Art Industry News: Newly Released Tapes Show Francis Bacon Trash-Talking Warhol + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, New York's MAD Museum gets a new director and LaGuardia airport launches an artist residency program.

Francis Bacon in Monaco in 1981. Photo ©Eddy Batache.

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 30.


Expert Accuses National Gallery of Leonardo Fudge – Did show business trump scholarship at the National Gallery’s blockbuster Leonardo da Vinci show in 2011? Expert Martin Kemp recently criticized the gallery for showing the Madonna Litta as securely attributed to the master, despite the fact that many believe it to be by the artist’s pupil, Boltraffio. The attribution was, Kemp says, a condition to secure the painting’s loan from the Hermitage. (The Art Newspaper)

Brooklyn’s African Art Hire Stirs Controversy – Earlier this week, the Brooklyn Museum raised eyebrows when it announced its new hires for positions in its African art and photography departments, both of whom are white. Some say the museum should have searched harder for a curator of color to fill the former role; others note that people should be just as critical of the museum’s decision to hire a white photography curator. (Newsweek)

Tapes Reveal Bacon Dissing Johns and Warhol – Recordings of the artist Francis Bacon complaining about the success of Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol have emerged. In conversations with a friend, the British artist calls the work of his rivals “ridiculous” and “very bad.” Bacon allowed himself to be recorded on the condition that the tapes would not be released until at least 12 years after his death. (Guardian)

Julius von Bismarck Photo Used as ISIS Propaganda – A group called Asawirti Media has used a portrait of the contemporary Berlin-based photographer Julius von Bismarck to promote the Islamist extremist organization. The artist Simon Menner stumbled across a doctored picture of von Bismarck holding his “Image Fulgurator” like a weapon while researching the terror group. (Monopol)


Dealers Meet With UNESCO to Tackle Illicit Trade – Representatives from UNESCO met with art-market experts and members from the European Union in Paris to discuss new efforts to combat money laundering and terror financing. (Press release)

Sotheby’s Second African Art Sale Makes $2.5 Million – The auction house generated £1.8 million ($2.5 million) in its second-ever African art sale in London, which was led by works by Nigerian artists Ben Enwonwu and Njideka Akunyili Crosby. The sale also set 14 auction records, including one for Ibrahim Mahama’s Chale Wote, a jute sack piece that sold for £75,000 ($106,000). (Press release)

Frieze New York Plans Hudson Special – The American edition of the art fair will introduce a themed section for the first time, curated by White Columns’s Matthew Higgs. It will celebrate the legacy of the New York art dealer Hudson and his gallery, Feature Inc. Expect to see work by Dike Blair, Tom of Finland, and Raymond Pettibon, among others. (Press release)

New Gallery Unit London to Open in Mayfair – The founders of Unit London are launching a new gallery in Mayfair’s old Citibank building next to Vogue House. Joe Kennedy and Jonny Burt will open the space with a Ryan Hewitt show in mid-June. (Press release)



Gwangju Biennale Adds Historic Commission – The 12th Gwangju Biennale, due to open in September, will invite four artists to respond to the history of the South Korean city through new commissions: Mike Nelson, Adrián Villar Rojas, Kader Attia, and filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Called “Imagined Borders,” the biennial will include seven exhibitions in total, each with its own curator. (Arts Asia Pacific)

MAD Museum Names New Director – The next director of New York’s Museum of Art and Design will be British-born, US-based art administrator Christopher Scoates. He currently serves as head of the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Museum in Michigan, where he launched an experimental media division and diversified the board. MAD’s previous director stepped down after just four months. (Artforum)

FT Editor Takes Over as Tate Chair – The editor of the Financial Times, Lionel Barber, will be the new chair of the Tate, having been acting chair since John Browne left last year. Barber’s appointment has raised questions about possible conflicts of interest, however, as the gallery will need to find a major sponsor after energy company BP’s controversial support ends. (Guardian)

LACMA Gets Another Big Collection of Chinese Art – Hot on the heels of announcing its partnership with the collector Budi Tek, LACMA is getting a promised gift of around 400 works of contemporary Chinese and Asian ink art and photography from the Swiss collectors Gérard and Dora Cognié. LACMA director Michael Govan called the promised gift a “game changer,” adding that the museum is now “a leader in the field.” (Press release)



Guggenheim to Explore Museum Protests – Six months after it pulled three works from its Chinese art show, the Guggenheim is organizing a public conference about the rising number of protests at museums across the US. Speakers at the event, which runs April 6 and 7, include artist Hank Willis Thomas, radio host Brian Lehrer, and Alyssa Mastromonaco, the former deputy chief of staff for President Barack Obama. (Guggenheim)

LaGuardia Airport Seeks Resident Artist – The New York airport is getting an artist residency program thanks to the Queens Council on the Arts. Applications are open for the three-month residencies, which will take place in a former Hudson newsstand in LaGuardia’s art-deco rotunda starting in April. Artists will have to decide for themselves if they want a free studio badly enough to go to LaGuardia every day. (Hyperallergic)

Gauguin’s Portrait of Best Friend Heads to Auction – A rare early portrait by Paul Gauguin of his best friend Claude Favre has been consigned by the Favre family to Artcurial. It goes on sale in Paris on June 4 with an estimate of $225,000–310,000 along with four other unseen works kept by the family. The auction house has also secured an 1882 Van Gogh landscape, the first by the Dutch artist to be sold in France for two decades. It has an estimate of $3.6 million–6 million. (Press release)

Paul Gauguin’s portrait of his chum, Claude Favre (1877), courtesy of Artcurial

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