Art Industry News: Analysis of Van Gogh’s Letters Reveals New Details About His Spooky Olive Grove Paintings + Other Stories

Plus, Phillips jumps on the accepting-crypto-for-Banksy bandwagon and Kate Middleton hides copies of her new photography book around London.

Vincent van Gogh's Olive Trees (1889). Image couresy of Nelson-Atkins Museum.

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 Monday, May 10.


Kate Middleton Releases a Book of Lockdown Photography – The Duchess of Cambridge has released a book of 100 photographs taken by the public during lockdown. The book, called “Hold Still: A Portrait of Our Nation in 2020,” is the outcome of a project to encourage the people to capture the resilient spirit of the nation during the pandemic. To drum up excitement for the release, Middleton hid copies of the book in various spots around London. (Evening Standard)

Another MoMA Trustee Scrutinized by Strikers – Strike MoMA activists, who have been staging weekly demonstrations outside the museum, are setting their sights on another board member at the museum: Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, whose husband Gustavo Cisneros has interest in gold mining in the Dominican Republic. Cisneros is on the international advisory board for Barrick Gold Corporation, which has been accused of poisoning and displacing hundreds of people through a gold mine outside Santo Domingo. (Hyperallergic)

New Discoveries About Van Gogh’s Olive Grove Paintings – New research for an exhibition of Van Gogh’s “Olive Trees” series in Dallas and Amsterdam has determined for the first time the chronological sequence of 15 paintings executed by the troubled artist in 1889. Examining Van Gogh’s correspondence with his brother Theo, in which he mentioned the colors of the paintings he was working on, as well as biographical details of the artist’s treatment at the asylum in Provence, scholars have re-dated several paintings in the series to determine the correct order. (The Art Newspaper)

Phillips Will Accept Cryptocurrency for a Banksy, Too – Phillips has become the latest big-name auction house to open the door to accepting bitcoin or ether for physical artwork. Like Sotheby’s, which made a similar announcement last week, Phillips is currently limiting the opportunity to one work by Banksy. The street artist’s Laugh Now Panel A, estimated to fetch as much as $4.1 million, will be offered in Hong Kong on June 7 and 8. (Coindesk)


Leonardo da Vinci Bear Drawing Hits the Block – A drawing of a bear’s head by Leonardo da Vinci is expected to fetch as much as £12 million ($16.9 million) at Christie’s London in July. The small silverpoint drawing on paper has been in the same collection since 2008. (Guardian)

Anne Imhof Joins Sprüth Magers – Sprüth Magers will now represent the Golden Lion-winning artist in collaboration with Galerie Buchholz. It’s a get for the gallery, which lost photographer Cindy Sherman to Hauser & Wirth in March. (Press release)


Hairy Who Artist Karl Wirsum Dies – Karl Wirsum, a member of the Chicago artist group Harry Who, has died at age 81 from cardiac arrest. The Chicago Imagist famously coined the term after asking in a discussion about the art critic Harry Bouras, “Harry who?” (ARTnews)

Simon Lee Snaps Up Georg Karl Pfahler Estate – Simon Lee Gallery now represents the estate of the German color field painter; the first solo exhibition of his work will open at Lee’s London gallery in spring 2022. Los Angeles’s Nino Mier Gallery, Berlin’s Galerie Friese, and Brussels’s QG Gallery will continue to represent the Pfahler estate alongside Simon Lee. (Press release)


Penn State Board Approves $85 Million Museum – The board at Penn State University has given the green light to build an $85 million art museum to house its collection. The new museum, which is slated to open in 2023, could be the largest museum between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Migrate Art Raises Funds for Myanmar – The charity is selling limited edition posters to raise emergency funds in aid of Mutual Aid Myanmar. Posters designed by artists including Chila Kumari Burman, Lina Iris Viktor, and Sean Scully will be sold for £50 ($75) between now and June 27 on Migrate Art. (Migrate Art)

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