Art Industry News: A Street Artist’s Gift to Thousands of Londoners Was Stolen—and Sold for Profit Online + Other Stories
Plus, the AAMD clarifies its stance on deaccessioning and a Virginia judge paves the way for the removal of a long-disputed Robert E. Lee statue.
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 28.
Thieves Are Targeting Nazi Memorabilia at War Museums – War museums across the Netherlands are scrambling to tighten security after being targeted in recent weeks by thieves seeking memorabilia linked to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime. Museums in Ossendrecht, North Brabant, Beek, and Limburg have all experienced burglaries, with losses totaling up to €1.5 million ($1.76 million). Memorabilia related to the Allies was untouched, while rare items like SS uniforms, firearms, and parachutes have gone missing. (Guardian)
Nikki Columbus Offers an Alternative Take on the Guston Debacle – The veteran curator retraces the controversy surrounding the delay of “Philip Guston Now” and argues that critics of the move have missed the mark. “The much ado about Guston reflects one of the art world’s most cherished delusions: Museums can only fight structural racism, and other social injustices, with exhibitions,” she writes. “If you think a museum’s responsibility begins and ends with the gallery space, then you probably consider the lived experience of the orcas and their trainers irrelevant to your enjoyment of SeaWorld.” (n+1)
London Police Probe STIK Theft Ring – No good deed goes unpunished? The UK street artist STIK arranged for 100,000 copies of his work “Holding Hands” to be distributed to residents in the London borough of Hackney as a gift for enduring the hardships of lockdown. But after many locals said they never received a print, the artist’s studio discovered many of the works were being sold for profit online. “It appears at this stage that somewhere along the supply and distribution chain, boxes containing thousands of copies of the print have been taken without permission,” a police spokesman said. (CNN)
The AAMD Clarifies Its Stance on Deaccessioning – The Association of Art Museum Directors issued a memo to its members this week clarifying its position on deaccessioning after relaxing its rules in April to offer a lifeline to institutions struggling amid the COVID-induced shutdown. The AAMD’s president wrote that the relaxed rules “were not put in place to incentivize deaccessioning, nor to permit museums to achieve other, non-collection-specific, goals.” Some viewed the memo as a warning shot to the Baltimore Museum of Art, which is planning to sell three major works from its collection. (The Art Newspaper)
The Baltimore Museum Auction Is Actually Happening – Speaking of Baltimore—Twitter was sent aflutter on Tuesday when the Baltimore Sun released a story that the Baltimore Museum would pause its controversial sale of artworks scheduled for today at Sotheby’s. But the paper soon updated the story, noting the sale would proceed as scheduled (a Sotheby’s spokesperson had mixed up another institutional sale, of works from the Museum of Islamic Art in Jerusalem, which is, indeed, postponed). (Baltimore Sun)
A Dazzling Trio of Alfa Romeos Is Heading to Auction – As the trend of categorical promiscuity continues full force in marquee sales, Sotheby’s will offer three 1950s Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica cars as a unit in its contemporary art evening auction in New York today. The lot is expected to generate between $14 million and $20 million. (NYT)
Meet Sotheby’s New Global Communications Chief – Karina Sokolovsky has joined Sotheby’s as its new global chief communications officer. She most recently served as vice president of global communications and brand experiences at Equinox. Before that, she spent eight years at eBay, during which the company cemented a partnership with Sotheby’s. (Press release)
COMINGS & GOINGS
Artist Frederick Weston Has Died – The New York artist, performer, and fashion designer has died at 74 from cancer. Weston, an active member of the arts nonprofit Visual AIDS, was a dedicated archivist of mass media representations of men and chronicled the representation of New York’s Black and queer communities for decades. (ARTnews)
Studio Museum Names 2020 Wein Prize Winner – Los Angeles-based artist Cauleen Smith, whose films and installations examine Black identity, the history of the African diaspora, feminism, and Afrofuturism, has won the Studio Museum in Harlem’s annual Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize, which comes with $50,000. Previous winners include Derrick Adams and Simone Leigh. (ARTnews)
FOR ART’S SAKE
A New AR App Brings Stories of Opioid Addicts to the Sackler Wing – The new AR “Mariah App” created by artists Adam DelMarcelle and Heather Snyder Quinn highlights the Met’s ties to the Sackler family, whose members founded the Oxycontin-producer Purdue Pharma. The app allows visitors to the museum’s Sackler Wing—which may in fact be renamed in light of Purdue’s recent guilty plea—to view stories of people who died from opioid addiction and learn facts and figures about the Sacklers. (Hyperallergic)
Virginia Judge Paves Way for Removal of Confederate Statue – In an opinion issued on Tuesday, a Richmond City circuit court judge found that the 130-year covenant that has, until now, kept a statue of Robert E. Lee on view in the state capital is no longer valid due to changes in public policy. Since June, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has been trying to have the statue removed from public view, but has experienced legal roadblocks from local landowners. The statue will remain in place while the appeals process plays out. (Courthouse News)
Carrie Mae Weems’s Latest Work Honors Civil Rights Leaders – A new work directed by the celebrated photographer honors representative John Lewis and civil rights leader C.T. Vivian. Commissioned by Lincoln Center, “The Baptism” features a poem and performance by Carl Hancock Rux. “The result is a work that is freeing and radical in a way that Black art so often doesn’t get to be,” writes Maya Phillips. (New York Times)
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