Art Industry News: Banksy Reveals What He Had Planned for His Post-Brexit Mural + Other Stories
Plus, an ex-British Museum director warns against restitution and Nan Goldin stages a die-in over the Sacklers' "fake settlement."
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 Friday, September 13.
Bahamas’s National Gallery Recovers From Storm – The director of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas in Nassau says its priority is helping those who were displaced by Hurricane Dorian, although the museum itself was damaged by the storm. “We’re dealing with people first,” said director Amanda Coulson. She has teamed up with the artist Angelika Wallace-Whitfield to create “Bahamas Strong” T-shirts, with the proceeds from sales going to support the worst affected. The art museum has also launched the “We Gatchu” campaign, working with mental health professionals to support survivors of the storm. People housed in shelters can catch a free bus to visit the museum and attend meetings and meditation sessions. “The whole country is traumatized,” Coulson says. (ARTnews)
Ex-British Museum Director Warns Against Restitution – Former British Museum director Neil MacGregor has pushed back against the Sarr-Savoy report recommending the restitution of African art looted during the colonial era. MacGregor, who has played a key role in shaping Berlin’s new Humboldt Forum, which will house its ethnography collection, called the report “extreme,” and criticized the French President Emmanuel Macron, who commissioned it. MacGregor restated his preference for loans of disputed artifacts, warning that even these could have unintended consequences. He claimed the director of the National Museum of Iran Azedah Ardakani fired and jailed because of political controversies that followed the British Museum’s loan of the Cyrus cylinder to Tehran in 2011. (Times)
Banksy Speaks Out After Anti-Brexit Mural Is Censored – Banksy was naturally upset when his anti-Brexit mural was whitewashed in Dover. He has now posted an image to show how he had planned to update that mural the day Britain leaves the European Union, should Brexit happen on October 31. It shows the EU flag lying crumpled on the floor as a workman on a ladder keeps chipping away at Britain’s gold star. Banksy dismissed his mural being mysteriously censored, writing: “Never mind. I guess a big white flag says it just as well.” Dover’s local MP, who is a Conservative Leave supporter, said the mural Banksy painted on an empty hotel building in 2017 should have been protected by Historic England. A spokeswoman for the heritage agency said that the work of art was too new to qualify for listed status. (Kent Online)
Nan Goldin Protests the Sacklers’ “Fake Settlement” – The activist-artist and the campaign group P.A.I.N. staged a die-in protest at Purdue Pharma’s HQ in Connecticut. In a statement, the group denounced the Sacklers’ proposed deal to avoid a court case over the company’s marketing of the addictive opioid drug Oxycontin as a “fake settlement” and a “hoax.” Goldin and P.A.I.N. allege that the Sacklers “fraudulently transferred” $4 billion from Purdue Pharma into offshore accounts to protect it from litigation. “They shamelessly offer billions in Oxycontin, their drug that ignited this crisis, to pay off their debt,” it added. The protest came as the company holds talks with US attorney generals in an attempt to strike a possible $12 billion deal. (Press release)
The “Last” Botticelli Comes to Frieze Masters – The Old Master painting, which has been on loan to the Prado museum in Madrid for more than a decade, will go on sale at Frieze Masters next month at Trinity Fine Art’s booth. The Botticelli has been consigned by the Spanish collector Dona Helena Cambo de Guardans and her family, who are hoping the work will sell for at least $37 million. (The Art Newspaper)
Johann König Criticizes Berlin Art Week – The German art dealer told Monopol magazine that the annual Berlin Art Week, which is government-supported and currently taking place across the German city, is of no benefit to the local art market. “Art Week doesn’t work at all as an instrument for promoting the economy,” he said. “There are numerous small project spaces, but not a single commercial gallery [is involved]. The auction house Grisebach, an important player in the art trade in Berlin, is also not involved. I don’t understand why the money from the economic development agency is being used for this.” (Monopol)
COMINGS & GOINGS
Photographer Fred Herzog Has Died at 88 – The esteemed Canadian photographer has died at 88, according to his art dealer, Equinox Gallery. Herzog was a master of color photography before the medium was technically well understood or respected as an art form. (Art Daily)
The Biennale of Sydney Releases Its Artist List – The Australian biennial has revealed its artist list for the 2020 edition, which will run from March 14 to June 8 next year. The show will include 98 artists and collectives and focus on “unresolved past anxieties and hidden layers of the supernatural,” according to curator Brook Andrew. Participants include Arthur Jafa, Huma Bhabha, and Nicholas Galanin, one of the artists who pulled out of the Whitney Biennial. (ARTnews)
Tiananmen Square Tank Man Photographer Has Died – Charlie Cole photographed the unforgettable image of a man standing in front of a line of military tanks at the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Beijing. The Indonesia-based photographer was 64. (BBC)
FOR ART’S SAKE
Pushkin Museum Absorbs Regional Institutions – The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow is planning to take over Russia’s National Centre for Contemporary Arts, which has nine branches that span all the way from Kaliningrad to Tomsk, 4,000 kilometers away. The major merger of institutions is inspired by the Tate Modern’s franchise in London. (TAN)
Findings on Why People Go to Museums – VisitBerlin and Leading Culture Destinations released their findings on how much of a driver culture actually is as a boost to tourism. According to the study, 67 percent of tourism professionals believe that cultural organizations like museums and and tourism boards need to work together on a single digital strategy. Most tourism professionals believe that cultural institutions and museums are the prime drivers in communicating a city’s unique identity, yet almost 80 percent of arts and culture organizations do not have a dedicated person to manage their tourism strategy. (Press release)
John Lennon’s Strawberry Fields Will Open to the Public – A Salvation Army children’s home near where Lennon grew up in Liverpool was immortalized by The Beatles’ famous song Strawberry Fields Forever. Now, the venue will open its gates to the public as a tourist attraction and youth centre. (BBC)
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