important chance to charge their phones. The Twitter account Open Your Lobby is recording theaters around the country that are opening up their spaces to demonstrators. (Instagram

V&A Curator on the Role Enlightenment Thinkers Played in Creating Racism – In a must-read post on the V&A’s blog, Gus Casely-Hayford, the British curator and director of V&A East, ruminates on a work by Yinka Shonibare illustrating a black Victorian dandy in the context of the protests sweeping the United States and beyond. “These men who defined the Enlightenment, constructed its hierarchies and categories, these intellectuals who laid out the framework of modern law, morality, and its identified metaphysics—looked upon Africa, a well-populated and varied-cultured continent, and saw in its peoples nothing—a void, a cultural tabula rasa—silence,” Casely-Hayford writes. “It made colonialism, and the imposition of Western cultural norms, seem like a kindness.” Shonibare’s image challenges the hierarchy, and, Casely-Hayford writes, “we must do the same.” (V&A)


Dealer Daniel Katz Makes $2.9 Million at Sotheby’s – The London art dealer’s collection brought in £2.3 million ($2.9 million) in an online auction at Sotheby’s, easily surpassing the £1.2 million low estimate. The 144 lots ranged from Egyptian bronze antiquities to Modern British art. But despite the encouraging result, reporter Colin Gleadell writes that, with many objects priced under £40,000 and some offered without reserve, the sale “felt more like a backroom clearance.” (Art Market Monitor)

Swiss Museum Deaccessions Impressionist Works to Finance Itself – The Langmatt Museum in Baden is selling up to three French Impressionist works from its collection in order to raise funds for operations, an extremely controversial move in the museum world. The president of the museum’s foundation, Lukas Breunig-Hollinger, says that the decision “pains” the institution but that it is ultimately the only way to save it. (NZZ)

Tunisia Controversy Halts Paris Auction – The Paris auction house Coutau-Bégarie has withdrawn 114 19th-century lots belonging to Tunisian royalty from a planned sale after critics said they had been smuggled illegally out of their country of origin. Following an official denouncement from the National Heritage Institute, the auction house has “temporarily suspended” the sale in order to investigate whether the heirs to the artifacts illegally exported the goods in order to sell them on the international market. (Le Monde)


Brain Dead Collective Calls on Corporations to Support Black and LGBT Organizations – The Los Angeles-based creative collective has called on its previous collaborators, including North Face, Converse, and Carhartt, to show their support for black and LGBTQ organizations. “Match our donation or work on a project with or without us to raise money or awareness for this cause,” they said in a call to action. (Complex)

First New Media Art Museum Will Open in the Netherlands – The Nxt Museum—the Netherlands’ first museum dedicated to media art—is opening on August 29 in Amsterdam. The first exhibition will feature large-scale, multi-sensory installations by acclaimed artists and academics including Marshmallow Laser Feast, Lucy McRae, and United Visual Artists. (Press release)


Adam Pendleton on America’s Protests – The New York-based artist has penned an essay about how he is processing the trauma brought up by the protests sweeping the US. “I realized that I am not safe, and this country is not kind,” he writes. The article is illustrated with a new sketch by Pendleton, SEE THE SIN, and his closing statements illuminate that message: “I took a breath and then realized that I needed to have a conversation with you—that I needed to reach out but that there is no ‘moving on’ or ‘next page’ until we SEE THE SIN. I realized the impossibility—and thus the poetics—of my plea.” (ARTnews)

The High Museum Will Open for Summer Art Camp – Children from first through eighth grades in Atlanta will be the first visitors to the city’s High Museum when it reopens on June 8. The museum is organizing a summer art camp that lets children explore the galleries and create their own art at a time when the fate of such camps for many children across the country is unclear. (TAN)

The Twin Cities’ Black Arts Organizations Need Your Help – The contribution of artists and creatives will be essential to the future of the Twin Cities, whose inhabitants must figure out how to move forward after the police murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day. Here is a list of underfunded and grassroots local arts organizations, including Arts-US, which cultivates young cultural leaders from the African Diaspora, and Juxtaposition Arts, a teen-run art and design center. Beyond the Twin Cities, there is no shortage of arts organizations to support dedicated to building the careers of aspiring black creatives. (MPRnewsArtnet News)

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