Art Industry News: ‘Hope’ Artist Shepard Fairey Is Back in the Election Spotlight With a New Four-Letter Word on the Cover of TIME + Other Stories
Plus, how the Black Lives Matter movement is shifting the restitution debate and the Sacklers reach a settlement with US authorities.
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 Thursday, October 22.
Is the Black Lives Matter Movement Speeding Up Restitution Efforts? – Bénédicte Savoy, the academic who co-authored France’s major report on the restitution of African heritage, has said that the Black Lives Matter movement is galvanizing museums’ repatriation efforts. “People are calling for a post-racist society and they are calling for restitution as part of this picture,” Savoy said. She added that the French parliament’s recent vote in favor of fully restituting 27 artifacts from French museums to Benin and Senegal, as well as the reduced fine doled out to an activist protesting at a museum, were strong signs of a paradigm shift. (The Art Newspaper)
The Sackler Family Reaches a Settlement – The US Justice Department has announced an $8.3 billion settlement with Purdue Pharma, which will plead guilty to criminal charges for its role in marketing the addictive painkiller OxyContin. It is the largest federal settlement against a pharmaceutical company in history (though it remains to be seen exactly how much money will be handed over, given that the company has filed for bankruptcy). Members of the Sackler family—art patrons who have given tens of millions to cultural organizations around the world—agreed to pay $225 million in civil penalties. According to prosecutors, the deal does not preclude criminal charges being filed against individual Sacklers. In a statement, the family—which has an estimated net worth of $13 billion—says it acted “ethically and lawfully.” (New York Times)
Shepard Fairey Replaces TIME‘s Logo – For the first time in the magazine’s 100-year history, it has replaced its logo on the cover of its US edition with an imperative: “VOTE.” The word is accompanied by an illustration by artist Shepard Fairey of a woman with her face covered with a handkerchief emblazoned with an image of a ballot box. “Even though the subject in the portrait knows there are additional challenges to democracy” during lockdown, Fairey says of the image, they are determined to use their “voice and power by voting.” Inside the issue is a guide on how to vote safely during this extraordinary year. (TIME)
Climate Activists Crash the British Museum – Six demonstrators from the activist group BP or not BP? unveiled large banners as part of an action at the London museum in solidarity with the Alaskan Indigenous organizations Defend the Sacred AK and Native Movement, who called for a day of action in response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to open an Alaskan wildlife refuge to oil and gas development. The demonstration took place during the press preview for the exhibition “Arctic: Culture and Climate.” The banners called attention to the involvement of BP and Citibank, two of the museum’s funders, in Arctic drilling. (Hyperallergic)
“Missing” Banksy Pops Up at Auction – An early Banksy mural of a gorilla wearing a pink masquerade mask that disappeared suddenly from a community center in Bristol is being sold online on November 17. The center’s owner said he had it removed in order to raise money to restore the 100-year-old building and “give money back to local charities in the Bristol area.” The restoration company Exposed Walls is selling it. As of this writing, the top bid stands at £180,500 (around $236,000). (BBC)
Asia Now Launches in Paris – In the absence of some Asia-based exhibitors who were unable to attend the French satellite fair due to ongoing travel restrictions, Paris’s Asia Now art fair has welcomed blue-chip exhibitors based closer to home who normally participate in the cancelled FIAC fair. Perrotin, Daniel Templon, Almine Rech, and Nathalie Obadia, among others, have joined the boutique event to showcase their Asian artists. (TAN)
COMINGS & GOINGS
Bloomberg and Lin-Manuel Miranda Support the Arts in Puerto Rico – Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Flamboyan Foundation, co-helmed by Hamilton composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, have teamed up to launch a two-year training program for 10 arts organizations in Puerto Rico. The program will help local organizations build up their strategic planning, fundraising, and digital marketing capacities. (Press release)
US Authorities Seize Cameroonian Sculptures – Customs officials in Miami, Florida seized a number of carved stones from ancient Cameroon this week that had been imported using fake documents. The Ikom monoliths, which date between 200 and 1,000 AD, will be repatriated to the central African nation. (Courthouse News)
Yemen Landmark Is at Risk of Collapse – A 19th-century palace in Yemen is at “risk of collapse,” according to experts who are asking for help in securing funds to repair the historic home of a former sultan. The seven-story Seiyun Palace, one of the largest mud-brick structures in the world, has suffered severe damage since the civil war broke out in 2015. (BBC)
FOR ART’S SAKE
Layoffs Come to the Nelson-Atkins – The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City is the latest institution to announce sweeping staff cuts. The museum is slashing its budget by 25 percent and laying off 36 members of staff (about 15 percent) to offset the revenue loss from its six-month closure. Museum representatives said that staff cuts were a “last resort” after efforts to fundraise but that were deemed necessary to ensure the museum’s “long-term sustainability.” (KCUR)
Man’s Lousy Pet Portraits Raise Loads for Charity – An amateur artist from West Sussex, UK, raised nearly £5,000 ($6,547) to fight homelessness by drawing “rubbish” sketches of other people’s animals. The initiative began when he posted a doodle on Facebook and joked that he would take commissions for £299 each. Surprisingly, the requests came flooding in. “I think people just found them funny, at a time when there’s not loads to smile about,” he said. (BBC)
Stuart Semple Sets Up Artist Job Center in Response to UK Government – The British artist has set up a “job center” in central London to “help artists retrain, reskill, and reboot.” The satirical project is a response to UK chancellor Rishi Sunak’s much-criticized comments that artists should consider retraining and finding new career paths in the wake of the lockdown. (Press release)
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