Art Industry News: Brad Pitt Hits the Venice Biennale on the Way Back From Cannes + Other Stories

Plus, the Louvre in Paris reopens after a strike by its guards and there is some really shady stuff going on around the artist Peter Max.

Brad Pitt in Cannes for Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

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 29.


The Wild Story Behind Peter Max’s Downfall – Peter Max Finkelstein was a pioneering and world-famous figure of Pop art in the 1960s and ’70s. But today, he has, by some accounts, not painted in years as he suffers from serious dementia. As the artist’s mental facility continues to decline, his family and friends are waging a legal war over his assets and his creative legacy. The battle includes wild allegations fit for a big-screen thriller, including kidnapping, cruise-ship art fraud, and, yes, attempted murder by Brazil nut. (New York Times)

Artists Protest Social Media Censorship – Instagram has repeatedly come under fire for not being able to differentiate between art and pornographic material. American artist Betty Tompkins is one of many artists who have been blocked from the social media platform for uploading what it considers to be explicit content. Tompkins’s account was disabled for several days last month after she posted an image of a photorealistic erotic artwork. The artist says the social media platform looks like it’s stuck in the 1950s and is headed in a “particularly misogynistic direction.” (The Art Newspaper)

Brad Pitt Visits the Venice Biennale with Thomas Houseago – The actor and his art buddy and sometime-teacher, the LA-based British sculptor Thomas Houseago, were spotted at the Venice Biennale yesterday. Last seen being inundated with selfie requests at Frieze Los Angeles, Pitt seemed delighted to be at the sprawling exhibition, even waving to the paparazzi. (Entertainment Tonight)

The Louvre Reopens After Security Staff Strike – The Paris museum reopened at 11 a.m. today, two hours later than usual, following an all-hands meeting to determine what next steps should be taken after a strike was held by its staff on Monday over the institution’s surging visitor numbers. Only visitors with pre-paid, time-slotted tickets were allowed in. (Local)


Liste Fair Adds a New Wing to its Program – Under its new directorship, the Basel-based fair for emerging art has launched a new initiative dedicated to performance, video, and talks. Alongside the fair next month, contemporary art magazine Spike will host the so-called Spike Forum, a program of talks that will take place under the theme “The Artist as X: A Series of Conversations on New Artistic Strategies.” (Press release)

A Possible Leonardo Is Staying in Switzerland – A Swiss court has ruled that the owner of a rarely seen 16th-century painting of a marquess once offered for a reported $123 million and possibly painted by Leonardo da Vinci was not imported illegally. Switzerland’s top court overturned a lower court’s decision that the owner of Portrait of Isabella d’Este needed to return the painting to Italy. (Bloomberg)

Malware-Infested Laptop Sells for $1.3 Million – How much would you pay for a virus-infested computer? One collector forked over $1.3 million. The computer in question is in fact an artwork created by the artist Guo O Dong and cyber-security company Deep Instinct. The work, The Persistence of Chaos, is loaded with six types of malware and was offered in an online auction. (BBC)


Kiasma Appoints a New Chief Curator – João Laia has been named chief curator of Helsinki’s Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma. He succeeds Marja Sakari, who is leaving the post to become the next director of Finland’s national gallery, the Ateneum Art Museum. (ARTnews)

MCA Chicago Names a New Curator – Carla Acevedo-Yates, who currently serves as associate curator of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, has been hired as a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. She begins her new role on July 1. (ARTnews)

Adrian Cheng Joins the MOCA LA Party – Billionaire philanthropist Nicolas Berggruen co-hosted a welcome party for Adrian Cheng, the Hong Kong developer and board member of multiple museums who joined MOCA’s board last fall. MOCA LA director Klaus Biesenbach, the other co-host, captured shots of the fête on Instagram and welcomed Cheng to the board of the museum in the collector’s “new favorite city.” (Instagram)


Three Female Artists on the Art That Inspires Them – Shirin Neshat, Judy Chicago, and Pia Camil are among the 50 artists interviewed in a new book called It Speaks to Me by Jori Finkel. Each reflects on art at a local museum that inspires them. Judy Chicago selects a work by Modernist abstract painter Agnes Pelton in the collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art: “Women like [Georgia] O’Keeffe and Pelton used abstraction to convey personal meaning, as opposed to just dripping paint on canvas or making circles like Ellsworth Kelly,” she says. (New York Magazine)

Amy Sherald Honors the Daughter of Her Heart Donor – The American artist, who had a heart transplant six years ago, had a touching reunion with the daughter of the donor this month. Amy Sherald attended the teen’s high-school graduation and posted an image of the happy occasion on Instagram, writing: “She has the same sparkle in her eyes as her momma! What a beauty! I am so proud of her. The emotions were really beyond words as I stood there in honor of her mother.” (Instagram)

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.