Art Industry News: Madrid Becomes the Latest City to Shutter Its Museums to Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus + Other Stories

Plus, the latest UK budget opens the door to a flood of freeports and Egypt's oldest pyramid reopens to the public.

Paintings by Italian artist Tiziano at the Prado in 2003. (CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP via 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 on this Thursday, March 12.


Titian’s Paintings Are Reunited – Titian’s six paintings inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses have been reunited for the first time in 300 years at London’s National Gallery. They were commissioned by King Philip II of Spain and are now in the collections of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and Madrid’s Museo del Prado, along with the National Gallery in London and the National Galleries of Scotland, which jointly own Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto. Titian painted Ovid’s stories as “very adult fairytales,” writes Jonathan Jones, who thinks the Spanish king could have had “no inkling Titian was sending him portraits of sex workers under a mythical guise.” (Guardian)

Catalonia Funds Companies Linked to Arts Conspiracy Theory – The Catalan government has reportedly paid €3 million ($3.4 million) in subsidies to media companies with ties to a body that claims that titans of culture such as Shakespeare, Cervantes, Columbus, and Leonardo da Vinci were Catalan. The pro-independence Catalan Left party has urged the government to stop funding the New History Institute. “It only serves those who wish to portray us as small, ridiculous and angry losers,” says the party’s spokesman. (Guardian)

Madrid’s Big Three Art Museums Shutter – The Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía museum of 20th century art, and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza have closed today as a precaution against coronavirus. The temporary closure is indefinite. The move comes as the Spanish ministry of culture shutters all the institutions it oversees in the Spanish capital. The National Museum of Archaeology, Museo Sorrolla, and Museum of Romanticism are among the other institutions closed until further notice to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which was officially deemed a pandemic by the World Health Organization on Wednesday. To remain connected with its audience, the Prado has announced that it will begin live-streaming tours of the collection, among other digital initiatives. (TeleMadrid)

Advocates Raise Money for Artists in Seattle – The author Ijeoma Oluo has launched a relief fund for artists in Seattle—the city hardest hit in the United States by COVID-19—who have been impacted by cancellations resulting from the outbreak. The fund, called Seattle Artists Relief, has raised more than $40,000 since Monday, and Oluo is reviewing applications from artists requesting amounts ranging from $50 to $7,000. (Hyperallergic)


Donald Marron Exhibition Is Postponed – The exhibition in New York of the late art collector’s blue-chip works will not take place in May as planned because of coronavirus. The joint organizers of the show, Acquavella, Gagosian, and Pace, said in a statement that doubts over securing loans from institutions and private collections meant that the Marron show has had to be postponed to a to-be-determined date. (FT)

UK Budget Opens the Door to Freeports – The UK’s new chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak is as big a fan of freeports as his boss, Boris Johnson. In Sunak’s first budget, which was dominated by coronavirus, he gave the green light to 10 freeports across the UK. He also scrapped the purchase tax on books and magazines, which should please art publishers. (TAN)

Paris Fairs Scramble Dates – Paris’s drawing fair, Salon du Dessin Contemporain, has been postponed until late May. The Salon du Dessin, which is due to open at the end of this month, is consulting stakeholders about possibly moving its dates. For a continually updated list of cultural events impacted by COVID-19, check back with us here(TAN)


Egypt’s Oldest Pyramid Reopens to the Public – A 4,700-year-old pyramid built for the tomb pharaoh Djoser is once more open to the public after a restoration project that took 14 years and cost $6.6 million. The more than 200-foot-tall structure is the oldest pyramid still standing and contains some three miles of passages within it. (Smithsonian)

V&A Buys a Brooch Found by a Detectorist – The Victoria & Albert Museum has acquired a brooch that was uncovered on farmland in Northamptonshire by a plucky metal detectorist. The V&A declined to reveal the price of the piece, which will sit next to Queen Victoria’s crown in its jewelry display, but it said that the rare medieval diamond and gold brooch was “priceless.” (BBC)

First AES+F Artist Residency Awarded – The Russian artist collective AES+F has named the Chechen artist Aslan Goisum as the first resident at the International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York. The residency, which will run three months from May, is awarded to emerging artists from the Russian Federation. (Press release)


Is Kickstarter Shadow Banning This Sex-Positive Feminist Graphic Novel? – The comic artist Lynsey G. has mounted a protest against Kickstarter, claiming the crowdfunding platform has censored her sex-positive feminist graphic novel Tracy Queen. She alleges that the platform has “shadow banned” her campaign, which is a subtle tactic used by social-media sites to partially block users who post objectionable content without them knowing it. (Women Write About Comics)

Sydney Biennale Goes Ahead – These days, art events that are happening as planned are more unusual than those that are delayed or called off. And the Sydney Biennale is slated to open on schedule on March 14 despite the growing threat of COVID-19. The 22nd edition of the biennale includes 101 artists and features, among other projects, a large installation by the Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama. Organizers say they will be monitoring the public health situation on a daily basis. (Twitter)

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