Art Industry News: A ‘Downpour of Stink Bombs’ at the Louvre Is Threatening to Dethrone the Museum’s Longtime Director + Other Stories

Plus, museum attendance plummeted 70 percent in 2020 and painter Joe Bradley leaves Gagosian for two smaller outfits.

President-Director of the Louvre Jean-Luc Martinez stands outside the museum as it reopens after a 16-week closure. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/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 Tuesday, March 30.


Visits to Museums and Galleries Tumble by 77 Percent – The Art Newspaper‘s annual survey found that attendance at the world’s 100 most-visited art museums dropped by a whopping two-thirds, to just 54 million people, in 2020. European museums, including those in France, Spain, and Germany, were particularly hard hit due to prolonged closures and a reduction in international tourism. In the US, attendance varied greatly by state in accordance with local public-health measures. The Guggenheim in New York experienced the most severe drop, with 88 percent fewer visitors. (The Art Newspaper)

South Africa’s Artist Relief Fund Disappears – Artists are accusing their government of mismanaging funds after it was reported that R300 million ($20 million) earmarked for helping artists, musicians, and other cultural workers sustain themselves during the pandemic has “disappeared.” The government denies any wrongdoing. (News 24)

Palace Intrigue at the Louvre – Jean-Luc Martinez, who has served as president-director of the Louvre for eight years, is suddenly facing an uphill battle to reappointment after opponents unleashed what Le Figaro described as “a downpour of stink-bombs” in recent weeks, including criticism of building renovations and costly acquisitions. The government, which oversees major museum appointments, is now considering launching an open competition for the post ahead of the expiration of Martinez’s contract in April. (TAN)

Humboldt Forum Faces Accusations of a Poor Work Environment – Staff at the mega-museum Humboldt Forum have described their work environment as dangerous and difficult. “I’ve never worked in a place where I’ve encountered so much fear,” one employee said. Another complained of being locked in a room for three hours by accident, unable to call anyone because mobile phones were not permitted. A Black former employee said he experienced repeated micro-aggressions. (Taggespiegel)


Joe Bradley Leaves Gagosian – In a rare move for an artist represented by a mega-gallery, the abstract painter has left Gagosian after five years to show with Petzel in New York and Xavier Hufkens in Brussels. He will continue to be presented by his longtime dealer Eva Presenhuber in Switzerland. (ARTnews)

Harlan Levey Projects Opens a Second Space in Brussels – Harlan Levey Projects is expanding into a new space in the neighborhood of Molenbeek, its second location in its hometown of Brussels, Belgium. Located in a former warehouse, the new gallery will debut on April 22 alongside Art Brussels Week with a show by Polish-born artist Marcin Dudek, who works between performance, installation, and collage. (Press release)


ArtCenter College President to Step Down – Lorne Buchman will retire from ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, next year. During his 12-year tenure, the institution expanded to a new campus, opened the satellite exhibition space ArtCenter DTLA, and raised $124 million. But the school struggled with diversity; Black students made up just 1 percent of the student body in 2019. (Los Angeles Times)

National Gallery of Art in DC Names New Education Chief – Damon Reaves will become head of education at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, beginning June 7. He previously worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, most recently as interim senior curator of education and public programs. (Culturetype)


San Francisco Launches Guaranteed Income for Artists – The mayor of San Francisco has partnered with the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to administer a pilot program offering guaranteed income for local artists who have been particularly affected by the pandemic. The city—one of the most expensive in the United States—will provide $1,000 a month to around 130 artists for six months beginning in May. (Artfix Daily)

Anni Albers Gets Her Due – One-half of the pioneering Bauhaus couple Anni and Josef Albers is now the namesake of the public square in front of the Josef Albers Museum in Bottrop, Germany. The renaming of Anni-Albers-Platz in Josef’s hometown marks the 50th anniversary of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. (Press release)

The green space in front of the Josef Albers Museum. Photo Quadrat Bottrop, 2021

The green space in front of the Josef Albers Museum. Photo Quadrat Bottrop, 2021

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.