Art Industry News: MOCA L.A. Workers Score Their First Collective Bargaining Agreement With the Museum + Other Stories

Plus, someone almost punched David Cameron at London Gallery Weekend, and see Nick Cave's newest mosaics for the New York subway system.

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. (Photo by Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times 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 Tuesday, May 17.


Is It OK to Take Money From Len Blavatnik? – Newly public correspondence reveals officials debated the question in the days following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as Blavatnik, the U.K.’s richest man, pledged millions of pounds to save the collection known as the Honresfield Library from being sold outside of the U.K. Blavatnik has not been sanctioned, but he does have ties to sanctioned Russian oligarchs. A spokesperson for the knighted billionaire stressed that he is not involved with Putin, Russian politics, or the Russian government. (Guardian)

David Cameron Almost Got Punched at London Gallery Weekend – The former U.K. Prime Minister was spotted among a star-studded crowd at Jake Chapman’s first solo show at Paradise Row Projects in Mayfair during London Gallery Weekend—and the artist was not pleased. Chapman said he was “shocked” and considered throwing the “useless and inept” former PM out, but ultimately concluded that his banner artwork spelling out “Extinction and Annihilation” was “doing the work” by making Cameron look stupid. (The Art Newspaper)

MOCA Los Angeles Workers Agree to CBA – Unionized staffers at the L.A. museum signed their first collective bargaining agreement with management since first organizing in 2019. In a statement, AFSCME, the union’s umbrella organization, said it had secured wage increases, expanded health benefits (especially for part-time workers), and supplemental paid family leave. “Our industry struggled at the beginning of the pandemic, but it was though sticking together as our union, and through negotiations, that we were able to protect our jobs and support each other,” said Ace Ubas, a museum retail coordinator.

Susanne Pfeffer Faces Toxic Workplace Allegations – Employees at the Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art (MMK) have lodged allegations of physical and psychological overload, institutional violence, lack of trust, and poor communication against the institution’s management, particularly its director Pfeffer. In a six-page letter signed by 80 percent of the staff, employees reiterated complaints they first made in 2019, which they say went unaddressed. (FAZ)


Howard Acquires Large Gordon Parks Collection – A collection of more than 250 photographs by Gordon Parks will now be housed at Howard University in Washington, D.C. The Gordon Parks Legacy Collection, a combined gift-purchase, spans five decades of the artist’s career. (Press release)

Denver Art Museum Deaccessions Benin Bronze – The Colorado museum has officially removed a Benin plaque from its collection, becoming the latest institution taking steps to restitute objects pillaged from the royal palace of Benin in 1897. The DAM acquired the bronze in 1955 from New York’s Carlebach Gallery. (Denver Post)

Exeter Museum to Return Chief’s Regalia – In other restitution news, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery in Exeter, Canada, will return a ceremonial dress, including a bow case and quiver, to the descendants of its original owner, the 19th century leader Chief Crowfoot. (Evening Standard)

Chloe Sevigny and Sinsa Macovic Tied the Knot (Again) – The 47-year-old actress, often described as the “coolest girl in New York,” married the 40-year-old director of Karma gallery in a ceremony in front of their families and friends in Connecticut two years after their City Hall wedding and the birth of their son, Vanja. Art-world figures in attendance included museum director Klaus Biesenbach and artists Matt Connors and Tara Subkoff. (Elle)


Nick Cave Makes Two New MTA Murals– The Metropolitan Transit Authority of New York this week unveiled the Chicago-based artist’s newest murals, which supplement Every One, the MTA’s largest mural, also made by Cave and unveiled in September 2021. The new works, the artist said, titled Each One and Equal All, are “a reminder that we are all unique and special individuals comprised of different characteristics and built from a lifetime of gathered memories.”


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