Art Industry News: The Humboldt Forum, Berlin’s Most Controversial Art Project, Finally Has an Actual Opening Date + Other Stories

Plus, two arts figures win MacArthur "genius" grants and Superblue announces its inaugural program for Miami.

The construction site around the Humboldt Forum in Berlin. Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/dpa/ZB. Photo by Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance via 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 Wednesday, October 7.


Two Artists Are Among the MacArthur Winners – The artist and choreographer Ralph Lemon and the cultural theorist Fred Moten are among the 21 recipients of the MacArthur Foundation’s “Genius” grants this year. The prize is an unrestricted grant of $625,000 administered over five years. Lemon is best known for his conceptual performances, while Moten’s work focuses on “emerging forms of Black aesthetics, cultural production, and social life.” (Artforum)

Virginia Senate Strikes Down Bill to Facilitate Monument Removal – The Virginia Senate has scrapped a bill that would make it easier to remove Confederate monuments in the state. While local governments are currently permitted to dismantle Confederate statues, the bill would have removed additional hurdles such as two 30-day waiting periods and the requirement to give the public advance notice before removing statues. While the bill passed the state House in September, the Senate committee struck it down on Monday. The Democratic delegate who proposed the bill, Delores L. McQuinn, plans to propose a revised version in January. (Hyperallergic)

After Significant Delays (and a Small Fire), the Humboldt Forum Will Open in December – The highly anticipated Berlin museum for the city-state’s ethnological collections finally has an opening date. The institution will open on December 17 in four phases that roll out over the next year. The first will be focused on the building’s architecture and history, followed by a show for children in January 2021. Its main programming will not begin until around Easter, with a long-planned show focused on the ivory trade. The museum has been beset by delays in construction (including a fire this summer) as well as surging skepticism about how it will address Germany’s colonial legacy. (Press release)

UK Chancellor Denies Suggesting That Artists Should Retrain for Practical Jobs – The UK chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has said that his explosive comments in a recent interview on ITV News were taken out of context. Sunak was quoted as saying, “I can’t pretend that everyone can do exactly the same job that they were doing at the beginning of this crisis,” which raised the hackles of many in the arts and culture industry. The article suggested the chancellor thought people in creative industries would have to retrain, find other jobs, and “adapt to a new reality.” Following Sunak’s objections, the article was updated to clarify that the chancellor’s comments referred to “employment generally, and not specifically about the music or arts sectors.” (TwitterITV)


ARTnews Names the Top 200 Art Collectors – ARTnews has released its annual list of top 200 collectors. Alongside many of the usual suspects, such as MoMA donors Leon and Debra Black and Russian oligarchs Roman Abramovich and Len Blavatnik, are some new faces. First-timers include Amazon chief Jeff Bezos, who has recently gotten into contemporary art, and Artnet innovator Arthur Lewis and his partner, Hau Nguyen. (ARTnews)

Superblue Announces Its Inaugural Program – Superblue, the experiential art space in Miami cofounded by Pace’s president Marc Glimcher, will open on December 22 with a show of large-scale installations called “Every Wall Is a Door.” On view until 2022, it will include immersive art by Es Devlin, teamLab, and James Turrell. Tickets start at $30. (Press release)


Tickets to the Great Wall Sell Out as Tourism Rebounds in China – After a nine-month lockdown, China is seeing tourism return as the country went on a week-long holiday beginning October 1. Tickets to the Great Wall sold out as some 425 million people traveled domestically. According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the volume of travelers was just 20 percent lower than last year. (Bloomberg)

Jon Henry Wins Arnold Newman Prize – The Brooklyn-based artist won the prize, which honors new directions in photographic portraiture, for his project Stranger Fruit, for which he asked Black mothers to pose with their sons in their arms, a reference to the image of the Madonna and child. The series will be on view at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, Massachusetts until October 23. (Hyperallergic)


Artists Rights Group Hopes Election Will End Travel Ban – Ahead of the US elections on November 3, the Artistic Freedom Initiative is drawing attention to President Donald Trump’s 2017 executive order that placed a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries, including Iraq, Somalia, and Sudan. The group will produce a series of Instagram live interviews with banned and displaced artists in the lead-up to Election Day. (The Art Newspaper)

Portrait of Queen Victoria’s African Goddaughter Unveiled – English Heritage will reveal a portrait by artist Hannah Uzor of the orphaned African princess Sarah Forbes Bonetta, who went on to become the goddaughter of Queen Victoria. The portrait is part of an initiative to commission and display works that highlight previously marginalized historic Black figures. (Guardian)

Ibrahim Mahama Drapes the University of Michigan’s Museum – The Ghanaian artist has been on Zoom for the past few weeks explaining to staff at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities how to stitch together the hundreds of large jute sacks that comprise his interventions. The resulting work—made of 4,452 square feet of panels—now covers the facade of the university’s museum. Mahama is currently an artist-in-residence there, but has been fulfilling the duties from afar due to lockdown. (Press release)

Ibrahim Mahama's exhibition "In-Between the World and Dreams" is on view at the University of Michigan Museum of Art until Oct. 23, 2020. Photo by Eric Bronson/Michigan Photography.

Ibrahim Mahama’s exhibition “In-Between the World and Dreams” is on view at the University of Michigan Museum of Art until Oct. 23, 2020. Photo by Eric Bronson/Michigan Photography.

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