Art Industry News: The Armory Show Is Leaving the Piers Next Year and Changing Its Dates + Other Stories

Plus, Glenfell Tower families criticize Steve McQueen and the Musée d'Orsay gets a major gift.

New York's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Photo by Ajay Suresh, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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 6.


Grenfell Tower Families Criticize Steve McQueen’s Film – The Oscar- and Turner-prize winning artist has upset some relatives of victims of the Grenfell Tower fire with his new film. The Grenfell Next of Kin support group complain of feeling “totally disenfranchised” about who gets to tell their story. A spokeswoman for McQueen says he is now talking to the group and wishes to meet them. The artist used a helicopter to film the charred ruins of the high-rise building in West London in December 2017 before it was covered up with a billboard. An inquiry into the causes of the fire, in which 72 people died, is ongoing. There is no release date for the film, which the artist says will be free to see, probably in a London museum. (The Art Newspaper)

Musée d’Orsay Gets a $22.3 Million Gift to Expand – The Paris museum of 19th-century art is expanding its exhibition and education spaces thanks to an anonymous gift from the US. The $22.3 million windfall will help turn most of the former railway station into public space by 2026. The gift from the American Friends of the Musée d’Orsay follows a donation of 600 works of art by Marlene and Spencer Hays. That donation in 2016 galvanized the museum into moving offices out the building to create 13,000 square feet of extra exhibition space. (NYT)

Armory Show Switches Venues and Dates – The Armory Show is saying farewell to the Hudson piers and to its March calendar date. Organizers announced that the 2021 edition will take place instead at the Javits Center in the fall, September 9–12. “Having piers that aren’t next to each other has been challenging,” said Nicole Berry, the art fair’s director. She hopes that the fall date will attract more out-of-town visitors and that the convention center near Chelsea’s galleries will be more convenient. (ARTNews)

What Happens When Everyone Becomes a Curator? – The overuse of the verb “curate” to suggest anything buzzy or aspirational both amuses and rankles professional curators. Andrew Renton, a professor of curating at Goldsmiths College in London, used to keep a note of every time he saw a bizarre or banal use of the term. Favorites include a curated cheese board and a story about “curated curls” in British Vogue. Ubiquitous curator Hans Ulrich Obrist agrees the title has become debased, so recently the artistic director of London’s Serpentine Galleries has been toying with a new title. He likes “junction maker,” crediting the writer JG Ballard, who curated the notorious show “Crash!” (NYT)


Bust of Alexander Found in Getty’s Old Garden Sells for $500,000 – A marble head of Alexander the Great uncovered by a gardener at John Paul Getty’s former home in England has sold for nearly £400,000 ($500,000). It was unearthed after Sutton Place was bought by another art collector, Stanley Seeger, who told the gardener he could keep what was thought to be a 19th-century copy. Adam Partridge Auctioneers in the North of England quickly revised its low estimate of around $1,000 when experts suggested the bust might be a Greek or Roman original. (Times)

Hermès Bags May Be Better Investments Than Art – Hermès handbags—specifically the Birkin—appreciated in value more than any other “alternative investment assets,” such as art, stamps, watches, cars, and other categories, according to a study from the consultancy firm Knight Frank. In a one-year period, the Hermès bag index increased 13 percent, compared to just five percent for art. (Quartz)


Hilma af Klint Show Wins Award – The Guggenheim’s “Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future” has been named best exhibition for Leading Culture Destinations and visitBerlin’s LDC Berlin Award that recognizes 18 winners from 13 countries. Ateliers Lumières won best digital experience, and the National Museum in Qatar was named the top cultural destination in the Middle East, Africa, and the UAE—as well as winning “best shop.” (Press release)

La Guardia Is Getting Artsy – A partnership with the Public Art Fund will bring permanent installations by Jeppe Hein, Laura Owens, Sabine Hornig, and Sarah Sze to the new Terminal B. Each artist has been commissioned to make large-scale installations that are expected to be unveiled later this year. The total budget for the art project is $10 million. (Press release)

The Biennale de Lyon Curators Announced – Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, founders of the curatorial platform Art Reoriented and affiliate curators at Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, will curate the 16th edition of the Biennale de Lyon. The next edition takes place from September 2021 to January 2022. (Artforum)


Jason Farago Has Reservations About Richter’s “Swan Song” – The New York Times art critic generally approves of the Met’s choice of Gerhard Richter for its “sublime” final show in the Breuer building. Farago also thinks it is likely to be the artist’s final major show (although Richter might have other ideas about that), and that the German artist’s work suits the “exquisite melancholy” of the occasion either way. But Farago has serious reservations about the hang of Richter’s four “Birkenau” abstract works, named for the concentration camp during the Holocaust, alongside documentary photographs. They “tacitly encourage a repulsive search in each painting for the obliterated violence beneath,” he writes. “The death camps should never be a game of ‘I Spy,’” Farago writes of the alleged curatorial (and artistic) misstep. (New York Times)

Griselda Pollock Wins Holberg Prize – The Canadian-British art historian has won the Holberg Prize, one of the largest international awards given to scholars in the humanities, social sciences, law, or theology that comes with a prize of 6 million Norwegian kroner, or about $650,000. Pollock is known for bringing feminist theory into art history. She’s the first art historian to win the prize. (NYT)

David Shrigley Pops Champagne in Ruinart Collaboration – Maison Ruinart will host Shrigley in Reims to show an ensemble of 36 drawings and gouaches, three neons, two ceramics, and one door for the champagne company’s 2020 commission. Last year, the French alcohol maker invited Vik Muniz. The work was unveiled in Paris this morning, and it will go on show at 37 international contemporary art fairs around the world this year. (Press release)

David Shrigley drawing for Ruinart. Courtesy Ruinart.

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