Art Industry News: Ashley Bickerton, Famed Neo-Geo Artist Who Ditched New York for Bali, Signs With Gagosian + Other Stories

Plus, there's now a backlog of requests to return Benin Bronzes, and Germany's culture minister wades further into the Documenta row.

Ashley Bickerton. Courtesy of Ashley Bickerton Studio and Gagosian.

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 Friday, May 13.


U.S. Museums Are Trying to Return Benin Bronzes en Masse – At least 16 U.S. museums are looking to return their holdings of Benin artifacts following protests and policy changes. But the multistep repatriation process is complex and requires liaising with Nigerian officials, who are now struggling to keep up with a backlog of requests. (Washington Post)

Artists Tapped for New Work at Lincoln Center – Lincoln Center’s newly reopened Geffen Hall will debut this fall with artworks by Nina Chanel Abney and Jacolby Satterwhite as part of a new partnership with the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Public Art Fund. They will kick off a rotating program of artists invited to install ambitious works in prominent locations at the performing arts center. (New York Times)

Ashley Bickerton Joins Gagosian – The artist, who burst onto the New York art scene in the 1980s during the so called Neo-Geo wave, has joined mega-gallery Gagosian after 16 years with Lehmann Maupin. (Bickerton called the move “the most difficult decision I’ve ever made.”) He will have his first exhibition with his new gallery in New York next year. In February, the artist spoke to the Brooklyn Rail about the evolution of his work after leaving New York for Bali in 1993 and his ongoing battle with ALS. “I have no problem talking about it, but I don’t want to be known or judged by this,” he says now, adding that his move to Gagosian would have happened regardless. (ARTnews)

German Culture Minister Wades Into Documenta Row – The president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, Josef Schuster, sat down with culture minister Claudia Roth to discuss the anti-Semitism debate roiling Documenta 15. Both parties acknowledged that attempts to organize a constructive public debate had so far “failed,” but issued a joint statement promising to speak with experts and Documenta organizers about making a “clear commitment against anti-Semitism in its various forms” as well as “the protection of artistic freedom, but also the question of its limits.” (Press release)


Deana Lawson Wins the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize – The photographer is the 2022 recipient of the prestigious prize, which comes with £30,000 ($36,562), for her solo exhibition, “Centropy,” at the Kunsthalle Basel in 2020. Lawson was also the first photographer to win the Hugo Boss Prize in 2020, and the Guggenheim showed “Centropy” there in 2021. (Press release)

Erica Wall Will Lead Lunder Institute – Colby College Museum of Art has appointed Erica Wall as director of the Waterville, Maine-based Lunder Institute, the research and creative branch of the museum. Wall most recently served as director of the MCLA Arts and Culture at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams. (CultureType)

VMFA Names New Curator of African Art – Ndubuisi C. Ezeluomba will join the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts as curator of African art following an international search. Ezeluomba is returning to the museum where he was a curatorial research specialist from 2016 to 2018. He was most recently curator of African art at the New Orleans Museum of Art. (Press release)

Critic Suzi Gablik Dead at 87  The art critic and author of books including Has Modernism Failed? (1984) and Pop Art Redefined (1969) died at her home in Virginia following a long illness. “She was indefatigable in dissecting the morality and ethics of art in the world at large, a preoccupation that lasted for the rest of her life,” her former Art in America editor Elizabeth C. Baker said. (ARTnews)


Collector Captures His Dream Come True – An unexpected highlight of Christie’s 20th century evening sale on Thursday was a bidding war for American artist Ernie Barnes’s The Sugar Shack (1976). In a 10-minute battle, two buyers in the room duked it out for the (guaranteed) work, which ultimately sold for $15.3 million with fees—more than 76 times its estimate. Winning bidder Bill Perkins—described by various outlets as a hedge-fund manager, film producer, and high-stakes poker player—captured the moment on Instagram, calling the acquisition a “childhood dream come true.” (Artnet News)

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