Art Industry News: British Artists Treat Jeff Bezos as a ‘Cult Leader’ in a New Show + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, LA gets a sequel to "Art in the Streets" and Dalí's lobster telephone isn't allowed to leave England.

Langlands & Bell's Icon (Jeff Bezos) (2018). Courtesy of Ikon Gallery.

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 23.


Philadelphia ICA Becomes First W.A.G.E.-Certified Museum – The New York advocacy group that promotes fair pay for artists, W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy), has certified Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art. The ICA is the first museum to develop a partnership with the group. (ARTnews)

American-Chinese Art Professor Denies Assault Allegations – Gary Xu Gang, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign professor who was recently dismissed as curator of the Shenzhen Biennial amid allegations of physical and sexual assault that span 20 years, has denied the claims against him. “Someone has a motivation, someone can benefit from the removal of me from the biennial, or someone can benefit from the suspension of the biennial,” he said. (The Art Newspaper)

British Artists Take on Silicon Valley’s “Cult Leaders” – The artists Langlands & Bell target tech leaders in their latest project at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, England. Pixelated portraits of Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin, and Jeff Bezos are accompanied by each man’s favorite sayings and architectural models of his company’s mega-buildings. Zuck’s statement—“I’m trying to make the world a more open place”—takes on new meaning after recent revelations about data mining. (Guardian)

Burning Man Is Coming to the Smithsonian – Museums are opening up to the idea that the large-scale, collaborative art made at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert is worthy of institutional attention. “No Spectators” presents (non-flammable) versions of Burning Man art at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC. The show opens March 30. (New York Times)  


Christie’s Plans Show During Berlin’s Gallery Weekend – The auction house will present an exhibition at the Czech Embassy in Berlin over Gallery Weekend (April 27–29). The selling show comprises around 50 works by German artists including Otto Dix, Martin Kippenberger, and Gerhard Richter. (TAN)

UK Halts Export of Dalí’s Lobster Telephone – A temporary export ban has been placed on Salvador Dalí and English poet Edward James’s Lobster Telephone (White Aphrodisiac). The arts minister says the iconic work was created for the UK and should stay there. He hopes to find a local buyer to match the £853,047 asking price. (Press release)

Settlement Is Reached in the Phillips Buyer Saga – Chinese businessman Zhang Chang and the various parties involved have finally reached a settlement, with Phillips taking custody of the Francis Bacon work Zhang purchased at Christie’s in 2015. The rest of the dispute was settled confidentially. Chang had defaulted on paying back the money he borrowed to buy a £12.1 million Bacon and a $24 million Gerhard Richter. (TAN)

Howard Greenberg to Represent Estate of Ray K. Metzer – The estate of the American photographer, who died in 2014, will be represented by New York’s Howard Greenberg Gallery. The gallery’s first show of the artist’s work is planned for 2019. (Press release)


US Grants Asylum to Congolese Artist – Performance artist Toto Kisaku has been given political asylum by the US government. Kisaku was jailed in the Democratic Republic of Congo for performances that criticized the Congolese government. (Artforum)

33rd São Paulo Biennial Announces Projects – Curator Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro is performing his role of biennial curator a bit differently. He will include 12 artist projects alongside seven collective exhibitions conceived by invited artists-curators. The biennial, titled “Affective Affinities,” opens in São Paulo this fall. (Press release)

Ringling Names New Modern and Contemporary Art Curator – Ola Wlusek joins the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida, from Calgary, Canada, where she organized public art projects. Her new position is endowed by philanthropists Keith and Linda Monda, who made their fortune from the retailer Coach. (Artforum)

Met Reopens Instrument Galleries – Four galleries of musical instruments are reopening at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art after a two-year renovation. They house instruments from ancient Egypt to the present day, including America’s oldest functioning pipe organ and a glass flute made for Napoleon. (Press release)


Baltimore Announces John Waters Show – The city’s most famous filmmaker, once known as the “King of Trash,” will get a retrospective at his hometown gallery this fall. “John Waters: Indecent Exposure” at the Baltimore Museum of Art will include his photographs, sculptures, sound works, and videos made since the early 1990s. (Press release)

LA to Get Another Big Street Art Show – Takashi Murakami is making a 20-foot mural for a sprawling show about graffiti artists’ journeys from the street to the studio. Roger Gastman, the co-curator behind LA MOCA’s famous 2011 “Art in the Streets” show, is organizing the exhibition. He hopes it will travel to New York, too. (LA Times)

It’s Tough Being a Museum Guard in NYC – For an average salary of around $30,000 a year, guards must stay mentally alert while on their feet for four-hour shifts. The Met pays new security guards a dollar above New York State’s minimum hourly wage and they are unionized. The Whitney, Guggenheim, and MoMA don’t disclose guards’ pay. (Hyperallergic)

Hirst Spots Take Over Stately Home – Damien Hirst’s new spot paintings have transformed Houghton Hall, a country house in Norfolk. They temporarily replace Old Masters, including a portrait of Catherine the Great of Russia usually above the fireplace. The Times has already given it a rave review. See the Hirsts in the great State Rooms below—just don’t tell the Russian ambassador. (The Times) ​

Damien Hirst “Colour Space” series in the Saloon at Houghton Hall, Norfolk, copyright the artist and Science Ltd. All Rights Reserved, DACS, 2018. Photograph by Pete Huggins.

Damien Hirst “Colour Space” series in the White Drawing Room at Houghton Hall, Norfolk, copyright the artist and Science Ltd. All Rights Reserved, DACS, 2018. Photograph by Pete Huggins.

Damien Hirst’s Charity (2002-03) by the stables at Houghton Hall, Norfolk, copyright the artist and Science Ltd. All Rights Reserved, DACS, 2018. Photograph by Pete Huggins.

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