Art Industry News: The L.A. Times Reveals How Art P.R. Sausage Is Made in a Gutsy Column on MOCA’s New Appointment + Other Stories

Plus, the Queen of Denmark has a double life as a set designer and artist Max Liebermann's heirs reach a settlement over disputed paintings.

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. (Photo: Education Images/Citizens of the Planet/UIG via Getty Images.)

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 3.


John Akomfrah’s New Film Tackles the Pandemic – The British artist’s latest work, a three-channel film called Five Murmurations, grapples with the upheavals of the past 18 months, from the pandemic to the uprisings in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. “It felt like there were almost two pandemics, overlapping, jostling, and clashing with each other,” Akomfrah said. The film will be on view at Lisson Gallery in New York beginning September 9. (New York Times)

Max Liebermann’s Heirs Compensated for Paintings – The Georg Schäfer Foundation in Schweinfurt, Germany, reached a settlement with the heirs of artist Max Liebermann over several paintings in its collection: a 1930 painting of the artist’s wife that had been on a list made by the Gestapo during World War II, and two other works, one by Liebermann and one by Adolph Menzel. An anonymous private donor agreed to pay an undisclosed amount that reflected the works’ market value; in exchange, they will remain in the collection with their provenance history displayed. (NYT)

How MOCA Botched Its Director Announcement – The Los Angeles Times‘s Christopher Knight offered a peek behind the P.R. curtain when he revealed the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles’s extensive terms surrounding the announcement of its new director. They offered an early look at the news on the condition that the outlet not “reach out to any current or former MOCA staff and board members” or publish a “speculative” story about who the new director might be until they say so, even if the outlet was able to secure independent confirmation. Knight’s response? “Thanks for the suggestion, Vladimir, but I don’t think so.” (Los Angeles Times)

Smithsonian Forges Ahead on Two New Museums – As the Smithsonian gears up to launch the National Museum of the American Latino and the American Women’s History Museum, Smithsonian leader Lonnie Bunch is determined to make the process proceed more smoothly than his 11-year battle to open the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Bunch says he will liaise with Congress and donors and that he is seeking to appoint directors by the end of the year. The best candidates will have “stamina” and understand the obligation to explore painful histories as well as celebrate success. “I really want that kind of raw duality from the leadership, and I will work with them to make sure that happens,” he said. (The Art Newspaper)


The Queen of Denmark Has a Double Life As a Set Designer – Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II has joined the creative forces behind a new Netflix film adaptation of Karen Blixen’s fantasy novel Ehrengard. The reigning monarch will design the sets for the romantic tale, adding to her existing screen credits as production designer on the 2009 fairytale The Wild Swans and a short film adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen in 2000. Who knew? (Guardian)

Luciano Fabro Estate Heads to Paula Cooper – The New York gallery will represent the estate of the Italian Arte Povera artist in collaboration with his archive. Paula Cooper will show work by Fabro, who died in 2007, next year at its space in New York and at Art Basel Unlimited later this month. (ARTnews)

Denver Gets a $25 Million Textile Endowment – The Denver Art Museum received $25 million from an anonymous donor to support its textile art and fashion department. The museum will use the grant to establish an Institute of Textile Art and Fashion. (Artforum)

Norway Seizes Suspected Looted Iraqi Antiquities – Norway’s economic crimes unit has seized around 100 archaeological artifacts, including cuneiform tablets, from the collection of Martin Schøyen. Norway will recommend repatriation if an expert review concludes the objects were illegally exported from Iraq. Schøyen is cooperating with the investigation and is not a suspect. (Conflict Antiquities)


See Charming Portraits of Celebs in London – Maddox Gallery has opened an exhibition of charismatic celebrity portraits by the famed photographer Andy Gotts. The exhibition is on view at the gallery’s Westbourne Grove space in London through September 19. If you love Googling celebrities, this show is for you. (Press release)


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