Art Industry News: Klaus Biesenbach Agrees That the Timing of His New Museum Director Gig Is ‘Not Great’ + Other Stories

Plus, Prospect New Orleans will stagger its openings following Hurricane Ida, and Hong Kong police raid the Tiananmen Square Museum.

Klaus Biesenbach. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for New York Times.

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 Monday, September 13.


Hong Kong Police Raid Tiananmen Square Museum – Four members of the group behind Hong Kong’s Tiananmen Square Museum were detained on Wednesday, September 8, including Chow Hang Tung, the prominent pro-democracy activist and barrister. The individuals from the Hong Kong Alliance were arrested under the national security law, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Authorities also removed exhibits and art, including a paper model of the “Goddess of Democracy” and photographs of candlelit vigils for the victims of the 1989 government crackdown. (BBC)

What Working at the New Museum Was Really Like – Underneath the patina of contemporary coolness, the New Museum was a place of exploitation, according to one former staffer turned union organizer. “Salaries were so low that full-time employees worked extra jobs,” Dana Kopel wrote. “An hourly rate in visitor services and the bookstore teetered just above minimum wage and hadn’t gone up in several years.” In a particularly revealing moment, Kopel recounts a meeting with Hans Haacke, legendary proponent of institutional critique, who said he was prepared to cross the union’s picket line if they went on strike before his exhibition opened. (The Baffler)

Klaus Biesenbach Was Just as Surprised as You Were – Just days after his new L.A. MOCA co-director was named, the museum leader surprised everyone by announcing he would take on the role of director at Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie and the Museum of 20th Century Art. Several board members told the Times they felt betrayed by the decision, while Biesenbach said the move came together quickly. “I understand everybody to be surprised because I am also surprised,” he said, acknowledging that the “timing is not great.” (New York Times) 

Reflecting on the History of the Studio Museum – This roundtable featuring curators Naomi Beckwith, Thelma Golden, Lowery Stokes Sims, and Thomas Jean Lax on the history of the Studio Museum in Harlem is essential reading. Reflecting on the continued necessity of the institution today, Golden said: “Lowery was the first Black curator of the Met. I was the first Black curator at the Whitney Museum. When we both left our positions to go to the Studio Museum, it meant those two institutions did not in that moment have a Black curator. What I think we both understood then is we need all of it.” (Artforum)


LACMA Nabs Indigenous American Art Gift – The Reiter family is gifting 109 Indigenous American artworks to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The works span a wide range of media and eras, with a particular strength in ceramics produced in the Southwest in the 19th and 20th centuries. (Press release)

Prospect New Orleans to Stagger Openings After Ida – The fifth edition of the triennial—which was founded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina—will open in stages beginning October 23 due to the damage caused by the recent Hurricane Ida. All projects will be live by November 13. The gala has also been rescheduled from October to January 2022. (The Art Newspaper)

Montreal Museum Gets Print Gift – The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has received a gift of eight prints by Rembrandt, James Tissot, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Odilon Redon, Édouard Vuillard, Marc Chagall, and Gerald Leslie Brockhurst from Canadian collectors Irwin and Freda Browns. The images focus on the depiction of women (though you will notice there is nary a female artist among the group). (Press release)


Arc de Triomphe Wrapping Nears Completion – The €14 million ($16.5 million) dream project of Christo, who died in 2020, will finally be complete on September 18. Workers were dangling off the Arc de Triomphe over the weekend as the historic monument was carefully wrapped in white fabric to the artist’s specifications. (Le Figaro)

Fabric panels are beeing unfurled in front of the outer walls of the Arc de Triomphe. Paris, September 12, 2021. Photo by Matthias Koddenberg 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation.

Fabric panels are beeing unfurled in front of the outer walls of the Arc de Triomphe. Paris, September 12, 2021. Photo by Matthias Koddenberg. 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation.

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