Art Industry News: Nicole Eisenman’s Münster Sculpture Vandalized Again, With a Swastika + More Must-Read Stories

Plus, activists occupy Berlin's famous Volksbühne theater and Audrey Hepburn's belongings hit the auction block.

Nicole Eisenman, Sketch for a Fountain ©Skulptur Projekte 2017. Photo by Henning Rogge.

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 Monday, September 25.


Berlin’s Volksbühne Theater Occupied by Protesting Art Collective – The group, which calls itself “Dust to Glitter,” occupied the theatre on Friday evening in a defiant act meant to protest the gentrification of Berlin. It is unclear whether the protest was related to the arrival of Chris Dercon, who began his new role as director of the Volksbühne last month. (Deutsche Welle)

A Deeper Look at the Demise of New York’s Pier 55 – The New York Times details just how billionaire Barry Diller’s initial plans to build a $250 million arts pier and cultural center on the Hudson River, nicknamed “Diller Island,” fell apart. The six-year saga cost $40 million—and ended before construction even began. (New York Times)   

Nicole Eisenman’s Münster Work Vandalized—Again – On Friday night, just before the German election, Eisenman’s fountain sculpture at Skulptur Projekte Münster was vandalized for the third time in a year, this time with a spray-painted swastika and other offensive imagery. On Facebook, Eisenman expressed dismay at both the vandalism and the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany party. (ARTnews)

Jean Nouvel Defends Treatment of Migrant Workers – The renowned architect is defending himself against accusations that he “exploited and abused” migrant workers at the soon-to-open Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi. “[The workers] have the same conditions, even better conditions, than those I see in other countries,” Nouvel said. “We checked and it was fine. We saw no problem.” (Guardian)


Chinese Vase Fetches 10,000 Times Its Estimate – The vase, which depicts three blue dragons on a yellow background, was originally estimated at 500–800 Swiss Francs. But the Genève Enchères auction house was in for a surprise: It sold for a record five million Swiss Francs ($6.1 million), making it the highest bid ever made in Geneva outside of the jewelry sector. (Press release)

How Street Art Became a Market Force – The FT delves into the complicated relationship between street art and the market. The genre’s collectability is made more complex by the fact that it was originally an act of rebellion. Plus, as one collector notes, “One ton of wall is not the easiest thing to own.” (Financial Times)

Audrey Hepburn’s Belongings Hit the Auction Block – Film scripts, personal items, and luxury dresses are among the 500 objects from the actress’s attic in Switzerland going up for sale at Christie’s London next week. Also featured is her Oscar for Roman Holiday and a 1969 artwork by Hepburn titled My Garden Flowers. (Press release)

What It’s Like to Live With Difficult Art – M.H. Miller describes how some collectors have been resisting the increasing commodification of contemporary art by buying work that physically decays, dies, or needs regular upkeep. In order to maintain a sculpture by Max Hooper Schneider, for example, one collector is constantly searching for a square watermelon. (T Magazine)


New Director for the Joan Miró Foundation – Following an international call for candidates, the Barcelona museum has appointed Tate’s convenor of public programs, Marko Daniel, as its new artistic and executive director. He will take up the post in January 2018. (Press release)

KölnSkulptur Releases Artist List – The ninth edition of the sculpture biennial, organized by Chus Martínez and titled “The End of Babylon. I wonder, that I’m so happy!” will open next month. The participating artists are: Andrea Büttner, Claudia Comte, Eduardo Navarro, Lin May Saeed, Jan Kiefer, Teresa Solar, Solange Pessoa, and Pedro Wirz. (Press release)

New $100,000 Award Fuses Art and Science  The World Frontiers Forum, established to “collaborate on the future of the human condition,” has announced the launch of an annual Frontier Art Prize. The first artist recipient is Doug Aitken, who will be fêted at a ceremony at the Picasso Museum in Paris on October 18. (FT)


A Year After Opening, NMAAHC Remains the Hottest Ticket in Town – Philip Kennicott reflects on the first year of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum has established itself during a particularly fraught period in the country’s history—but also received crowds so large that it may need to rethink its layout. (Washington Post)

The MoMA Picture That Launched 1,000 Selfies – Curator Ann Temkin reflects on the museum’s biggest selfie magnet: Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night (1889). “It’s as if taking a photo of a work in a museum means ‘seeing’ it to a viewer, even though someone like me worries that taking the photo replaces seeing it,” she says. Still, she takes small comfort that the artist, neglected in his lifetime, has found the popularity he deserves. (NYT)

PST: LA/LA Show Explores Mickey Mouse as Tool of US Hegemony – Holland Cotter spotlights an exhibition in Los Angeles that tells the story of Walt Disney’s “Latinized” versions of Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse and the ensuing allegations of cultural imperialism by Latin American artists. “How to Read El Pato Pascual” is on view until January 14. (NYT)

Rubens Painting ‘Found’ After 400 Years – A portrait of the first Duke of Buckingham by Peter Paul Rubens has been rediscovered by BBC Four’s “Britain’s Lost Masterpieces.” The painting, thought to be a later copy by another artist due to overpainting and four centuries of grime, was hanging in Glasgow’s Pollok House. The restored work will go on display at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow this week. (BBC)

Painting Examination for BBC Show ‘Lost Masterpieces’ – Glasgow City Council’s Pippa with presenters Emma and Bendor (L-R). Photo: © CSG CIC.

Peter Paul Rubens’s portrait of George Villiers, first Duke of Buckingham. Photo: ©CSG CIC

Painting before treatment. The original paint was obscured by old overpaint and discoloured varnish. Photo: © Simon Gillespie Studio

Removing several layers of discoloured varnish allows us to see the painting much clearer in its original colours. Photo: ©Simon Gillespie Studio

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