Art Industry News: The British Army Is Recruiting ‘Monuments Men’ to Save Cultural Heritage in Peril + Other Stories

Plus, a London museum is under fire for hosting an event for the Saudi embassy and Karl Lagerfeld debuts his first sculptures in Paris.

George Clooney, John Goodman and Jean Dujardin on the set of The Monuments Men (2014). Photo: Claudette Barius, courtesy Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

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 Friday, October 12.


Natural History Museum Under Fire for Saudi Arabia Party – London’s Natural History Museum has been criticized for hosting an event for the Saudi Arabian embassy amid rising global outrage over the fate of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The museum refused to cancel the event despite criticism by Amnesty International, among other organizations, noting that commercial events are “an important part of external funding.” The Guardian’s Owen Jones has called the rental fee “blood money.” (Guardian)

Helen Molesworth Has the Last Laugh at MOCA – The former chief curator’s final show at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, celebrates “termite art,” a term coined by the late artist Manny Farber that describes the opposite of trophy paintings and sculptures. Molesworth defines it as art that dives deep into the mundane and banal—the antithesis of “frictionless finish fetish of Jeff Koons, the narcissistic grandiosity of Damien Hirst, or the production of charm without affect by Takashi Murakami.” Molesworth, who was fired in March, admits that her riff on Farber’s idea left colleagues scratching their heads at first. (The Art Newspaper)

British Army Recruits “Monuments Men” – A former Gulf War tank commander is recruiting archeologists, art-theft experts, and conservators to join the British Army’s new Cultural Property Protection Unit, which seeks to protect art and archeology in war zones. The unit was created in response to the desecration of ancient sites in Syria and Iraq by the Islamic State. The founder, Lt Colonel Tim Purbrick, plans to consult similar units in other countries and will begin interviewing specialists next week to assemble his elite 15-person squad. (Telegraph)

Four Klimt Drawings Found in Leipzig Museum – The forgotten colored drawings by the Viennese artist were discovered in the Leipzig Museum of Fine Arts’s depot. (Don’t you wish you could find rare works by one of the most famous artists in the world in your storage closet?) The museum’s director says the rare drawings were bought privately by the sculptor Max Klinger. Three of them will go on display in the museum’s Klinger Hall on Saturday. (Monopol)


Mummy Poster Poised to Smash Auction Record – Sotheby’s expects a film poster for The Mummy, a 1932 horror movie classic starring Boris Karloff, to sell for $1 million to $1.5 million. The sale is anticipated to set a new record for a film poster at auction, smashing the previous $525,800 high-water mark set by a Dracula movie poster in 2017. (Reuters)

FOG Releases Exhibitor List – San Francisco’s design and art fair in January will feature 53 international galleries, including a few new heavyweight additions. Hauser & Wirth, Perrotin, Petzel, Andrew Kreps Gallery, and Anton Kern Gallery will all make their FOG debuts. (ARTnews)

Mugrabi Divorce Wages On – A Manhattan judge has ruled that the trader-collector David Mugrabi is legally permitted to sell his $72 million Upper East Side townhouse and 50 works of art despite divorce proceedings because the assets are technically owned by Limited Liability Corporations. His estranged wife Libbie Mugrabi’s lawyers have argued that the townhouse and artworks are assets shared by the couple. (Page Six)


Roberta Smith Remembers Dealer Phyllis Kind – The art critic’s obituary of the beloved gallerist, who died on September 28, paints Kind as a “combative, visionary art dealer.” Kind, who had galleries in Chicago and, later, New York, was a dedicated champion of outsider artists and an early proponent of the Chicago Imagists. (New York Times)

Sweden’s National Museum Reopens – The museum reopens tomorrow after a five-year, $135 million refurbishment. Moving forward, the government has decided to waive the general admission entrance fee, and officials are expecting the previous 400,000 annual visitor count to double as a result. (TAN)

Clark Names New Drawings Curator – Anne Leonard, who previously served as senior curator of European art and research director at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, begins her new role at the Williamstown, Massachusetts museum in January. (ARTnews)


Cai Guo-Qiang Gets Uffizi Solo Show – The Chinese artist is in the middle of a grand tour of Western museums, which he is calling “An Individual’s Journey through Western Art History.” For his next big solo show, at the Uffizi gallery on November 20, the firework-loving artist will create new work using pyrotechnics inspired by Renaissance flora in Florence. (TAN)

Emma Sulkowicz’s Next Chapter – Sulkowicz’s durational protest art project as a senior at Columbia University made headlines—and earned the artist the name “Mattress Girl”—well before the #MeToo movement. Sulkowicz’s new work focuses on fantasies of how survivors of sexual abuse might protect themselves in a different world. Weapons and empty suits of armor like those at the Met served as sources of inspiration. (Medium)

French “Heritage Mission” Reaches €15 Million Goal – Since its launch in September, France’s Heritage Mission scratch card game—a lottery that raises money to preserve France’s at-risk heritage sites—has already hit its €15 million goal. More than seven million of the €15 tickets have been sold in France, with 10 percent of each sale going to the Heritage Foundation. Off the back of this success, the French lottery company has promised to launch a new operation for heritage in 2019. (Le Journal des Arts)

Karl Lagerfeld Becomes a Sculptor – The fashion designer has tried his hand at sculpture, creating 16 limited edition marble pieces inspired by antiquity for his debut sculpture exhibition “Architectures” at Carpenters Workshop Gallery in Paris. The show, which runs from October 19 to December 22, was developed in partnership with the French-Lebanese architect and interior designer Aline Asmar d’Amman. Lagerfeld’s “functional sculpture” includes tables, lamps, consoles, fountains, and mirrors. (Paper Magazine)

Karl Lagerfeld, Untitled II (2018), photo courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery.

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