Art Industry News: How High School Students Became Some of the Museum World’s Most Effective Activists + Other Stories

Plus, sculptor Shio Kusaka jumps from Gagosian to David Zwirner and the MFA Boston appoints a senior director of belonging and inclusion.

Free Arts teens selecting marble pieces for their project at Sam Moyer's studio. Photo courtesy of Free Arts.

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 Friday, September 4.


Zoom Burning Man Caps Off a Surreal Summer – How do you throw a blowout cultural festival in the era of social distancing? By Zoom, of course. Burning Man is tapping into its tech-savvy network to create a virtual version of the festivities with a digital portal known as a “Multiverse” that offers chat rooms and virtual experiences. To hear more about the history of Burning Man from one of its founders, the Art Angle podcast has you covered. (The Cut)

Museums Turn to “Virtual Couriers” In other art-Zoom crossover news, museums are finding inventive ways to monitor artworks on loan in light of travel restrictions imposed by the lockdown. Enter: “virtual couriers.” Over Zoom, registrars and other staff are now overseeing the installation and deinstallation of valuable works without having to get on a plane. New guidelines from the UK Registrars Group recommend a strong WiFi connection—and a backup computer charger. (The Art Newspaper)

How Teens Are Shaking Up Museums Museums’ teen councils are putting pressure on institutions to transform themselves. The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s teen council, Teen Creative Agency, published an open letter in June urging the institution to clarify its relationship with the Chicago Police Department. The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit’s teen council, meanwhile, mobilized against the allegedly abusive leadership of the now-former executive director Elysia Borowy-Reeder, starting a social-media account to share their experiences and generate support for her removal. “We’ve been trying to speak against these issues for the last two years, but we’ve been silenced,” said council member Morgan Leake. “Once we realized people were going to listen, we put our foot down.” (Teen Vogue)

How Art Finds Its Way to the Front Lines of Troubled Times – “The urge to make political art in troubled times is irrepressible,” writes art historian Simon Schama. He argues that artworks like Picasso’s Guernica or Goya’s The Third of May 1808 reveal more about the moment in which they were made than historical documents ever could. In a long-form reflection on the enduring power of Romantic art, Schama contends that “its reliance on emotional connection, its preference for imaginative heat over cool calculation, the fellowship of the crowd over individual reasoning, all made it the perfect vehicle for the age of democratic mobilization while also liberating the visceral passion of popular nationalism.” The same spirit, he writes, is also evident today in street art. (Financial Times)


Sculptor Shio Kusaka Joins David Zwirner – The Japanese artist has decamped from one mega-gallery to another, leaving Gagosian to join David Zwirner. Kusaka’s large-scale sculptures offer a contemporary take on traditional Greek vases, adorned with illustrations of whimsical creatures and scenes. Kusaka is also represented by the Modern Institute, Anton Kern Gallery, Greengrassi, and Blum & Poe. (ARTnews)

Pace Will Reconstruct One of Dubuffet’s Most Famous Works – At its New York gallery this month, Pace will show a newly fabricated version of Le Cirque by Jean Dubuffet. The Dubuffet Foundation and a studio assistant who worked with the French painter before he died in 1985 are reconstructing the sculpture at large scale based of a small model of the piece from the 1970s. (ARTnews)


MFA Boston Appoints Senior Director of Belonging and Inclusion – Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts has named Rosa Rodriguez-Williams to the new post. A Puerto Rico native, she previously directed the Latinx Student Cultural Center at Northeastern University. The museum had pledged to create the role after it faced accusations of racism when Black middle school students said they were racially profiled on a field trip. Rodriguez-Williams said in a statement that she is “honored and excited … to be part of an institution that acknowledges its struggle with inclusion.” (AP)

Sonya Clark Wins the 2020 Rappaport Prize – The multidisciplinary artist, who is a professor of art at Amherst College in Massachusetts, was awarded this year’s $35,000 prize by the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. Clark’s practice blends archival research with themes of Black identity, incorporating everyday materials like combs into large-scale installations. “Good news these days is a tender seedling pushing through hard concrete,” Clark said of the recognition. (Artforum)


The Nebra Sky Disk May Not Be as Old as Previously Thought – The mysterious disk discovered by amateur treasure-hunters in 1999 may not, in fact, be from the Bronze Age. New research in Germany suggests that the piece was not actually found at the town of Nebra alongside other Bronze Age tools, as the treasure-hunters claimed. Beyond the location of the discovery, there is no evidence that the disk was related to the Bronze age at all. Its style appears linked to the Iron Age, in the first millennium BC. (Archeology)

A Poignant Francis Bacon Gets Its First Showing in the UK – The final canvas by Francis Bacon is the highlight of an upcoming show at London’s Royal Academy. The moving painting, Study of a Bull, features a shadowy bull backing into a bright white expanse, foreshadowing the artist’s death. The centerpiece of an extremely private collection, Study of a Bull is one of 45 Bacon works that will go on view in the 2021 exhibition organized by Michael Peppiatt, a close friend of the artist. (Guardian)

“Everyday Heroes” Adorn the Southbank Centre – A new outdoor art exhibition on the walls of London’s Southbank Centre, “Everyday Heroes,” celebrates frontline workers through 40 unique portraits captured by artists including Jeremy Deller and Juergen Teller. (Southbank Centre)

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