Art Industry News: An Enchanted Encounter on Instagram Enabled Sting to Grant an Artist Fan’s Dying Wish + Other Stories

Plus, Paris announces a $16.5 million relief fund for culture and a new survey says confidence in the art market is lower than in 2008.

Sting attends the 2019 French Tennis Open in Paris, France. (Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis 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 21.


China Bans Knockoffs of Foreign Buildings – The Chinese government is clamping down on copies of foreign architecture in an effort to promote local design. While replicas of English towns, Alpine villages, and even the Eiffel Tower can be found across the country, the government now says that “plagiarizing, imitating, and copycatting” other designs is prohibited in new public constructions. The statement singles out stadiums, museums, and theaters as facilities where it is especially important to stomp out plagiarism. “City constructions are the combination of a city’s external image and internal spirit, revealing a city’s culture,” the government says. (BBC)

Paris Announces €15 Million Bailout for Culture – Paris’s deputy mayor for culture, Christophe Girard, has announced a €15 million ($16.5 million) relief plan for the city’s culture sector. The “historic gesture” includes €11.5 million for the city’s public theaters, art and culture centers, and concert halls, as well as €1.2 million for private sector venues. A €50,000 packet will be handed out to playwrights and composers, and a €1.45 million grant will support the cinema sector. The city is also dedicating €400,000 to develop a robust arts program for the month of August catering to Parisians unable to go on vacation. The mayor hopes to open seven of the 14 smaller municipal museums by June 16. “August will be the month of celebration of art and beauty in Paris,” Girard says. (Le Parisien)

A Sting Fan’s Last Wish Comes True, Courtesy of Instagram – Sometimes social media is a force for good. In a recent post on the beloved Instagram account Humans of New York, which brings the stories of New Yorkers to its 10.4 million followers, a young woman memorialized her father, who died of MS. “I think he dreamed of being an artist. But he needed something more stable,” she wrote, adding that he pursued a career as a policeman to provide for his family. He built an art studio at the back of the house and painted just one canvas: a portrait of Sting. His dying wish was to share it with the singer. Well, it just so happens that one of the Instagram account’s followers is Mickey Sumner, Sting’s daughter. After seeing the heartwarming post, she promptly contacted Humans of New York, and within hours was connected with the family to grant the father’s wish. (Vanity Fair)

Italian Woman Wins a Picasso Painting in a Charity Raffle – A novel raffle that offered up a Pablo Picasso painting worth $1.1 million to raise money for African water projects has found a winner. An Italian woman—who received the ticket as a gift—is now the proud owner of Nature morte (1921), a small still life of a table with a glass of absinthe. The raffle raised $5.6 million; $988,000 of that sum will go to art dealer and collector David Nahmad, who provided the work. (Reuters)


Another Amoako Boafo Painting Hits the Block – Following the auction breakout of the young Ghanaian painter in February—when Phillips sold a work for $881,550, more than 10 times its high estimate—another Boafo is headed to the auction block. Phillips is selling a work on paper, Sleepy Lady, in its online contemporary sale, which closes today at 2 p.m. in London. The work has already been bid up to £85,000 ($103,955), more than five times its low estimate. (Art Market Monitor)

Report Shows Art-Market Confidence Is Bleak – A report by ArtTactic shows that confidence in the art market is lower than it was after the financial crisis of 2008—and, in fact, it now has the lowest rating since the company began its twice-yearly survey in 2005. Confidence has fallen 85 percent since last September. Moving forward, Christie’s chief executive Guillaume Cerutti says, “innovation is key, now and for the future.” (Financial Times)

Portraits of Leonardo DiCaprio, Billie Eilish, Jennifer Lopez, and More Head to Auction – The celebrity photographer Mark Seliger is offering a selection of his intimate portraits of some of the world’s most famous entertainers at a charity auction organized by Christie’s and Red Carpet Advocacy. The sale of 25 works will take place virtually (of course) from May 28 to June 12, and all proceeds will go toward charities including Meals on Wheels, World Central Kitchen, and the American Red Cross. (WWD)


DC’s National Building Museum Cuts Two-Thirds of Its Staff – The National Building Museum will lay off more than 40 staff members on June 1, leaving just 18 staff positions (which are on partial furlough) and two staffers working on grant-based projects. The future of the museum was uncertain even before the lockdown, having already cut 8 percent of its workforce in February. It is still unclear when it will reopen. (DCist)

Shanghai Biennale Names Curatorial Team – The oldest biennial in China will have a new format for its 13th edition. Titled “Bodies of Water,” the biennale will unfold in three phases and formats—a summit, a television program, and a live exhibition—over nine months beginning in November 2020. It is led by New York–based architect Andrés Jaque and curators YOU Mi, Marina Otero Verzier, Lucia Pietroiusti, and Filipa Ramos. (Artforum)

Jeffrey Deitch Launches “Art in the Streets” Website – Art dealer Jeffrey Deitch has launched a website in tribute to the 2011 LA MOCA exhibition “Art in the Streets,” which was also the subject of a follow-up exhibition in New York last year. The website offers information about the artists included in the show and on the history of the street art movement. (Press release)


National Gallery Acquires 18th-Century Masterworks – The London museum has acquired three 18th-century artworks, including a major work by Jean-Etienne Liotard, in lieu of a £10 million ($12.2 million) inheritance tax. The Lavergne Family Breakfast (1754), which was owned by the late banker George Pinto and has been on loan to the museum since 2018, joined the collection as part of the UK’s tax scheme, which allows families to reduce tax bills through donations. (Guardian)

UK Artists Make Masks for Charity – Artists Linder Sterling, David Shrigley, Yinka Shonibare, and Eddie Peake have designed face masks to raise money for the Contemporary Art Society’s new CAS Rapid Response Fund, which will support museum acquisitions of contemporary art by British-based artists. The masks are being sold for £35 ($43) each or £120 ($146) for all four through crowdfunder. (Guardian)

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