Art Industry News: Buenos Aires Locals Are Skeptical of Art Basel’s $2 Million ‘Cities’ Initiative + Other Stories

Plus, an open letter criticizes gender disparity at Rencontres d’Arles and a Colin Kaepernick-themed art show comes to Philadelphia.

The Art Basel Cities House, an architectural landmark built in the Beaux-Arts style and located in the heart of Buenos Aires. Image courtesy of Art Basel.

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 Thursday, September 6.


Putin Pushes for Cultural Center in Annexed Crimea – The Russian president wants his officials to not “drag out” the construction of an ambitious cultural hub in Sevastopol, the largest city in the region of Crimea that Vladimir Putin annexed in 2014. The hub will host exhibition space for the State Hermitage Museum, the State Russian Museum, and the State Tretyakov Gallery. The president also said that Hermitage director Mikhail Piotrovsky and Russian Museum director Vladimir Gusev must be kept apprised throughout the building process. (The Art Newspaper)

Kaepernick-Themed Art Show Comes to Philadelphia – Arch Enemy Arts gallery in Philadelphia is staging an exhibition, “Take a Knee Pad,” in support of the football star Colin Kaepernick and his now-famous sideline protests. Opening Friday and on view through September 29, the installation features 28 painted kneepads designed by more than two dozen artists in reference to the Nike spokesman’s practice of taking a knee during the national anthem. “We want to show support for Kaepernick and for the other peaceful protesters out there who are speaking up about police brutality against the black community,” says the gallery’s director Patrick Shillenn. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Art Basel Cities Is Greeted With Skepticism – The first official Art Basel Cities program in Buenos Aires kicks off this week—but some locals are already skeptical. While the city’s legendary Teatro Alvear has been closed for four years due to budget constraints, the local Argentine newspaper El Diario Z notes, Buenos Aires has paid more than $2 million of public money for the art fair’s programming and branding as well as “to fly 150 millionaire collectors” to the city. The program also descends at a time of economic turmoil in the country; the peso has lost around 25 percent of its value in August alone. The paper quotes an unnamed collector who says the city has “bought smoke.” (El Dario Z)

Open Letter Criticizes Rencontres d’Arles’s Gender Disparity – Artists and art professionals have signed an open letter denouncing the gender imbalance in Les Rencontres d’Arles, the international photography festival in France. The letter—signed by artists Orlan and Martha Rosler as well as Whitechapel Gallery director Iwona Blazwick—asks festival director Sam Stourdzé to ensure there is gender parity in the festival’s 50th anniversary edition next year. (ARTnews)


Phillips Makes the Case That Sneakers Are Art – What’s the line between shoe and art? Last month, the auction house held an exhibition of 20 sneakers, including a pair of Pumas painted by Kehinde Wiley and Chuck Taylors doodled on by British artist Shantell Martin. Titled “tongue + cheek,” the show aimed to draw a new crowd to the auction house. (GQ)

Paul Kasmin Taps New Director for Asia – The New York gallery has named Tianyue Jiang as a new director. She will oversee the strategic development of the gallery in Asia, focusing on adding more Asian artists to the program and expanding the gallery’s client base there. She previously worked for four years in Christie’s Asian 20th-century and contemporary art department. (ARTnews)

Alabama Museum Returns Looted Shiva to India – The Birmingham Museum of Art returned a stone sculpture of the Hindu deity from its collection to its country of origin on Tuesday. The sculpture, which dates from 1150, was stolen as part of a $100 million smuggling operation allegedly spearheaded by the New York-based art dealer Subhash Kapoor, who originally sold the antiquity to the museum. The museum’s director says the repatriation of the object was “unquestionably the right thing to do.” (


Apollo Names This Year’s 40 Under 40 – A panel of judges including the Van Gogh Museum’s director Axel Rüger and the Whitechapel Gallery’s Iwona Blazwick selected 40 inspirational people in the European art world who are under 40 years old for the magazine’s annual list. Those who made the cut include artists Cécile B. Evans, Alicja Kwade, and Neïl Beloufa; Tate’s international art curator Zoe Whitley; London-based collector Theo Danjuma; and Condo founder Vanessa Carlos. (Apollo)

The Kabakovs Return to Moscow – The artist couple Ilya and Emilia Kabakov will bring their work to Moscow for a show at the Tretyakov Gallery. “Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into the Future” opens on September 7. A new film about the pair called “Poor Folk” will premiere at Moscow’s Garage Museum of Contemporary Art the day before. (Guardian)

Ben Hartley Named Director of National Arts Club – The art consultant and art-world veteran will join the 120-year-old institution as its executive director. Hartley was selected for his fundraising acumen and experience in both the non-profit and corporate spheres, according to the club. (ARTnews)

Architect MJ Long Dies – The architect Mary Jane Long has died at age 79. Long was well known for designing the British Library and several purpose-built studios for artists including Frank Auerbach. (Architects Journal)


Meet the Latest Crypto-Artist – The Swedish artist Jonas Lund has developed a new artistic genre: “performance-art capitalism.” He has created Jonas Lund Tokens that “shareholders” (also known as collectors) can buy on the blockchain and then use to weigh in on the decisions he makes in his practice. “The ultimate human is a sort of corporation,” Lund has said. (New Yorker)

Historian Thinks Elgin Marbles Are Copies – Art historian Nigel Konstam is floating a new theory that the disputed Elgin Marbles are not the original Greek works, but rather Roman copies. One senior curator from the British Museum, where the marbles have long controversially been on view, has expressed an interest in the idea. (Daily Mail)

Renaissance Nude Show Did Not Impose a Gender Quota – An art historian who helped shape the exhibition “The Renaissance Nude,” which opens at the Royal Academy in March, says its organizers were bemused to read that they had apparently imposed a so-called “gender quota” on the show in the wake of the #metoo movement. In fact, Jil Burke writes, “a quota simply wasn’t necessary. Based on decades of research and years of planning, the exhibition shows how images of naked men in the Renaissance were just as much an object of fascination and desire as their female counterparts.” (Guardian)

TripAdvisor Says These Are the Best Museums in the World  The online travel guide, TripAdvisor, has released its annual list of the world’s best museums, as chosen by its members. This year, Musée d’Orsay in Paris has taken the top spot, unseating last year’s winner, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Here are the top five museums below, in descending order. (Bazaar)

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