Art Industry News: 30 Top Museums Unite to Stage a Virtual Frida Kahlo Exhibition for a World Under Lockdown + Other Stories

Plus, Zagreb Cathedral’s spire is damaged in an earthquake and Miranda July hosts a mock art awards ceremony from her garage.

Nickolas Muray, Frida Kahlo with Magenta Rebozo (1939). Photo courtesy of Matthew Liu Fine Arts.

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 Tuesday, March 24.


Thieves Target Luxury Hotels’ Art – A new survey examining trends of theft in hotels shows that people aren’t just swiping shampoo and towels from their home away from home—some criminals are also carrying out TVs, pianos, and even high-priced art. The worst part is that the brazen thieves often get away with it. “We never report thefts to the police, even if we know exactly who the culprit is,” one frustrated employee told the Guardian. “As a luxury hotel, we can’t risk the bad publicity.” (Guardian)

Marina Abramović Has a Message of Love for Italy – The performance artist sent a message of solidarity to Italy via a video message on the Palazzo Strozzi’s new online platform, joining previous well-wishers Tomás Saraceno and Ai Weiwei. The museum hosted a major survey of Abramović’s work in 2018. In her message, the artist praises Italy for its courage and sense of community, declaring, “My heart is with you.” Abramović and her late former partner Ulay created one of their most iconic performances, Imponderabilia, in Northern Italy in 1977, when they stood naked at the main entrance of a museum in Bologna. (Palazzo Strozzi)

Google Plans an Epic Frida Kahlo “Show” – Google joined forces with more than 30 museums to create a sprawling virtual show of Frida Kahlo’s life and work. Two hundred of the Mexican artist’s works from institutions including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Nagoya City Art Museum will be viewable online in high resolution, allowing you to zoom in for a closer look. The site also tells the story of the artist’s turbulent life and presents copies of Kahlo’s letters and images of the artist’s colorful clothing. Frida-heads will also find a series of portraits of the charismatic artist taken by others, including her father, Guillermo Kahlo, who was a professional photographer. Called “Faces of Frida,” the virtual show is available via the Google Arts & Culture platform. (The Art Newspaper)

Sarah Lucas Recalls Her Wild Years – In a candid new interview, the British artist says she has mellowed with age—but only slightly. Still, she thinks her reputation as the wildest of the YBAs has been overstated. “I was pretty wild, but I wouldn’t say I was the wildest,” she tells the Guardian, adding that her old friend Damien Hirst deserves the top spot. Old habits die hard, though: Lucas admits that she cannot remember a thing about the launch party for her British Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale. The artist, whose colorful new sculptures at Sadie Coles HQ in London are now viewable online, says she is finally coming to terms with her age. Temporarily losing her hair last fall meant she had to look becoming 60 “in the eye.” (Guardian)


UK Culture Industry Petitions Government to Protect Gig Workers – The Creative Industries Federation, a leading arts body in the UK, has sent an open letter to the country’s finance minister urging him to support freelancers. The letter came as a response after Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak unveiled an emergency bailout plan that would allow salaried workers to claim 80 percent of their wages up to £2,500 ($2,900) a month throughout the global health crisis, but would enable the country’s 5 million self-employed workers to only claim a fraction of that: £94.25 ($110) a week. (TAN)


Zagreb Cathedral’s Spire Damaged in Earthquake – A rare 5.3-magnitude earthquake struck Croatia on Sunday morning, damaging one of the spires on the historic Zagreb Cathedral. The 355-foot-tall spire of the Roman Catholic cathedral came tumbling down during the strongest quake to hit the country in nearly a century and a half. (TAN)

San Francisco Art Institute Closed for Good – After failing to find a larger educational institution to partner with amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the struggling San Francisco Art institute has announced that it will close indefinitely after the May graduation cycle. “Given our current financial situation, and what we expect to be a precipitous decline in enrollment due to the pandemic, we are now considering the suspension of our regular courses and degree programs starting immediately after graduation in May of this year,” the Institute’s president and board chair wrote in a statement. “At this time, it is unclear when instruction will resume.” (Press release)


People Are Loving This Museum’s Interim Head of Social Media – The social media channels of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma are tickling people around the country after the museum put its head of its security, Tim Send, in charge of its Twitter account while it remains closed. Send posts educational insights into the collection, but the most entertaining tweets belie his efforts to get his head around “Seth from marketing’s” tips on social-media engagement. He signs off his tweets, “thanks,Tim,” accidentally tweets out phrases he meant to Google, and doesn’t understand how hashtags work. It’s good, wholesome fun! (Bored Panda)

Miranda July Hosts the Covid International Art Award – On March 22, the quirky artist Miranda July hosted her own tongue-in-cheek Covid International Arts Festival, complete with awards. The artist invited people to submit poems, drawings, songs, dances, movies, and more for appraisal. “It was a truly world-wide festival—with submissions from Istanbul to Hertfordshire—and I, alone in my converted garage, felt a lot less lonely for a few hours,” July says. The artist teases another edition of the festival deeper into the quarantine period. (Instagram)

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