Art Industry News: Mattress Artist Emma Sulkowicz Drops Art for Libertarian Politics and Chinese Medicine + Other Stories

Plus, the Reina Sofia museum is expanding and the Guerrilla Girls take issue with a few galleries in the new MoMA.

Emma Sulkowicz in New York City. (Photo by Rabbani and Solimene Photography/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 Tuesday, October 29.


The Guerrilla Girls Call Out MoMA Trustees’ Ties to Epstein – The Guerrilla Girls are speaking out against the newly expanded Museum of Modern Art over two galleries named after trustees who had links to the late Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier and convicted sex offender. The feminist collective says the museum should rename the galleries currently named after Glenn Dubin (a financier who is among the men that Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre claims she was forced to have sex with) and Leon Black (who employed Epstein as a director of his charity for more than a decade). “MoMA should… drape the Leon Black and Dubin Galleries in black and put up wall labels explaining why,” says founding member Frida Kahlo, adding that the group would be happy to help the museum write the labels. MoMA declined to comment. (NY Post)

The FT Takes a Look at Hans Neuendorf’s Career – The 82-year-old founder of artnet, Hans Neuendorf, reflects on the legacy of artnet as the company celebrates its 30th anniversary. The transparency offered by the price database, which has 11 million page views a month and turned over $7.7 million in subscriptions last year, has helped increase the number of people collecting art—but also played a role in the current obsession with high prices. Now, Neuendorf is looking to the future, promising a refreshed look for the website—which still has some of its source code in place from the ’80s—within the next nine months. Can’t get enough Neuendorf? Read our six-part interview on his life and career. (FT)

Emma Sulkowicz Has Quit the Art World – New York magazine takes a deep dive into the latest evolution of Emma Sulkowicz, the performance artist who became famous for carrying a mattress around Columbia University’s campus to protest its handling of her sexual assault case. Now, having found the art world “humorless, narrow-minded, and grotesquely competitive,” she has stopped making art entirely—although she is working on a memoir that draws from her diaries from Mattress Performance. Instead, she is studying traditional Chinese medicine and has become friends with a new set of conservative and libertarian thinkers. Some—including her new friends—have asked if this new chapter is simply a performance, but Sulkowicz insists otherwise. “I’m telling you that I don’t want to make art anymore,” she says. (The Cut) 

Did Neanderthals Really Make This Cave Art? – A consortium of 44 researchers have published an article in a scientific journal contesting the uranium-thorium dating of rock art in three Spanish caves, arguing that the art that has been dated to roughly 65,000 years ago is actually tens of thousands of years younger. The group, which suspects water leaching into the cave may have thrown off the uranium-thorium results, is asking for the age estimates to be confirmed by other dating techniques. They claim there is no compelling evidence that Neanderthals created the designs, which include painted symbols and hand outlines, and that they were more likely executed by Stone Age humans. “This is probably the first time 44 cave art researchers have agreed on anything,” one researcher told Science News. (Science News)


Léger Painting Heads to Christie’s – Fernand Léger’s 1921 painting Woman and Child is hitting the auction block at Christie’s New York on November 11. The classic painting of a female figure holding a child, which has never before appeared at auction, carries an estimate of $8 million to $12 million. (Press release)

Oliver Hoare’s Collection Goes Under the Hammer – The eclectic collection of the late British dealer sold for $1.9 million with fees at Christie’s London. But a Timurid manuscript dated 1459 with a £1.9 million upper estimate failed to find a buyer. Oliver Hoare, who had an affair with the Princess of Wales, was the go-to dealer for the late Qatari mega-collector Sheikh Saud bin Mohammed Al-Thani. (The Art Newspaper)


Baltimore Museum Names Two New Curators – As part of its ongoing push to diversify its collection, the Baltimore Museum of Art has appointed two new associate curators, Jessica Bell Brown and Leila Grothe, who are interested in “bringing to light the voices and innovations of a wide range of artists.” Brown, who comes from the Gracie Manson Conservancy, and Grothe, who comes from the Wattis Institute at the California College of the Arts, will take up their new roles on November 18. (Press release)

The Corcoran Is Launching a Degree in Social Practice Art – Next fall, the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design will begin offering a two-year Master of Fine Arts program in social practice. Officials decided to create the program after they observed that more students were showing an interest in creating art to promote social justice. The interdisciplinary degree, for which applications are now open, delves into a variety of fields, including the history and theory of socially engaged art. (GW Hatchet)


Reina Sofia Museum Expands – The Reina Sofia museum in Madrid is adding 22 galleries for its permanent collection in 2021 as part of a €3.1 million ($3.4 million) expansion plan for its Sabatini building. Architects Juan Pablo Rodríguez Frade and Aurora Herrera Gómez won the design competition, and the project, which is expected to begin construction in February, will be half funded by the Spanish ministry of culture and half by the institution itself. (El Pais)

Giant Opioid Spoon Heads to Chelsea – A drug rehabilitation clinic in New York will display a giant anti-opioid sculpture by Domenic Esposito in its lobby. The protest art is a version of the Purdue Spoon he displayed outside the OxyContin maker’s headquarters last year. Jason Arsenault, the director of Mountainside’s new clinic in Chelsea, says the spoon “brings awareness of how opioid addiction starts from prescription medication.” Some neighbors are unhappy with the choice, however. One said that the display is like showing alcoholics “a beautiful beer with foam dripping down the side of the glass.” (New York Post)

See Images From Anish Kapoor’s Beijing Show – Anish Kapoor’s first solo museum show in China has opened at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. The British artist is presenting four monumental and performative installations alongside a display of architectural scale models of many of his well-known, global public commissions. A second part of the show is slated to open at the Tai Miao Art Museum inside the ancient palace of the Imperial Ancestral Temple on November 11. (artnet News)

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.