Art Industry News: Activists Call on MoMA Trustee Larry Fink to Stop Investing in Private Prisons + Other Stories

Plus, why Chinese artists haven't found crossover success in the US market and Thailand's Banksy antagonizes the country's government.

Larry Fink, the founder, chairman, and CEO of Blackrock, in an interview at the 2015 Delivering Alpha conference. (Katie Kramer/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Larry Fink, the founder, chairman, and CEO of Blackrock, in an interview at the 2015 Delivering Alpha conference. (Katie Kramer/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank 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 this Monday, March 18.


Apple Is Offering Artists Watches Instead of Money – More than 10 artists have confirmed that they received Apple products, such as Apple TVs, in lieu of payment when they performed the tech giant’s stores as part of its “Today at Apple” event series of performances, panels, and workshops. Most say they would have preferred cold, hard cash. KQED notes that “experts maintain that a work-for-trade arrangement with a corporation as large and profitable as Apple reinforces a power dynamic that keeps artists at a disadvantage.” (KQED)

Leading Art Critic Slams Museums for Taking Sackler Money – “The fact is, wherever you turn in the British art world, you see the name Sackler,” writes the Sunday Times’s longstanding art critic Waldemar Januszczak. The family, which has ties to Purdue Pharma, the pharmaceutical company behind the manufacture and promotion of the highly addictive drug Oxycontin, has been under increased scrutiny in the US thanks in part to Nan Goldin’s activist group P.A.I.N. But the same revolution has yet to take place across the pond, even though the Sackler family has “sunk millions into some of Britain’s most prestigious art locations.” If UK museums have to downsize a planned expansion or two in the future in order to free themselves of Sackler cash, “so be it,” Januszczak says. (Sunday Times)

Activist Art Group Protests MoMA and Trustee Fink – Amid a time of unprecedented scrutiny of where museums get—and put—their money, the activist group Art Space Sanctuary is calling on New York’s Museum of Modern Art and its trustee Larry Fink, the CEO of investment firm BlackRock, to halt all investments connected to American private prisons. According to the group, MoMA uses Fidelity Investments—which owns stock in private prison companies—to manage its pension fund, while Fink is a stakeholder in two companies that operate private prisons. The group has launched a petition that has so far garnered more than 80 signatures and teamed up with fellow activist groups Decolonize This Place and CODEPINK to demonstrate at an awards luncheon last week. MoMA and BlackRock did comment. (ARTnews)

The Thai Banksy Upsets the Government – Headache Stencil, also known as the Banksy of Thailand, is back on the job with a confrontational new exhibition at Bangkok’s WTF Gallery ahead of the country’s first official elections in eight years on March 24. The artist, who previously depicted Thailand’s prime minister as Dr. Evil from Austin Powers, has so far just narrowly avoided conviction and once fled the country after his satirical work went viral. Ahead of his latest show, which explores politics as a game for the ruling elite, he says, “I do just what I want to do, and if I have problems with the police or the government I will just run away again.” (Guardian)


The Final Frontier for the Chinese Art Market: New York – While the Chinese contemporary art market has grown dramatically over the past decade, the market for work by Chinese artists in the US remains relatively uncertain. Since the 1990s, only a handful of Chinese artists have found worldwide success. “Museums collect, and selected global collectors will want Chinese art, but the real action is in China,” says collector Larry Warsh. (Bloomberg)

Paddle8 Embraces Street Art – Online auction houses and news sites alike are getting into the red-hot market for streetwear and street art. Paddle8 is teaming up with the street fashion news platform Highsnobiety to offer street art, artist-made collectables, and streetwear in a series of curated sales. The partnership launches in June. (Art Daily)

TEFAF Maastricht Announces Early Sales – The Dutch art fair, which is open until March 24, reported sales of a wide range of work in its opening days this past weekend, including Birthmark (2019) by Rosemarie Trockel from Sprüth Magers, a self-portrait by El Lissitzky from Galerie Gmurzynska, Renoir’s Femme nue couchée at Dickinson. (Press release)


Brooklyn Academy Announces a Guest Star Curator – The Brooklyn Academy of Music’s inaugural exhibition in its Rudin Family Gallery will be organized by Larry Ossei-Mensah. The senior curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit will be the first guest curator of the space, which was funded by the collector and philanthropist Beth Rudin DeWoody. (ARTnews)

Art Omi Names the Greenburger Award Winners – The nonprofit art center in New York has named John Newman, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Ralph Lemon, Jennifer Bartlett, and Johannes Girardoni as the winners of its 2019 Francis J. Greenburger Award. Each artist will receive $12,500. (ARTnews)

Ex-Museum Director Edmund Capon Had Died – Capon, who was the director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales for more than three decades, has died at age 78. During his time at the helm of the Sydney museum, he greatly expanded its collection, grew attendance to more than one million visitors, and appointed its first curators in contemporary and Indigenous art. (Guardian)


Archaeologists Slam Cadbury’s Treasure Hunt Campaign – Archaeologists are upset with the candy maker’s new ad campaign, which encourages children to “grab a metal detector” and dig holes for gold or treasure at important sites across Britain and Ireland. Archaeologists reminded the company that individuals can be prosecuted for digging without permission. The company denied that it was encouraging families to break the law and said it would update its website to make that clear. (BBC)

Russian Authorities Cancel LGBTQ Festival – Organizers of a youth arts festival in Komsomolsk-on-Amur were forced to cancel the event amid Russian authorities’ crackdown on so-called “gay propaganda.” Yulia Tsvetkova, the director of the festival in the east of Russia, says she has received online threats and been called in for questioning by the police after attempting to stage a play called Blue and Pink that sought to question gender stereotypes. (The Art Newspaper)

Mike Nelson Turns Tate Britain into a Salvage Yard – The British artist has transformed Tate Britain’s Duveen Galleries  into a melancholic spectacle of the UK’s industrial decline and social ills. Nelson has salvaged machinery from factories that have recently shut down and installed them as if they were classic Modernist works by Henry Moore or Anthony Caro. He has also incorporated the remnants of a former army barracks and fragments of an NHS hospital into the sprawling installation, called The Asset Strippers, which was unveiled today. (Press release)

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