Art Industry News: One of Francis Bacon’s All-Time Spookiest Pope Paintings Could Fetch $45 Million Next Month at Phillips + Other Stories

Plus, the Studio Museum in Harlem raises $210 million for its new building and Andrew Lloyd Webber commissions Shakespeare-inspired art.

Francis Bacon, Pope With Owls (c. 1958). Photo courtesy of Phillips
Francis Bacon, Pope With Owls (c. 1958). Photo courtesy of Phillips

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 28.


The Great-Grandson of a Benin Bronze Sculptor Speaks – The Benin City-based artist Monday Aigbe, whose great-grandfather was a sculptor of Benin bronzes that were looted by colonial troops during the 19th century, praised the efforts of European museums to repatriate his country’s lost heritage. “I feel happy that the work of my great-grandfather will be coming back to Benin,” he said, adding that he will take his children to see the returned bronzes when they go on view at the Edo Museum of West African Art. (BBC)

Studio Museum Raises $210 Million for New Building – The Studio Museum in Harlem has reached a milestone, having raised $210 million for the construction and endowment of its new David Adjaye-designed building. The capital campaign, which includes a $62 million pledge from New York City, has comfortably exceeded its original $175 million goal (which has now been extended to $250 million). The building is expected to open in 2024 with a site-specific installation by Theaster Gates made from materials taken from the former museum building to symbolize the importance of its legacy. (The Art Newspaper)

Fresh Francis Bacon Pope Comes to Phillips – The star lots for next month’s New York marquee auctions are rolling in, and the latest boasts a Halloween spook factor. Phillips is selling Francis Bacon’s Pope With Owls (c. 1958) on November 17, which carries an estimate of $35 million to $45 million. This marks the first time that the painting—which features a skeletal pope flanked by two ghostly owls—has ever come up for auction. The artist created it while living in Morocco for 14 months during the 1950s. It’s been in the same American collection for nearly four decades, according to Phillips. (Press release)

The Case for Museum Shows With a Moral Agenda – WaPo art critic Sebastian Smee was ambivalent about museum programming that doubles as political advocacy—that is, until he caught Harvard Art Museums’ exhibition “Devour the Land,” in which photographers expose the impact of the U.S. military on the environment and public health. “It’s an exhibition with a pointed moral agenda,” Smee writes. “But it’s not preachy or obvious. It’s smart, it’s thoughtful, and it’s visually compelling.” The show convinced him that morally significant exhibitions are possible not only in an academic context, but also in a blockbuster museum one. (Washington Post)


Sprüth Magers Announces Worldwide Representation of Louise Lawler – Following news of the closure of Metro Pictures in New York, Pictures Generation artist Louise Lawler has announced that she will now be represented globally by her European gallery, Sprüth Magers. (Press release)

Pillar of Shame Heads to the G20 Summit in Rome – To protest Hong Kong University’s push to remove artist Jens Galschiøt’s artwork memorializing the Tiananmen Square massacre and draw attention to the political situation in China and Hong Kong, activists drove a copper model of the Pillar of Shame from Denmark to Rome on October 27 in a protest that culminated at the Chinese embassy during the G20 summit. (Press release)

Queer|Art Illuminations Grant Awarded – The New York nonprofit Queer|Art has awarded Lee Laa Ray Guillory $10,000 as part of its Illuminations Grant for Black Trans Women Visual Artists. The New Orleans-based artist, whose work deals with Black mysticism and alternative photographic practices, will also receive professional development support and studio visits from members of the panel of judges. (Artforum)


See Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Commissioned Shakespearean Paintings – Famed theater composer Andrew Lloyd Webber commissioned American painter Maria Kreyn to create a suite of eight dramatic artworks depicting famous Shakespearean scenes to inaugurate the refurbished Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London. The artist, whom Webber spotted in a Vanity Fair feature in 2018, said: “I thought the email was spam when he first reached out to me.” (TAN)


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by MARIA KREYN (@mariakreyn)

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.


Subscribe or log in to read the rest of this content.

You are currently logged into this Artnet News Pro account on another device. Please log off from any other devices, and then reload this page continue. To find out if you are eligible for an Artnet News Pro group subscription, please contact [email protected]. Standard subscriptions can be purchased on the subscription page.

Log In