Art Industry News: Melania Trump’s Inauguration Slit Dress Enters the Smithsonian + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, Ai Weiwei’s middle finger sells out on eBay and a former Christie's contemporary chief launches a new gallery in New York.

First Lady Melania Trump at the Inaugural Ball at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, January 20, 2017. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/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 Thursday, October 19.


Cultural Figures Protest US Quitting UNESCO – In a rare joint statement, the Association of Art Museum Directors, the American Alliance of Museums, the Archaeological Institute of America, and five other US cultural organizations called the Trump administration’s decision to quit UNESCO “regrettable” and urged the government to continue to work with the UN’s education and cultural agency. (AIA)

Great Writing About Buildings—Shame About the Science – A new book by Sarah Williams Goldhagen offers a scientific explanation for why we experience rooms, colors, buildings, and streets the way we do. But in his review of the book, Paul Goldberger says the approach left him cold. (The Nation)

Melania Trump’s Gown Unveiled at the Smithsonian – The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History debuts Melania Trump’s inauguration gown tomorrow. The Hervé Pierre-designed, off-the-shoulder dress joins the museum’s First Ladies’ collection alongside outfits worn by Jacqueline Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama. Notably, Trump’s frock is the collection’s first slit skirt. (US News)

Denver Art Museum’s Bond Windfall Goes to Vote – The Denver Art Museum stands to get a $35 million slice of a nearly $1 billion bond package if the city’s voters decide to pony up on November 7. The city’s latest wish-list for bond beneficiaries was unanimously approved by the city council this week. (Westword)


Two Rare Florine Stettheimers Surface – The late Egyptologist William Kelly Simpson bequeathed a rare Stettheimer painting of the Manhattan cityscape to the Whitney Museum, while Christie’s will auction another, Portrait of Marcel Duchamp and Rrose Sélavy (1923), in New York on November 21 (est. $1–1.5 million). (ARTnews)

Sotheby’s Imp-Mod Sale Mixes Genres – Struggling to find inventory in this category, the auction house will sell Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi’s Vermeer-like Interior with Woman at Piano, Strandgade 30 (1901) at its Impressionist and Modern art sale in New York next month. The painting hasn’t come to auction in a quarter of a century and carries an estimate of $2.5–3.5 million. (Art Market Monitor)

Christie’s Alumnus to Open New York Gallery – Fernando Mignoni, the former director of postwar and contemporary art at Christie’s London, will open a new gallery and art advisory service, Mignoni Gallery, on New York’s Upper East Side. The first show, which opens October 31, presents steel works by Donald Judd. (ARTnews)

Christie’s to Sell Delacroix Sketch of Liberty – The only known sketch of the final composition of Eugène Delacroix’s lauded La liberté guidant le peuple (Liberty Leading the People) (1830) will hit the auction block on December 14, headlining Christie’s European and Orientalist art sale with an estimate of £700,000–1 million.  (Christie’s)


David Adjaye to Design Spy Museum – The Ghanaian-British architect has released renderings for a 60,000-square-foot pop-up spy museum in New York. Scheduled to open in December, SPYSCAPE promises to be an interactive experience organized around seven pavilions dedicated to elements of spying such as surveillance, hacking, and code breaking. (6sqft)

Met Museum Names New VP – Lauren A. Meserve, the Metropolitan Museum’s chief investment officer, has been named senior vice president. She will succeed Suzanne Brenner, who is entering the private banking sector after nearly 20 years with the institution. (Press release)

LA’s Natural History Museum to Expand – The first phase in a 10-year overhaul of the museum’s two locations was presented to the public yesterday. The changes focus on the museum wings closest to its new neighbor on Exposition Park, the $1.5-billion Lucas Museum. (LA Times)​


GARAGE Asks Artists What Makes a New Yorker – To mark the magazine’s digital launch, GARAGE asked New Yorkers from the cultural sphere, including artists Jeff Koons, Laurie Anderson, Hank Willis Thomas, and Stewart Uoo, what the city means to them. (GARAGE)

Ai Weiwei’s Middle Finger Sells Out on eBay – Ai’s limited-edition, rhodium-plated hand sculpture was up for auction on eBay to support the Public Art Fund in conjunction with his exhibition “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors.” Lucky bidders snagged one for $675 before they ran out. (eBay)

Nelson-Atkins Museum Makes a Mini Golf Course – Here’s something you don’t hear every day: The Nelson-Atkins is turning its public grounds into an artist-designed mini golf course. The Kansas City museum is welcoming submissions for durable and functional proposals that cater to “an enthusiastic, club-wielding public of all ages” until November 30. (Kansas City Star)

Sculpture by Sea Opens and Winner Announced – David Ball has been announced as the winner of the seaside sculpture exhibition that stretches from Bondi to Tamarama beach near Sydney, Australia. It includes 100 artists from Australia and beyond, but this year’s $60,000 prize goes to Ball’s steel orb. (ABC)



“Metafisica da Giardino”
Nahmad Projects – London
Current – December 15


Francesco Vezzoli is a master of the tastefully over-the-top gesture, and that applies to his new show at Nahmad Projects, where the artist has paired a selection of his own works with canvases by the great Surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico—while at the same time transforming the gallery into a fantastically lush setting, with artificial grass floors and de Chirico-esque wall murals of Italian piazze. Titled “The Metaphysics of the Garden” in English, it is an absorbing alloy of the Modern and contemporary, the frivolous and profound.

An installation view of the show at Nahmad Projects

Installation views of the show at Nahmad Projects

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