Art Industry News: Hollywood Legend Eve Babitz Recalls the Genesis of Her Iconic Nude Photo With Duchamp + Other Stories

Marcel Duchamp with Eve Babitz at the Pasadena Museum of Art . Courtesy of Hilton | Asmus Contemporary.

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, October 10.


The Naked Woman Who Played Chess with Duchamp – In 1963, the young curator Walter Hopps left Los Angeles’s Ferus Gallery to become the director of the Pasadena Art Museum. To make a splash, he sweet-talked Marcel Duchamp into doing his first West Coast retrospective. The legendary memoirist and Hollywood paramour Eve Babitz, whose nude chess match in the museum with the (besuited) Duchamp became the subject of an iconic photograph, recalls those heady days, and how the show’s defining image came about. The concept wasn’t Hopps’s—it came courtesy of Time magazine photographer Julian Wasser. Initially hesitant, Babitz realized that “this large, too-LA surfer girl with an extremely tiny old man in a French suit” would make a great visual contrast. (Literary Hub)

The Bank of England Reveals Its Artistic £20 Note – England’s new £20 ($24) bill features a self-portrait of the artist J.M.W. Turner and a reproduction of his famous painting The Fighting Temeraire, becoming Britain’s first-ever banknote to feature an artist. The polymer note, which the bank says is very difficult to counterfeit, is due to being circulating in early 2020. In 2016, Turner was selected from a long list of 590 painters, sculptors, designers, photographers, and actors put forward by the public. (Guardian)

Nan Goldin Protests Against the Sackler Settlement Deal – The activist artist and her anti-opioid group P.A.I.N. are stepping up their campaign against a possible Sackler settlement deal, with Nan Goldin due to join a protest outside a courthouse in upstate New York today. Campaigners are upset at the Sackler-owned company Purdue Pharma’s attempt to circumvent dozens of state lawsuits through the courts. The Sacklers’ lawyers have said if they lose this latest legal battle, the family may withdraw the $3 billion they pledged as part of the controversial settlement. (Press release)

Has Macau Overtaken the Louvre? – The organizers of this summer’s inaugural Art Macau estimate that the festival attracted 16 million visitors. The six-month-long program of exhibitions and events included a monumental work by KAWS in the Melco Resorts casino compound as well as artists’ tributes to Grace Kelly. The success of the festival, marking the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Macao Special Administrative Region, prompted the Macau Daily Times to breathlessly compare it to the annual attendance of the Louvre in Paris of “only” 10 million visitors. (Macau Daily Times)


The Guggenheim’s Loss Is Norway’s Gain – When Ludwig Kirchner’s Das Soldatenbad sold for $19.2 million at Sotheby’s in 2018, a Norwegian bank was behind the winning bid for the canvas, which had previously been restituted by the Guggenheim. The Norwegian Sparebankstiftelsen’s chief curator, Oda Wildhagen Gjessing, says that the bank’s foundation has focused on acquisitions of German Expressionist art to fill gaps in Norway’s national collection, spending around €400 million ($441 million) on culture over the past two decades. (FAZ)

Ex-Tate Curator Opens a Gallery – The new gallery, called Upstone Soho, is due to launch on November 14 with an exhibition of fresh works by the British artist Keith Coventry. The gallery is a collaboration between Robert Upstone, the Tate’s former head of British art, and the artist and curator Graham Snow. (Press release)


Banksy Collector Looks Offshore to Open a Street Art Museum – After failing to reach an agreement with the local government in the Welsh town of Port Talbot, where Banksy left a headline-grabbing surprise Christmas mural last year, the work’s buyer is looking to the Isle of Wight to build the UK’s first Street Art Museum. Essex-based art dealer John Brandler is looking for partners on the island to work with him on his institution. (Isle of Wight)

The British Museum Showcases the World’s First Travel Guide – This week, the museum is displaying the 1486 Peregrinatio in Terram Sanctum by Bernhard von Breydenbach, a rare illustrated travel guide that illustrates some of Europe and the Middle East’s most important cities as of a half-millennium ago. It’s on view as part of an exhibition charting Europe’s interest in the Middle East in the 15th century. (Art Daily)

The Founder of Prison Arts Program Has Died – William Buzz Alexander, who founded the Prison Creative Arts Project in Michigan, has died. He was aged 80. (Art Daily)


V&A Chief Starts Flame War With British Museum Over Gift Shops – Nicholas Coleridge, the chair of the V&A in London, has dissed the British Museum’s gift shop, saying it’s full of tourist rubbish. Coleridge says he is “deeply satisfied” that his museum’s shop overtook its rival in sales last year, helped by its Frida Kahlo blockbuster, although the source of his data is unclear. (Times)

Brian Calvin Paints Matthew Wong – The painter Brian Calvin has paid tribute to Matthew Wong on canvas, sharing two portraits of the late artist, who tragically died this week at the age of 35, on Instagram, titled Twilight Traveler, and The Other Side (for Matthew Wong). (artnet News)

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