Art Industry News: Google Just Opened a Virtual Museum for Every Vermeer Painting in the World + Other Stories

Plus, activists target the Brooklyn Museum's collection of colonial artifacts and giant slugs turn Tate Britain into a seasonal slime fest.

A visitor takes a picture of Girl with the Red Hat by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer on September 26, 2012 during the media preview of the exhibition of "Vermeer. The golden century of the Dutch art"at the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome. Photo Gabriel Bouys/AFP/GettyImages.

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 Monday, December 3.


Candice Breitz Demands the Release of Imprisoned Aid Worker – South African artist Candice Breitz is calling for the release of Sarah Mardini, a refugee aid worker who has been in prison in Greece for 100 days. The young Syrian, herself a refugee, appeared in Breitz’s video Love Story (2016), which was shown at the 2017 Venice Biennale. Mardini, who gained attention for pulling a sinking dinghy transporting refugees to safety, faces charges including espionage and illegally assisting refugees to enter the country. (The Art Newspaper)

Egypt Unearths Eight More Mummies – Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered eight mummies, three of which are in good condition, at the Dahshur complex, around 19 miles south of Cairo. The mummies and the limestone sarcophagi in which they were were found will eventually go on display in museums due to be built in the resorts of Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh. (AFP)

Vermeer Museum Comes to Augmented Reality – There are just three dozen paintings by Vermeer, spread across 18 museums and private collections around the world. Several of them are too fragile to travel (and one—long in the collection of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum—has been stolen). But all 36 have been united in a new augmented reality app developed by the Mauritshuis museum in the Hague and Google Arts & Culture in Paris. The virtual museum, titled Meet Vermeer, is free and accessible today to anyone with a smartphone. (New York Times)

Activist Group Targets the Brooklyn Museum for Colonial Artifacts – A protest led by activist group Decolonize This Place occupied the entrance to the exhibition “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” at the Brooklyn Museum on Friday. Participants unfurled banners with phrases including, “How was this acquired? By whom? At whose cost?” to call attention to the objects in the collection plundered during the colonial era. A similar demonstration was held last week at the RISD Museum in Rhode Island. (Hyperallergic)


Art Basel in Miami Beach Gets Serious – Racial and sexual violence, climate change, and immigration will be front and center at the typically shiny and sparkly Art Basel in Miami Beach, which opens to VIPs on Wednesday. The political mood extends to satellite shows and fairs like Pulse, which is including an installation by Ann Lewis, who will use twine and clothespins to suspend women’s underwear for her work One in Five of Us—an acknowledgement that 20 percent of American women will be raped during their lifetimes. (Wall Street Journal)

James Cohan Gallery Will Move to Tribeca – The Chelsea gallery, which represents artists including Bill Viola and Yinka Shonibare, is relocating its flagship to a new two-floor Tribeca gallery next September. “I feel like I’d rather work for my artists than for my landlord,” Cohan says of the decision. (ARTnews)

The Russian Art Market Is Wavering – Sanctions and travel bans imposed on Russian oligarchs seem to have put a damper on their art-buying power. The latest Russian art sales in London were not as well-attended as in previous years, and one art consultant confirms that it is becoming “more difficult” for Russian collectors to participate in the British market. (New York Times)

Pace’s Massive Flagship Gets an Opening Date – Mark your calendars: Pace’s enormous flagship gallery in New York is readying to open in September 2019 in Chelsea. The eight-story building spans around 75,000 square feet and will contain a research library, an outdoor terrace gallery, as well as performance and programming space. (Press release)


Hoor Al Qasimi Will Curate the Expanded Lahore Biennial – The head of the Sharjah Art Foundation, Hoor Al Qasimi, has been tapped to organize the next Lahore Biennale. The second edition of the Pakistani biennial, due to open in early 2020, will expand to include artists from West Asia and the Middle East as well as Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. (Press release)

Baltimore Museum Commissions Mickalene Thomas – Thomas will create a large-scale installation to transform the Baltimore Museum’s East Lobby. She is the first artist to be chosen for a biennial commission, funded by the philanthropists Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker, that will pair a rising curator with an artist to create new works. Thomas says she hopes her contribution will “represent, engage, and bring visibility” to the city’s African American community. (Press release)

Helen Frankenthaler Foundation Announces Scholarship Funding – The artist’s foundation is launching two new initiatives: Frankenthaler Scholarships and the Frankenthaler Prints Initiative. The foundation will make one-time endowment gifts of $500,000 to the art schools at Columbia, the Art Institute of Chicago, UCLA, and Yale to fund scholarships for MFA painting students. Future gifts will support MFA and PhD art history scholarships. Meanwhile, the foundation has donated prints by Frankenthaler to ten museums. (Press release)

Minnesota Art Museum Reopens in St Paul – The Minnesota Museum of American Art has reopened in its new home in St Paul. The 100-year-old institution, which is known as “The M,” plans to begin an expansion in 2020. New York-based Sheila Pepe will create a site-specific installation for the museum’s Sculpture Court. (Fox)


Would You Give a Museum Your Biometric Data? – At the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, the exhibition “Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Pulse” requires harvesting visitors’ biometric data in order to function. The exhibition, which features large-scale interactive installations powered by visitors’ fingerprints and heartbeats, comes with a privacy warning: No other personal data will be collected, “making identification impossible.” (Washington Post)

Espace Cabu Honors Murdered Cartoonist – The French cartoonist Jean Cabut has been honored in his hometown of Châlons-en-Champagne with a new cultural space. Known as Cabu, the cartoonist was murdered along with colleagues at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo by extremists in January 2015. (Le Figaro)

Tate Artist Dreams of a Slimy Christmas  The artist now known as Monster Chetwynd has covered the entrance of Tate Britain with an illuminated slime trail and installed a pair of giant leopard slugs on its steps. The Winter Commission, which is in place through to the end of February, reflects the artist’s interest in bioluminescent animal life, as well as alternative energy sources. It was inspired by a David Attenborough nature documentary. (Press release)


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