Art Industry News: Ai Weiwei Staged a Silent Protest Outside of Julian Assange’s Trial to Support of the Wikileaks Founder + Other Stories

Plus, this year's Paris Photo fair is cancelled and the Centre Pompidou may close for three years for renovations.

Ai Weiwei. Photo by Maja Hitij/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 on this Tuesday, September 29.


Grand Palais Scales Back Renovation Plans – The Grand Palais has scaled back its ambitious expansion plans due to ballooning costs and delays caused by the shutdown. The restoration of the great glass cathedral is slated for completion in time for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. The new, more “sober” vision for the project eliminates a costly plan to dig beneath the nave of the building and focuses more on refurbishment. (The Art Newspaper)

Former Witte de With Shortlists New Names – The Dutch museum formerly known as Witte de With has shortlisted three potential new names: KAT, an acronym that stands for contemporary art and theory in Dutch; Kin, the term for community-based relation that doubles as an acronym for “Kunst International”; and Haven, which means harbor in Dutch as well as a safe space in English. The art center’s old name references a Dutch naval officer engaged in colonial exploits; in 2017, the museum agreed to drop the title. (Press release)

Ai Weiwei Supports Julian Assange Through Silent Protest – The dissident Chinese artist took part in a silent protest outside a London court to support the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, as he faces 17 espionage charges and extradition to the United States. Ai wore a pink shirt depicting himself and Assange giving the finger and a sign that read “Free Assange, No US Extradition.” The artist says he is protesting because freedom of the press is a core value of freedom. “We need a lot of protesting, and it can take any form,” Ai says. “I’m an artist, if I cannot use my art, it’s very limited, then I’d rather just be silent.” (Hyperallergic)

Centre Pompidou Could Close for Renovations in 2023 – The Paris museum is consulting with construction companies on the best way to update its building—and it could result in a lengthy closure. One of the options it is considering would require shutting its doors for three years beginning in 2023 and moving its programming off site. The alternative would see the center remain partially open for a longer-term renovation project spread over seven years. (Press release)


Rob Pruitt Joins 303 Gallery – The artist Rob Pruitt has joined New York’s 303 Gallery following the shuttering of his former gallery Gavin Brown’s Enterprise. Pruitt worked with 303 in the beginning of his career and was not among the artists on Brown’s roster to decamp to Gladstone, where Brown is now a partner. (ARTnews)

Paris Photo Is Cancelled – This year’s edition of Paris Photo has been cancelled after the French government imposed a ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people. The next edition of the fair is slated to take place November 11 through 14 in 2021. (Press release)


Ava DuVernay Honored by MacDowell Artist Colony – Filmmaker Ava DuVernay and her media company and arts collective ARRAY will be honored next month with the inaugural Marian MacDowell Arts Advocacy Award, named for the co-founder of the century-old artist residency. (AP)

Time Capsule Discovered in Manchester Jewish Museum Dates to 1873 – A renovation to the Jewish Museum in Manchester, UK, yielded a fascinating find: a sealed glass jar containing money, synagogue documents, and newspapers dating to 1873, the year the former synagogue was founded. It was held in a cavity in the wall beside a holy cupboard that houses the Torah Scrolls. (Museum Association)


Turns Out Some Mummy Portraits Were Made After Death – Pathologists and radiologists now believe that at least some mummy portraits were painted on after death. To determine this, they took the CT scan of a child mummy and had a 3-D artist render their face without seeing the portrait of the mummy with which it was entombed. The similarities are so strong that they feel confident the paintings were done postmortem. (Forbes)

Curator Stefan Kalmár on Kim Kardashian and Michèle Lamy – In a power-packed feature in AnOther Magazine, two cultural icons from different generations and parallel worlds—Kim Kardashian and Michèle Lamy—collide in a photo shoot by their respective partners, Kanye West and Rick Owens. The Manifesta co-curator and director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, Stefan Kalmár, analyzes the cultural phenomenon that informs and amplifies them both. (AnOther Magazine)

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