Art Industry News: Oxford Statue That Sparked Protests in the ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ Movement Will Not Fall After All + Other Stories

Plus, the Jewish Museum brings Louise Bourgeois's writing to light and a massive collection of art by women goes on view... at the doctor.

The statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes at Oxford College. Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

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 Thursday, May 20.


Inside One Texas Museum’s Controversial Pandemic Response – The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston was praised for opening its new building in November in spite of the pandemic and a hurricane. The Nancy and Rich Kinder Building was part of a 10-year, $450 million expansion. However, some staff say that they did not feel safe going back to work at the time, and their concerns were not always accommodated. “The head of [human resources] was working from home when he denied my request to work from home,” one employee said. (Texas Observer)

How Museums Can Do More Than Just Repatriate Objects – In 1990, President Bush signed the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which many in the museum community at the time worried would cause the emptying of museums. It has not. Instead, the legislation has helped museum workers collaborate with Native tribes and, though there are still major power asymmetries between them, demonstrated a wide range of possible outcomes that can benefit both communities. (Sapiens)

Cecil Rhodes Statue to Stay in Place – A controversial statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes will remain in place at Oxford University, the administration said, due to the financial challenge of removing it. Efforts to take down the statue, which students began in earnest in 2015, gained steam over the past year and culminated in an independent inquiry that determined the statue should be removed. But now, Oxford’s Oriel College says that the process is on indefinite pause due to “the regulatory and financial challenges… which could run into years with no certainty of outcome.” (Evening Standard)

Monaco Court of Appeal Reaffirms Rybolovlev Case – Documents in the case against Russian investor Dmitry Rybolovlev are allowed to be used in court, according to the Monaco Court of Appeal. The billionaire art collector and owner of the AS Monaco football club has been accused of using his ties to officials in Monaco to attack the Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier. Rybolovlev has accused Bouvier of defrauding him out of $1 billion. (Le Journal du Jura)


Artnet Auctions Sale Hits a New High – Artnet Auctions’s spring postwar and contemporary art sale set a new record for the largest total in the platform’s history, exceeding $2 million in sales with an average lot value of $60,000—a 50 percent increase from 2020. The top lot was a 2019 butterfly painting by Damien Hirst, which fetched $600,000—the second highest price ever achieved on the platform.

Abu Dhabi Art Will Have a Pop Up in London – The Abu Dhabi Art fair is coming to Cromwell Place in London to show works by three emerging U.A.E. artists, Hind Mezaina, Afra Al Dhaheri, and Afra Al Suwaidi. The works were were commissioned for the November edition of the fair, which ran online due to the pandemic. (Financial Times)

Company Gallery Is Expanding – The New York gallery is opening a 4,000-square-foot multilevel space designed by the firm Bond at 145 Elizabeth Street in September 2021. The inaugural show, curated by artist Tiona Nekkia McClodden, will feature work by the late filmmaker and artist Barbara Hammer. (Instagram)


Brancusi Copyright Battle Goes to Court – Sculptor Constantin Brancusi’s legacy is at the heart of a major copyright case in Romania, where a local politician recently joined an effort to bring the artist’s work into the public domain. The city of Targu Jiu, where Brancusi grew up, is currently unable to reproduce the three of his works that are installed there. (The Art Newspaper)

Massive Collection of Female Artists Goes to the Doctor – A collection of work by female artists assembled by California-based collectors Sandra and William Nicholson will go on display at New York State’s health care network Northwell Health. The “Women Who Dared” collection includes more than 400 works spanning 2,500 years and has never before been seen in public. (Press release)


New Insight Into Louise Bourgeois – The Jewish Museum in New York is presenting a lesser-known—but no less haunting and confessional—side of Louise Bourgeois: her writing. For the first time in a museum exhibition, a selection of the texts she wrote in response to her psychoanalysis from 1952 to 1985 will be on view alongside her art. (New York Times)

Artist Creates Beuys Mural in Kassel – To mark what would have been his 100th birthday, Kassel is celebrating Joseph Beuys, who was a participant in the city’s Documenta exhibition many times over. To celebrate his contributions to the local art scene, artist Yongtak Choi is painting a larger-than-life portrait of the artist on a public wall. (InstagramMonopol)


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