Art Industry News: Anish Kapoor Furiously Assails the Climate of Racism in Brexit-Era Britain + Other Stories

Plus, Lee Ufan picks Arles as the home of his artist's foundation and Urs Fischer's wax sculpture of curator Franceso Bonami is burning bright.

Artist Anish Kapoor attends the unveiling of his art installation, titled Descension, in Brooklyn Bridge Park, May 3, 2017 in New York City. Photo by Drew Angerer/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 Friday, March 15.


Terracotta Warrior’s Thumb Sparks Legal Row – Lawyers for the man who damaged a Terracotta Warrior on loan to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia want the museum to reveal its security precautions on the fateful night. They argue that Michael Rohana’s actions were drunken vandalism and not theft. His lawyers question whether museum’s “care, custody, and control” of the gallery was sufficient during the fateful Ugly Sweater Party in 2017 where the damage occurred. The museum has so far not revealed to the court its security records, or its communications with Chinese authorities, who furiously demanded reprisals. (USA Today)

Kaywin Feldman Begins Transforming the NGA With Care – One week into her new job, the first female director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, says that she expects it will take two or three years “before the institution starts feeling different” and more visitor centered. At least two of those years will require particular diplomacy and tact. Having criticized “unpresidential tweets from the American president” in the past, she sounds keen to avoid stoking partisan divides now that she is in the shadow of the Trump White House. Picking her words with care, Feldman says that she is now pondering “what do people care about, and how might we give them windows into the world through some of those contemporary thinking and issues.” (The Art Newspaper)

Anish Kapoor Slams the Rise of Racism – In a powerful interview with the Guardian‘s Stuart Jeffries, the artist, whose mother is Jewish and father Indian, decried the rise of racism and intolerance in Britain in the age of Brexit, saying he is still upset by his treatment after his work Dirty Corner was covered in anti-semitic graffiti at Versailles in 2015. His comments came amid his support of Shamima Begum, the UK citizen who left to join ISIS at 15 and has been stripped of citizenship, preventing her from returning. “There’s this real sense for me of who’s next?” Kapoor said. “There’s an atmosphere of vilifying Muslims for having extreme views. If I was a young Muslim, would I feel angry enough to have joined Isis? I would at least think about it.” (Guardian)

Biesenbach Wants to Restore MOCA LA’s Home – The Japanese postmodern architect Arata Isozaki won the prestigious Pritzker Prize this year, causing Los Angeles to reconsider and further appreciate the nuances of the MOCA LA building he designed. Its new director, Klaus Biesenbach, has done away with the old trend of wrapping the façade in images of art, in order to not obscure the architecture, and he wants to restore of the original skylights making it less of an art bunker. (Los Angeles Times)


A Monet Haystack Heads to Auction – Claude Monet’s Meules (1890), one of the artist’s famed haystacks, heads to auction at Sotheby’s New York in May with estimate of more $55 million. In 1986, the last time it sold at auction, the painting sold for $2.53 million. It was originally bought from Monet’s dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel, by the noted Chicago collecting couple of Bertha and Potter Palmer. (ARTNews)

Lorne Thyssen-Bornemisza’s Endgame Is His Own Museum  – The London-based antiquities dealer, who is making his fully fledged debut at TEFAF, recalls growing up in an art-collecting dynasty. When a painting arrived in the family’s Swiss villa in Lugano, “my father was like a little boy at Christmas, unwrapping a painting and deciding where it would hang,” he recalls. Lorne Thyssen-Bornemisza reveals that his endgame is opening a small museum of antiquities, “somewhere, perhaps in London.” (New York Times)

TEFAF Report Charts China’s Art Market Explosion – TEFAF’s deep dive into the growth of China’s art market since the 1990s includes spectacular statistics. China’s two largest local auction houses, Poly Auctions (founded in 2005) and China Guardian (founded in 1993), are now ranked third and fourth globally after Christie’s and Sotheby’s. In 1990, total auction sales in China were $1.07 million. That figured soared to $4,792 million in 2017, a 450,000 percent increase—but as China’s economic growth slows, it may have passed its peak. (Press release)


El Museo del Barrio Names Its Chief Curator – Rodrigo Moura has been appointed chief curator of the New York museum, which has been battered by recent controversies, including the mounting of an exhibition by Alejandro Jodorowsky that was later cancelled over an outcry about his earlier comments about rape. Moura was previously the associate curator of Brazilian art at the São Paulo Museum of Art. (ARTnews)

Gwangju Biennale Names 2020 Curators – The 13th Gwangju Biennale will be curated by Defne Ayas and Natasha Ginwala. Ayas was the director of Rotterdam’s Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, and Ginwala is currently an associate curator at the Gropius Bau in Berlin. (e-flux)

Prix Meret Oppenheim Winners Announced – The Swiss cultural award has selected Zürich-based photographer Shirana Shahbazi among its recipients for the 2019 award, which comes with a cash prize of CHF40,000 ($39,800). (ARTnews)

Norwegian Museum Launches a $100,000 Award – The Henie Onstad Kunstsenter in Norway has announced a new biennial award that comes with an exhibition, catalogue, and the possibility of work being acquired by the private museum near Oslo. (ARTnews)


Lee Ufan Picks Arles for His Foundation – The historic Vernon Hotel will become home to Lee Ufan’s Foundation in Arles, France. The Korean artist is transforming the building into a haven for his minimalist art for the opening in the summer of 2020. (Le Figaro)

David Hockney Branches Out – For his newest series of “photographic drawings,” Hockney photographed people he knew individually and then digitally stitched their images together to create a massive, dramatized scene. Two large-scale examples of the new work is on view at his show in Los Angeles at L.A. Louver. (LAT)

Urs Fischer’s Million-Dollar Bonami Sculpture Is Melting – The artist’s 12-foot-tall portrait of the Italian curator Francesco Bonami, acquired by Australia’s National Gallery this year for $700,000, will be gone in six months. The sculpture, which is also a candle, is being lit every weekday; its melted form will be sent to Zürich to be recast, before returning to the museum. (Canberra Times)

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.