Art Industry News: German Painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Death by Suicide May Actually Have Been Murder + Other Stories

Plus, the Underground Museum names Meg Onli as its new director and Jay-Z is hitting up Frieze week events.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Self-portrait as a Soldier (1915). Courtesy Neue Galerie.

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 Tuesday, October 12.


Kunsthaus Zurich Under Scrutiny For Arms Dealer Ties – The splashy new Kunsthaus Zurich is getting flak for its association with the Swiss industrialist Emil Georg Bührle, who made his fortune selling arms to Nazi Germany and bought up reams of looted art. Bürhle was a board member at the institution and 203 works from his collection are due to be shown in the museum’s $220 million extension. “It’s a collection built with money from arms sales, from slave labor, from child labor,” said historian Erich Keller. (New York Times)

Jay-Z Is Hitting Up a Lot of Art Stuff in London – The rapper and music producer is in London for Frieze week and has already been spotted at high-profile events around town. He attended a performance by Torkwase Dyson at Pace the opening of Antwaun Sargent’s Gagosian exhibition “Social Works II.” (Fun fact: Dyson’s uncle is the author of the 2019 biography Jay-Z: Made in America. Small world!) (ARTnews)

Was Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Murdered? – The official account of the German Expressionist’s death by suicide has been called into question following an exhibition at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg. Kirchner, who struggled with depression and addiction, died from two gunshots to the chest in June 1938. But while historians say he was experiencing life-threatening depression at the time, weapons experts contend it is unlikely he fired both shots himself. No potential perpetrators have been identified. (The Art Newspaper)

On the Town With Art PR Maven Kaitlin Phillips – The Cut shadowed PR maven and Twitter personality Kaitlin Phillips (@yoloethics; sorry, her account is private) at a party at her East Village apartment. Painting sensation (and now gallerist) Jamian Juliano-Villani makes an appearance, as does artist Sam McKinniss—but the hostess proves elusive. (The Cut)


Underground Museum Names Director – Meg Onli has been tapped to lead the Underground Museum in Los Angeles. She currently serves as associate curator of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, and will co-lead the space with COO Cristina Pacheco. (Artforum)

The V&A Will Show a Lost Fabergé Egg – London’s Victoria & Albert Museum will present the long-lost Third Imperial Egg in its new exhibition devoted to Fabergé. The egg was rediscovered by a businessman in 2011 at a street market and will go on view alongside other Fabergé eggs owned by the Romanovs, a former imperial house of Russia. (Archaeology Wiki)

Artist Makes Weird Monument to Angela Merkel – Wilhelm Koch has unveiled a sculpture of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel on horseback. He created the work in response to the tradition of men being represented in equestrian statues. If it feels absurd, Koch says, that’s kind of the point. (Monopol)

Studio Voltaire Has Reopened – The London nonprofit has reopened after a £2.8 million ($3.8 million) revamp. The site now has 42 percent more space for artist studios, as well as new facilities including a kitchen and two residency spaces. (Press release)


See Es Devlin’s Monumental New Work at 180 Strand – The artist and set designer has unveiled BLUESKYWHITE at 180 The Strand in London as part of the new media exhibition “LUX: New Wave of Contemporary Art.” Inside a 24-meter-long red-lit tunnel, Devlin reads Bryon’s 1816 poem Darkness, which was written following the eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Tambora. The event appeared to dim the sun and caused temperatures to drop in what was known as “the year without summer.” In the second part of Devlin’s work, viewers are presented with contemporary accounts of solar geo-engineered solutions to global heating. (Press release)

Es Devlin, <i>BLUESKYWHITE</i> (2021).

Es Devlin, BLUESKYWHITE (2021).

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.