Art Industry News: An Actor Best Known for Playing a Lovable Werewolf Will Now Judge the 2021 Turner Prize + Other Stories

Plus, the Smithsonian puts Kobe Bryant's jersey on display and a secret collection of ancient Greek and Roman masterpieces is unveiled.

Russell Tovey. Courtesy 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 on this Wednesday, October 21.


Portland Museum of Art Employees Seek to Unionize – Complaining of low pay and job insecurity, employees of the Portland Museum of Art have become the latest museum workforce to petition the National Labor Relations Board for union representation. The organizers have accused the institution, which employs around 100 people, of trying to dismantle their efforts by encouraging an in-person vote on the matter in lieu of socially distanced mail-in voting. The museum responded saying that it is not anti-union, but that it doesn’t believe a union “is right for our museum.” (Portland Press Herald)

How Indigenous Art Is Plagued By Forgery – Some 20 works of Indigenous art on display at the Lander Pioneer Museum in Wyoming could be fakes or forgeries, according to a new investigation. Experts say the field of Indigenous art is threatened by a wave of inauthentic work being bought and sold on eBay and elsewhere online, particularly because the law does not explicitly prohibit forgeries of works produced before 1935. The Indian Arts and Crafts Board received approximately 500 complaints between January and August this year about fake Indigenous works. (The Nation)

The Turner Prize Gets a Celebrity Judge – The judges for the 2021 Turner Prize have been announced. They are: Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain; Aaron Cezar, director of the Delfina Foundation; Kim McAleese, program director of Grand Union; Zoé Whitley, director of Chisenhale Gallery; and Russell Tovey, an art collector, host of the podcast Talk Art, and actor best known for playing a werewolf the BBC’s supernatural drama Being Human. The prize will be presented at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry as part of the city’s UK City of Culture 2021 celebrations. The exhibition of the four shortlisted artists will be on view from September 29, 2021 to January 12, 2022. (Press release)

Nan Goldin Urges Action Against Sackler Deal – The photographer and activist—who has been campaigning for years against the art-donor Sacklers, some of whom have ties to Purdue Pharma—reacts to the news that the family is nearing a plea agreement with the Department of Justice for its misleading marketing of Oxycontin. The proposal, she says, would fail to hold the Sacklers accountable for their role in the ongoing opioid crisis. “Congress must do more than write letters,” she writes. “It must hold hearings in which the Sacklers and victims of their opioid profiteering are called to testify. The family must not escape with their billions.” (The Art Newspaper)


Sotheby’s to Sell Two Basquiats From Dealer’s Estate – Sotheby’s will sell two works by Jean-Michael Basquiat from the estate of recently deceased art dealer Enrico Navarra. The works, Black and Jazz, will be offered at Sotheby’s New York contemporary art evening sale on October 28 with a cumulative estimate of between $4 million and $6 million. (ARTnews)

David Kordanksy on Collaborating With Black Artists – The Los Angeles dealer has been making efforts to diversify his program and office, saying it “can’t be business as usual anymore.” He has added seven staff members of color over the past year (previously, there were three out of a staff of 35) and hired a diversity consultant, while also seeking input from Black artists on his roster on how to improve the gallery structurally. (New York Times)

Art Brussels Plans a Fair for December – The parent company of Art Brussels, Easy Fairs, is planning to launch a new event in Antwerp. It will welcome some 60 galleries—around 100 fewer than the typical Brussels fair—by invitation only. (The Art Newspaper France)


New African Art Gallery to Open in Accra – The African art advisor Adora Mba has opened a new gallery, ADA \ contemporary art gallery, in Accra, Ghana. The gallery specializes in emerging African contemporary art and the inaugural exhibition is a solo show of work by the Nigerian artist Collins Obijiaku, on view through November 19. (Press release)

The Smithsonian Displays Kobe Bryant’s Jersey – The Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, DC, will display Kobe Bryant’s jersey beginning today. Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash earlier this year, wore it during the 2008 NBA finals before donating it to the museum in 2016. He was one of NMAAHC’s founding donors. (New York Times)


Meet the New Director of Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – The incoming director of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Stéphane Aquin, plans to take the institution in a different direction from its ousted former director Nathalie Bondil. When he takes up the role in November, Aquin says he is particularly keen to establish the museum’s “relevance in North America,” adding, in what some have interpreted as a dig at Bondil, “we are not a suburb of Paris.” (TAN)

Torlonia Collection Goes on View in Rome – Ninety-six classical sculptures belonging to the mysterious Italian dynasty, the Torlonia family, are on view at the Palazzo Caffarelli in Rome through June 2021. The Torlonia marbles, which include some 620 ancient Greek and Roman sculptures, are one of the world’s most secret collections. They are finally accessible to the public ahead of the planned opening of a Torlonia Museum. (Financial Times)

Gregory Crewdson Teams Up With Namacheko – The Swedish-Kurdish menswear designer’s fall-winter collection features prints based on the small-town American tableaux captured by the American photographer Gregory Crewdson. The director of Yale’s graduate photography program, Crewdson recruited his students to shoot the advertising campaign. The collection is available at the Broken Arm in Paris, Gagosian Gallery in New York, and Matchesfashion in UK, among others. (Press release)

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