Art Industry News: The Secret Message Hidden in Mark Grotjahn’s Cryptic Kitchen Instagrams + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, the Anne Frank museum reveals racy unseen pages from her diary and the writer and art-world observer Tom Wolfe has died.

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 Wednesday, May 16.


Women Beaten by Security Staff in Beijing’s Art District – The two women, who ended up in the hospital, were wearing rainbow pins during a visit to Beijing’s 798 Art District to demonstrate support for LGBTQ rights. Social media criticism of the security staff who executed the attack has been censored in China. Art district management, meanwhile, has maintained it has the right to stop “illegal activity.” (The Art Newspaper)

Anne Frank Museum Publishes Hidden Sex Joke – Using new digital technologies, researchers have deciphered two pages of writing that Anne Frank once tried to cover up in her diary. Amsterdam’s Anne Frank House announced that the pages contained dirty jokes, including one about a cuckolded husband, and the 13-year-old’s ideas about sex education. (New York Times)

LACMA Presents Surprise Mark Grotjahn Show – The artist will unveil “50 Kitchens” (2013–18), a large series of works based on a single butterfly composition he made for a wall in his kitchen, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The show was announced quietly by the museum with only days before its May 20 opening—but Grotjahn had been posting cryptic clues on social media for weeks. (ARTnews)

Berlin Academy of Arts Demands the Release of Liu Xia – Concerns are growing about the mental health of the Chinese painter, poet, and photographer Liu Xia. The widow of the human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo has been under house arrest in Beijing since 2010. (Monopol)​


Pope Francis’s Lamborghini Makes $844,000 – Gifted to the Pope last year by the carmaker, the holy Lambo doubled its estimate and fetched a hammer price of €715,000 ($844,000) at Sotheby’s in Monaco on Saturday. The proceeds from the sale of the Huracan Coupe—which has been blessed and signed by the Pope—will go toward rebuilding homes, places of worship, and public facilities in Nineveh, Iraq. (Le Journal des Arts)

Mitchell Algus’s Remedy for the Art Fair Problem – The New York-based gallerist and champion of undervalued artists proposes an alternative to “taxing” mega-galleries to help relieve the pressures fairs place on smaller dealers. Instead, he suggests that the price of fair participation be relative to a gallery’s sales at the event: “Ardent sales, high cost; listless sales, little or no cost.” (ARTnews)

Disgraced German Art Advisor Wins Early Release – Helge Achenbach, the art consultant jailed for defrauding the late Aldi supermarket billionaire Berthold Albrecht out of around €20 million ($23 million), is due to be released early in June. He will have served four years of a six-year sentence. (Monopol)

Yeats’s Knockout Painting Leads Bonhams Sale – A large painting of the spot where an Irish boxing champion defeated his English opponent is heading to Bonhams’s Modern British and Irish Sale in June. Jack Yeats’s Donnelly’s Hollow has an estimate of £300,000 ($404,000) to £500,000 ($674,000). (Press release)​


Art-World Observer Tom Wolfe Dies – The writer known for pioneering New Journalism, who also delved into art criticism with The Painted Word (1975), has died at age 88. In Back to Blood (2012), he devoted a chapter to the feeding frenzy of Art Basel in Miami Beach and its many VIP parties, an event he keenly described as “the running of the billionaires.” (New York Times)

Shamim Momin Heads to Seattle – The founding director and curator of the public art nonprofit Los Angeles Nomadic Division is leaving after more than 10 years with the organization to take up the role of senior curator at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle. She begins her new gig on September 1. (ARTnews)

Harvard Announces 2019 Loeb Fellows – The nine recipients of the annual fellowship for mid-career practitioners are Stephen Burks, Maria Cabildo, Jeana Dunlap, Washington Fajardo, Bryna Lipper, Andrea Reimer, Michael Smith Masis, Katie Swenson, and Michiel Van Iersel. The recipients will study at the Harvard Graduate School of Design for one year and receive a $50,000 stipend. (Artforum)

Sovereign Asian Art Prize Picks Winner – The British Pakistani artist Halima Cassell has won the $30,000 annual prize for her bronze sculpture Acapella. She received the honor on May 11 in Hong Kong alongside the winner of the $1,000 Schoeni Prize, Muhammad Onaiz Taji. (Artforum)



Jeff Koons’s Mutual Admiration Society – At first glance, the similarities between Koons and rapper Lil Uzi Vert might be hard to spot. Then again, they both maintain that their art is misunderstood by critics. It turns out Koons is a big fan of the rapper, whose music he listens to when he lifts weights. When a GQ reporter informed Uzi about his famous fan, he said he hoped the two would meet. (GQ)

Maggi Hambling to Design Sculpture of Mary Wollstonecraft – The celebrated sculptor behind the Oscar Wilde statue in London’s Covent Garden has been chosen to design a sculpture of the renowned feminist for Newington Green. It will be the world’s first monument to Wollstonecraft and will be engraved with her words, “I do not wish women to have power over men but over themselves.” (Hackney Citizen)

Organization Seeks to Promote Disabled Curators – The visual arts organization DASH has announced that three disabled curators will work with three cultural institutions across the UK—Arnolfini in Bristol, the Midland Arts Center in Birmingham, and the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art—over the next three years. The project is funded by an Arts Council England grant of £100,000 ($135,000). (Hyperallergic)

Royal Academicians Toast Their New Home – Hard hats came off at the Royal Academy of London just in time for staff and Academicians to celebrate the completion of its 250th anniversary revamp. Among the guests were RA chief exec Charles Saumarez Smith (Instagrammed with arms aloft à la Laocoön) and architect David Chipperfield. To remember the Academician and architect Will Alsop, who died on Saturday, a colorful work he donated was hung prominently (and late-minute) on the Chipperfield-white walls. (Instagram)



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