Art Industry News: Grimes, Pop Star and Neuroscience Fan, Warns That ‘We’re at the End of Human Art’ + Other Stories

Plus, Prince Charles returns a Maori cloak to New Zealand and MOCA in Los Angeles prepares to go free on January 11.

Grimes in Los Angeles in 2019. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Roc Nation )
Grimes in Los Angeles in 2019. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Roc Nation )

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 21.


Francesco Bonami Launches “Ask a Curator” Column – The former Venice Biennale curator has a new monthly column in which he aims to elucidate the often imitated, never duplicated profession. Asked how much power curators really have, he says: “You can delude yourself you are powerful, but when circumstances change, you could be very disappointed. Look at Paul Schimmel or Beatrix Ruf.” On the subject of studio visit etiquette, Bonami says that he tries to avoid them unless he is sure he likes the artist’s work. And if he can’t stand it, he keeps quiet, looking at “every detail.” Artists don’t like the truth, he says. (ARTnews)

MOCA to Go Free in January – The Los Angeles museum has announced that it will be free to the public beginning January 11. But there’s a lot to sort out ahead of the potentially game-changing move. Museum membership needs revamping and front-of-house staff need to be hired and trained to cope with the expected rise in attendance. The LA Times asks director Klaus Biesenbach what will happen when board president Carolyn Powers’s $10 million gift, which has made free entry possible for at least the first five years, is spent. “You either find a new donor, that is an option, or you develop a different way of financing the museum,” the director says. (Los Angeles Times)

Grimes Says That Robots Will Soon Make All the Art – The Canadian singer, producer, and artist known as Grimes thinks that Artificial Intelligence “will totally master art and science” in the near future. She knows what she is talking about: Claire Boucher, aka Grimes, studied neuroscience at McGill University in Montreal. (For what it’s worth, she also used to date Elon Musk.) Speaking with theoretical physicist Sean Caroll on a podcast recently, she opined: “Once there’s actually AGI (Artificial General Intelligence), they’re going to be so much better at making art than us…. We’re at the end of human art.” (MTV)

Prince Charles Returns a Maori Cloak – The heir to the British throne has returned a Moari cloak to New Zealand in an unprecedented ceremony. Originally a gift to Queen Victoria, the cloak was handed over at a ceremony in which Prince Charles touched on the colonization of the nation by the British. He acknowledged the “wrongs of the past” and the pain felt by many, but he stopped short of apologizing for the mistreatment of the Maori people. Courtiers handed over the flax cloak originally given to Queen Victoria by the Maori chief Reihana Taukawau when he visited England in 1863. It will be displayed at the Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi on long-term loan. (New Zealand Herald)


Lisson Now Represents the Estate of Hélio Oiticica – The estate of the influential Brazilian artist is now represented by Lisson Gallery. In fall 2020, the gallery will stage an Oiticica show across its two New York spaces. The estate of the artist, who helped define modern Brazilian art, was previously represented by Galerie Lelong. (ARTnews)

US Tariff on Print Is Hurting the Art Trade – Donald Trump’s import tariff on printed materials—which came into effect on October 25—is bad news for American collectors, who must pay an extra 25 percent tax on British or German lithographs, as well as design and photography prints created in the past 20 years. American galleries are also concerned about the impact on artists working in the UK or Germany. “It will put a halt on works by artists like Nan Goldin being imported,” said Frish Brandt, the president of Fraenkel Gallery of San Francisco. (TAN)


Art Bridges Names Board Members – Art Bridges, the organization dedicated to expanding access to American art in communities across the country, has revealed a power-packed board. Members include Rod Bigelow, executive director of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; Glenn D. Lowry, director of MoMA; and Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. The nonprofit’s founder, Alice Walton, will be board chair. (Press release)

MCA Chicago Gala Raises $6 Million – Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art just held one of its most successful fundraisers ever, pulling in $6 million at its benefit art auction on November 16. Work by artists including Nick Cave, Rashid Johnson, and Judy Chicago went up for sale; the priciest lot was a Richard Prince painting (donated by the artist), which sold for $1.2 million. (AP)

Hyundai Motorstudio Beijing Announces Prize Winners – The annual prize, which grants curators just over $85,000 to create an exhibition in 2020, has been awarded. Hyundai’s Blue Prize for Creativity went to the Hangzhou-based curator duo Chen Min and Zhang Yehong; its Blue Prize for Sustainability was given to Shanghai-based curator Chen Jiaying. (Art Asia Pacific)


Architecture Biennial Considers Why Cities Are All Protesting – This year’s Chicago Architecture Biennial is looking at the consequences of urban inequity as manifested through the widespread protests in Chile, Hong Kong, and elsewhere. On view until January 5, the exhibition, titled “…And Other Such Stories,” includes such thought-provoking contributions as Berlin-based artist Clemens Von Wedemeyer’s Transformation Scenario, which hybridizes footage of real crowds with CGI crowds to explore crowd control in police-training software. (LA Times)

Leo Castelli’s Path to the Top of the Market – In a deep art-historical dive, Greg Allen explores how previously unexamined financial machinations by some of the art market’s biggest names—legendary dealer Leo Castelli and collectors Ethel and Robert Scull—around Map, a work by Jasper Johns, helped shape the course of both art and the market for decades to come. The story behind the Sculls’s purchase and eventual gift of the painting to the Museum of Modern Art has enough twists and turns to keep you riveted for a very long commute. (ARTnews

Mickalene Thomas Shares the Wealth in Her New Show – In her new solo exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art, “A Moment’s Pleasure,” the artist has decided to share the spotlight, inviting eight Baltimore-affiliated, African American artists she admires to show alongside her in the galleries. Derrick Adams, whom Thomas has known for years, and Devin N. Morris, a younger artist who has not yet shown in a major institution, are among those added to the exhibition, which opens on November 24 and is on view until May 2021. (NYT)

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