Art Industry News: Houston Museum Discovers It Has a Velázquez Painting Hiding in Plain Sight + Other Stories

Plus, the Library of Congress honors Popeye and David Kordansky Gallery adds two star artists to its roster.

Kitchen Maid (c. 1620) has been newly attributed Diego Velázquez.

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 this Thursday, November 8.


Revisiting the Transgressive Work of Leonor Fini – An artist who showed with the Surrealists, the ever-provocative Leonor Fini is getting some posthumous recognition at an institution she may have enjoyed: New York’s Museum of Sex, which is showing her paintings and drawings, including illustrations for the Marquis de Sade’s Juliette. A shameless exhibitionist, Fini loved to shock guests at formal events in her outlandish (and often skimpy) costumes. (New York Times)

Chinese Satirist’s Talk Canceled at Hong Kong Arts Center – The new Tai Kwun arts centre in Hong Kong has canceled a talk by a British-based Chinese writer who is barred from mainland China. Ma Jing, who was due to speak at a prestigious literary festival alongside authors including Geoff Dyer, is known for the novel China Dream, a scathing satire of contemporary China that features an ambitious mayor, corrupt businessmen who suddenly disappear, and unheroic peasants. (South China Morning Post)

Houston Museum Discovers It Has a Painting by Velázquez – The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston has come to the conclusion that a work in its collection that had previously been described as “in the style of Velázquez” is in fact by the artist himself. New research and conservation efforts, which involved removing layers of wax, resin, and repainting, convinced experts that Kitchen Maid is indeed the work of the Spanish master. (TAN)

The Library of Congress Honors Popeye and GI Joe – Cartoon superheroes, comic books, and pulp fiction are being celebrated by the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Steve Geppi, who has donated his 3,000-work-strong collection, hopes that his gift will elevate the status of comic books and pop culture. The library already holds the world’s largest collection of comic books. (NYT)


David Kordansky Picks Up Two More Artists – David Kordansky Gallery, which is currently undergoing an expansion, will represent the sculptor Huma Bhabha and the artist Lauren Halsey. Bhabha, who will continue to work with New York’s Salon 94, created the rooftop commission at the Met this year and has a survey next year at the ICA, Boston. Halsey won the prestigious Mohn Award for her piece in the Hammer Museum’s 2018 “Made in LA” biennial. (ARTnews)

Antique Portraits Are Secretly a Great Deal – Looking for a stately addition to your home? Consider portraits from the 18th and 19th centuries, which run anywhere from a few hundred to millions of dollars and can “bring chic gravitas to your décor.” Just don’t expect the Mona Lisa: As it turns out, “smiling could be seen as breaking with decorum,” says Sarah Moulden, curator of 19th-century collections at the National Portrait Gallery in London. (Wall Street Journal)

Independent Brussels Goes Big on Performance and Design – The art fair, which opens to VIPs today, has added a performance art strand. Ahead of the premier of his Vessel Orchestra at the Met Breuer in 2019, Oliver Beer has created a new performance to debut at the fair. The event is also embracing design, with works by Modernist masters such as Jean Prouvé and Le Corbusier. (Press release)


Contemporary Arts Museum Houston Names New Curator  Rising-star curator Rebecca Matalon will join the museum in January after five years at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Matalon is one of the co-founders of JOAN, an important nonprofit in LA that focuses on the work of under-recognized artists. (Houston Chronicle)

Dallas Museum of Art Gets a $4 Million Gift – Dedicated patrons Beverly and Donald S. Freeman have donated $4 million to the institution. The gift will go towards the Freeman Family Exhibition Endowment, which will finance one special exhibition each year. (Artforum)

Hyundai’s Blue Prize Names Winners – The creativity prize went to curator Wei Ying and the sustainability prize has been awarded to artist and curator Long Xingru. Each winner of the awards dedicated to pioneers in art and innovation will be granted 600,000 Chinese yuan ($87,000) by the car company, as well as paid travel to international art institutions for research. (Art Asia Pacific)

Collector and Philanthropist Barbara Jonas Dies – Jonas, a former social worker, and her husband, the founder of a household goods retailer, assembled a trove of Abstract Expressionist paintings before selling them 30 years later for $44 million to fund the recruitment and training of nurses. Jonas died on October 23 at age 84. (NYT)


Will Algorithms Change the Art World Forever? – Could artificial intelligence be able to valuate art? And, if so, how soon? For an industry that has been historically resistant to new technology, the art world has been quick to engage with blockchain and artificial intelligence, hoping that the tools could lead to greater transparency and trust. (Financial Times)

Inside Ellsworth Kelly and Alexander Calder’s Friendship – Despite being decades apart in age, the two artists were fast friends when they met, engaging in a “sublime dialogue.” An exhibition about their friendship and exchange as artists is on view at Lévy Gorvy in New York from November 9 until January 9. (Vulture)

Epic Land Art Completed for Armistice Day – The Belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen’s spectacular installation of 600,000 tiny clay figures and a giant egg commemorates the soldiers and civilians killed on Belgian soil during World War I. Called Coming World Remember Me, the work was created by hundreds of volunteers and schoolchildren over four years and will be complete in time to mark the centenary of the end of the conflict on November 11. (Guardian, Instagram)

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