Art Industry News: Taiwan’s National Palace Museum Is Preparing to Evacuate Its Treasures in Case China Invades + Other Stories

Plus, the British Museum floats the idea of a new 'Parthenon Partnership' and Iraqi artists criticize the Berlin Biennale.

Visitors look at a 600-year-old Chinese painting entitled Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains in the National Palace Museum Taipei on June 1, 2011. (Photo by Patrick Lin/AFP 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 Monday, August 1.


What Is the Role of Art During Wartime? – Critic Jason Farago passes harsh judgment on recent attempts to use culture to show solidarity with Ukraine, declaring them to be merely an extension of “the participatory prerogatives of social media: you must react, you must engage.” Instead he quotes critic Margo Jefferson, who wrote about the role of art after 9/11, saying that “history cannot exist without the discipline of imagination.” Farago advises his readers to look instead to Rubens’s painting The Consequences of War (1638-1639) to see how great art can make a more lasting statement: “it’s as if paint itself has gone to war,” he writes. (New York Times)

The British Museum Wants to Have a ‘Parthenon Partnership’ with Greece – In an interview with the Sunday Times, British Museum deputy director Jonathan Williams has said that the museum wants to “change the temperature of the debate” around the Parthenon Marbles, and is considering new types of partnership in the face of calls for their full return to Greece. “We need to find a way forward around cultural exchange of a level, intensity and dynamism which has not been conceived hitherto.” He ruled out, however, the proposal that the museum give away the originals and show sophisticated 3-D copies instead: “People come to the British Museum to see the real thing, don’t they?” (Sunday Times, Guardian)

Taiwan Palace Museum Is War-Prepping – Taiwan’s National Palace Museum is working to protect its treasures in the event of Beijing launching an attack on the nation. Last week, it conducted its first ever “wartime response exercise” centered on evacuating its artifacts. According to CNN, “the museum said it would focus on saving around 90,000 relics from its 700,000-strong collection, prioritizing artifacts of higher value and those that take up less space.” The National Taiwan Museum, the National Museum of Taiwan History, and the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts are also devising evacuation plans. (CNN)

Abu Ghraib Photos at Berlin Biennale Spark Protest – One of the most controversial works at this year’s Berlin Biennale is Jean-Jacques Lebel’s Poison Soluble, a literal maze of images made from blown-up details from the famous torture photos from Abu Ghraib prison. An open letter penned by Rijin Sahakian and co-signed by 15 others denounces the inclusion, saying the biennial’s curators should have gotten permission from the subjects shown in the photos and that the Iraqi artists displayed near to it should have been consulted, instead of being forced “to navigate through a space the organizers acknowledge could ‘trigger negative or retraumatizing reactions.'” According to the letter, one curator, Ana Teixeira Pinto, resigned over the Lebel work, while Sajjad Abbas has had his artwork moved away from it, and Raed Mutar has requested his artwork be moved as well. (Artforum)


Experimenter Is Expanding from Kolkata to Mumbai – In a big move, the Indian gallery will open a second location in Mumbai in a more than 3,000-square-foot space in a 19th-century building. “This is not the same as a Cologne gallery opening a second space in Berlin. Mumbai is nearly a three-hour flight from Kolkata. Right now if we need to resolve something on the other side of the country, we can’t do it immediately,” said co-founder Priyanka Raja. The space opens in September. (The Art Newspaper)

Hitler’s “Gold” Watch Sold for $1.1 Million – Despite numerous Jewish groups condemning a sale of war memorabilia including a dog collar that belonged to Eva Braun, the Maryland-based auction house Alexander Historical Auctions went ahead with a sale of Nazi artifacts. The star lot was Adolf Hitler’s Huber watch, which dates to 1933 and was given to the murderous dictator on his 44th birthday. It was sold to an anonymous bidder for a disturbingly high amount. (BBC)


North West Is Now Making Art for Yeezy – The daughter of Kim K. and Ye (Kanye West) is making art for her dad’s brand, according to social media posts from her mom. Her sketches show alien-like faces with fake hair and wrap around sunglasses. (The Cut)

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