Art Industry News: Meow Wolf Workers Claw Back at the Immersive Art Company With a Lawsuit Over Alleged Union-Busting + Other Stories

Plus, an auction house publishes a questionable Banksy catalogue raisonne, and a Bay Area university will take over the beleaguered San Francisco Art Institute.

The Meow Wolf tourist attraction in an old bowling alley in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: MARK RALSTON/AFP 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 this Friday, February 4.


Dutch Auction House to Publish Unauthorized Banksy Catalogue Raisonne – Richard Hessink, the owner of Hessink’s auction house in Amsterdam, is publishing a catalogue raisonne featuring nearly 1,000 Banksy murals executed over the past 25 years in April. However, only around 300 of the works featured have appeared on the artist’s website or books, and the catalogue is not authenticated by the artist. The catalogue will be published in April after the sale of three Banksy murals, which are expected to fetch a total of €700,000 ($802,378) (The Art Newspaper)

U.K. to Review Artworks Related to Slavery, Colonialism, and Racism – Three hundred out of some 14,000 artworks in the U.K. government collection are subject to an expansive review and reinterpretation over issues related to slavery, colonialism and racism. The collection previously tagged some of the works on its website to note that they were under review, but the tags have since been removed. It is thought that the review will cover works including 26 portraits of Queen Victoria, portraits of other British monarchs, two portrait prints of George Washington, and 13 works relating to Jamaica. (The Art Newspaper)

Meow Wolf Workers File Unfair Labor Practices Suit – Workers at the multimillion-dollar immersive arts and entertainment company have accused it of being “anti-union” because they say it has not cooperated with their union since they formed it in the fall of 2020. They have filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board over union-busting activity. The company, which runs permanent exhibitions in three cities, has laid off 201 employees and furloughed 56 during the pandemic last year. (Observer)

Commission Says Damaged Colston Statue Should Go to a Museum – The statue of Bristol slave trader Edward Colston that was toppled during a Black Lives Matter protest in June 2020 should be exhibited in a museum, lying flat and covered in red paint, according to the We Are Bristol History Commission, which made the recommendation after a citywide consultation. The statue created in 1895 by the Irish sculptor John Cassidy was taken down and tossed into the harbor by four people who were cleared of charges in January. The work was retrieved and citizens of Bristol said it should go on display in its damaged form alongside information about the history of slavery. (Guardian)


Adriana Farietta Joins Armory Show as Deputy Director – The former advancement deputy at Ballroom Marfa in west Texas will be starting her new role at the Armory Show on February 14, managing the fair’s VIP program and strategic partnerships. Farietta had worked on Ballroom Marfa’s fundraising initiatives, public programming, and projects with artists such as Loie Hollowell and Leo Villareal. She was previously with the Brooklyn Museum’s development team and a director at Johannes Vogt Gallery in New York. (ARTnews)

Financially-Strapped San Francisco Art Institute to Merge with University – The 150-year-old art school has reached an agreement with the University of San Francisco to integrate operations and academic programs. The merger will eventually lead to the university’s acquisition of the art school, taking over its historical buildings, art and film collections, and other assets. The integration is expected to begin in fall. (New York Times)

Australia Will Build a $228 Million Indigenous Culture Center – The center to be situated on the shore of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra will be called Ngurra, which means home, country, or place of belonging. It will include a national resting place for Indigenous remains repatriated from abroad, and a new headquarters for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. An architectural competition is expected to be launched this month and the Ngurra is slated for opening in four years. (The Art Newspaper)

Arthur Brand Returns Ancient Statue to Museum After Almost 50 Years – The art detective dubbed the “Indiana Jones of the art world” returned a statue of the Roman god Bacchus from the 1st century to the Musee du Pays Chatillonnais in France. The statue was stolen in 1973 and thought to be lost. But it resurfaced when Brand, who has successfully located numerous lost artworks, was contacted by an Austrian buyer to investigate. Eventually, it was identified as the lost statue and returned to the museum. (CBS)


A New Instagram Feed Recounts Heyday of Art School in the ’90s – Art school in the 1990s looks like it was a lot more fun than it is now, at least by the images on the Instagram account called 90s Art School, an art project that features old images and snapshots crowdsourced from various former art students. “It was like we expended a decade’s worth of energy on images that no one has seen. I was interested in trying to create joy using that latent energy,” said the project’s creator, Matthew Atkatz, a 1997 graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design. (NYT)


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