Art Industry News: Rain Dove Scores a Rare Victory in the Art World’s War With Instagram to Free the Nipple + Other Stories

Plus, France has made little progress on colonial restitution and Hauser & Wirth indefinitely postpones an Annie Leibovitz show in Hong Kong.

Model Rain Dove walks on water during the Jacamo summer collection in London. (Photo by Lia Toby/Lia Toby/Getty Images for Jacamo)

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 25.


Michael Bloomberg Will Run for US President – The billionaire philanthropist, art collector, and former New York mayor has formally joined the US presidential race. Bloomberg tweeted on Sunday that he is running “to defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America.” Rumors that he would seek the Democratic nomination have been swirling for months. Ahead of the announcement, we took a look at Bloomberg’s track record of funding the arts as mayor and through his foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies. (BBC)

France’s Push for Restitution Is… Slow – Two years after France’s president made international headlines by pledging to return African art looted during the colonial era, little concrete action has been taken. Treasures from Benin still await legislation to allow their restitution, and a sword from Senegal is the only other object to be formally returned. The academic Felwine Sarr, the co-author of a radical report commissioned by Emmanuel Macron, says that “things are not moving as fast as we would have liked” in France. For now, the country maintains it will examine formal requests from African nations for specific objects, but otherwise will pursue alternative forms of exchange, like long-term loans. (New York Times)

Instagram Battles the Art World Over Nudity – Instagram’s prohibition on photographs that show female nipples continues to upset artists and anti-censorship activists. Last month, Free the Nipple campaigners met with representatives of the social media giant in New York. In the private meeting, the company listened to concerns but gave no indications that it was changing its policy. To test it, artist Micol Hebron posted a topless selfie she took outside the building ahead of the meeting. Her Instagram account was soon shut down. But Rain Dove, a gender-nonconforming model who does not consider their nipples to be female, did win a battle with Instagram. After threatening to take legal action, the company has allowed their bare-chested post to remain online. (New York Times)

German Food Company Returns Nazi-Looted Art – The family that owns the German food company Dr. Oetker has returned a painting to the heirs of a Jewish art collector who was murdered by the Nazis. The 19th-century painting by Carl Spitzweg belonged to Leo Bendel, who was forced to sell art when he fled Berlin for Vienna during WWII. His wife, who was not Jewish, survived but never succeeded in recovering his art. The company, which began researching its extensive Nazi links in 2015, has now returned seven works to various heirs, including a portrait by Anthony van Dyck. (The Art Newspaper)


Louis Vuitton Buys Tiffany for $16 Billion – After months of rumors and negotiations, it’s official: the French billionaire art collector Bernard Arnault’s luxury giant LVMH has bought the jewelry brand Tiffany & Co for $16 billion. “We look forward to ensuring that Tiffany continues to thrive for centuries to come,” Arnault said in a statement. (BBC

Hauser & Wirth Postpones a Hong Kong Show – The gallery has indefinitely postponed a planned Annie Leibovitz show scheduled to open in Hong Kong this month as pro-democracy protests continue. (The postponement came days before Hong Kong’s elections, in which a surge of turnout from young people drove decisive gains for democracy advocates on local councils.) Announcing the delay, the gallery said it “will find an opportunity to present this wonderful exhibition at our Hong Kong gallery in the future.” The show is the first comprehensive exhibition in Asia devoted to the early work of the photographer. (ARTnews)

Expo Chicago 2020 Names Section Curators – Marcella Beccaria, the chief curator of Italy’s Castello di Rivoli contemporary art museum, and Humberto Moro, the deputy director of the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, will organize sections at Expo Chicago in the fall of 2020. Beccaria will oversee a display of large-scale installations, while Moro will curate a section dedicated to galleries 10 years old and younger. (Press release)

Nara Roesler Will Represent JR – Rio de Janeiro’s Galeria Nara Roesler will represent the French street artist and photographer in Brazil. The artist has longstanding links to the country and city: he is the founder and director of Casa Amarela, a cultural project in a Rio favela. (Press release)


An Art Center Opens in Togo – The West African nation of Togo opened a flagship arts center on Friday after a sweeping multi-million renovation of its historic building, a palace formerly occupied by French and German colonial powers. The opening of the museum, which is dedicated to artists from Tojo and across the continent, comes as the country vies for a spot in the ascendant African art scene. (AFP)

The Huntington Names New Vice President  Janet Alberti will become the vice president and chief financial officer of the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in mid-January 2020. She currently serves as the deputy director of finance and administration at SFMOMA. (Press release)


Michelangelo’s Pietà Will Be Conserved in Public – As experts continue to restore Rembrandt’s The Night Watch in full view of visitors at the Rijksmuseum, it seems conservation as a spectator sport is all the rage. The next high-profile patient to go under the knife is Michelangelo’s Pietà. The legendary sculpture will be restored before the public at Florence’s Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, where conservators will work on a stage installed around the base of the sculpture. (TAN)

Russia and Europe Will Organize a Joint Show – A major exhibition opening in November 2020 called “Diversity United” will see 200 works by 81 artists from 35 countries examine modern European identity, including responses to the 30-year anniversary to the fall of the Berlin Wall and Brexit. The show is organized by the Foundation for Art and Culture in Bonn, Germany, and Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery. Supporters of the project include Russian president Vladimir Putin, German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and the French president Emmanuel Macron. (TAN)

Van Gogh’s Sunflowers Is Leaving the UK for the Third Time in 100 Years – Van Gogh’s 1888 painting is traveling to Australia in 2020, where it will be shown at Canberra’s National Gallery of Australia. The museum will present Sunflowers in the traveling show “Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London,” which opens November 13, 2020, after stops at two previously announced Japanese venues. (TAN)

The Venice Biennale Closes With 600,000 Visitors – The 58th Venice Biennale closed on Sunday, November 24 with a send-off by its artistic director Ralph Rugoff and the Biennale’s president Paolo Baratta (as well as a performance by Solange) as the city continues to recover from devastating floods. A total of 600,000 visitors attended the exhibition during its run, 32 percent more than the 2017 edition. Celebrity visitors included Brad Pitt (accompanied by the sculptor Thomas Houseago), Julie Andrews, and Tim Robbins. (Press release)

Paolo Baratta, president of Biennale of Venice, and Ralph Rugoff (right), curator of the 58th Venice Biennale Art, announce a 32 percent increase in visitor numbers. November 24, 2019 in Venice, Italy. Photo: Luca Zanon/Awakening/Getty Images.

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