From the Toppling of Statues Around the World to the Cancellation of Art Basel: The Best and Worst of the Art World This Week

Catch up on this week's news, fast.

Demonstrators hold up placards protest outside of the White House, over the death of George Floyd in Washington D.C. on June 1, 2020. Photo by JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AFP via Getty Images.


Trump’s White House Wall Is Overrun With Art – A black steel fence erected outside the White House has become a makeshift art gallery mourning lives lost to police violence, and celebrating the Black Lives Matter movement.

Stories from the Front Lines – Photographers in cities across the US shared what their experiences have been like at the protests that continue to roil the country.

Protesters Target Columbus – Activists across the US made bold statements against the explorer, tossing a statue of him into a lake in Virginia, beheading another one Boston, and, in Minnesota, Native American protesters toppled one to the ground.

Treasure Hunt, Solved – An anonymous adventurer discovered the $2 million treasure chest that eccentric art dealer Forrest Fenn buried 10 years ago in the Rocky Mountains. Clues were hidden in a poem and map, and at least five people died in pursuit of the bounty.

Banksy’s Back – A year after Banksy’s tribute art to the terrorist attacks at the Bataclan theater in Paris was stolen, authorities found it hidden in a farmhouse in Italy. The anonymous street artist’s latest work, meanwhile, addresses the Black Lives Matter movement.

Collecting History as it Happens – Curators are engaging in rapid-response collecting, hoping to gather signs, face masks, artwork, and other objects relating to the historic protests against police brutality.

UK’s Racist Monuments Come Down – Protesters have taken matters into their own hands, toppling statues of slave traders and other racist figures in history as part of a reckoning with the country’s colonial past.

Philanthropists Pledge Big Bucks – Five major organizations have joined forces to pledge $1.7 billion to arts nonprofits around the world as they struggle with the financial fallout from lockdown.

LaGuardia Gets Arty – Public artworks by artists including Sarah Sze, Laura Owens, and Jeppe Hein were unveiled at the New York airport as the city slowly reopens.

It’s a Bird! – Archaeologists discovered a tiny figurine in the shape of a songbird in a trash heap that turned out to be the oldest work of three-dimensional Chinese art ever.

Rembrandt Comes to Auction – Sotheby’s is offering a rare self-portrait of the artist at its July sale for a cool $20 million.



Companies Botched Attempts at Solidarity – Artist Shantell Martin took to social media to expose a tone-deaf email sent by Microsoft’s ad agency, McCann, asking her to create a mural for Black Lives Matter while the protests were still “relevant.”

Toledo Museum Fumbles – Protesters criticized the museum for decrying looting, while refusing to take a stance in support of Black Lives Matter. The director issued statements attempting to redress his initial missives, but critics say it’s not enough.

Basel 2020 Canceled – After weeks of deliberation Art Basel has canceled its main Swiss edition, which had been slated for mid-September, opting to offer online viewing rooms to dealers and collectors instead.

Critics Balk at the British Museum – One of London’s most famous museums is under fire for its “performative” statement of solidarity, considering it houses scores of colonial-era objects taken from Africa.

A Legal Hurdle Complicates Removing Robert E. Lee – A descendent of two men who signed a deed vowing to protect Richmond’s Confederate monument won an injunction to prevent the city from removing the statue, for now. 

SFMoMA Makes More Cuts – The California art museum laid off another 55 staff members as it continues to struggle with financial issues related to the global pandemic.

Kanders Bows Out – Ex-Whitney trustee Warren Kanders is getting out of the tear gas business, as “crowd-control” measures face renewed scrutiny.

A Cancelled Show Draws Ire – Shaun Leonardo’s show of drawings depicting police violence was cancelled in March at MoCA Cleveland, and now the artist (and public) is clapping back.

British Airways to Sell Artwork –  BA is selling at least 10 works from its impressive cache as it continues to deal with the financial fallout stemming from the coronavirus.

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