Art Industry News: The Official Plan to Save Venice From Flooding Has One Big, Wet Problem + Other Stories

Plus, Australia dedicates millions to restitution efforts and China has reportedly destroyed more than two-thirds of Uyghur mosques.

A general view shows a boy playing with his father to splash water in St. Mark's square in Venice on October 3, 2020 as a high tide "Alta Acqua" phenomenon was expected, following a peak of water following bad weather and potential intense sirocco winds along the entire Adriatic basin. The rise in water levels, expected to peak at midday on October 3, 2020, was limited by a new system of flood gates called the MOSES project. Photo by Miguel Medina/AFP/ 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 Wednesday, November 4.


China Has Reportedly Wrecked Two-Thirds Of Uyghur Mosques – The Australian Strategic Policy Institute has released a devastating report showing that, since 2017, the Chinese state has destroyed as much as 65 percent of the mosques and 58 percent of important Islamic sites in the Xinjiang region. The destruction is part of a concerted campaign to erase the Uyghur Muslim population in what many observers are calling a cultural genocide. (The Art Newspaper)

San Francisco Reinstates Plan for Public Sculpture – San Francisco has reappointed the artist Lava Thomas to design a monument to Maya Angelou in the city. Thomas’s design was first selected—and then rejected—last year, causing a schism between the local creative community and public officials. The bronze sculpture depicts a nine-foot-tall bronze book with the poet and civil rights activist’s portrait on one side and her words on the other. After months of pushback, the city was persuaded to accept her original design, which she will receive $250,000 to execute. “Black women should get to decide how we are going to be represented in the public realm, not politicians,” the artist said. (New York Times)

The Official Plan to Save Venice Has Problems – Venice’s new flood barriers, which were raised successfully for the first time in early October, aim to protect the city’s heritage sites from the devastating effects of high tide. There’s just one problem: raising them cuts off access for some cruise liners and cargo ships, so the threshold at which they are raised has been upped to 110 cm, even though they would need to come up at around 80 cm in order to protect the historic UNESCO World Heritage Site of St. Mark’s Square. (TAN)

Australia Sets Aside $7 Million for Restitution – The Australian government has committed some $7.2 million to helping overseas territories repatriate Indigenous artifacts to their original communities. The funds will go to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies for its Return of Cultural Heritage project. The new round of funding continues work began in 2018 that focused on international public collections, but the new phase will also look into private collections. (Art Asia Pacific)


How One Artist Is Selling Paintings Direct-to-Consumer – Mason Saltarrelli has been selling his abstract paintings on Instagram throughout lockdown. He posts them to his account @paper_fables every few weeks and sells them for $333 each via direct message. Saltarrelli explains that he wanted his art to be more accessible to consumers who aren’t familiar with the gallery system and who have a smaller budget to play with. And he’s not alone. (GQ)

Ansel Adams Trove Heads to Sotheby’s – More than 100 works spanning Ansel Adams’s career are headed to the block at Sotheby’s on December 14. The collection—among the largest private holdings of the American photographer’s work—was amassed by collector and Texas oil executive David Arrington. All told, the collection carries an estimate of $4.2 million to $6.2 million. (Art Market Monitor)

New Dates for ART X Lagos – After postponing in solidarity with the ongoing protests against police brutality, the international art fair in Nigeria will now open December 2 through 9. The fair’s fifth edition will take place online at ARTXLAGOS.COM, with the theme “Present States; Shared Futures.” (Press release)


Colby College Acquires Jacob Lawrence Print Series – Fifteen screen prints by American modernist Jacob Lawrence that depict the Haitian revolutionary Toussaint L’Ouverture have been acquired by the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine. (TAN)

Joan Mitchell Foundation Announces 2020 Grant Recipients – Twenty-five artists will receive $25,000 each as winners of this year’s Painters & Sculptors grants. The unrestricted funds from the late painter’s foundation are meant to assist artists who deserve more national attention in creating new work. Winners include Tomashi Jackson (Cambridge, MA); Caroline Kent (Chicago, IL); and Fred H. C. Liang (Boston, MA). (Artforum)


Grayson Perry Criticized for Comments Over Cultural Sector – The acclaimed British artist is in hot water after suggesting in a recent interview that the loss of jobs and audiences during lockdown could be a good thing for the arts because it might trim “the fat” and get rid of “dead wood.” The artist is being criticized as elite and out of touch; Perry says his comments were taken out of context. (Guardian)

The Untenability of Unethical Museums – Artnet News contributor Catherine G. Wagley looks at the scandals erupting at museums across the US this year, arguing that art institutions’ lack of desire to make room for those whose labor they rely on is untenable and that this untenability “has reached a grisly zenith.” (Momus)

Zanele Muholi Takes the Tate – Although its opening is in the UK is now delayed due to new lockdown measures, the South African photographer’s solo exhibition at Tate Modern has received rave early reviews. Muholi’s work, which focuses on celebrating Black queer lives in post-apartheid South Africa, is, Adrian Searle writes, “a lesson in visibility and also a provocation.” (Guardian)

Tate visitors pose in front of a self portrait photograph from an ongoing series entitled "Somnyama Ngonyama" by South African visual activist Zanele Muholi during a press view of an exhibition at the Tate Modern gallery in London on November 3, 2020. (Photo by HOLLIE ADAMS/AFP via Getty Images)

Tate visitors pose in front of a self portrait photograph from an ongoing series entitled “Somnyama Ngonyama” by South African visual activist Zanele Muholi during a press view of an exhibition at the Tate Modern gallery in London on November 3, 2020. (Photo by HOLLIE ADAMS/AFP via Getty Images)

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