Art Industry News: Artist Ken Monkman Apologizes for His Outrageously Indecent Justin Trudeau Painting + Other News

Plus, the Musée du Quai Branly gets a new director and Anne Imhof sells art to help save a German nightclub.

Kent Monkman, a Canadian artist of Cree ancestry, poses with one of his large-scale history paintings, The Scream. (Randy Risling/Toronto Star 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 Wednesday, May 27.


Activists Protest NYPD Charges Against a Journalist’s Graffiti – Protesters gathered in front of a New York Police Department precinct on Sunday demanding that charges be dropped against an African American journalist who was arrested for writing “Trump=Plague” in pink chalk on the sidewalk. The 67-year-old woman, Jill Nelson, was arrested and now faces a court appearance in August. Nelson is also asking for a formal apology after she was aggressively searched and held for five hours. (Hyperallergic)

Kara Walker on Life Post-Lockdown – Kara Walker pens an essay for Frieze about how the current health situation has exposed inequalities within our society that existed long before lockdown. She notes that many frontline workers who are most vulnerable are people of color: farm workers, nurses, janitors, and delivery people. “For every day and every week in our ‘quarantine,’ ‘self-isolation,’ ‘lockdown,’ or ‘shelter in place,’ some wise fool asks us to consider the effects of social distancing, as if segregation weren’t already a reality,” she writes. Moments of trauma in history like this one, she says, have a way of both revealing historical inequities and prompting a kind of mass forgetting. “To demand exactitude in the pursuit of a historical truth is to go where no mind can venture and return whole,” she writes. (Frieze)

Kent Monkman Apologizes for Justin Trudeau Painting – The Cree artist has apologized for painting a sexually suggestive image of the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau being dominated by a group of Indigenous women. Monkman saw widespread backlash to the image on social media, with many reading it as a glorification of sexual assault. The artist says that it was meant to draw attention to the violence and assault faced by Indigenous women in Canada and the US. “I wish for my work to resist the colonial traumas inflicted upon my own family and so many others for generations, not to perpetuate harm,” the artist said in an apology posted to his website. “I see that with this work, I have failed.” (The Art Newspaper)

Comic-Book Pioneer Suffers Racist Incident in Central Park – Christian Cooper, the bird watcher who was subject to a racist incident in Central Park over the weekend that was captured on video and has since swept the internet, is a comic-book pioneer. Cooper is a former editor at Marvel comics and created the first openly gay Star Trek character, Yoshi Mishima. He has been in the news after a white woman called the police and told them an African American man was threatening her after he asked her to put her dog on a leash. (them)


Art Basel Releases Lineup for Online Viewing Room – From June 19 through 26, some 279 international galleries from 35 countries will participate in Art Basel’s second online viewing room, timed to coincide with the original dates of Art Basel. Newcomers include the London-based gallery Emalin and New York’s Queer Thoughts. (Artfix Daily)

Auction Sales in France Dropped 80 Percent During Lockdown – Total auction sales dropped by 80 percent in France during the lockdown, according to a report by France’s Voluntary Sales Council on the 175 auctions that were held during the period. This contraction was mainly due to the fact that far fewer sales went ahead, and those that did happened under strict conditions with no public exhibition, no audience, withdrawn lots, and remote payments. Except for charity sales, no auction breached the €1 million mark. (Le Journal des Arts)


The Biennale of Sydney Plans Reopening – After being forced to close just over a week after it opened, the 22nd edition of the Biennale of Sydney says it is ready to finally welcome visitors again on June 16. The show, titled “NIRIN” (a word meaning “edge” in Wiradjuri, an Aboriginal Australian dialect in central New South Wales), includes 700 artworks by 101 artists and collectives. (Artforum)

The Musée du Quai Branly Gets a New Director – Emmanuel Kasarhérou will take over the Parisian museum known for its ethnographic collections. The incoming director will be the first of Kanak origin to lead the institution. Kasarhérou, who replaces longtime director Stéphane Martin, has worked at the museum since 2014. (Le Monde

The Markaz Is Closing – The Los Angeles arts center devoted to showcasing Middle Eastern culture through lectures, film screenings, performances, and exhibitions is shutting down permanently due to losses suffered as a result of the lockdown. It will now operate strictly online as a digital journal. (LA Times)


How the Met Grew Its Follower Count by Almost 200,000 – Since the lockdown began in March, the Met’s social media director Claire Lanier says the museum’s already-popular social media accounts exploded with another 165,000 new followers. Impressions on Twitter have increased by 71.2 percent and on Instagram by almost 50 percent in the past two months. Lanier says her strategy focuses on “not only providing people with art that they love,” but also giving them “creative projects to do” at home. (TAN)

The Institute of American Indian Arts Discounts Tuition – The Santa Fe school will reduce tuition by 10 percent for the 2020 to 2021 academic year due to the global health situation. The move comes in stark contrast to other schools across the US that are raising tuition to make up for lost revenue. (Hyperallergic)

Anne Imhof and Tobias Rehberger Are Making Art to Save a Nightclub – Golden Lion winners Anne Imhof and Tobias Rehberger are among the artists donating multiples to help keep a famous German nightclub afloat during the social-distancing era. The club, Robert Johnson, is located just on the outskirts of Frankfurt, where the two went to art school at Städelschule. The sale begins today with a work by DJ Ata; Rehberger will offer a lamp and an ashtray in mid-June and Anne Imhof is offering a bomber jacket edition in September. (Press release)

Tobias Rehberger. Photo: Peter Oliver Wolff

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