Art Industry News: A UK Museum Takes Down Its Michael Jackson Statue Amid ‘Finding Neverland’ Furor + Other Stories

Plus, the British gallery Blain Southern will open in New York and the city of Miami is getting a new $30 million art center.

Michael Jackson performs in Brunei on July 16, 1996. Photo: Francis Sylvain/AFP/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 this Tuesday, March 5.


Miami’s ArtCenter/South Florida Gets a $30 Million New Facility – The community arts center, which received a $100 million windfall when it sold its building in Miami Beach in 2014, is moving to Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood and getting a new name: Oolite Arts. Construction on its $30 million new home is due to begin in 2020, with an opening scheduled for 2022. The 40,000-square-foot new facility will boast 22 art studios, a 2,500-square-foot exhibition space, a 120-seat theater, as well as classrooms and work spaces. (New York Times)

UK Museum Returns Ethiopian Emperor’s Hair – In a first for a UK museum, the National Army Museum in London has agreed to restitute locks of hair that were cut from the body of the Ethiopian emperor Tewodros after the Battle of Maqdala in 1868. An artist, the Lieutenant Frank James, removed the locks while he was painting the emperor on his deathbed; James’s descendants donated the hair to the museum in 1959. While human hair doesn’t count as human remains—which are eligible for restitution under UK law—the museum saw a request from the Ethiopian embassy in London as “an opportunity to do something positive diplomatically with Ethiopia.” The hair will now be buried with the remains of the emperor in Ethiopia. (The Art Newspaper)

Museum Removes a Statue of Michael Jackson – A sculpture of the controversial pop star commissioned by his friend Mohamed Al Fayed, the former millionaire owner of an English soccer club, has been removed from Manchester’s National Football Museum. The museum said it made the decision to remove the sculpture before the release of documentary about Jackson’s alleged child abuse and that the move is “part of our new plans for transforming the museum over the coming months to tell relevant stories about football.” (Sun)

UK Art World Rushes to Avoid Hard Brexit Delays – Amid uncertainty about how the UK’s imminent departure from the EU will affect the free movement of goods, galleries and museums are hurrying to ship art before the March 29 deadline hits. The British Council is sending works by Cathy Wilkes, which is representing the UK at the Venice Biennale, to Italy now to avoid possible delays at the border. “We don’t know what’s going to happen after 29 March but it’s not worth the risk of things getting held up at customs,” says Mary Cremin, the curator of the Irish Pavilion, which also sent works by London-based Eva Rothschild to Venice early. “The ramifications are huge.” Some galleries, meanwhile, are closing UK-based exhibitions early to send works back to the EU before the deadline. (TAN)   


What’s the State of the Art Market? – Market-watchers are eyeing the London auctions and forthcoming sales at the Armory Show this week to forecast the trajectory of art prices this year. Although there is still a lot of buying, particularly in the middle market and from Asian collectors, buyers are more price-conscious now than they have been in the recent past, experts say. (Wall Street Journal)

Blain Southern Is Coming to New York – The British gallery, which works with artists including Sean Scully, Lynn Chadwick, and Bill Viola, is expanding to New York. The gallery, which has locations in London and Berlin, will open its third location inside the former home of Cheim & Read gallery in Chelsea this May. The inaugural show will present work by Malian artist Abdoulaye Konaté. (TAN)

Inside the Max Mara Family’s Private Museum – The Maramotti family, which owns the apparel company Max Mara, has been showcasing their collection in a space called “le tout,” converted from one the company’s former factories, in the Italian town of Reggio Emilia since 2007. The collection, assembled from the 1950s onward, has just reopened after an extensive rehang of around 400 works. (Telegraph)


Zeitz MoCAA Names a New Director– Cape Town’s museum of contemporary art has announced that Koyo Kouoh will succeed Mark Coetzee as executive director and chief curator. The artistic director of RAW Material Company in Dakar, she helped organize documenta 12 and 13 and has curated the artistic program of the London and New York editions of the 1:54 African art fair. Coetzee left abruptly within a year of Zeitz MoCAA’s opening. (Artforum)

Inhotim Reopens After Dam Collapse – The privately owned sculpture park in Brazil, which is 12 miles from the scene of the fatal disaster, dropped its admission fee on the day it reopened. The park was evacuated when the nearby iron ore waste dam collapsed, leading to deadly mudslides in the region. Forty of Inhotim’s employees have a relative who died or is missing. (TAN)

Cleveland Museum Gets a $3 Million Curatorial Endowment – William Madar, a trustee of the Cleveland Museum of Art, and his wife Amanda have given a $3 million endowment to the fund the museum’s curator of American painting and sculpture. Mark Cole is the first Madar-supported curator. (Art Daily)


Hank Willis Thomas Tapped for MLK Memorial – The artist has won a competition to design a public monument to the activists Martin Luther King Jr and his wife, Coretta Scott King, in Boston. Thomas’s sculpture is called The Embrace and takes the form of arms and hands locked in a big hug, inspired by protesters walking arm in arm during marches for civil rights. The monument underwritten by the King Boston organization, and conceived with the MASS Design Group, is expected to be mounted on Boston Common in 2020. The artist said in a statement that the activists are “monumental examples of the capacity of love to shape society.” (ARTnews)

Shahidul Alam Vows Photo Festival Talk Will Go Ahead  – The activist photographer has denounced an attempt by the Dakar police to stop a talk by the Indian writer Arundhati Roy by revoking its permit due to “unspecified circumstances.” The event, which is part of the Chobi Mela photography festival, is due to go ahead this evening at an alternative venue. Shaidhul Alam vowed that the festival will continue “to bring people together and, more importantly, bringing them to Bangladesh.” (Press release)

The Art Touchers Are Trending – Curators, avert your eyes! An Instagram account called “Touching the Art” is gaining followers. Since its launch by an anonymous group in Berlin in 2017, the account has captured individuals pawing works by Picasso, Richter, and even Courbet’s The Origin of the World at the Musée d’Orsay. The art touchers are getting more and more audacious—and the account is likely to make anyone who has worked in a museum squirm. (Dazed

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