Art Industry News: Ai Weiwei Discusses the Chinese Government’s ‘Surreal’ Destruction of His Beijing Studio + Other Stories

Plus, now Damien Hirst shuts his seaside restaurant and Val Kilmer gets sued over a golden tumbleweed sculpture.

Artist Ai Weiwei. Photo by Sander Koning/AFP/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 Friday, September 28.


Now Damien Hirst Shuts His Seaside Restaurant – The artist insists he still loves Ilfracombe in Devon but, after shuttering his gallery he is closing his waterfront restaurant too. The Quay, which is decorated with his works, will reportedly close next month. Hirst is selling or renting all the properties he owns on the seafront, a spokeswoman confirms. Last year, a planned housing estate that Hirst was involved in developing hit the rocks. (Guardian)

Val Kilmer Sued By Tumbleweed Sculptor – The Hollywood star is being sued by the sculptor Bale Creek Allen, who claims Kilmer plagiarized a gold tumbleweed piece. The upset artist says the actor created a similar work after visiting Bale’s New Mexico gallery, asking loads of questions about his methods. Kllmer did not buy the tumbleweed dipped in gold because it was too expensive, the artist/gallerist claimed. Kilmer’s spokesperson has not commented on the allegations. (TMZ)

“It Was Quite Surreal, I Was Shocked” – About to launch three simultaneous exhibitions in LA, Ai Weiwei opened up to the Los Angeles Times about his experience of the Chinese government’s surprise demolition of his Beijing studio on August 3rd—just days after components of his shows were shipped to America. The artist says he was in Berlin when suddenly his studio assistants started sending him videos on WhatsApp of crews breaking the windows and tearing down the walls, prior to an evacuation date that he had arranged with the government. The act was in keeping with China’s widespread “demolition of human rights,” says Ai, who saw his Shanghai studio similarly destroyed in 2011, adding that many others experience similar experiences without the same news coverage. “In Beijing or Shanghai, there must be thousands of villages that have been destroyed and those people just have to go back to where they [came] and they have no voice, they will never have any paper or reporter to talk about them.” (LAT)

NYU Abu Dhabi Criticized for John Berger-Inspired Show – The Gulf branch of the university is under fire from the friends of the late critic John Berger. His book and television series Ways of Seeing has inspired a show in the UAE, which has been slammed by former colleagues as artwashing because of the region’s treatment of migrant labor and human rights record. Mike Dibb, the television series’s director, says the exhibition is “a complete negation of everything Ways of Seeing stood for.” (Frieze)


Nan Goldin Joins Marian Goodman Gallery – The gallery has announced worldwide representation of the activist-artist. Goldin, who was previously represented by Matthew Marks Gallery, has received attention in recent months for her activism relating to the Opioid crisis in the US. Marian Goodman will present a series of Goldin’s work at Frieze London and FIAC next month, and her first show at the London gallery is slated for May 2019. (Press release)

ADAA Releases Its 2019 Exhibitor List –The Art Dealers Association of America has announced the exhibitors for next year’s Art Show, which runs from February 28 through March 3. First-timers include Luxembourg & Dayan and LA’s Kayne Griffin Corcoran, and six galleries are collaborating on joint exhibitions, including Anglim Gilbert Gallery and P.P.O.W, which are showing the works of painter Judith Linhares and sculptor Annabeth Rosen. (Press release)

Are UK Galleries Ready for Brexit? – With the UK’s exit from the European Union in March rapidly approaching, deal or no deal, galleries are worked about how the uncertain political situation will affect their costs, increase paperwork, and art-shipping times. Questions have been raised about changes to currently favorable import and export tax rates, and increases to delays and security at the ports. (TAN)


Portuguese Artist Helena Almeida Has Died – The pioneering female artist, who combined painting, drawing, performance and photography, has died, aged 84. Works by Almeida, who had two retrospectives at the Serralves Museum in Porto, are currently on show at Tate Modern. She is best known for works depicting impossible acts, in which she would appear, and treating a canvas as a sculptural object. (Artforum)

MFA Boston Acquires Greenberg Photo Collection – The Howard Greenberg Collection of Photographs have been acquired by the museum thanks to the financial support of the Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Charitable Trust. The collection includes 447 photographs by 191 artists, 80 of them not previously represented in the institution’s collection. Highlights will go on show in August 2019. (Press Release)

Chinese Curator-Editor Resigns After Abuse Allegations – The Chinese curator and critic Li Bowen has resigned as Beijing editor of the online magazine after anonymous accusations on social media of a sexual coercion and emotional abuse against women. His is the first Chinese curator face #MeToo. accusations. Li co-founded the non-profit art space Wyoming Project in Beijing last year. (TAN)


Pistoletto Gives a Work to Sarajevo – The artist has donated a work to the city of Sarajevo for its planned contemporary art museum, which is being designed by Renzo Piano. Michelangelo Pistoletto’s A Meditation Place of Multireligion and Secularity will be on show at the Historical Museum of Bosnia Herzegovina until the Ars Aevi Museum of Contemporary Art is built. Marina AbramoviĆ, Christian Boltanski, Jannis Kounellis, Andres Serrano, and Tony Cragg have already given works. (Ansa)

Louvre-Lens Opens Loved Up Show – An art historical love-in is taking place at the Louvre’s satellite in the north of France. “Amour” explores how artists have depicted mutual attraction, adoration, and intimacy down the centuries. From the Garden of Eden to 1960s-style free love, the exhibition includes 250 works of art ranging from antiquities and Medieval treasures, to works by Fragonard, Delacroix, Rodin Camille Claudel, and Niki de Saint Phalle. Johnny Cash and Bridget Bardot record covers make the Louvre love fest. (Louvre-Lens

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