Art Industry News: New Museum Workers Vote to Strike If They Can’t Reach a Deal With Management + Other Stories

Plus, Salvator Mundi is likely to be a no-show at the Louvre's Leonardo blockbuster and prison abolitionists protest the Ford Foundation.

The collective bargaining unit at the New Museum. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

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 Monday, September 30.


Salvator Mundi Is Probably Not Coming to the Louvre – With a little less than a month to go before the opening of the blockbuster Leonardo da Vinci show at the Louvre in Paris, chances are slim to none that the most mysterious Leonardo—Salvator Mundi—will be included in the flesh. The loan of the work has not yet been approved, and the curator of the show has chosen not to disclose his own view of the painting’s attribution in the catalogue. The precise whereabouts of the most expensive painting ever sold at auction—which was supposed to go on view at the Louvre Abu Dhabi last year—remain unknown. (The Art Newspaper)

Anti-Prison Activists Protest Ford Foundation – The head of the Ford Foundation, Darren Walker, is under fire from prison abolitionists for statements he made supporting the construction of better prisons in New York. Walker has defended his support of replacing the Rikers Island detention center with four modern jails. But activist groups, including Decolonize This Place, accuse the foundation’s chief of supporting “skyscraper jails.” Around 100 Ford fellows signed an open letter criticizing Walker’s stance, while others staged a demonstration outside the foundation’s headquarters on Friday. Walker says he was addressing the issue of “inhumane incarceration” and prison reform. (Hyperallergic)

New Museum Union Votes to Strike If No Contract Is Reached – The unionized staff at the New Museum in New York has threatened to go on strike if they are unable to reach an agreement with management. The vote to authorize a strike follows months of negotiations over the terms of their employment. The union is pushing for a minimum annual wage of $51,000, health care for all employees, and a greater attention to worker safety. The museum’s management insists that talks have not stalled and remains “hopeful” that an agreement can be reached. A spokesperson says that the museum has requested additional meetings to make more progress before the unspecified strike deadline. Union member Dana Kopel, a senior editor at the museum, says: “We’ve been bargaining for almost a year now…. They’ve been hostile to most, if not all, of our proposals.” (ARTnews)

Robert de Niro Remembers His Artist Father – A new scholarly book on Robert de Niro, Sr., the artist father of the famous actor, draws on unpublished notebooks he left behind when he died in 1993. The actor gave unfettered access to the authors of Robert De Niro, Sr.: Paintings, Drawings and Writings: 1942-1993, which will be published by Rizzoli next month—even though he could not bear to read the journals himself. After a promising start, with a solo show at Peggy Guggenheim’s gallery, the senior de Niro’s career stalled, though his works are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney. Of the journals, which recount the Abstract Expressionist painter’s  mental health battles and his struggle to accept his homosexuality, Robert de Niro says: “I’ll read them when it feels right.” (Guardian)


Chicago’s Imagists Are In Demand – Paintings by the Hairy Who? and the Chicago Imagists are gaining traction in the market. An auction at Hindman’s in Chicago on September 26 brought in more than $3.4 million, led by Jim Nutt’s Plume. The painting sold for $516,500, more than double its low estimate, setting an auction record for the artist’s work. (Press release)

UOVO Workers Vote to Join a Union – Staff at the New York-based art storage and transport company UOVO have voted to join the Teamsters union. UOVO’s is part of a growing number of new unions formed by culture workers, including those at the New Museum, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Frye Art Museum. Local 814 president Jason Ide says: “Something is happening in the art world now.” (Artforum)


Darren Walker Joins the National Gallery’s Board – Not long after Kaywin Feldman took over as director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the museum is making some changes to its board. Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation, will join, while industrialist Mitchell Rales, the founder of Glenstone, has been elected president. Andrew Saul, who has been a trustee since 2013, is stepping down. (ARTnews)

Michael Xufu Huang Launches His Own Museum – The star millennial collector Michael Xufu Huang is leaving the museum he co-founded, M Woods, to open a new home for his collection in Beijing. The X Museum is due to open in 2020 and will focus on young artists in Huang’s private collection, such as Amalia Ulman and Nicolas Party. (Artforum)

Center Pompidou Shanghai to Open in November – The Center Pompidou has finally announced the opening date for its Shanghai outpost. The official inauguration will take place in the first week of November, with the public opening on November 8. The center is located in a part of the huge West Bund Art Museum designed by British architect David Chipperfield. (Monopol)


Brazilian Artists Fear Crackdown – After the Caixa Cultural Theater, a state-run institution in the capital of Brasilia, canceled an LGBT-themed stage show, actor Artur Luanda Ribeiro, who would have played a transgender character, feared it would be the start of a wave of government censorship. Although President Jair Bolsonaro has denied the charge, he has advocated for the use of what he calls “filters” when deciding on grants and support for cultural projects. The former culture secretary Henrique Pires says “filters” are simply censorship by another name. (AFP)

Maurizio Cattelan on the Golden Toilet Theft – In an exclusive interview, Maurizio Cattelan talks about the recent heist of his storied golden toilet from Blenheim Palace. He says there are rumors the theft was orchestrated by a famous gang active in the area, but they have never targeted the palace before. Overall, he’s getting a bit sick of talking about the whole thing. “I wish the loo could give interviews by itself,” he says. “Being the press office for a toilet can be kind of depressing.” (Garage)

Dia Plans New Projects – The Dia Art Foundation is planning a rare exhibition of works on paper by Marian Zazeela. The New York artist and her longtime partner, La Monte Young, staged multiple art and performance events at Dia back in the ’70s, but Zazeela’s own drawings remain little known. The long-term show, which opens on October 5, includes 30 drawings and paintings on paper that date back to 1962. A 4-LP vinyl record dedicated to Young is due to be released next summer. (ARTnews)

Kara Walker’s Tate Modern Fountain Makes a Splash – The artist Kara Walker’s highly anticipated Turbine Hall installation at Tate Modern is finally here, and it does not disappoint. Walker has created a 43-foot-tall fountain called Fons Americanus, inspired by the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace. The sculpture—chock full of art-historical, literary, and cultural references—tells the story of the African diaspora and questions the power and function of memorials. One particularly searing reference is J.M.W. Turner’s Slave Ship from 1840, which depicted an episode in which slavers threw people from a boat headed for Jamaica in order to collect insurance money. (Press release)

Kara Walker, Fons Americanus, (2019), Photo: Naomi Rea

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