Art Industry News: Art Historian Claims Two Van Goghs in DC’s National Gallery of Art Are Fake News + Other Stories

Plus, the National Endowment for the Humanities funds the restoration of toppled statues and new Belgium art fairs are cancelled or postponed.

Attributed to Vincent van Gogh, The Zandmennik House. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, the Armand Hammer Collection.

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 2.


Experience Art Company Expands to New York and Dubai – Culturespaces, the French company behind immersive digital art experiences including Paris’s Atelier des Lumières, is expanding to New York and Dubai in 2021. In New York, it has partnered with the events and media company IMG to bring the Hall des Lumières to life in a former bank in Tribeca, which is expected to open in 2021 or 2022. In Dubai, Culturespaces has partnered with a Spanish company, Metra, to open a space in 2021 called Infinity des Lumières across two floors of the Dubai Mall featuring Van Gogh’s paintings in lights. (The Art Newspaper)

NEH Funds Restoration of Toppled Statues – The National Endowment for the Humanities is setting aside $90,000 to repair three statues that were damaged during the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer. The statues include a monument to Christopher Columbus in Baltimore, which was thrown into the city’s harbor on July 4; a statue of the abolitionist and Union Army colonel Hans Christian Heg in Madison, Wisconsin; and a replica of a 19th-century statue depicting a woman standing at the prow of a boat, also in Madison. The agency says it has allocated the funds in response to an executive order from Donald Trump that condemned the destruction of historical monuments. No Confederate monuments were included in the NEH funding package. (New York Times)

Does the National Gallery Own Two Van Gogh Fakes? – Art historian Yves Vasseur suspects that two sketches attributed to Vincent van Gogh at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, are fakes. The two drawings of houses were discovered in an attic in the Belgian mining town where Van Gogh worked as a preacher, and were donated to the gallery after they sold at auction in 1970 for £4,200 each. The sketches were authenticated by Van Gogh’s brother Theo’s son, Vincent Willem van Gogh, and were included in the 1970 de la Faille catalogue raisonné. Vasseur’s conclusions, which have been endorsed by the head of research at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, are detailed in his new book, Matters of Identity, which will be published by Yale University Press in January. (TAN)

The Artwashing of Sindika Dokolo – Since the African art collector Sindika Dokolo died last week in a scuba diving accident, press coverage has largely focused on his patronage of African art and his championing of restitution. But there has been less focus on his links, along with his wife, Isabel dos Santos, to a series of suspicious deals with the Angolan state. In an article published back in January now being recirculated online, writers Delinda Collier and Marissa Moorman argue, “Dokolo’s repatriation efforts and his patronage of African artists, no matter how sincere his interest, clean up his image while making art dependent on dirty money.” (Africa Is a Country)


Richard Saltoun Announces a Year of Hannah Arendt – Richard Saltoun gallery is dedicating its entire year of 2021 programming to the work of political philosopher Hannah Arendt. All of the gallery’s exhibitions, including shows by artist Everlyn Nicodemus, will take inspiration from Arendt’s book Between Past and Future, asking questions such as, “What is freedom?” and, “What is authority?” (Press release)

A Painting By Ed Sheeran Will Be Auctioned for Charity – An expressionistic painting by the pop star will be sold at a charity auction to raise money for children with special educational needs, high dependency disabilities, and life-limiting illnesses. The painting, Dab 2 (2020), is being sold as part of the “Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk Legacy Auction” online, which is open through November 8. As of this writing, it has attracted bids up to £3,600 ($4,600). (EADT)

Art Antwerp and Warehouse Fair Postponed – Just a few days after it was announced, Art Brussels has cancelled its new regional art fair, Art Antwerp, until it can be launched in “better times.” It is not the only art fair to fall victim to Belgium’s recently announced lockdown, as the Warehouse art fair, originally slated to take place November 13 through 15, has also been postponed until January 21–24, 2021. (InstagramPress release)


São Paulo Biennial Is Hosting a Pre-Biennial Show – Ahead of its postponed exhibition, the São Paulo Biennial is planning an in-person show this November that will serve as an “index” of its larger exhibition now pushed to next fall. Called “Vento,” it features the work of 21 artists, around half of whom will participate in the main exhibition. They include Alice Shintani, Ana Adamović, Eleonore Koch, Gala Porras-Kim, and Jacqueline Nova. (ARTnews)

ALIPH Adopts 29 New Heritage Conservation ProjectsThe Swiss foundation has announced 29 new heritage protection projects. A total of $11.5 million will be distributed to countries including Afghanistan, Yemen, and Mosul, Iraq to preserve cultural heritage under threat. (Press release)

STIK Re-Distributes Stolen Posters – After thousands of works by STIK that were meant for residents in Hackney, East London, were intercepted in the post and stolen, many have been returned. The street artist is now working to re-distribute the posters of his work Holding Hands, which are a gift to the borough. (Press release)


A Jewish Family Accuses Dutch Advisory Committee of Bias – A Jewish family is accusing an official advisory committee of bias in a 2018 ruling over the return of a €20 million painting by Wassily Kandinsky. The work was obtained by Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum during World War II after the original owner, Robert Lewenstein, fled to France. The heirs say the original decision, which determined that Lewenstein’s sale was voluntary, is compromised by the council’s relationship to the Stedelijk. (Guardian)

Takashi Murakami Transforms Children’s Hospital Room – A room with a CT/PET scanner in the Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC is now adorned with the Japanese artist’s signature flowers. (The scanner got a makeover, too.) The project was organized by Gagosian and RxArt. (Complex)

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