Art Industry News: Oops! Britney Spears Is Now a Painter, Too + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, the Pompidou Centre welcomes a censored sculpture and the New York Times editorial board takes the Guggenheim to task.

Britney Spears performs at TWTC Nangang Exhibition Hall on June 13 in Taipei. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

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 Monday, October 16..


Israel Found Out About US Retreat From UNESCO Online – Senior officials in Jerusalem were not forewarned of the Trump administration’s controversial decision, first learning of it on Wednesday night from an online news report. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu determined Israel should follow suit after a minutes-long conference call. (Haaretz)

NYT Editorial Board Criticizes Guggenheim – The New York Times is not happy with the Guggenheim’s decision to remove three controversial works from its landmark China show in response to backlash from animal rights activists. Writing that threats of violence “can’t be allowed to dictate what art the public is allowed to see,” the editorial board says the move sets a worrying precedent for censorship. (New York Times)

Rodin Sculpture Found in New Jersey Town Hall – The bust of Napoleon Bonaparte had been missing since the late 1920s—but, as it turns out, it was sitting in a town hall’s committee room the whole time. Having been authenticated by experts, the work is now scheduled to go on loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (The Art Newspaper)

‘Sexually Explicit’ FIAC Sculpture Rescued by Pompidou – Atelier Van Lieshout’s controversial Domestikator sculpture will be installed in front of the Centre Pompidou tomorrow. The institution stepped in after the Louvre pulled the sculpture, which looks like two buildings having sexual intercourse, from FIAC’s planned public program at the Tuileries Gardens on the grounds that it was too explicit. (Press release)​


Art Worth $1 Million Stolen From Nicholas Hlobo – Thieves made away with a whopping 15 wall pieces from the artist’s Johannesburg studio as the artworks were being prepared for shipping to Paris’s FIAC. His gallery, Lehmann Maupin, had planned to present a solo booth by the South African artist. (FT)

Stolen Rockwell Painting Comes to Auction – Recently recovered some four decades after it had been stolen from a New Jersey couple, the painting Lazybones (1919), one of the artist’s first Saturday Evening Post covers, is heading to Heritage Auctions on November 3, where it is expected to fetch more than $1 million. (Press release)

Marianne Hoet Joins Phillips as Deputy Chairman, Europe – Based in the auction house’s new Antwerp office, the former Christie’s director will also serve as senior specialist of 20th-century and contemporary art, tasked with expanding Phillips’s brand in Northern Europe. (Press release)


Vienna’s Leopold Museum Names New Director – Heike Eipeldauer will take up the new post in January, succeeding Franz Smola, who’s returning to the Belvedere Museum. Meanwhile, Verena Gamper will manage the museum’s prestigious Egon Schiele archive. (Der Standard)​

New UNESCO Chief Vows to Restore Agency’s Credibility  France’s former culture minister, Audrey Azoulay, has been elected Unesco’s next director-general, pledging to restore the credibility of the Paris-based UN agency. Azoulay succeeds Irina Bokova, who is stepping down just after the US and Israel announced plans to withdraw from the organization. (Reuters)

Art Institute of Chicago Curator, Who Worked Despite MS, Dies  Courtney Donnell, the former associate curator of 20th-century paintings and sculpture at the Art Institute, has died aged 72. She joined the museum in 1974 and worked there for more than three decades despite multiple sclerosis, getting to and from work with an electric scooter. (Chicago Tribune)

Freer and Sackler Galleries Reopen After Revamp  The Smithsonian Institute’s Freer and Sackler Galleries of Asian Art reopened on October 14 after a $13.6 million revamp, mainly focused on improving the Freer’s environmental controls and restoring original features of the 1920s Italianate building in Washington, DC. (TAN)


Britney Spears Paints – Is Britney Spears the next Jim Carrey? In a video posted to Instagram that quickly went viral, the pop star is hard at work on a composition of flowers and squiggles. (Pay attention and you’ll notice that she inexplicably changes her outfit in the middle of the video.) Publicity stunt—or evidence of the next internet art star? (Buzzfeed)

Critic Weighs In on the Obamas’ Portraitists – Philip Kennicott offers his take on the Obamas’ selection of Amy Sherald and Kehinde Wiley to paint their official portraits. “If there’s a safe center to the cutting edge, the Obamas seem sure to find it,” he writes. “The paintings are almost sure to look a lot tailored and just a little trendy, without crossing any lines that might discomfit popular expectations.” (Washington Post)

KölnSkulptur Opens to the Public – The ninth edition of KölnSkulptur opened to the public this past weekend. Organized by Chus Martínez, the show presents newly commissioned works by nine artists, including Claudia Comte, Pedro Wirz, and Turner Prize nominee Andrea Büttner. See select highlights below. (Press release)

Teresa Solar, Pumping Station (2017).
Courtesy of Teresa Solar
© Stiftung Skulpturenpark Köln, 2017. Foto: Veit Landwehr,

Claudia Comte, The Nordic Cactuses (2017).
Courtesy Claudia Comte and KÖNIG GALERIE, Berlin/London
© Stiftung Skulpturenpark Köln, 2017. Foto: Veit Landwehr,

Andrea Büttner, Schale (2017).
Courtesy of Andrea Büttner
© Stiftung Skulpturenpark Köln, 2017, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2017.
Foto: Veit Landwehr,

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