Art Industry News: Sheena Wagstaff, Who Overhauled the Met’s Contemporary Program, Is Leaving After 10 Years + Other Stories

Plus, Sotheby's expands in Brussels, and Cindy Sherman and Cate Blanchett compare notes about getting into character.

Sheena Wagstaff, the chairman for Modern and contemporary art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. © 2013 MMA, photograph by Jackie Neale.

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, May 5.


Cindy Sherman and Cate Blanchett Tour Artist’s Iconic Untitled Film Stills Show – As Cindy Sherman was preparing for her debut exhibition of early work at Hauser & Wirth, she met with actor Cate Blanchett to discuss their different approaches to getting into character—something both women are incredibly good at doing. Blanchett described herself as a “massive” fan of Sherman. (New York Times)

Sotheby’s to Stage Largest Sale of Aboriginal Work Outside Australia – After a hiatus, Sotheby’s will revive its live auction of Aboriginal art on May 25 in New York. It will feature more than 100 works by historic Aboriginal artists including Emily Kame Kngwarreye and Ronnie Tjampitjinpa. Also on offer is never-before-seen work by Indigenous artist William Barak, estimated at between $15,000 and $25,000. (Press release)

Sheena Wagstaff Is Leaving the Met – After 10 years as chairman of the department of modern and contemporary art at the Met, Sheena Wagstaff is moving on. The curator, who beefed up the museum’s international contemporary art program with acclaimed exhibitions by artists including Kerry James Marshall, Gerhard Richter, Lygia Pape, and Jack Whitten, said that a tough recovery from coronavirus made her reassess her priorities. She will remain in the New York art world but declined to discuss specifics of her next moves. (New York Times)

Outcry Following Destruction of Native Ballerina Statue – Thieves in Tulsa, Oklahoma, destroyed a statue of the Native American ballerina Marjorie Tallchief and sold the parts to a local recycling center for about $250. Tallchief was an American ballerina active in the 1940s and ’50s and a member of the Osage Nation. The Tulsa Historical Society and Museum, which owned the work, is asking for tips that may lead them to the culprits. (Guardian)


New York Mayor Appoints Club Owner to Met Board – New York City mayor Eric Adams has named the owner of Zero Bond, a NoHo boîte at which he—along with many art-world denizens—is a regular, as his representative on the board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The 47-year-old nightlife impresario Scott Sartiano joined the board in February. (Politico)

Sotheby’s Expands in Brussels – In light of record levels of Belgian clients participating in Sotheby’s sales, the auction house has decided to open a bigger branch in Brussels this month. The news comes after René Magritte’s L’empire des lumières was sold by Belgian collector Anne-Marie Gillion Crowet for $79.8 million in March, making it the most valuable painting ever auctioned in Europe. Its first showroom there will focus on a mix of fine art and luxury items. (Press release)

London Gallery Weekend Returns – The second edition of the event will run from May 13 to 15, spread across boroughs in the city, with a total of 150 contemporary art dealers participating. Together with Art Fund, London Gallery Weekend will bring curators from 18 institutions outside of London to town in hopes of strengthening the connection between regional museums and the capital’s art scene. (Financial Times)


Museum of Women to Open in New York City – Rights of women may be under attack across the United States, but never fear: a new museum dedicated to women is set to open this summer at 480 Broadway in New York City in a former Topshop. The venue will feature around a dozen interactive and immersive experiences, as well as a gift shop that sells goods from women-owned vendors. (Tribeca Citizen)


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