Art Industry News: Ai Weiwei Has Decided to Embark on a Quieter Life in Upstate New York + Other Stories

Plus, Ana Mendieta finally gets an obituary in the New York Times, and was Caravaggio killed by the sword not syphilis?

Ai Weiwei, passport image.
Photo: Courtesy the artist's Instagram.

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 Thursday, September 20.


What Do Instagram Pop-Ups Mean for Art? – From the Museum of Ice Cream to the Museum of Pizza and beyond, pop-up exhibitions designed to look good on your Instagram are proliferating. Although these colorful attractions are inspired by installation art (and many are clearly derived from the work of artists like Yayoi Kusama), traditional museums wanting to compete for that audience are having to shift their policies on photography and rethink how they design and market their exhibitions. Although they risk alienating some people, selfie-friendly shows become blockbusters and attract a larger audience to engage with art. (Vox)

Did Caravaggio Die From the Sword Not Syphilis? – Medical experts believe that the Italian artist died from an infection after a sword fight and not from syphilis, as historians have long thought. The French and Italian team of scientists based at IHU Méditerranée have published their findings in the journal Lancet Infectious Disease. (El Pais)

Ai Weiwei Is Moving to Upstate New York – At a talk on Tuesday in Athens, the Chinese artist confirmed that rumors about him moving back to the United States are true. In conversation with Roger Cohen from the New York Times, Ai, who is based in Berlin at the moment, said he is moving to upstate New York where his son, Ai Lao, can receive his education in English. Although he lived in Manhattan between 1981 and 1993, the artist says he chose to return to a rural setting because “New York City is quite exciting, but not for the old men like me.” (The Art Newspaper)

Ana Mendieta Gets a Times Obit at Last – The Cuban feminist artist who was married to Carl Andre (whom, despite his being cleared of murder, some critics still blame for Mendieta’s death by falling from a 34th story window in 1985) is finally getting recognition in the form of a belated obituary as part of the New York Times’s corrective series “Overlooked.” It traces her life from being smuggled out of Cuba under Castro’s nose as a child, her experience as an immigrant woman of color in New York, her radically boundary-pushing artwork, the turbulent relationship with her sculptor husband, and the mysterious circumstances surrounding her untimely death. (New York Times)


Armory Show Names 2019 Curators – Sally Tallant, Lauren Haynes, and Dan Byers have been announced as curators of the fair’s 25th anniversary edition, which will run from March 7th to 10th next year. Tallent, who is the director of the Liverpool Biennial, will organize the installation and performance section Platform; Haynes, who is a contemporary art curator at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, will curate the solo and dual artist presentations in the Focus section; and Byers, a director at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, will chair the second edition of the Curatorial Leadership Summit. (Press release)

Gallery Closes Show Following Gentrification Protests – Chimento Contemporary in Los Angeles took down its show “FEED” after featured artists Hana Harada and Cade Danieli interacted with anti-gentrification protesters outside, including residents who had recently been evicted. Gallerist Eva Chimento, who recently relocated the space from the embattled Boyle Heights neighborhood, says she is being targeted by the activists who have left bullet casings on her doorstep. (Hyperallergic)

Dealer Launches Maine Gallery – The former owner of the now shuttered Chewday’s gallery in London, Tobias Czudej, opened a new gallery in Rockport, Maine, in July. The name for the new space, Waldo, references the local county and the character from the Where’s Waldo? cartoons. Czudej says he is experimenting with the model of a gallery not rooted in a major art capital, although the gallery is currently also sharing space with Mathew gallery on New York’s Lower East Side. (ARTnews)


Postmodern Architect Robert Venturi Has Died – The influential architect and writer who returned ornament and symbolism to the fore of avant-garde architecture after it was banished by the Modernists has died at age 93. Robert Venturi and his wife, the architect and planner Denise Scott Brown, designed the Seattle Art Museum and the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in London among many other intellectually dazzling puzzle-box buildings. (NYT)

South London Gallery Opens Annex – A former fire station across the road from the gallery will reopen as its newest exhibition space this weekend after undergoing a $5 million conversion. The building was donated anonymously, and will debut with a show about humor in art organized by South London Gallery director Margot Heller and the artist Ryan Gander. (TAN)

Texas Photographic Society Names Director – Sarah Sudhoff has been named as the new director of the photographic society. A photographer herself, she takes over the artist-led nonprofit, which has members from across the US and abroad. (Glasstire)

Yorkshire International Sculptors Announced – David Smith and Huma Bhabha are among the artists who will be featured in the first edition of the UK’s new sculpture triennial. The lineup of the 2019 festival includes Wolfgang Laib, Rashid Johnson, Tau Lewis, and Nobuko Tsuchiya. (Yorkshire Post)


VR Brings Palestinian Home Life to Israel Museum – More than 200,000 people have experienced a VR installation by artist Daniel Landau at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, which allows visitors to virtually visit the living rooms of a Palestinian family and an Israeli family, and listen to testimonies from family members. The two families live tens of meters apart but are separated by the wall that divides the West Bank. The exhibit throws light on the rifts within Israeli society and the separation of the Israeli and Palestinian communities that live side by side. (Guardian)

Macron Announces Memorial Museum to Victims of Terrorism – The French President has announced that a former courthouse in Paris will become a memorial museum to the victims of terror acts. A specialist center to research survivors’ trauma will also be set up in Paris, and March 11 could become a national day of remembrance. (Le Figaro)

For Sale: Late MoMA Director Richard Oldenburg’s Home Office – The apartment that doubled up as Oldenburg’s home office is on sale for $1.69 million. The former director of MoMA worked there and entertained guests—including Robert Rauschenberg, Henry Geldzahler, Queen Queen Sonja of Norway, and several Rockefellers—in the East 57th Street home. “It was a mecca for all kinds of people,” recalls his wife, Mary Ellen Meehan. (Forbes)

Bob and Roberta Smith Posts Free Shahidul Alam Portrait – The British artist Patrick Brill, who is best known for his colorful slogan-based art under the name Bob and Roberta Smith, has posted a striking portrait of the photojournalist Shahidul Alam, who is under arrest in Bangladesh. Along with the show of solidarity he wrote on Instagram: “It’s just wrong to imprison a humanitarian voice like this.”

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