Art Industry News: An Instagram Marketplace Where Artists Buy Each Other’s Work Has Generated $10 Million in Under a Week + Other Stories

Plus, students protest the Royal College of Art's plan to put their degree show online and the Hammer's "Made in L.A." biennial gets postponed.

Instagram. Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto 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 on this Wednesday, March 25.


Students Slam Art College’s Online Degree Show – More than 4,500 students and artists have signed a petition lambasting London’s Royal College of Art for its plan to convert their degree show into an online-only exhibition. Graduating students who cannot safely access their studios are asking the RCA to suspend its programs and delay the exhibition until they can return to college safely. “They should promise to fulfill their agreement with us, rather than getting rid of us quickly in order to get the next cohort in,” the statement says. (Guardian)

How France’s Museums Are Coping – More than half of Paris’s Grand Palais staff are out of work, as the cultural landmark (and venue for FIAC each fall) loses an estimated €50,000 ($54,100) per day while the lockdown continues in France. Curators and directors of France’s prestigious museums are scrambling to shift their programming to the summer and fall via video conference calls. Bernard Blistène, director of the Centre Pompidou (which has a major show by Christo on view behind closed doors), is hopeful that things will return to normal by fall. (Journal des Arts)

Instagram Marketplace Generates £9 Million in Pledges for Artists – A platform called #ArtistsSupportPledge developed by UK-based Matthew Burrows has generated impressive results in just under a week. Under the scheme, artists are invited to post pictures on Instagram of works available for £200 or less; every time an artist sells more than £1,000 worth of art, they must pledge to buy a £200 work by another participating artist. So far, 9,000 pledges have been made in just four days, equivalent to around £9 million ($10.6 million) worth of pledged money for the artists involved. (It is unclear how many of these pledges have actually been paid out.) “The goodwill has been unbelievable from everywhere in the world—from El Salvador, to America, Germany, New Zealand, Italy, and Australia,” Burrows says. (The Art Newspaper)

A Generation of Artists Might Be Lost – Super-curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev weighs in on how the current global health situation will affect the arts. Aside from the long-term impact of an economic downturn, the curator laments the very real threat to an entire older generation of artists and intellectuals. “It’s very, very important to protect the old right now,” she says. “A whole generation might be wiped out. Normal people, but also artists, writers, philosophers, architects and filmmakers. It can be traumatic for a culture and a civilization.” (Frieze)


A Sam Francis Heads to Sotheby’s – While this stretch of March is usually dominated by announcements of major lots headed to the spring sales, such disclosures have been notably absent from the auction houses as they reshuffle their calendars. Sotheby’s, however, is still planning to offer works from Hunk and Moo Anderson’s collection in their yet-to-be-rescheduled May sales. One highlight: Sam Francis’s 1956 oil painting Deep Blue, Yellow, Redestimated at $5 to 7 million. (Art Market Monitor)

Urban Art Auction Soars Past Estimates – It turns out that during lockdown, what the people really want is… art by KAWS and Mr. Brainwash? Despite the current market lull, Heritage Auctions hosted a successful urban art sale on Tuesday, with 99 percent of lots sold and $723,250 realized across the 66 lots. Many works flew past their pre-sale estimates, including examples by KAWS, Mr. Brainwash, and Alec Monopoly. (Press release)


Ralf Biel Named Head of a World Cultural Heritage Site – The German curator will lead the Völkinger Hütte, an ironworks factory with robust cultural programming in Saarland, Germany. Biel was forced to resign from his position as director at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in December 2018 after planning a controversial exhibition on oil. (Press release)

New São Paulo Art Institution Opens – Amid a slew of institutions closing their doors, one private nonprofit in Brazil has gone ahead with its grand opening. The Instituto de Arte Contemporanea, founded by dealer Raquel Arnaud in 1997 to research Brazilian Modern and contemporary artists, has opened a permanent headquarters in São Paulo. (Artforum)

Made in L.A. Biennial Is Postponed – The Hammer Museum’s “Made in L.A.” biennial is postponing its summer opening from June 7 until July 19 in order to protect public health. The biennial’s organizers write in a statement that they are aware that the current situation “is still unfolding and that [they] may face additional hurdles in the future.” (ARTnews)

Francis Alÿs Wins Swedish Art Prize – The Belgian artist has won the nearly $40,000 Rolf Schock Prize in Visual Arts. Selected for a body of work that is “as profound as it is extensive,” the interdisciplinary artist will receive the accolade at a ceremony in Stockholm on October 19. (Artforum)


Luxury Brands Unite to Produce Medical Supplies – The fashion industry is rallying to produce urgently needed masks and other gear for frontline medical workers. Prada has pledged to make 110,000 masks by April 6; Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga, all owned by the conglomerate Kering, have promised to donate 40 million in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Donatella Versace pledged more than $200,000 to Milan’s San Raffaele hospital; Mayhoola, the parent company of Valentino and Balmain, pledged $2 million to Italian hospitals; and Giorgio Armani pledged $1.4 million. (Guardian)

How to Turn Your Bedroom into a Camera Obscura – The UK-based photographer Brendan Barry has made a video tutorial to teach (presumably very bored) people how to transform their bedrooms into a camera obscura and turn their bathrooms into a darkroom to create creepy, compelling prints—no camera needed. How’s that for a quarantine project? (Design Boom)

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