Art Industry News: Another Deluxe Western Art Fair Is Now Expanding to Hong Kong + Other Stories

Plus, curator Rita Gonzalez will lead LACMA's contemporary art department and Tate announces an all-star lineup of solo shows by women.

Art Basel in Hong Kong, seen here in 2018, is getting some competition. © Art Basel.

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 Friday, March 1.


FBI Finds 2,000 Human Bones Hoarded by Atomic Bomb Scientist – The FBI uncovered cultural artifacts and artworks from all over the world, including some 2,000 bones from Arikara Native American ancestors, at the makeshift home museum of Donald Miller. A renowned scientist who worked on the first atomic bomb, Miller also saw himself as a “collector,” and amassed a trove of some 40,000 artifacts over 70 years by stealing from archaeological digs and smuggling them back to the US. Though Miller died in 2015, the bureau still hopes to return the stolen objects, which include Chinese jewelry from 500 BC, to their rightful homes, and has launched an online campaign asking governments around the world for their help identifying the objects and their provenance. (Los Angeles Times)

On Helen Molesworth’s Farewell Show – Before she was ousted from the museum, MOCA’s former chief curator planned one last exhibition. Called “One Day at a Time: Manny Farber and Termite Art” and on view through March 11, the show takes its cue from an essay written by the painter and critic that juxtaposes what he called “White Elephant Art” with “Termite Art.” The New Yorker’s Alex Abramovich argues that the show sums up well Molesworth’s three-year tenure at the institution during which she battled director Philippe Vergne over “white elephants” including Carl Andre and museum board member Mark Grotjahn. “This tricky, important farewell show suggests the ways that museums must change, and are changing already,” Abramovich writes. (New Yorker)

Masterpiece Fair Reveals Hong Kong Plans – The swanky art fair has confirmed its strategy for expanding to Asia. It will begin with a “pavilion” inside the Fine Art Asia fair in Hong Kong from October 4–7, the beginning of a long-term partnership between the two. Fine Art Asia will have a similar pop-up within Masterpiece London in June. Around 20 to 25 dealers are expected to take part in the inaugural Hong Kong project. (The Art Newspaper)

Tate Announces Five Female Artists’ Shows – Tate Britain will present a major survey of the British painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye in 2020 and a retrospective of the work of Paula Rego, the Portuguese artist known for her art inspired by storybooks, in 2021. Other artists to get the Tate solo show treatment include Polish sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz and Slovak artist Maria Bartuszová, both at Tate Modern, while South Korean artist Haegue Yang is getting a show at Tate St Ives in 2020. (Press release)


Famed Collector Buys a Japanese Vase Used as Restaurant Decor – The art collector Nasser Khalili has been identified as the buyer of a monumental Meiji vase that surfaced at a regional California auction house last month. For years, it was part of the decor at a San Francisco restaurant, Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto. With his purchase, the collector was able to reunite the 8-foot-tall cloisonné vase with its twin, which he already owned, for the first time in 120 years. (Antiques Trade Gazette)

NYU’s Flemish Old Master Soars to $2 Million at Auction – After a bidding war involving 18 competing phone buyers, a rare Flemish painting sold for $2.05 million at Freeman’s in Philadelphia on February 27, blowing past its estimate of $150,000–250,000. The painting, by an artist known only as “Master of the Embroidered Foliage,” was offered by New York University, which received it as a gift from ambassador Ruth Farkas. (Antiques Trade Gazette)

Kelly Cahn Joins Sean Kelly – Kelly Cahn, who previously worked as head of research and gallery outreach at the top art advisory Heller Group, is joining Sean Kelly as its new director of private sales. She will work to expand the dealership’s secondary market business. (ARTnews)


LACMA Promotes Two Head Curators – Rita Gonzalez, a longtime curator at the museum and expert in Latino artists, had been serving as LACMA’s interim head of contemporary art and has now been promoted to the top job. Another acting head, Leah Lehmbeck, has been named head of the museum’s fused European painting and sculpture and American art department. (ARTnews)

San Antonio Museum Names Latin American Art Curator – Lucia Abramovich has been appointed the associate curator of Latin American art at the San Antonio Museum of Art. In her new role she will focus on managing and reinstalling its Latin American folk art collection. She succeeds Marion Oettinger, who is now the museum’s curator emeritus of Latin American art. (ARTnews)


Feminist Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon Expands – The group Art+Feminism has expanded this year’s Wikipedia edit-a-thon to six museums across Los Angeles. Sessions take place this month at institutions including LACMA and the Hammer Museum to create, flesh out, or improve online entries for hundreds of female artists and cultural leaders. (The Art Newspaper)

Paola Pivi Will Fill MAXXI with Mattresses – The artist is creating a gigantic “padded cave” measuring 300 square feet for her solo show at Rome’s MAXXI. Other works by the Italian-born artist include sofas drenched in perfume. Called “World Record,” the fragrant show is organized by curators Hou Hanru and Anne Palopoli and is due to open on April 3. (Press release)

Pigcasso the Pig Lands a Swatch Art Commission – After her first solo show, “Oink,” the artful swine Pigcasso has landed a deal with the Swiss watchmaker Swatch. Proceeds from the limited-edition watch will go to support the sanctuary for farm animals where she lives. An Instagram hit, Pigcasso creates canvases that sell for up to $4,000 each. (CBS)

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