Art Industry News: Starchitect Jacques Herzog Says Creating Spectacular Buildings Is ‘Boring’ and ‘Stupid’ + Other Stories

Plus, artist Stanley Whitney prepares for a big year ahead and a new art foundation is opening in Luanda.

Jacques Herzog poses at the new extension to the Küppersmühle Museum in Duisburg, Germany in September 2021. (Photo by Bernd Thissen/picture alliance 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 Monday, November 1. 


Can Afghan Art Survive the Taliban? “It is not possible for the Taliban to live with art,” said Omaid Sharifi, an Afghan artist and activist among hundreds of creators who fled the country after the Taliban took over in August. Although the Taliban has not officially banned art, they have made efforts to eliminate it in order to, they say, make society more Islamic. As music schools shutter and public murals get painted over, many fear the erasure of two decades of vibrant culture that sprung up after the collapse of the last Taliban regime in 2001. (New York Times)

Meet the Grassroots Activists Pushing for Restitution – Behind the federal agencies that orchestrate the return of looted objects are regular people-turned-advocates who are passionate about reclaiming their heritage. The Nepal Heritage Recovery Campaign, a citizen-led organization formed by artists and cultural experts seeking the repatriation of looted Nepalese artifacts, successfully helped to bring home sculptures from the Dallas Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (NYT)

Herzog & de Meuron Sound Off – Ahead of the opening of their long-awaited Hong Kong museum M+, the architects Herzog & de Meuron gave a wide-ranging interview to the Guardian. Jacques Herzog, the most voluble of the practice’s partners, said he does not feel connected to the “starchitect” label even though his firm has done much to define the era of celebrity architecture. Herzog described the creation of spectacular icons as “boring” and “stupid”: “I always ask what contribution can you make?” he said. “Making something iconic is easy but to make it in a more subtle way, in a more sustainable way, is more important.” (Guardian)

Stanley Whitney’s Long Journey – The 74-year-old artist is preparing for perhaps the biggest year of his career. This month, he opens a solo show at Lisson Gallery in New York and unveils his first ever museum commission at the Baltimore Museum of Art’s new Matisse Center. A show of paintings he’s made in Italy since the early 1990s will be on view at the Palazzo Tiepolo Passi to coincide with the 2022 Venice Biennale followed by his first retrospective at the Buffalo AKG Art Museum in 2023. “It will be interesting to see what I’ve done,” the artist said. “You want to see if you can hang with the big boys.” (NYT)


Inhotim Taps New Artistic Director – Julieta González, who previously worked as a senior curator at Museo Jumex and Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, has been named artistic director of Inhotim in Brazil. She joins the sprawling museum and sculpture park as part of a broader restructuring that also sees the appointment of Lucas Pessôa and Paula Azevedo to leadership positions. (ARTnews)

New Art Space Opens in Luanda – Nesr Art Foundation, an institution dedicated to Angolan art, is opening in Luanda, the capital city of Angola, with a residency program that will host up to eight artists annually and a presentation of the private collection assembled by Wissam Nesr and his wife Hiba Nesr, the backers of the foundation. The couple belongs to the family behind the Webcor Group, one of Angola’s largest companies. (The Art Newspaper)

Gallerist Greg Kucera Is Leaving Seattle – Nearly 38 years after Greg Kucera Gallery opened its first exhibition, the eponymous dealer—a driving force in the Seattle art world—has decided to leave the city and move to a castle in southern France. The 65-year-old sold the gallery to his longtime employee Jim Wilcox and Wilcox’s wife, Carol Clifford. The gallery will continue under Kucera’s name and he will remain on board as co-director, but his involvement is expected to fade over time. (Seattle Times)


KAWS: HOLIDAY Heads to Singapore – The globe-trotting, Instagram-famous public sculpture is heading to Singapore this month after stops in Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, the U.K., and outer space (yes, really). The presentation, which will be held from November 13 to 21 at Marina Bay, is co-organized by Hong Kong-based agency AllRightsReserved and the Singapore Tourism Board. (Instagram)


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