Art Industry News: Can the Whitney Show Resuscitate Warhol’s Flagging Art Market? + Other Stories

Plus, the art world raises its eyebrows over a museum-director swap and Art Basel Hong Kong announces its participants for next year.

Andy Warhol's "Campbell's Soup" at Sotheby's auction house in London on March 15, 2013. (LEON NEAL/AFP/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 this Thursday, November 1. 


Art World Raises Eyebrows Over Museum Director Job Swap – Not everyone is impressed with the news that the former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas Campbell, is taking over from his successor Max Hollein at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The surprise switcheroo corroborates some critics’ belief that the art world is as insular as ever. “What it signals is a complete lack of imagination,” said Tom Eccles, the executive director of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. (NYT)

Artist Paints a Dove on Francisco Franco’s Tomb – The Spanish artist Enrique Tenreiro was detained after spray painting a blood-red dove (a classic motif of Picasso) and the words “For Freedom” on the dictator’s tomb in Spain as a form of protest against the late dictator. The act has reignited a fierce debate in Spain over the future of the Valley of the Fallen, where Franco is buried surrounded by the graves of thousands who died in the Spanish Civil War. (New York Times)

Can a Whitney Show Get the Warhol Market Out of Its Rut? – The New York museum is opening a big Andy Warhol survey next month. But can a nuanced exhibition that will try to show an unfamiliar side of the pop artist actually reinvigorate his tired market? Yes, in the past year, at least four private sales of Warhols were reportedly brokered for more than $120 million each, including the late Si Newhouse’s Orange Marilyn to hedge-funder Ken Griffin for more than $200 million. But despite several notable private transactions, Warhol’s annual public auction sales actually declined 59 percent in 2017 and have slowed substantially from their 2014 peak. (Bloomberg)

UK Museums’s Brexit Fears Are Revealed – The Victoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum in London are both concerned about the import taxes they may be facing if there is a no-deal Brexit. In memos obtained through Freedom of Information requests, the V&A warned it could face an inflated bill of £25 million (around $32 million) in import taxes, making blockbuster exhibitions far more expensive to organize. (Evening Standard)


Paris’s La Biennale Paris Changes Dates – The 2019 edition of the antiquities fair, which has lost a number of exhibitors in recent years, will be held from September 13 to 17, one week later than previous editions at the Grand Palais. Formerly the Biennale des Antiquaires (Antiques Biennale), the fair was retitled La Biennale Paris and became an annual event in 2017. It said it moved the dates to accommodate requests from dealers. (Press release)

Art Basel Hong Kong Releases 2019 Exhibitor List – Around 240 galleries will participate at the next edition, which runs from March 29 through 31 next year. Many notable names are exhibiting for the first time, including New York’s Paula Cooper Gallery and Luhring Augustine, which will present a solo booth of work by Christopher Wool. Notably, the painter was also the subject of a show of work owned by collector Tom Hill during last year’s fair. (Press release)


Agnes Gund Wins Philanthropy Innovator Award – The esteemed arts patron and collector has been named this year’s “philanthropy innovator” in the Wall Street Journal’s “Innovators” issue, which looks at important figures across the fields of art, fashion, design, and more. Gund, who is the president emerita of MoMA, created the Art for Justice Fund in 2017, a criminal justice organization focused on reducing mass incarceration in the US. (Press release)

Seattle Museum Director Announces Her Retirement – Kimerly Rorschach is stepping down as director of the Seattle Art Museum in the fall of 2019 after seven years at the helm. She will leave after the now-underway $54 million renovation of the Seattle Asian Art Museum is complete. (Press release)

Detroit Arts Organizations Get $20 Million – The Knight Foundation is donating $2.5 million to the Detroit Institute of Arts and $500,000 to the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit so that they can connect to new audiences using new technology. The grants are part of the nonprofit’s $20 million investment in the city’s arts organizations through 2023. (Detroit Free Press)

Absolut Launches a New Art Competition – The winner of the competition created by the vodka company will receive $23,000 in prize money and see their work displayed in New York’s Times Square and London’s Piccadilly Circus. The company is searching 20 countries to find an “iconic creative voice.” (Press release)


Mika Rottenberg Gets Her First Major New York Survey – Following her mini-survey at the new Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art in London, Rottenberg will get a big show at New York’s New Museum next June. The artist, who is interested in the economics of production, filmed her latest piece at the CERN laboratory. She calls it an “antimatter factory” where people are making things that “they’re not really sure what they are.” (Washington Post)

Jeremy Deller Will Create a Monument to a Historic Massacre – The Turner Prize-winning artist will create a circular memorial in Manchester to mark the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre. Due to be unveiled next year, the $1.3 million memorial will feature the names of the 11 protesting workers killed by troops in 1819 as well as the towns and villages in the North of England where they came from. (BBC)

Little Cloud Will Be a Big Star in the Macy’s Parade – LA-based artists Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval of the collective FriendsWithYou have been selected to take part in the 92nd Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. They will unveil their cute Little Cloud, which stands 22 feet tall and 30 feet wide, in the streets of Manhattan on November 22. (Press release)

Rendering of Little Cloud by FriendsWithYou in the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

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