Art Industry News: Instagram Makes a Rare Exception for a Nude Artwork After an Italian Museum Protests + Other Stories

Plus, why art museums should invest their billion-dollar endowments more ethically and staff get tattoos of Rio's fire-ravaged museum.

Natalia Goncharova A Model (against a Blue Background) (1909–10). Moscow, State Tretyakov Gallery. Copyright Natalia Goncharova, by SIAE 2019.

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 Tuesday, September 3.


Kaiser’s Heir Makes Waves With Restitution Claims – An heir of the last German Kaiser has quietly removed a bust and three paintings that have been on loan to Berlin’s Charlottenburg Palace. The controversial move emerged as the Hohenzollern heir, Georg Friedrich, pushes to reclaim thousands of works of art in public collections, as well as former royal residences of the Hohenzollerns. The news first reported by Der Spiegel has sparked a furious reaction against the former royal family in Germany. The Left Party has launched a petition under the headline “No gifts for the Hohenzollerns!” George Friedrich denies that the family will “endanger objects on public display in museums” but he has not ruled out pursuing its claims through the courts. He also wants a Hohenzollern museum in Berlin, according to Die Welt am Sonntag. (The Art Newspaper)

The Hidden Plight of Art Handlers – Art technicians are speaking out about the accidents and injuries they have suffered in the course of work, their lack of job security, and their long hours. Art handlers at Sotheby’s report having to labor up to 100 hours per week at peak times. While some museum art handlers are unionizing in New York to improve their pay and work conditions, life is even harder elsewhere, as Natalie McLaurin discovered when she moved to New Orleans. The former art handler, who now directs a nonprofit gallery, says, “People are so desperate for work that isn’t in the hospitality industry that they will put up with anything.” Horror stories include serious injuries suffered by an art handler at the Ogden Museum of Art when a temporary wall collapsed on him. (Hyperallergic)

Instagram Drops Ban on a Nude Posted by the Palazzo Strozzi – Instagram has relented and allowed a female nude by Natalia Goncharova to be posted uncensored by the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. The director of the Palazzo Strozzi, Arturo Galansino, is delighted at the social media giant’s U-turn, which will allow it to use the Russian artist’s painting A Model (Against a Blue Background) (1910) in its promotions. The art critic and curator Francesco Bonami noted that Goncharova’s work fell foul of the Russian Orthodox Church when first shown in 1912. “That Instagram is more obscurantist in 2019 is staggering,” he wrote in the newspaper La Repubblica. Galansino, meanwhile, tells artnet News that his museum’s Marina Abramovic retrospective was censored “every day” on Instagram. (TAN)

Art Museums Should Invest Ethically – The combined endowments of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, the Guggenheim, and the Whitney total more than $6 billion. How they invest their wealth is coming under growing scrutiny. Why, then, don’t these leading US art museums decide to set an example as socially responsible investors? Former senior deputy chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, Laura Callanan, says there is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that socially responsible investments outperform conventional ones, so switching wouldn’t impact their bottom line. She praises the Souls Grow Deep Foundation’s new policies, and applauds the Field Museum in Chicago and New York’s American Museum of Natural History as examples of science museums that have divested from fossil fuels because of climate change. “The time has come for our largest cultural institutions to demonstrate similar leadership,” she says. (Financial Times)


New Show Celebrates Glenn O’Brien – The New York gallery Off Paradise plans to stage a show called “Glenn O’Brien: Center Stage” to celebrate the late writer, who was editor of Andy Warhol’s InterviewCurated by Natacha Polaert to include works by Warhol, Richard Prince, and Dash Snow, among others, it will run from September 17 through November 2. (Page Six)


Palestinian Museum Wins Architecture Award – The zigzagging Palestinian Museum in Birzeit, Palestine, designed by Heneghan Peng Architects, is among the six winners of the 2019 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. It will split the $1 million prize with a wetland center in Sharjah; a university building in Bambey, Senegal; and the Arcadia Education Project in Bangladesh, among other projects. (dezeen)

The British Museum Acquires a “Lost” Rossetti Painting – Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s dark painting The Death of Breuze Sans Pitié, executed in the late 1850s, will now go on view at the British Museum after being acquired from the heirs of the late art historian John Christian in a deal meant to offset inheritance their tax. The watercolor painting, which shows two Arthurian knights in a brutal knife fight, has rarely been displayed publicly. (Guardian)

London Museum to Create $37 Million World War II Galleries – The Imperial War Museum in London has announced that it is investing £30.5 million ($37 million) in a new a series of World War II galleries, due to open by 2021. The galleries will feature an expansion of its Holocaust displays, showing how slave laborers were forced to build Hitler’s V2 rockets and flying bombs. (Times)


Can Sterling Ruby Reinvent Himself as a Fashion Designer? – After years of collaborating with maverick Belgian designer Raf Simons, the artist fell in love with the art of clothes, and has established his own fashion line, S.R. Studio. LA. CA. The line has rapidly become successful, despite the fact that Ruby’s dealers have discouraged his foray into fashion, fearing that the unprecedented move would negatively impact his prices. (New Yorker)

Staff Gets Tattoos of Fire-Ravaged Rio Museum – A paleontologist who worked at Brazil’s National Museum before it burned down, Beatriz Hörmanseder, got a tattoo of the building’s façade to help her cope with the loss. Now staff and students are also carrying the museum’s legacy via memorial tattoos of the museum and objects that were lost in the blaze under a movement called “Museu na pele” (museum on my skin). Two tattoo companies, Electric Ink and Amazon Group, are offering people the artwork free of charge. (BBC)

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