Art Industry News: Meet the Artist Who Convinced Britney Spears to Become an Advocate for Wealth Redistribution + Other Stories

Plus, this year's Masterpiece London fair is cancelled and the Pompidou's plan for a satellite in South Korea is now on ice.

Mimi Zhu on Instagram.

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 Friday, March 27.


The Lockdown May Not Produce Great Art – Will artists stuck at home create amazing things? Ian Wheeler, the co-founder of Partisan Records, warns that we put a lot of pressure on creatives “to make the things that make us feel better,” and we sometimes forget they may be suffering, too—financially and otherwise. Live performers in particular have been hard hit by the crisis, so he is unimpressed with glib remarks that Shakespeare wrote some of his greatest plays during the plague. “Shakespeare’s patrons were earls and high court officials. They kept him sheltered and fed and ultimately insulated from the horrors of the plague while the theaters were closed,” Wheeler notes. America’s artists, he concludes, need a patronage system in this emergency for the many, not the few. (New York Times)

Jeff Koons Sends a Message to Italy The American artist has sent a message of solidarity to Italy. Koons, who is preparing for a solo show at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, joined Marina Abramović, Ai Weiwei, and Tomás Saraceno in a show of solidarity with the institution and the country by contributing a video message to its new platform. In the dispatch, Koons said, “Italy is such an amazing country and as people you’ve gone through so much and you will defeat the virus.” He ends on a characteristically upbeat note: “Italy, you can do this!” (Press release)

This Artist Has Convinced Britney Spears to Become a Socialist – Is Britney a socialist now? The singer made Internet waves when she reposted a left-leaning text written by Mimi Zhu, a queer Chinese-Australian writer and artist based in Brooklyn, on her Instagram account. (One line reads: “We will feed each other, re-destribute wealth, strike.”) Zhu says that she when she found out, “I literally dropped my phone—I was like, Britney?” The artist says she wrote about standing together in these days of enforced isolation after many of her friends got laid off due to the coronavirus shutdowns. “There were definitely socialist undertones,” she says. Britney’s otherwise innocuous post has now spawned meme after meme about “Comrade Britney.” (Paper)

The UK Has a Serious Backlog of Museum Repairs – An audit of England’s museums has revealed a huge backlog of much-needed building repairs, including a leaky roof at the British Museum. The Parthenon Marbles stored there were undamaged, but the National Audit Office report highlights just how much museums have been forced to skimp on maintenance as their government funding fell, putting collections at risk. At the Wallace Collection in London, a piece of masonry fell from the portico because its supporting beams had deteriorated. (Guardian)


Barbara Gross Galerie to Close – The veteran Munich-based dealer Barbara Gross is closing her gallery. Over the past three decades, she championed female artists including Silvia Bächli, Miriam Cahn, and VALIE EXPORT. Gross’s closure follows the shuttering of two other beloved smaller galleries, Parque Galeria of Mexico City and Galerie Forsblom in Sweden, in recent weeks. (Artforum)

Masterpiece London Is Cancelled – Masterpiece London, the art and design fair with wares spanning all eras, announced it would cancel its 2020 edition as a result of the public health crisis. The fair, whose majority shareholder is Art Basel’s parent company MCH, was originally scheduled to take place from June 24 to July 1. (Artnet News)


Architect and Critic Michael Sorkin Had Died of Coronavirus – The architect and architecture critic has died at age 71 after contracting COVID-19. Michael Sorkin was a judge for the design competition for the ultimately unbuilt Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki. New York Times critic Michael Kimmelman said of Sorkin: “He wrote with moral force about big ideas and about the granular experience of life at the level of the street.” (Architects Journal)

Pompidou’s South Korea Partnership on Ice – The president of Paris’s Centre Pompidou was on the verge of signing a deal on a space in Seoul—which would have made it the latest addition to the Pompidou’s global network—just before the coronavirus outbreak sent nations the world over into lockdown. The project was first proposed in 2016; its fate is now uncertain. (TAN)


Ralph Lauren Donates $10 Million to Corona Relief Funds – The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation has pledged $10 million to coronavirus relief efforts. The majority of the sum is going to the World Health Fund, but some money will also go to the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Vogue Fashion Funds initiative, A Common Thread, aimed at helping members of the fashion community in distress. The brand has also joined other fashion companies in making masks and gowns for medical workers. (The Cut)

Roberta Smith Reviews a Now-Closed Judd Show – Roberta Smith—who, in addition to being the New York Times‘s co-chief art critic, is also Donald Judd’s former assistant—reviews a large, unfinished plywood installation by the artist that she saw on view at Gagosian in New York before it closed prematurely. The 80-foot-long installation hasn’t been on view since 1981 and doesn’t look like anything else Judd ever made. “The piece is a big, magnanimous puzzle and an exercise in vision-sharpening comparative looking,” Smith writes, concluding that “the process of self-enlightenment it stimulates may make you feel smarter than you thought you were.” (NYT)

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