Art Industry News: Idiot-Proof New Evidence Shows That Mount Vesuvius Erupted Later Than We Thought + Other Stories

Plus, Sotheby's will sell three deaccessioned Georgia O'Keeffe paintings and a Saudi-funded cultural festival goes ahead in DC.

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 17.


Did Viral Trickster Zardulu Hire an Actress to Pet a New York City Rat? – A video posted on Reddit purports to show a woman petting a rat during Pickle Day on the Lower East Side. Zardulu, the artist and viral trickster who trains rats but is probably not the mastermind behind the infamous Pizza Rat, is claiming credit: “The piece is entitled Assimilation. As my previous performance pieces that included rats were an allegory for interactions with our primitive, unconscious mind, this piece symbolizes what Carl Jung referees to as assimilation.” (Gothamist)

Saudi-Funded Cultural Festival Goes Ahead in DC – While New York museums reaffirmed their commitment to the Arab Art & Education Initiative—a partially Saudi-funded, year-long cultural exchange—amid the outcry over missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Smithsonian in Washington is also moving ahead with a two-day celebration of Arab culture funded by the state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco. The Smithsonian’s secretary said in a statement that it “must foster dialogues with countries… even when we disagree with their governments’ actions.” (Washington Post)

Historians Have Been Totally Wrong About the Day Mount Vesuvius Erupted – It turns out that the ancient Roman city was probably destroyed at some point after October 17, 79 AD, and not on August 24 as originally thought. Massimo Osanna, the director of the Parco Archeologico di Pompei, announced that archaeologists have found a new inscription with the later date carved into a house, disproving the long-held belief that the volcano exploded over the summer. (Apparently, the presence at the archaeological site of the preserved remains of fruits that typically ripen in the fall should have been a clue since at least the 19th century.) (Agence France Presse)

How the Humboldt Forum Will Confront Its Colonial Past – Ahead of the $686 million museum’s planned opening next year in a former royal palace in Berlin, its curatorial staff is considering how to address Germany’s colonial past through its collections. A planned exhibition of Benin bronzes will include a detailed description of current debates. Researchers are also collaborating with colleagues in Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela to investigate the origins of 3,000 artifacts brought to Germany by a collector in the early 20th century. Restitution, however, remains a question mark. (The Art Newspaper)


Sotheby’s to Sell O’Keeffe Paintings From the Artist’s Museum – The auction house—which is quickly becoming the go-to destination for sometimes controversial museum deaccessions—will offer three paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe on November 14. The works, which carry a combined high estimate of $32.5 million, come from the collection of the artist’s museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The sale in New York will benefit its acquisitions fund. (Press release)

Lower East Side Galleries Band Together to Raise Foot Traffic – Galleries in New York’s Lower East Side neighborhood are the latest to join forces in an effort to combat dwindling foot traffic. The first iteration of LES Art Week runs from October 17 to 21 and comes on the heels of this fall’s Chelsea Art Walk. The week will include artist-led walkthroughs and an audio tour. (The Art Newspaper)

Elmgreen & Dragset Bring Their Trickster Art to FIAC – Be careful where you step in Paris today. Commissioned by the FIAC fair to create a public artwork, artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset have placed 100 bronze and steel starfish across the pavement at the Place Vendôme. The installation is meant to depict a city that will one day be transformed by climate change. “We imagined water coming all the way to the Place Vendôme,” Michael Elmgreen said. “What’s left when it recedes? A swarm of friendly intruders.” (New York Times)


Chicago Gets a New Exhibition Space – The Windy City is getting a new, top-of-the-line exhibition space dedicated to architecture and activist art. The space, Wrightwood 659, was designed by Tadao Ando and founded by media entrepreneur Fred Eychaner and architectural historian Dan Whittaker. (NYT)

Seattle Art Museum Names American Art Curator – The West Coast museum has recruited Theresa Papanikolas, an expert in 20th-century American art and the current deputy director of art and programs at the Honolulu Museum of Art, as a new curator. She begins her role in January 2019. (Press release)

Portuguese Artist Helena Almeida Dies – The Portuguese artist, whose genre-defying art explored themes of repression and freedom, died on September 25 at age 84. Almeida, who has been well known in her native country for decades, received broader international acclaim in recent years and is currently the subject of an exhibition at Tate Modern in London. (New York Times)


Vandals Deface Mural With Pro-Trump Graffiti – A beloved, mural-filled alley in San Francisco’s Mission district has become the target of vandals who have repeatedly defaced the designs with pro-Donald Trump images. On Friday, they added “Make American Great Again” hats to a black-and-white mural depicting figures holding picket signs with slogans that read “Families Belong Together” and “Abolish ICE.” (Guardian)

Brian May of the Band Queen Releases Book of Space Race Photos – May, who is also an astrophysicist, and his research team have brought together 150 stereoscopic photographs from the archives of both NASA and the Russian space program to compile Mission Moon 3-D, which comes with a 3-D viewer. Released ahead of next year’s 50th anniversary of NASA’s first moon landing, the book contains the first-ever space selfie, snapped by Buzz Aldridge back in 1966. (Daily Mail)

Queen Elizabeth I’s Portraitist Was Probably Pretty Forgiving. A New Exhibition Imagines Her True Face – At the Queens House at the Royal Museums Greenwich, British artist Mat Collishaw presents a new animatronic mask of an aged Elizabeth that is probably a more accurate reflection of her appearance at age 55, when the famed Armada portrait was made. The new artwork hangs opposite the original painting, which was purchased by the museum just two years ago following a massive fundraising effort. (Smithsonian)

Tony Oursler Brings Art to the Hudson River – People always say New York City comes alive at night—artist Tony Oursler took that statement literally. Until October 31, the American artist will be projecting images illuminating the Hudson River and Riverside Park at West 69th Street. The work—Oursler’s largest projection series to date—also features a phantasmal soundscape that includes new music by Kim Gordon. Tear of the Cloud will be on view Tuesday through Sunday from 7 to 10 p.m. See images of the installation below. (Press release)

Tony Oursler, Tear of the Cloud (2018). Courtesy of the artist, Lehmann Maupin, New York/Hong Kong/Seoul, and Lisson Gallery, New York/London. Image courtesy of the Public Art Fund.

Tony Oursler, Tear of the Cloud (2018). Courtesy of the artist, Lehmann Maupin, New York/Hong Kong/Seoul, and Lisson Gallery, New York/London. Image courtesy of the Public Art Fund.

Tony Oursler, Tear of the Cloud (2018). Courtesy of the artist, Lehmann Maupin, New York/Hong Kong/Seoul, and Lisson Gallery, New York/London. Image courtesy of the Public Art Fund.

Tony Oursler, Tear of the Cloud (2018). Courtesy of the artist, Lehmann Maupin, New York/Hong Kong/Seoul, and Lisson Gallery, New York/London. Image courtesy of the Public Art Fund.

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