Art Industry News: A Feminist Monument With Racial Tensions Gets Narrowly OKed for Central Park + Other Stories

Plus, Hong Kong arts professionals are running for public office and Klaus Biesenbach recalls getting scolded by Susan Sontag.

Sculptor Meredith Bergmann's design for the winning Central Park monument. Courtesy of Monumental Women.

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 Wednesday, October 23.


Hong Kong Culture Workers Are Running for Office – Hong Kong artists and cultural workers are running for public office as thousands of young people continue to take to the streets in the city. The artist Clara Cheung, who is the co-founder of art nonprofit C&G Artpartment, and curator Susi Law have both entered the district council race as independent candidates. Cheung says that fighting for democracy means “sometimes you have to come out of your comfort zone and do more.” The district council elections will be held on November 24. (Art Asia Pacific)

Saudi Arabia Plans a Modern Art Museum – The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia now wants a museum of Modern art as well as an edition of the Desert X biennial. An official announcement by the Ministry of Culture last week confirmed that the Saudi Museum of Modern Art will be built on the outskirts of the capital, Riyadh. Details are minimal but according to a statement, the planned museum will be designed “according to a modern creative concept influenced by the traditional local architectural style.” It will be located near the UNESCO world heritage site of At-Turaif.  (Forbes)

Feminist Central Park Monument Gets Approval – A controversial sculpture for New York’s Central Park commemorating American women who led the fight for female suffrage has been narrowly approved. Three of the 12 panel members—including the artist Hank Willis Thomas—abstained from the vote. The monument’s sculptor, Meredith Bergmann, has revised her design to hint at the political and racial tension among campaigners Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth. (Anthony and Stanton made black women like Truth stand at the back at rallies.) This is the second design revision: the first one added Truth after backlash that the proposal included just two white women. The $1.5 million statue, the first celebrating great women in the park, is due to be unveiled in August 2020. (New York Post)

A Lawsuit Pits a German Firm Against an Art Dealer – The German financial services firm Fine Art Partners is suing London- and Miami-based art dealer Inigo Philbrick for allegedly withholding $14 million in art by stars including Christopher Wool, Wade Guyton, and Donald Judd—as well as a Yayoi Kusama “Infinity Room.” The firm wants Philbrick to return the art, which he had been tasked with selling. The complex legal drama also involves accusations of a fraudulent auction guarantee. (ARTnews)


Dawoud Bey Joins Sean Kelly – The Chicago-based photographer and MacArthur “Genius” has joined Sean Kelly. Bey will have his first show at the New York gallery in late 2020. The artist, who was previously represented by the now-shuttered Mary Boone Gallery, also has a touring retrospective opening at SMOMA next year. (ARTnews)

Christie’s Offers a Futurist Gem – A late, posthumous cast of Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space heads to auction at Christie’s New York on November 11 with an estimate of $3.8 million to $4.5 million. It is from an edition of ten bronzes cast in 1972, six of which are in public museums. One of the original 1931 casts, meanwhile, is a celebrated work in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. (Art Market Monitor)

The Painting JFK Never Lived to Receive Goes on Sale – A landscape by the Texan artist Porfirio Salinas with a historic provenance is heading to auction. The artist was due to present Rocky Creek to President John F. Kennedy as a gift from vice president Lyndon Johnson on November 23, 1963, the day after he was assassinated. The ill-fated painting is the top lot at Austin Auction Gallery on November 16–17 and has an upper estimate of $125,000. (Art Fix Daily)


Huntington Names American Art Curator – Dennis Carr, the curator of American decorative arts and sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has been appointed the new American art curator at the recently renamed Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. Carr will take up his new role in January. (Artfix Daily)

Pew Announces $8.4 Million in Grants – The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage is giving more than $8.4 million in grants toward artists and organizations based in Philadelphia via 12 Pew fellowships and 27 project grants. This year’s fellows, who will each be awarded $75,000, include painter Jonathan Lyndon Chase and writer Imani Perry. (The Art Newspaper)


Susan Sontag’s Late-Night Lecture to Klaus Biesenbach – The director of Los Angeles’s MOCA received some words of wisdom as a young curator from the late critic Susan Sontag. She took him to task over a 4 a.m. snack of french fries in Berlin after he misused a word. “Klaus,” Biesenbach recalled her saying, “as a curator, as a critic, the only thing we have is our opinion. Never sell that, never give that away. That’s the only thing you have.” The piece of tough love is recounted in a juicy new biography of Sontag by Benjamin Moser. (ARTnews)

Collectors Unveil Marcel Duchamp Trove – A collecting couple, Aaron and Barbara Levine, are preparing to unveil a major gift at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC: their entire collection of Marcel Duchamps, which includes 35 important works, 15 portraits, and photographs by artists from Diana Arbus to Man Ray, as well as more than 100 books and catalogues. Barbara Levine has been on the museum’s board for over a decade, and the collection will be shown starting November 9. (CNN)

The Battle Is On to Save a Self-Taught Artist’s Masterpiece – Art stars and rock stars from Nicholas Serota to Jarvis Cocker are fighting to turn an ensemble of works by the late outsider artist Gerry Dalton in a West London apartment into a museum. The artist created the 200 concrete sculptures, 170 wall-mounted works, and a 160-foot mural near his apartment complex, but the owners of the building want to get rid of them to make way for new social housing tenants. A petition has been launched to help save “Gerry’s Pompeii.” (Times)

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