Art Industry News: Ai Weiwei Will Redesign a Beverly Hills Gallery + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, the Vatican joins the Venice Architecture Biennale and Roman Abramovich faces British Visa troubles

Ai Weiwei. Photo by Sander Koning/AFP/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 this Monday, May 21.


The Vatican Joins the Venice Architecture Biennale – For the first time, the Roman Catholic Church will participate in the Venice Architecture Biennale, which opens May 26. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, who collaborated on the Met Costume Institute’s “Heavenly Bodies” show, greenlighted the pavilion as part of his ongoing efforts to connect the church with the contemporary world. Ten chapels commissioned from leading architects, including Norman Foster, will be built on an island in the Venice lagoon. (Guardian)

Critics Debate the Met’s ‘Heavenly Bodies’ – The NYT‘s fashion critic Vanessa Friedman tours the Catholic fashion exhibition at the Met’s Cloisters with art critic Jason Farago and conservative op-ed writer Ross Douthat, who has written a book about Pope Francis. Despite outcry from some religious groups, Douthat says, “I think the show should be an inspiration to the church.” (New York Times)​

Ai Weiwei to Design United Talent Agency’s New Gallery – The artist is staging three shows in Los Angeles in October, including a show of marble sculptures at the new United Talent Agency Artist Space in Beverly Hills. Dabbling in architecture again, Ai is also redesigning elements of the building, slated to open July 12, including its staircase and entrance. (NYT)

Roman Abramovich Encounters British Visa Troubles – Amid a UK government clampdown on rich Russians in London after the poisoning of an ex-Russian intelligence officer in March, the art collector and owner of a Chelsea football club (who is also the UK’s 13th richest person) has not yet had his visa renewed by the Home Office, causing him to miss out on his team’s win in the FA Cup final on Saturday. (Financial Times)


What’s Driving Art’s Record Prices? – After a Modigliani painting sold for $157 million at Sotheby’s last week, observers are talking about why multi-million-dollar spending on art is becoming more common. Richard Partington writes that the market is fueled by rising inequality in advanced economies and scarcity of work (due to the death of the artist or rare appearances on the market)—but also to hedge-fund billionaires, newly wealthy Chinese buyers, and Saudi sheikhs. (Guardian)

What Sotheby’s Asia Chief Has Planned – The late art dealer Edward Chow played a significant role in placing Chinese antiquities into the hands of Western collectors. But now, his grandson, Nicolas Chow, wants to reverse that exodus and bring works back into China. Nicolas, who is Sotheby’s new Asia chief, also wants to broaden Chinese collectors’ interests into contemporary Asian, African, and Western art. (South China Morning Post)

Haas Brothers Join Marianne Boesky – The twin artists are now represented by Marianne Boesky Gallery in collaboration with design gallery R & Company. Their first show with Boesky, “Stonely Planet,” will open in the gallery’s space in Aspen on June 20. (ARTnews)

Jacksonville Sells a Joan Mitchell – The Florida city and its Museum of Contemporary Art has generated $2.8 million from selling a large-scale Joan Mitchell painting, Iva, at Christie’s on Friday. The funds will be split between the city, which will use the money to maintain public art, and the museum, which will use it for its own collection. (


Mona Hatoum Wins Ruth Baumgarte Prize – The British-Palestinian artist Mona Hatoum has won the €20,000 ($24,000) Ruth Baumgarte prize, which will be awarded in Berlin in June. Previous winners include Kader Attia and Amelie von Wulffen. (Monopol)

National Museums Liverpool Gets First Female Director – Laura Pye, who has run Bristol’s museums in the west of England, succeeds David Flemming as the director of National Museums Liverpool, which includes the Walker Art Gallery. (Artforum)

Michael Rakowitz Wins Herb Alpert Award – Artist Michael Rakowitz was one of five winners of the 2018 Herb Alpert Award for the Arts, which gives $75,000 to a professional working in film, dance, music, theater, and visual art. Administered by the California Institute of the Arts, the panel awarded Rakowitz “for his bold and daring, deeply researched, deeply human work.” (Herb Alpert Foundation)


British Museum Adds Soccer Star’s Boot to Collection – The British Museum’s decision to acquire a pair of Adidas football boots worn by the Egypt and Liverpool striker Mo Salah and to display them in its Ancient Egyptian gallery ahead of the Champion League Final has raised eyebrows. Apollo magazine thinks the museum might have scored its own goal, but former Art Newspaper editor Cristina Ruiz called it “embarrassing.” (Apollo)

Iraq War Installation Wins Aesthetica Prize – The London and New York-based artist David Birkin has won the 2018 Aesthetica prize for his installation Profiles. Working with the NGO Iraq Body Count, Birkin took the ID numbers of civilians brutally killed in Iraq and used software to turn each into a red-colored transparency. (Aesthetica)

Calder Foundation Buys Berkshire Mobile – The Calder Foundation bought the artist’s 1932 sculpture Double Arc and Sphere for $1 million at the Berkshire Museum’s sale at Sotheby’s. Sandy Rower, the head of the foundation, vowed to put the work, which had been in the museum since 1933, on public display. (Berkshire Eagle)

Penone’s Trees Take Root in Yorkshire – Guiseppe Penone’s exhibition officially opens at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park on May 26, but many of the large-scale tree sculptures are already in place, such as the Italian artist’s bronze cast of a lightning-struck tree Albero folgorato (2012). The sculptures will dominate the landscape, while other Penone works fill the award-winning sculpture park’s main gallery until spring 2019.​ (Instagram)

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