Art Industry News: The Louvre Has Given Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ a New Birthday + Other Stories

Plus, sculptor Antony Gormley slams art fairs' "profligate" use of resources and the retail apocalypse may be good news for galleries.

Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi (ca. 1500). Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd.

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, September 11.


Antony Gormley on Art Fairs’ Big Carbon Footprint – The British sculptor wants the art world to reduce its carbon footprint—though he admits that he is part of the problem. Speaking to The Sunday Times ahead of his major survey at London’s Royal Academy, Gormley admits, “I’ve been absolutely hook, line, and sinkered by it!” He notes that art fairs are particularly profligate with resources, especially as they serve a “minute proportion of the world’s population.” The art world will soon have to wrestle with the problem. In its level of waste and destruction, he says, “there’s no question that the art fair is [up there] along with probably the arms industry.” (The Art Newspaper)

Will the Rise of Amazon Help Art? – As an increasing number of storefronts stand empty across New York, gallerists and nonprofits see an opportunity. Leading the way is the Swiss Institute, which moves to a former bank in the East Village converted by leading architect Annabelle Selldorf. With the rise of Amazon and online shopping, a glut of empty spaces that used to be chain stores or banks could be a boon for other nonprofits, artists, and gallerists. Johannes Vogt thinks that it is a renter’s market at the moment in the city, with landlords dropping rents and no longer holding out for “luxury tenants.” He was offered 50 percent off the first year for a ground-floor space in Tribeca that used to be retail. Simon Castets, the director of the Swiss Institute, says the closure of multiple Duane Reade locations across the city alone has opened up opportunities for enterprising arts organizations. (Vulture)

Salvator Mundi Is Getting a New Date – The whereabouts of the world’s most expensive painting remain unclear, but Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi is expected to be included in the catalogue for the Louvre’s forthcoming Leonardo da Vinci blockbuster exhibition with a confirmed attribution and a new date, placing it closer to 1510 than 1500, as it was initially dated. It is unknown whether the painting will surface at the show in the flesh—it has not been seen in public since it sold at Christie’s in 2017. The exhibition will be divided into four chapters that trace Leonardo’s artistic evolution. (TAN)

Purdue Pharma Insists Deal to Settle Opioid Cases Is Possible – The Sackler-owned pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma insists that a multibillion-dollar deal to settle the more than 1,000 lawsuits related to its role in the opioid crisis is still on the table. After US state attorneys said they thought that the company would file for bankruptcy, Purdue told NPR that negotiations were continuing. Eight members of the Sackler family, some of whom are major arts philanthropists, have reportedly agreed to give up “the entire value” of the company and contribute to a possible $12 billion settlement. They deny allegations that they transferred around $4 billion from Purdue to themselves between 2008 and 2016 as the backlash against their role in the opioid crisis mounted. (TAN)


Everyone Wants a Vija Celmins – The veteran artist’s paintings now sell for upwards of $5 million and drawings for about $1 million—that is, if you can get your hands on one. When Celmins’s touring retrospective opens at the Met Breuer on September 21, her prices are set to increase and the waiting list will get even longer. Part of the challenge is that Celmins, who has always been resistant to the market, works really slowly. “It was always as difficult to get her to release her work as it was to get her to raise her prices,” says her former dealer David McKee. “That’s Vija.” (Bloomberg)

The Top of the Market Is Shrinking – AM New York takes a look at the latest artnet Intelligence Report and zeroes in on the fact that sales for trophy works priced at over $10 million have shrunk 35 percent in the first half of the year compared to the equivalent period in 2018. In fact, the $10 million-and-up sector hit its lowest point since 2016. More works are hitting the auction block now than in previous seasons, but because there are fewer expensive outliers, the average price of a work at auction has dropped 28 percent, to $46,281. (AM New Yorkartnet News)

Gagosian Adds the Estate of Simon HantaïThe estate of the French abstract artist has been nabbed by Gagosian. Hantaï’s work was previously shown by Kasmin gallery of New York and Timothy Taylor of London and New York. Gagosian will present his first show at the gallery in October at its Le Bourget space near Paris. (ARTnews)

Presenhuber Will Represent Tschabalala Self – The American artist Tschabalala Self will be represented by Galerie Eva Presenhuber, which plans to open a solo show of her work in New York in May 2020. Self will continue to be represented by Pilar Corrias in London. (Press release)


Tiona Nekkia McClodden Wins the Whitney’s Bucksbaum Award – The Philadelphia-based artist has won the Whitney Museum of American Art’s top prize, which was founded to recognize an artist of note featured in the current edition of the Whitney Biennial. McClodden is showing a multichannel video installation called I prayed to the wrong god for you that charts the artist’s initiation into the Afro-Cuban religion Santería/Lucumí. (Artforum)

Major British Museum Loan Heads to the Getty – Squeezed for space and unable to show all of its treasures, the British Museum has decided to lend an important group of Assyrian sculpture reliefs to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles for three years. The loan includes the Banquet Scene, which is known as the world’s finest relief panel from Assyria and has not been shown consistently for more than a decade. (TAN)

The Louvre Expands Islamic Art Wing The Louvre Museum has unveiled new spaces dedicated to Islamic art. The Paris institution is opening a renovated reception area and a new temporary exhibition space. The project was funded with support from the Alwaleed Philanthropies Humanitarian Foundation. (Sortir Paris)


Reconsidering Hitler’s Art Theft – Hitler’s Last Hostages: Looted Art and the Soul of the Third Reich is out in print today, a detailed and intensely researched book by former Wall Street Journal journalist Mary M. Lane. Hitler’s Last Hostages examines the legacy of looted art left behind by Hitler and World War II from his campaign of cultural tyranny. Lane fast forwards to today, recounting the discovery of the Gurlitt trove of looted art, and the German authorities’ handling of this incredibly sensitive and problematic past. (New York Times)

Phoenix Museum Struggles Following Director Departure – The Phoenix Art Museum has been suffering since it underwent major changes earlier this summer, when its director Amada Cruz left to take over as director and CEO of the Seattle Art Museum. Now, a few short months after her departure, Vanessa Davidson, curator of Latin American Art has announced her resignation at the Phoenix institution for a position in Austin, Texas. (KJZZ)

Berlin Art Week Kicks Off Across the German Capital The annual Berlin Art Week is back with scores of openings and events going on across the city’s many project spaces, museums, private collections, and galleries. It all starts today and runs through September 15. Tomorrow, the fair art berlin opens at the historic Tempelhof airport. Before you hit the streets, check out our top picks of what to see and do. (artnet News)

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