Art Industry News: Kamala Harris Chatted With Shepard Fairey and Other Stars in a Megawatt Art-Themed Fundraiser + Other News

Plus, the V&A in London cuts 10 percent of its staff and activists protest the Guggenheim Museum's reopening.

Jeff Koons, Flag (2020). Photo courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, ©Jeff Koons.

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 Wednesday, September 30.


V&A to Make 10 Percent of Staff Redundant – London’s Victoria and Albert Museum has become the latest UK art institution to cut staff. Director Tristram Hunt confirms that the institution will cut 103 retail and visitor experience employees, equivalent to 10 percent of its workforce, to reduce costs by £10 million ($12.8 million) annually. Calling this time “the most significant financial challenge” in the V&A’s history, the museum said cuts to other departments will follow. After five months of lockdown, visitor numbers are down 85 percent. (Guardian)

Activists Protest the Guggenheim’s Reopening – The artist-activist groups Artists for Workers and the Illuminator organized a guerilla projection on the exterior of the Guggenheim in New York earlier this week. Phrases like “seeking new management” and “open for exploitation” were blasted onto the front of the Frank Lloyd Wright building. Organizers said the direct action aimed to shed light on the Guggenheim’s exploitation of employees across the globe, from unionized workers in New York to workers at the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, ahead of the Fifth Avenue museum’s reopening to the public on October 3. (Hyperallergic)

Kamala Harris Chats With Artists – Ahead of the first US presidential debate last night, the Democratic VP candidate chatted about art with Carrie Mae Weems, Catherine Opie, and Shepard Fairey before a virtual audience of supporters who had paid between $100 and $10,000 to the Biden Victory Fund. The event was a kickoff for Artists for Biden, an online fundraiser hosted by David Zwirner Gallery from October 1 to 8. Harris revealed her late uncle worked at the Studio Museum in Harlem and she served on the board of SFMOMA as San Francisco’s district attorney. “Artists are historians,” Harris said. “There is always context to art and an artist—artists, they’re aware of the moment in which they exist.” (Bloomberg)

Meet Phoebe Saatchi Yates – The well-connected daughter of Charles Saatchi, one of the most renowned art patrons from the 1990s, is opening a gallery on Cork Street in the London neighborhood of Mayfair. Its success will surely be helped by her art-world upbringing—since 2017, she and her husband Arthur Yates have been managing the family collection and serving as art advisors to Charles. “Phoebe has been in training for 25 years,” Yates says. The couple plan to show emerging London-based talent at the 10,000-square-foot gallery, beginning with Pascal Sender on October 15. (Financial Times)


Xavier Hufkens to Represent Sayre Gomez – The Belgian gallery will represent the Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based painter known for his precise, hyperreal images of industrial landscapes. (Press release)

Sotheby’s Plans Most Valuable HK Sale to Date – Sotheby’s will livestream its Hong Kong evening sale of contemporary art on October 6, which it says carries the highest estimate of any sale of its kind ever staged in Asia. The 39-lot sale is led by an abstract work by Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (649-2), which has a pre-sale estimate of HK$120 million to HK$140 million ($15.4 million to $18 million). (Barron’s)

Art Düsseldorf Is Moving to Spring – The regional art fair will now take place from April 16 to 18, 2021, moving half a year back from its usual November slot. The fair’s fourth edition had already been postponed due to the ongoing health crisis. (Press release)


Academy Museum Gets Major Early Film Donation – The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has acquired the collection of the late pre-cinema aficionado Richard Balzer. Items from the collector’s 9,000-piece collection of pre- and early cinema objects, including a rare bull’s-eye magic lantern and slides for a 19th-century projecting praxinoscope, will go on view when the museum opens in Los Angeles next spring. (ARTnews)

France May Boost Its Culture Budget by Over 20 Percent – The French culture minister Roselyne Bachelot has proposed a 22.4 percent boost to culture spending—including existing coronavirus stimulus provisions—in her draft budget for 2021. It includes a 40 percent increase on heritage spending and a €232 million ($271.6 million) boost for national museums. (Journal des Arts)


Artists Turn Crowdfunding Site Into a Get Well Card for a “Sick System” – Artists Sam Lavigne and Tega Brain have taken sympathetic comments scraped from the crowdfunding website GoFundMe, where many people raise money for medical care and childcare for struggling Americans, to create a new artwork. Called Get Well Soon!, the work consists of more than 200,000 comments and offers a bleak picture of society’s structural inequality. (NPR)

Londoners Paint Over Tasteless Jack the Ripper Mural – East Londoners have painted over a mural meant to depict the Victorian serial killer Jack the Ripper with the name of one of his victims, Catherine Eddowes. Locals are unhappy with the amount of “exploitative” commercial interest in the sordid history of their neighborhood and are hoping the street artist commissioned to do the original mural, Zabou, might paint another one—this time, memorializing the Ripper’s five victims. (Guardian)

Street Artist Stik Donates Hoxton Square Sculpture – The street artist Stik has donated a bronze sculpture of his signature stick figures holding hands to Hoxton Square Park in London. The four-meter-tall work, called Holding Hands, has already become a hit on social media. (Hackney Gazette)

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