Art Industry News: Critics Blast ‘Insensitive’ Proposal for a Virginia Woolf Statue Overlooking the Thames + Other Stories

Plus, Biden moves to protect cultural heritage site from drilling, and Oxford releases a list of stolen objects in its collection.

Virginia Woolf (ca. 1933) English critic, novelist and essayist. Photo by Central Press/Getty Images.
Virginia Woolf (ca. 1933) English critic, novelist and essayist. Photo by Central Press/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 22.


Oxford Releases List of Looted Benin Objects – Dan Hicks, curator at the Pitt Rivers Museum and author of The Brutish Museums, led the University of Oxford’s new report, which lists 145 objects in its collections as known to have been looted in the 1897 raid by British troops on the royal palace in Benin, in modern-day Nigeria. The Pitt Rivers Museum expects the report will lead to repatriations to the African nation. It includes 100 looted items that are in its collections, as well as 45 pieces on loan from private owners: 43 from the Dumas-Egerton Trust and two from Mark Walker. (TAN)

Teddy Roosevelt Statue Heads to North Dakota – New York City’s public design commission has at last decided what to do with the Teddy Roosevelt statue in front of the American Museum of Natural History. The bronze work, which depicts the former president on horseback with a Native American man and an African man at his side, will head to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in Medora, North Dakota, on long-term loan. An advisory council that includes representatives of Indigenous and Black people will decide how best to recontextualize the statue. (NYT)

Critics Seek to Relocate Virginia Woolf Statue – A proposed statue of the acclaimed 20th-century author is being questioned over its planned location, overlooking the River Thames, which critics called “insensitive and reckless.” Woolf committed suicide by drowning in a river. The group supports the memorial statue but is asking authorities to find a different site that doesn’t have the figure looking out onto the water. (Guardian) (Independent)  

Biden Moves to Block Drilling Near Cultural Sites in New Mexico – The Biden administration is seeking to block planned fossil fuel drilling within a 10 mile radius of Chaco Canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage site that was once a cultural center for the Indigenous Pueblo people. The 30,000-acre site in New Mexico is home to some of the U.S.’s most important Indigenous ruins. (The Art Newsaper)


Camille Henrot Joins Hauser and Wirth – The mega-gallery will represent the French multidisciplinary artist in collaboration with her long-time European dealers Kamel Mennour and König Galerie. (Press release)

Jude Law Cast in Lee Miller Biopic – The surrealist wartime photographer has a biopic of her life set to begin production in 2022, starring Kate Winslet. Jude Law will play her husband, Roland Penrose, in the film. (The Art Newspaper)

Swizz Beatz Launches Creative Agency in Saudi Arabia – The music producer and collector is expanding his empire into Saudi Arabia with a global creative agency called Good Intentions. It will work with young and undiscovered architects, designers, artists, filmmakers, writers, and other creatives from the region, where two thirds of the population are under 35. (WWD)


Check Out Stephen Friedman’s Zany David Shrigley Installation – You can participate in the “Mayfair Tennis Ball Exchange,” which opened in London on November 18. And if you bring an old tennis ball to the gallery, you will be able to swap it with one of the new ones lining the space. (Instagram)

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