Art Industry News: Rising Star Ashley James Is Appointed as the Guggenheim’s First Black Curator + Other Stories

Plus, Frieze LA plans a new section dedicated to young local galleries and Kristen Stewart encourages Shia LaBeouf to take up bro-ramics.

New Guggenheim associate curator Ashley James. Photo by Elle Pérez, courtesy of the Guggenheim.

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 Friday, November 15.


Kristen Stewart Advises Shia LaBeouf to Take Up Pottery The Hollywood A-lister Kristen Stewart offered some well-meaning advice to a fellow actor and anyone else feeling the blues. “Take a pottery class, like people in existential crisis do,” she told Shia LaBeouf. “They’re like, ‘take a pottery class about it!’” The suggestion came when LaBeouf revealed that he sometimes feels deeply dissatisfied with his life. Perhaps the answer really is on the wheel—he wouldn’t be the first artsy Hollywood bro to think so. It remains unclear whether Stewart knows about his forays into durational performance art. (Vulture)

LACMA’s Fundraising Has Stalled Fundraising to build the new Los Angeles County Museum of Art has stalled as costs have soared by $100 million, according to the Los Angeles Times. The paper cites inside sources who estimate the price tag of the Peter Zumthor-designed building is now $750 million. LACMA director Michael Govan remains upbeat in public, saying that pledges are “pushing $580 million,” and a spokesperson insists the target is still $650 million. But the newspaper’s art critic, Christopher Knight, thinks that some donors are reluctant to give because the new building will have less gallery space than the ones it will replace. He also isn’t a fan of the veteran Swiss architect’s design, which he describes as “aesthetically uninspired.” (Los Angeles Times)

The Guggenheim Hires Its First Black Curator – The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York has appointed its first full-time curator who is a black American. Ashley James has left the Brooklyn Museum, where she organized its presentation of “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” to become the Guggenheim’s associate curator of contemporary art. James arrives hot on the heels of the museum’s Basquiat show, which was guest-curated by the art historian Chaédria LaBouvier. “Ashley is a curator who has demonstrated incisive and intersectional thinking about contemporary artistic practice,” said Nancy Spector, the Guggenheim’s chief curator. James previously worked at MoMA as a Mellon Research Consortium fellow in its drawing and prints department. (ARTnews)

Egypt Cracks Down on Pyramid Climbers  Egypt is imposing bigger fines for vandalizing archaeological sites. Climbing a pyramid or messing with anything at an ancient site or in a museum could land you a $6,000 fine. Anyone caught trying to smuggle antiquities out of the country, meanwhile, could be imprisoned and fined up to $600,000. The country’s lawmakers are getting tough to tackle an increase in “thuggish acts toward Egyptian antiquities” by tourists and locals, said Suzy Nashed, a member of the legislative committee. (The Art Newspaper)


German Auction of Hitler Memorabilia Causes Outrage – Amid the rise of far right parties in Germany, the Munich-based auction house Hermann Historica’s decision to sell 147 items of Hitler and Third Reich memorabilia on November 20 has provoked outrage. A local rabbi has written to the auction house asking them to reconsider: “We believe the sale of such memorabilia has little intrinsic historical value but instead will be bought by those who glorify and seek to justify the actions of the greatest evil to affect Europe.” (Courthouse News)

Frieze Los Angeles Reveals Exhibitors and LA-Focused Section – The second edition of Frieze’s West Coast fair is ramping up, and it will host a special “Focus LA” section and a slew of first-time exhibitors. Expect to see some bold-faced names like David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, Gagosian, and Pace returning alongside newcomers including Gavin Brown, Gladstone Gallery, Skarstedt, and Xavier Hufkens. The new section will highlight galleries who’ve been up and running for less than 15 years in the metro area. (ARTnews)

Asian Collector Wins Auction Battle for a $6 Million Art Deco Bracelet Sotheby’s Geneva sold a Cartier sapphire and diamond bracelet to an Asian collector for $6.1 million, double its high estimate. The Art Deco-style bauble made in 1927 came from an Asian American collection. (Art Daily)


Ancient Cup Won by an Olympic Marathon Hero Comes Home – A German university has returned an ancient Greek drinking cup with a marathon history to Athens. The 6th-century BC wine vessel was presented as a prize to the winner of the first Olympics marathon, Spyridon Louis, who became a national hero in 1896. The cup turned up in a collection acquired by the University of Muenster in the late 1980s. (Courthouse News)

New York Dealer Tries to Block the Return of Alexander the Great Bust – The New York-based Safani Gallery has filed a lawsuit against Italy in an effort to block the repatriation of an ancient bust of Alexander the Great. The first century bust was seized from the gallery by the Manhattan DA back in February after it emerged that it was illegally exported from Italy after it was excavated. (ARTnews)

Maya Lin’s Eclipsed Time Clock Comes Down in New York – The artist’s clock sculpture is in the process of being removed from Penn Station in New York as the transit hub prepares for renovation. The artwork took nearly two months to install back when it was first brought to the terminal 25 years ago. It’s now headed for storage—and the MTA has not said whether it will be reinstalled when the station revamp is complete. (The Art Newspaper)

Torkwase Dyson Wins the Studio Museum Prize – The Brooklyn-based artist was awarded the Studio Museum’s $50,000 Wein Prize on Wednesday night. Dyson’s work engages with climate change, architecture, and how black and brown bodies interact with space and infrastructure. The prize recognizes an African American artist whose work makes a profound contribution to the art world and beyond. Previous winners include Simone Leigh, Diedrick Brackens, and Njideka Akunyili Crosby. (Artforum)


Earliest Known Dino-Bird With Tail Feathers Found in Japan Fossil Site – Scientists in Japan have just discovered the remains of the planet’s first-ever bird. The fossil of what is now being called the Fukuipteryx prima was unearthed in Japan, and unlike earlier discoveries, the skeletal fragments show the creature having the flight mechanism we see in modern species, in addition to tail feathers. The discovery was outlined in a study published this week and scientists are optimistic that the pigeon-sized animals will help them learn more about the species’ evolution. (Courthouse News)

Jorge Pérez Family Foundation Announces $2 Million of Grants – The Miami-based Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation has named the 23 winners of its new $2 million grant program, CreARTE. The awards were launched at the billionaire collector’s new art space, El Espacio 23, in Miami. The funding will support artists’ residencies, arts education, writing fellowships, and creative spaces. (Press release)

KAWS Does Qatar – KAWS’s world domination continues with his first major survey in the Middle East, which opens this week in Doha. The exhibition is organized by the veteran Italian curator (and inventor of the term Arte Povera) Germano Celant. In addition to an exhibition with more than 40 artworks on display at the Fire Station, KAWS’s gigantic inflatable Companion has been installed on the Dhow Harbor. As in Hong Kong, throngs of tourists and locals are lining up to snap a picture of the 120-foot-long character, who lays nonchalantly on the dock. (Designboom) 



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