Art Industry News: John Waters Issues a Grave Warning to the Art Market + Other Stories

Plus, MOCA elects a new board chair and Louis Vuitton designs a bespoke travel case for a Vermeer.

John Waters in 2007. Image by Edinburgh International Film Festival via Flickr.

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 Wednesday, October 10.


Surviving 24 Hours at The Clock What is it like to spend 24 hours watching Christian Marclay’s clip-filled video masterpiece The Clock? One intrepid reporter attended an overnight screening at Tate Modern to find out. She dozed off around 4:30 a.m., but not for long. “When I open my eyes, a wave of blood is gushing toward me, down a hotel corridor in a clip from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining,” she writes. “It’s a shock and a wake-up call.” (New York Times)

Roman Villa Discovered Beneath a Bus Parking Lot – Archaeologists have found a lavish villa buried under a field near Cambridge’s park-and-ride parking lot. A dig this summer revealed one of Britain’s largest Roman villa complexes at the site on the edge of the university city. Experts believe that window glass and mosaics confirm it belonged to a high-net-worth Roman. (Daily Mail)

John Waters Parodies Art Focus Groups – Imagine a world where art was the subject of focus groups. Such a dystopic future is the subject of a work in the artist-film director’s new retrospective at the Baltimore Museum of Art. For Art Market Research, Waters has created a parody of a focus group based on those used in the film industry. “Imagine saying to Nan Goldin, ‘Can it be more pop?’ Or ‘Does it have to be junkies?'” he says. “Or to Richard Serra, ‘It’s too heavy for my floor.'” He warns: “It could one day be true.” (Vice)

Maria Seferian Is Elected MOCA Board Chair – Seferian, who served as general counsel for the LA museum and has been president of its board since 2015, succeeds co-chairs Maurice Marciano and Lilly Tartikoff Karatz. She will be replaced as board president by trustee Carolyn Powers. As part of its new regime, the museum has already announced some changes: It pledged that gala honorees (a subject that has proven controversial in the past) will be selected by the director, not the board. Moving forward, the board will also meet at the museum rather than at offsite at a hotel on the other side of the city. (Los Angeles Times)


Christie’s to Sell a $40 Million Van Gogh – A star loan in the Van Gogh Museum’s recent “Van Gogh and Japan” show is heading to auction for the first time. The painting, Coin de jardin avec papillons (1887), could sell for more than $40 million at Christie’s Impressionist and Modern evening sale in November. The official estimate has not been disclosed. (Art Market Monitor)

Kanye Art Sells at Take Home a Nude – Artist and New York Academy of Art professor Vincent Desiderio donated a never-before-seen study of his painting Sleep, the inspiration for Kanye West’s infamous “Famous” video featuring naked celebrities in bed, to the school’s annual Take Home a Nude benefit auction at Sotheby’s. It sold for $8,500; the top lots of the night were John Alexander’s Two Owls Are Better Than One, which hammered down at $38,000, and Eric Fischl’s Untitled (Beach Scene With Red Hat), which sold for $40,000. (artnet News)

Antiques Dealer Gets Probation After Ivory Bust – A California-based antiques dealer who sold narwhal tusks to an undercover agent has been sentenced to probation, ordered to perform community service, and pay a fine. Anthony Buccola tried to sell two narwhal ivory tusks for $60,000 to an undercover state Fish and Wildlife agent. (Courthouse News)

Liquidated Abraaj Group’s Art Heads to Auction – The art owned by Abraaj, the troubled private-equity group based in Dubai, is heading to Bonhams. The 200-strong corporate collection includes work by Arab, Iranian, and South Asian artists along with traditional Islamic and Indian art. (Press release)


Andy Warhol Foundation Announces Board Shakeup – Julián Zugazagoitia, the director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, has been elected board chair, succeeding Igor DaCosta. The foundation has also added three new board members: MCA Chicago senior curator Naomi Beckwith; private equity executive Cary J. Davis; and photographer and art historian Deborah Willis. (Press release)

Snite Museum Announces New Director – Joseph Antenucci Becherer will lead the art museum at the University of Notre Dame. Becherer teaches art history at Aquinas College and is the founding director and curator of sculpture at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Notre Dame News)

Former Director of Canada’s National Gallery Dies – Pierre Théberge, who led the National Gallery for 11 years, died on October 5 at age 76. Théberger, who stepped down in 2009, was responsible for the museum’s acquisition of Louise Bourgeois’s giant spider sculpture Maman, among other important additions to the collection. (Press release)


Louis Vuitton Designs a Bespoke Travel Case for a Vermeer – Transport-sustained damage to artwork is more common than you’d think—it accounts for around 60 percent of all art-related insurance claims. To ensure safe passage of Vermeer’s The Milkmaid to Tokyo for an exhibition, the luxury brand created a bespoke trunk in collaboration with the Rijksmuseum. Yes, it has the famous LV logo. (Vogue)

Stolen Relief Is Returned to Iran Museum – The ancient Persian limestone relief that was seized from TEFAF New York last October has been returned to Tehran’s national museum following a court order in New York. The 2,500-year-old artifact depicting the head of a soldier was first discovered in Persepolis in the 1930s, but was stolen four years later. It ended up in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts before being stolen again in 2011. (AFP)

Mickalene Thomas Photographs Cardi B – The artist captured the rapper for the cover of W’s art issue. Thomas says she wanted to show a different side to the star. “On many ­levels, she portrays herself through a male gaze,” Thomas observes. “I wanted to see if she could transform herself and go beyond the prescribed notion that’s expected within an industry that wants to only perceive and present you as one-dimensional.” (W)

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