Art Industry News: The Artist Behind the Notoriously Naked Mary Wollstonecraft Statue Says Critics ‘Missed the Point’ + Other Stories

Plus, Anselm Kiefer will create this century's first public commission for Paris's Pantheon and MoMA is honoring George Clooney.

Maggi Hambling, A Sculpture for Mary Wollstonecraft (2020). Photo by Ioana Marinescu.

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 Thursday, November 12.


Australian Women Artists Make 30 Percent Less Than Men – A new study reveals that female artists in Australia earn, on average, 25 percent less than their male peers—a number that rises to 30 percent when it comes specifically to the amount of money they earn from the art they make. The findings were released by the economics department at Macquarie University, which examined income data from 826 professional artists across disciplines in 2016 and 2017. The figures show that the arts lag sorely behind in closing Australia’s gender pay gap, which across all industries has narrowed to 13.9 percent in the past four years. (Guardian)

Inside the Black Market for West African Antiquities – The Nok Valley in Nigeria is the origin point for the illicit trade of West Africa’s oldest artworks. Antiquities traffickers pay local workers a pittance to dig up thousands of West African antique terra cotta figures, which were created between 900 BCE and 300 BCE in West Africa’s earliest known civilization, a society that stretches as far back as 1500 BCE. Once smuggled out of Africa, these valuable Nok figurines go on to circulate in the international art market as part of a multimillion-dollar industry. (All Africa)

The Artist Behind That Mary Wollstonecraft Statue Speaks Up – Maggi Hambling, the artist whose nude sculpture commemorating the feminist pioneer Mary Wollstonecraft has been sharply criticized after it was unveiled this week, says that critics have “missed the point” of the work. “The whole sculpture is called ‘for Mary Wollstonecraft’ and that’s crucially important,” Hambling says. “It’s not an idea ‘of’ Mary Wollstonecraft naked… the sculpture is for now.” She added that she made the figure naked because “clothes define people,” and the figure is meant to be “everywoman.” The artist also responded to criticism over her everywoman’s idealized body shape, saying, “as far as I know, she’s more or less the shape we’d all like to be.” (Evening Standard)

Edinburgh Commissions Review of Problematic Monuments – Edinburgh has appointed Sir Geoff Palmer, who became Scotland’s first Black professor when he was appointed to Heriot-Watt University in 1989, to lead a review of the Scottish capital’s statues and street names that are linked to slavery. Palmer will chair the Edinburgh Slavery and Colonialism Legacy Review Group, which will meet for the first time before the end of 2020. The group was created following Black Lives Matter protests over the summer that targeted monuments, such as the Melville monument in St Andrew Square, commemorating historical figures who played a role in the slave trade. (Edinburgh News)


Italian Auction House Sets a Record for Giorgio Vasari – Bidders set a record for a work by the 16th-century Italian painter Giorgio Vasari at the Italian auction house Pandolfini this week. Vasari’s The Temptations of San Girolamo, from the Italy-based Graetz Collection, sold for €800,000 ($942,000), more than two and a half times its low estimate. (Art Market Monitor)

Old Master Sales Are Looking Up – New York’s Old Master auctions this fall were boosted by a few top masterworks by names including Cranach, Gentileschi, and Van Dyck. The results bucked the downward trend of Old Master sales in part due to a surge of quality works being deaccessioned from institutions like the Brooklyn Museum. (Art Market Monitor)


MoMA Film Benefit to Honor George Clooney – The actor will be honored by the Museum of Modern Art on December 7 at the annual MoMA Film Benefit, presented by Chanel. The program will be virtual this year, and will feature a surprise musical performance. (The Hollywood Reporter)

Artistic Director Named for Aichi Triennale – Mami Kataoka, the chief curator of Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum, has been named artistic director of the 5th Aichi Triennale, slated to run in 2022. The exhibition will aim to make a comeback after a scandal-plagued year in 2019. (Art Asia Pacific)


Anselm Kiefer Will Enter Into Paris’s Pantheon The German artist has created the first public commission for the Paris museum since 1924. The installation will accompany permanent works by writer Maurice Genevoix and musician Pascal Dusapin. Kiefer’s contribution is six glass and steel showcases that depict different scenes from World War I. (Press release)

British Museum Works to Save Dying Skills – The British Museum’s Endangered Material Knowledge Program, launched in 2018, has been boosted by an £8.8 million ($11.6 million) grant from the charity Arcadia. The London institution is documenting centuries-old practices and traditions such as Kenyan beekeeping for the online database in an effort to preserve them before they are lost forever. (The Art Newspaper)

Artists Decorate the Stavros Niarchos Library in New York – The New York Public Library is working on a temporary art project at the new Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library. The two have commissioned the Soho Renaissance Factory, a collective of artists, to create a mural on the boarded-up facade. (Press release)

The Soho Renaissance Factory at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library. Courtesy New York Public Library.

The Soho Renaissance Factory at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library. Courtesy New York Public Library.

The Soho Renaissance Factory at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library. Courtesy New York Public Library.

The Soho Renaissance Factory at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library. Courtesy New York Public Library.

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