Art Industry News: Are Damien Hirst’s New Paintings Penance for His Venice Debacle? + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, guards at the National Gallery report a hostile work environment and the most expensive camera ever sells at auction.

Damien Hirst, Hydra and Kali at "Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable" at the Pinault Collection in Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi in Venice. Photo courtesy MIGUEL MEDINA/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 Wednesday, March 14.


National Gallery Accused of Hostile Management – Security staff have accused the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, of fostering a work environment of “fear and intimidation.” Complaints include sexual harassment, discrimination, and retribution for speaking up. One US army veteran asked his congressman to intervene in a dispute. The NGA, meanwhile, has denied that it silences whistleblowers and says it takes complaints seriously. (Washington Post)

Kusama Public Art Heads to London – Yayoi Kusama’s first piece of public art in London will be a loop of stainless steel balls near Liverpool Street Station. Infinite Accumulation is one of 10 new works at stations on the new Elizabeth line, which is part of the multimillion-dollar Crossrail development. Other commissioned artists include Spencer Finch, Douglas Gordon, and Richard Wright. (The Art Newspaper)

Damien Hirst Calls New Paintings “Anti-Venice” – Larry Gagosian thinks he might have underpriced Damien Hirst’s “Veil Paintings,” which sold out at the British artist’s recent Beverly Hills show for between $500,000 and $1.7 million. The artist painted them himself and says they are “anti-Venice”—a major break from the glitzy, high-production work in his show “Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable” last year. (New York Times)

Refugees Learn How to Conserve Syria’s Heritage – The World Monument Fund has opened a new training center in Mafraq, Jordan, to teach Syrian refugees craft and restoration skills, such as how to conserve stonemasonry. Over the next year, the center will train more than 35 people to help preserve their nation’s cultural heritage when the violence is over. (TAN)


Sotheby’s to Offer $75 Million Mandel Collection – Some 26 works from the collection of Morton and Barbara Mandel are expected to sell for around $75 million at Sotheby’s single-owner sale this May. Highlights include works by Joan Miró, Mark Rothko, Roy Lichtenstein, and Donald Judd. (Press release)

The Most Expensive Camera Ever Sells at Auction – Selling for six times its presale estimate, the Leica 0-series no. 122 set the new world record price for a camera. It was purchased by an Asian buyer for €2.4 million ($2.97 million) at the WestLicht Camera Auction in Vienna. (Press release)

Strauss Photography Collection Heads to Phillips – Michel and Sally Strauss’s photography collection will be sold at Phillips this May. The couple collected works by artists including Edward Burtynsky and Candida Höfer over two decades. Michel has experience in the auction world: he led Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern department in London for 35 years. (Press release)


Smithsonian Appoints New African American Art Specialists – The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art has hired independent curator Erin J. Gilbert as its new curator of African American manuscripts and archivist Rayna Andrews as archivist for the institution’s African American Collecting Initiative. (ARTnews)

US Pavilion at Venice Architecture Biennale Announced – The exhibition “Dimensions of Citizenship,” commissioned by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago, has announced further details about its program. Seven new commissions will explore aspects of citizenship at seven different “scales.” (Press release)

Bass Museum Releases 2018 Exhibition Schedule – Following its reopening in October, the Bass in Miami Beach will host solo exhibitions by Laure Prouvost, Karen Rifas, Paola Pivi, the Haas Brothers, and Aaron Curry in 2018. The schedule also features “DESTEFASHIONCOLLECTION,” a project examining the bounds between art and fashion. (Press release)

Graham Foundation Announces Inaugural Fellows – The inaugural fellows of the architectural foundation’s new program are the artists Brendan Fernandes, Torkwase Dyson, Martine Syms, and curator and writer Mark Wasiuta. They will all be granted financial support to present exhibitions at the Foundation’s Madlener House galleries in Chicago. (Press release)


Is This the World’s Oldest Crayon? – Archaeologists have discovered what they believe to be “the world’s oldest crayon” at a site in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, in the UK. It’s a red-brown piece of ochre that was probably used to draw or color animal skins more than 10,000 years ago, during the Mesolithic period. (Hyperallergic)

150,000 Visitors to Bonn’s Gurlitt Exhibition – “Gurlitt Inventory,” the exhibition of the Nazi-hoarded Gurlitt trove at the Bundekunsthalle in Bonn, received almost 150,000 visitors. Due to the unprecedented interest, the museum extended the show’s hours during its final weeks. A modified version of the same show will be staged at the Kunstmuseum Bern between April 19 and July 15. (Monopol)

Reference Berlin Announces High-Profile Curators – An “alternative to Berlin Fashion Week” called Reference Berlin will be organized by Mumi Haiati and Robert Grunenberg in April. Featuring established brands like Gucci and Wales Bonner, among others, the fashion, art, and design festival will be curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and the magazine/fashion label 032C. The event will be held in the Berghain nightclub in Berlin during Gallery Weekend. (Business of Fashion)

Art Show Inspired by Parkland Extended – The “Parkland 17” exhibition at a pop-up warehouse gallery in Miami, which commemorates the victims of the Parkland shooting, has been extended past its initial 17-hour run due to “overwhelming demand” and will reopen this weekend. Below, see some images of today’s National School Walk Out, a memorial and protest action organized by EMPOWER (the youth branch of the Women’s March) to increase pressure on lawmakers for gun control. (NYT)

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