Art Industry News: Museum of Natural History Sued Over Expansion Plans + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, Warsaw launches a new gallery share initiative and artist John Baldessari guest stars on the Simpsons.

The American Museum of Natural History, New York, in 2013. Photo by Ingfbruno, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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, April 2. Scroll down for a correction appended to today’s edition. 


Tate Staff Are Getting Their Own Art Show — Staff from all four British Tate galleries—Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool, and Tate St Ives—are getting their very own show at the Tate Modern. “Inside Job,” as the exhibition is called, will feature work by 135 employees in all. “I don’t know if staff will be critical of each other’s work at the launch, but I’m sure they will be in the pub afterwards,” said Lee Edwards, a retail assistant at Tate Britain, who contributed a still life of a piece of moss to the show. (Guardian)

Filmmaker Leaves MassArt After Dispute Over Artwork – Avant-garde filmmaker Saul Levine has stepped down after four decades as a professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, following anonymous complaints when he screened his film After Long Silence (1989) to his senior thesis class, which features images of the artist and a partner engaged in sex. In a Facebook Live video on Thursday, Levine alleged that administrators had attacked him “as an artist, as an educational professional, as a programmer, but mainly as an artist.” The incident comes after the photographer Nicholas Nixon retired from the school last week amid complaints of sexual harassment. (Artforum)

Preservationists Sue to Stop Natural History Museum Expansion – The park preservation group Community United is asking a Manhattan judge to stop the American Museum of Natural History from building atop Theodore Roosevelt Park. The city’s Parks Department previously granted the 17.5-acre park to the museum to build its 203,000-square-foot Richard Gilder Center, but the group says it misinterpreted the law in doing so. (New York Post)

Inside Nigeria’s Emerging Art Scene – The FT has released an in-depth report on the ascendant Nigerian art scene, including a round-up of hot young artists to watch, a survey of galleries and pop-ups that are making Lagos a hub for emerging talent, and an introduction to minimalist designers boosted by the country’s rising middle class. (Financial Times)


Warsaw Launches New Gallery-Share Initiative – Poland’s capital city is launching a gallery swap initiative akin to Condo, in which dealers offer up their spaces to like-minded programs in different cities. Seven galleries participating in Warsaw’s new Friend of a Friend exchange will host dealers from Prague, Berlin, The Hague, New York, London, and beyond from April 7–28. (ARTnews)

Inside Banksy’s Money-Making Empire – How does the legendarily secretive street artist make money? The answer is probably “the private sale of unique artworks to select clients through Pest Control,” his own private sales arm. That means you cannot get a Banksy on the primary market, but also that he can fund his lavish projects through just a few sales, because he doesn’t split a cut with a private dealer. (Artspace)

Christie’s to Sell a Ganz Picasso – Christie’s New York will sell a Pablo Picasso self-portrait previously owned by the celebrated and savvy collectors Victor and Sally Ganz this May for an estimated $70 million. Le Marin (1943) depicts the artist wearing his signature striped sailor shirt and a world-weary expression that reflects his despair at the outbreak of the war in Europe. (Art Market Monitor)

Asia Week Rakes In $169.8 Million – The figure includes total sales generated during New York’s 10-day Asian art extravaganza from 41 out of the 45 participating galleries and four auction houses: Bonhams, Christie’s, Doyle, and Sotheby’s. The total is down significantly from last year’s record high of $423 million. The 2017 figure was buoyed by a major sale of art from the Fujita Museum at Christie’s. (Press release)


LA Gets a Museum of Selfies – The museum opened inside a former department store in Glendale, Los Angeles, on April 1. The brainchild of designers Tommy Honton and Tair Mamedov, the interactive displays provide ample photo ops, including Van Gogh’s bedroom in Arles, complete with a bed you can actually crawl into. The pop-up exhibition is “educational,” too, offering tips to take the perfect selfie in lieu of traditional wall text. Note: Natural lighting is key. (Guardian)

Mickalene Thomas to Make Public Art for Milwaukee – The New York-based artist has received her first major public sculpture commission as part of Sculpture Milwaukee, a festival of public art that returns from June to October 2018, featuring some 23 artworks from local and international artists. Though some “contractural issues” arose with the commission on Saturday, Sculpture Milwaukee said it was hoping to resolve them ASAP to make way for the hotly anticipated piece. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

John Baldessari Nabs a Guest Spot on The Simpsons The Los Angeles-based artist joined an elite group of cultural figures last week: those that have made guest appearances on The Simpsons. (Others include Art Spiegelman, Frank Gehry, and Shepard Fairey.) Baldessari made a brief visit to Springfield in a flashback scene during which a young Marge—then a reporter for the Springfield Shopper—sought to interview him. (Apollo)


How Sloan Kettering Uses Art Inside Its Cancer Center – Meet Jay Davis, an artist and curator at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s four regional branches, who is rehabilitating the idea of what “hospital art” can be. Although Davis accepts donations for work, “he does not accept any giclée prints of a certain kind of hospital kitsch—things like sunsets or a person sitting on the edge of a marsh.” (ARTnews)

Denmark Unveils First Public Sculpture of a Black Woman The artists Jeannette Ehlers and La Vaughn Belle have unveiled I Am Queen Mary, a statue of Mary Thomas, a 19th-century leader of the “Fireburn” revolt against Danish colonial rule in the Caribbean. The 23-foot-tall figure bears a torch in one hand, and a tool used to cut sugar cane in the other. “This project is about challenging Denmark’s collective memory and changing it,” Belle said. (New York Times)

See a Rendering of LA’s High-Profile Synagogue Addition – The highly anticipated design “is generated from a respect to the existing structure,” says the architect Shohei Shigematsu of Rem Koolhaas’s studio OMA. The 55,000-square-foot Audrey Irmas Pavilion, an event space funded in large part by Irmas’s sale of a Cy Twombly “blackboard” painting in 2015, will stand just to the east of Los Angeles’s historic Jewish temple. It is expected to be complete by 2020. (Los Angeles Times)

A rendering of the new Audrey Irmas Pavilion next to the Wilshire Boulevard temple. Photo: OMA.

UPDATE, April 2: Okay, Monopol, you got us. The German site ran a very convincing story about Chris Dercon being chosen as the director of the upcoming documenta 15, publishing it on Sunday (also known as April Fool’s Day). This roundup originally included that story, the humor of which was so dry as to be almost imperceptible. (Plus, we think Chris Dercon could do a pretty good job.) And here we thought we were the prankers.

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