Art Industry News: Researchers Have Found DNA on Leonardo Drawings—And They Are Not Ruling Out That It Could Be From the Master Himself + Other Stories

Plus, the Met will project an artist's love letter to New York onto its façade and activists are memorializing art from the Black Lives Matter movement.

Leonardo da Vinci, Self-Portrait (1512–15). Photo by DeAgostini/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 Thursday, November 26.


What Will Joe Biden’s Cultural Policy Be? – There are some early signs that culture could play a central part in Joe Biden’s administration, as the incoming president of the US is reportedly in talks to reinstate a White House office dedicated to the arts and humanities. The committee resigned en masse under Trump in 2017, and arts bodies are hoping Biden’s team goes beyond just reinstating the committee, and forms a cabinet level position for the arts. “We think it’s time to create the White House Office on Arts and Culture—and it would be, by the way, a de facto cultural ministry,” the co-chair of the campaign’s Arts Policy Committee says. (The Art Newspaper)

The Met Will Project a Film By James Nares Onto Its Façade – For the first time in its 150-year history, the Met will project a film onto the outside of its building. James Nares’s Street, a love letter to New York City, filmed on its streets in 2011, will be shown on the museum’s South-facing wall in Central Park. It will be shown three times each night from Friday, November 27 through Sunday, November 29, starting at 5 p.m., with the dreamy score available to listen to over WiFi or radio. “Nares’s Street is a mesmerizing time capsule of New York City before it was so dramatically altered by the pandemic,” Met director Max Hollein said of the screening. (Press release)

Researchers Find DNA on Leonardo Drawings – A multidisciplinary research group has found traces of fungi and bacteria, and crucially, DNA, on drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. But hopes that we may have finally found the key to authenticating works by the Renaissance master are likely to be dashed as the researchers believe that it is most likely to be from conservators who have handled the drawings over the years. They are not, however, ruling out the possibility that the genetic material could have remained on the paper since the Renaissance. (El País)

How Theaster Gates Has Reclaimed the Stains of American History – In his first New York solo with Gagosian, Theaster Gates has deployed techniques used by Black laborers and artisans to create a new series of abstract works using tar. The tar paintings invoke the US history of racial injustices—tar, which is difficult to wash off, was used as a police technology during slavery. It has an even more personal connection to Gates as well—his father was a roofer. “America’s past is irredeemable, as difficult to wash off as tar,” writes critic Yinka Elujoba, “One hopes that with his gesture, a part of its future might still be salvaged.” (New York Times)


Alison Jacques Now Represents Sophie Barber – London’s Alison Jacques Gallery has added the painter Sophie Barber to its roster. Barber is known for her folk-like compositions that reproduce natural and man-made fragments from her surroundings on the Sussex coast in the UK into monumental block-color canvases. (Press release)

Outsider Art Fair Becomes a Citywide Event – The Outsider Art Fair is expanding its 2021 edition in January to multiple locations across New York City. The 29th edition of the fair will be a hybrid event running January 28 through February 7 online and in-person across several host galleries, including Hirschl & Adler, Shin Gallery, and Andrew Edlin. (Press release)

A Charity Auction Benefits Berlin’s Art Scene – The first iteration of Direkte Auction launches today and runs until November 28, including more than 300 works of art and artifacts from studios, galleries, and private collections from Berlin. The project involved 21 teams of curators and features emerging artists as well as secondary market pieces by Neo Rauch, Banksy, and Rosemarie Trockel. (Press release)


Artists Split the Jarman Award – Six shortlisted artists will split the £12,000 ($16,000) London film award for the first time in its 13-year history. The winners include artist duo Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings. (Press release)

Philadelphia’s University of the Arts Vote to Unionize – A staggering 99 percent of the faculty at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia have voted to join the United Academics of Philadelphia union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. The union election with the National Labor Relations Board was conducted after the school’s president declined to voluntarily recognize a union when the art professors first declared their intention to unionize in September. (Hyperallergic)


How to Learn More About Native American Heritage Month – There are several shows and museums to visit to learn more about Native American heritage in November, including the online exhibition “When I Remember I See Red: American Indian Art and Activism” in Los Angeles until January 2021 in The Autry Museum of the American West. (The Art Newspaper)

Cuban State Department Detains Protesting Artists – A group of artists, musicians, curators, and poets are being held hostage in an apartment in Old Havana surrounded by Cuban state security. They are afraid they will be detained if they try to leave and have been denied access to food and supplies. Two of the artists, including Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, have been on a hunger strike for the past 140 hours. The group had been protesting the arrest of a young Cuban rapper when they were sequestered. (Hyperallergic)

Minneapolis Preserves BLM Public Art – In the six months since George Floyd’s murder, activists Kenda Zellner-Smith and Leesa Kelly collected more than 590 plywood boards from around Minneapolis and St. Paul to preserve the creative artifacts of the historic civil rights movement. They have taken a one-year lease in the Twin Cities to store the protest boards while they plan an exhibition of the pieces for the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death, on May 25, 2021. (WBAL)

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