Art Industry News: Some Cool Teens Are Organizing a Met Gala of Their Own Online, and Everyone Is Invited + Other Stories

Plus, Christo's Arc de Triomphe project is delayed to 2021 and Paris Hilton offers a peek inside her dedicated "art room."

Katy Perry at the 2018 Metropolitan Museum of Art's Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala. Photo by Sean Zanni, ©Patrick McMullan.

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, May 1.


Pennsylvania Is Rescinding Grants to Help Arts Groups Stay Afloat Cultural institutions in Pennsylvania are reeling from the news that grant money they were awarded earlier in 2020 may not be available after all. The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts informed grantees that due to the “unprecedented impact” of the pandemic, “the PCA can no longer guarantee completion of processing for current year grant awards,” leaving many wondering how they’ll manage to foot the bills that they previously expected would be reimbursed. Christina Vassallo, executive director of the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, said “the news worsens an already precarious situation.” (Philadelphia Inquirer

Dysfunction at the Akron Art Museum, Exposed – Employees at the Ohio museum say recent layoffs unfairly targeted workers who last year wrote a letter to the museum’s board about alleged sexism, racism, and bullying from top management. Of the 27 employees who wrote the letter, one remains employed by the museum; the others have resigned, been fired, or been laid off. The museum denies any retaliation, and notes that an official outside investigation was conducted by a law firm following the letter. But the new report recounts troubling incidents, like the museum’s director allegedly stating that black visitors would be unable to access the museum’s mobile apps because they used “throwaway gangster phones.” (ARTnews)

Teens Are Organizing a Met Gala of Their Own – This year’s Met Gala may be cancelled, but a group of enterprising teens active in a subculture known as “High Fashion Twitter” are staging a virtual version of the event on Monday, May 4—and everyone is invited. The event will be hosted on Twitter (where else?) and you can “attend” by posting a photo of your “look” with the hashtag #HFMetGala2020. The dress code, according to the invitation, is “temporal conflation,” tied to the theme of the short-lived Costume Institute exhibition “About Time: Fashion and Duration,” an exploration of how clothes conflate past, present, and future. Guests are discouraged from buying anything new for the event and any IRL social gatherings are strictly prohibited. So far, around 900 people have registered on a Google form to attend. (New York Times)

Smithsonian Cuts Executive Pay to Avoid Layoffs – To counteract what is expected to be at least a $22 million shortfall as a result of the pandemic, top staff members at the Smithsonian Institution are implementing salary cuts and hiring freezes to avoid furloughing employees. The salary cuts—which will impact almost 90 executives—range in size from 10 to 15 percent, with the largest cut going to Lonnie Bunch, the secretary of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums. The majority of the institution’s 6,300-member staff will not be affected. (Washington Post)


France Is Selling Antiques to Support Hospitals In an effort to help fund hospitals in France, objects from the country’s national furniture collection will hit the auction block in September. The organization Mobilier National, which furnishes official buildings, is said to be drawing up a list of some 100 objects that are not considered important to national patrimony to sell. The money will go to the Foundation for Paris Hospitals and French Hospitals, where first lady Brigitte Macron is president. Mobilier National is also calling on craftspeople who find themselves out of work to help restore other objects in the national collection. (Guardian)

Hong Kong Dealers Are Fleeing Central – The financial hit many Hong Kong dealers have absorbed from the health crisis, the pro-democracy protests, and the cancellation of Art Basel Hong Kong may permanently reshape the art landscape in the city. Many of the several dozen galleries situated in or near the Pedder Building and the gallery tower H Queen’s are considering relocating to less expensive parts of the city such as the south side of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. (The Art Newspaper)


Christo’s Arc de Triomphe Project Delayed to 2021 – Although some French museums are preparing to reopen on May 11, Christo’s highly anticipated public art project, which involves wrapping the Arc de Triomphe in blue fabric, has been pushed back a full year from its planned fall debut. The installation—which, like many Christo projects, is likely to draw serious crowds—will now run from September 18 through October 3, 2021. (ARTnews)

China’s Giacometti and Picasso Museum Delayed – A museum dedicated to Giacometti and Picasso that had been scheduled to open in Beijing’s 798 Art District in June is delayed due to the pandemic. A new opening date for the institution, a partnership between the Musée National Picasso-Paris and the Fondation Giacometti, has not been confirmed, although administrators say that construction on the building is almost complete. (TAN)


The Art Institute of Chicago’s Lions Get Masks – Chicagoans will be required to wear face masks in public beginning today. But first, the city’s famous public artworks—the two lions outside the Art Institute of Chicago and a Picasso sculpture outside the Paley Center—were given masks of their own. The project, which aims to offer the public a friendly reminder to cover up, was the handiwork of a design firm that typically specializes in the trade-show industry. No word yet on whether the Bean is getting a mask, too. (Chicago Tribune)

What Happens When Benefit Dinners Are Cancelled? – Now that the star-studded fundraising benefits that shore up nonprofit arts organizations’ coffers are all suddenly cancelled, directors are scrambling to make up the loss. While many are looking to digital events, it’s a challenge to court board members’ gifts when the inducement of live performances and in-room auctions have vanished. The executive director of the Authors Guild said she told every member of her staff, “Welcome to the development team… it is now in every one of our job descriptions.” (The Cut)

Paris Hilton Gave a Tour of Her Off-the-Wall Art Room – The socialite has become an active YouTuber, giving fans a glimpse into her glitzy life in isolation. In a recent video, the former Simple Life star showed off her… art room. Hilton—a multimedia artist, naturally—is partial to collages of herself cut up from various glossy magazines. She’s also been experimenting with a new series of feline portraits, emblazoned with the term “SLIVING” (that’s slaying + living) in glitter. (Buzzfeed)

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