Art Industry News: Are the ‘Morality Wars’ the New Culture Wars? + Other Stories

Plus, Shirin Neshat's portraits of Malala Yousafzai go up at the National Portrait Gallery and Spain is hunting a KISS fan who vandalized a medieval sculpture.

Protesting Dana Schutz at the Whitney. Image via @hei_scott Twitter.

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 this Wednesday, October 3.


Spain Hunts a KISS Fan Who Vandalized a Medieval Sculpture – A vandal in the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela painted the face of a recently restored medieval statue in the makeup style of US rock band KISS. Spain has decried the act as “patrimonial barbarism” and vowed to catch the culprit. Conservators plan to remove the graffiti with lasers. (The Art Newspaper)

David Hockney Made a Stained Glass Window for the Queen – Westminster Abbey unveiled a new stained glass window by Hockney to honor the 65th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The 81-year-old artist had previously turned down the chance to paint the monarch’s portrait because “I’m not sure how to paint her… because she’s not an ordinary human being.” The design, adapted from a Hockney iPad drawing of a hawthorn bush, was produced by a 10-person team led by stained glass artist Helen Whittaker. (New York Times)

Are the ‘Morality Wars’ the New Culture Wars? – Critic Wesley Morris looks at the new moral imperatives governing culture today and finds that a “person who insults, harasses or much, much worse is ‘problematic,’ and certain ‘problematic’ people, and their work, gets ‘canceled.’” He sees the Dana Schutz controversy at the Whitney Museum as the prime example of this new critical movement’s chief goal: “to protect and condemn work, not for its quality, per se, but for its values.” (NYT)

Anne Pasternak Shares Her #MeToo Story – The Brooklyn Museum director is sharing her own story of sexual assault, writing on Instagram that she has been a victim several times. In the wake of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, Pasternak tells the Art Newspaper that “it is time culture leaders in the US take a stand.” (TAN)


Judge Orders the Return of a Nazi-Looted Pissarro The November ruling that collectors Bruce and Robbi Toll must return Camille Pissarro’s La Cueillette des Pois (Picking Peas) to the heirs of Jewish collector Simon Bauer, from whom it was stolen by the Vichy regime during World War II, has been upheld in an appeals court. The Tolls purchased the painting for $800,000 in 1995; it is now estimated at $1.8 million. (Associated Press)

Court Allows the Sale of Berkshire Museum Artwork – A judge has upheld an earlier ruling that there’s no standing to oppose the Berkshire Museum’s planned auction of works from its collection. The last two works of the 20 approved for sale will come up for auction at Sotheby’s next month with the hope of raising $55 million for the museum’s endowment and renovations. (Press release)

A JR Work in the Robin Williams Sale Benefits Human Rights Watch – In 2011, comedian Robin Williams purchased a photograph of three nuns helping French street artist JR paste his giant portraits in Palestine. Now, as that work, Face 2 Face. 28 Millimètres: Face 2 Face, Nuns In Action, Separation Wall. Security Fence, Palestinian Side, Bethlehem, comes to auction to benefit Human Rights Watch, JR recalls the circumstances of its creation. (Sotheby’s)

Stamps From the Year of the Monkey Are a Hit at Hong Kong Auction – A complete set of China’s 1980 Golden Monkey stamps sold for HK$1,357,000 ($173,974) at Zurich Asia last week. The first in a series of annual Chinese New Year stamps, the Golden Monkey is a favorite among philatelists, despite the government having printed up to 5 million of them. (Art Daily)


Philadelphia Museum Taps Veteran Getty Curator – Louis Marchesano, curator of prints and drawings at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles since 2002, will join the Philadelphia Museum of Art as senior curator of prints, drawings, and photographs. He’ll start work in January, succeeding Innis Shoemaker, who retired this year after more than 30 years with the museum. (Art Daily)

Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts Names Rachel Adams Chief Curator – Rachel Adams, the senior curator of exhibitions for the University at Buffalo Art Galleries, will become chief curator and director of programs of the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Nebraska. Among her many curatorial projects in Buffalo, she co-organized the city’s first posthumous retrospective for Tony Conrad, who taught at the university for 40 years. (Art Forum)

North Carolina Museum of Art Appoints Valerie Hillings Director  – Following the retirement of Larry Wheeler, who headed North Carolina’s state art museum since 1994, the institution has hired Valerie Hillings, a Duke University alumnus. Hillings was previously a curator and associate director of curatorial affairs at New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, where she has worked since 2004. (The News & Observer)


The African American Museum Is Requiring Passes Again – The ever-popular Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has suspended its temporary policy of allowing walk-up visitors on weekdays. The program is returning in January, but for now, tourists must reserve passes online in order to get in. (Washington Post)

Is This Munch Lookalike in a Minnesota College’s Collection Authentic? – In six to eight weeks, Minnesota’s St. Olaf College should have the results of tests conducted by the Scientific Analysis of Fine Arts on a painting that just might be by Edvard Munch. The work, donated to the school by an alumnus in 1999, is thought to depict Munch’s former lover, British violinist Eva Mudocci. (Star Tribune)

Mysterious Ancient Rock Art Found in India – A pair of engineers with a passion for hiking have been helping discover and document ancient rock art in India’s Maharashtra state. To date, more than 200 petroglyphs, thought to date to the Neolithic era—as early as 10,000 BC—have been found in the region. (Smithsonian Magazine)

Malala Yousafzai’s Portrait Goes on View at National Gallery – Artist Shirin Neshat has debuted two new portraits of Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who who became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, at London’s National Portrait Gallery. Neshat has calligraphed each photograph with a poem Rahmat Shah Sayel wrote in honor of Yousafazia, who is now 21. (Instagram)

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