Art Industry News: Venice’s Mayor Says Catastrophic Floods Have ‘Destroyed’ the City With $1 Billion in Damage + Other News

Plus, former Marciano Foundation employees target Olivia Marciano and will BP end its corporate sponsorship of the arts?

A man walks in flooded St. Mark square in Venice, during
A man walks in flooded St. Mark square in Venice, during "acqua alta", or high water, of 160 centimetres (over five feet), on November 17, 2019. - Venice was braced on November 17 for an unprecedented third major flooding in less than a week, with sea water due to swamp the already devastated historic city where authorities have declared a state of emergency. (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP 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 18.


Marciano Protest Finds a New Target – A group of workers who were laid off from the now-shuttered Marciano Art Foundation after trying to unionize last week are turning their focus to a new target: Olivia Marciano, the artistic director of the Marciano Foundation and the daughter of Maurice Marciano, the foundation’s co-founder. To encourage her to address the problems facing the foundation, a small group of demonstrators assembled outside the LA nonprofit LAXART on Friday, where she sits on the board, and read an open letter to its stunned director, Hamza Walker. “As an ambassador for the art world, why isn’t Olivia standing by her employees and the public to ensure that a space like the Marciano Art Foundation remains open, protects workers’ rights, welcomes in the art community?” it read. The letter demands she is removed from the board if she does not address the foundation’s issues. Walker said he empathized with the protesters’ position and would look into next steps, though he remains unsure that Olivia Marciano’s presence on his board presents a conflict. (Los Angeles Times)

Is BP Going to Cut Arts Sponsorship? – As arts organizations face growing pressure over their ties to BP, the oil and gas giant is reevaluating its sponsorship policies, including its support of the Royal Opera House and the National Portrait Gallery. The company is soon expected to initiate a formal review its multimillion-pound sponsorship deals. Meanwhile, the scrutiny continues: members of Extinction Rebellion are expected to stage a protest at the British Museum’s new BP-supported exhibition, “Troy: Myth and Reality,” which opens November 19. The rumor is that a fake Trojan horse would be smuggled into the building for the occasion. (Times)

St. Mark’s Closes Amid More Venice Flooding – Venice’s famous St. Mark’s Square was forced to close on Friday after another exceptionally high tide further flooded the city. Italy has now declared a state of emergency for the UNESCO world heritage site. The city’s mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, told media that the city is “destroyed” after at least €1 billion in damage was caused last week following the first wave of floods. The government has so far released $22 million to help tackle the destruction. (AFP)

Guy Laliberté’s Art Pyramid Is No Longer Coming to Miami – An immersive pyramid art experience created by the Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté—yes, the same one who was recently busted for growing pot on his private islandwill no longer be traveling south after its Canadian premiere was a flop. PY1’s 50-minute laser and acrobatics show was due to come to Miami Beach just on time for Art Basel, but now pre-sale ticket-holders are being refunded due to what organizers are calling “unforeseen logistical circumstances.” (The Art Newspaper)


White Cube to Represent Kaari Upson – The blue-chip gallery is now representing the Los Angeles-based artist Kaari Upson. The artist’s sculptures, installations, drawings, paintings, performances, and videos often confront fantasy, memory, and psychological trauma. (Press release)

A Gold Coin Sells For… a Lot More Than a Coin – An American $4 gold coin just sold at the Whitman Baltimore Winter Expo for $204,000. The piece of currency, called a Stella, was introduced into circulation in 1879. (Art Daily)


London Opens a Vagina Museum – London opened the world’s first permanent museum dedicated to vaginas over the weekend. The Vagina Museum, located in Camden, aims to educate people about the female anatomy, as well as debunk harmful myths. Its founder, Florence Schechter, is a science teacher who hopes her museum will improve public health. (AFP)

Souls Grown Deep Partners With Four More Museums – The Souls Grown Deep Foundation, which helps museums acquire work by artists from the American South through a combination of gift and purchase, has cemented new acquisition agreements with the Asheville Art Museum, the Henry Art Gallery, the Toledo Museum of Art, and the Baltimore Museum of Art. The foundation has now brought 375 works by 100 artists to 20 institutions. (Press release)


Alfredo Jaar’s New Show Revisits the Rwandan Genocide – Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar traveled to Rwanda in the midst of its horrific genocide in 1994. The art he made in response, on view for the first time in the UK at Goodman Gallery, tackles an overwhelming subject by focusing on singular narratives. “This way people can identify with that person, and feel solidarity or empathy. Once you know the story, you cannot dismiss this image,” he says. In The Silence of Nduwayezu (1997), one million slides in a pile depict the eyes of 5-year-old boy who watched his parents be murdered and did not speak after the trauma. The poignant exhibition is on view until January 18. (TAN)

How MoMA Stays Quiet – More space often means more echo—but not at the newly revamped Museum of Modern Art in New York. You may not even notice them, but there are tiny micro-perforations in the wood in the museum’s galleries that are designed to absorb sound. The product was spearheaded by New York’s Cerami & Associates, the acoustic designers for MoMA’s revamp. (ARTnews)

Oscar Wilde’s Stolen Ring Found by “Art Detective” – The Dutch art detective Arthur Brand has done it again. For his latest recovery, Brand tracked down a long-lost golden friendship ring that was once owned by the writer Oscar Wilde. The ring, which is worth around $45,000, was stolen from Oxford University’s Magdalen College in 2002. It is now due to be handed back in a small ceremony on December 4. (AFP)

The ring said to have belonged to Oscar Wilde. Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images.

The ring said to have belonged to Oscar Wilde. Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images.

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