Art Industry News: French Museums Ask Scientists to Make Sure the Nation’s Modiglianis Aren’t Fake + Other Stories

Plus, Dutch museums pledge to return looted African art and Trevor Paglen's art satellite blasts off.

This Amedeo Modigliani, Portrait of Chaim Soutine, was seized from an exhibition in Genoa and proven to be a fake. Courtesy of the Genova Palazzo Ducale.

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 Tuesday, December 4.


Trevor Paglen’s Satellite Lifts Off Into Outer Space – SpaceX launched a rocket carrying two art projects into space yesterday. Paglen’s titanium-coated balloon Orbital Reflector and Tavares Strachan’s bust of Robert Henry Lawrence Jr., who was the first African American selected for the US space program, will now orbit the earth. Orbital Reflector is expected to last at least two months before it disintegrates as it passes back through Earth’s atmosphere, while Enoch, Strachan’s sculpture, is expected to orbit for seven years. (The Art Newspaper)

Italian Court Rejects Getty Bronze Appeal – The Italian court of last resort has rejected the appeal from the J. Paul Getty Museum attempting to halt the seizure of its ancient bronze Statue of a Victorious Youth, which came to the Los Angeles institution after fishermen it work and smuggled it into Italy without declaring it, then exported the statue illegally. US courts might have to take on the case to enforce the confiscation unless the Getty voluntarily surrenders the statue. (ARCABlog)

French Museums Check for Fake Modiglianis – Scientists are forensically examining all 29 Modigliani works in French museums to combat forgery. Lille’s Modern art museum and the national scientific library will conduct comprehensive studies over two years for the project titled “Modigliani and his Secrets,” bringing the study to a close in December 2019. Modigliani is catnip for forgers, and the hope is that building a solid foundation of knowledge will help catch fakes and avoid scandals like that uncovered in Genoa in July last year, when prosecutors discovered 20 fraudulent Modiglianis were being shown at the Palazzo Ducale. (TAN)

Warhol Foundation Announces Grant Winners – The Foundation’s arts writers grants program is dolling out $725,000 to 21 writers in four categories (articles, blogs, books, short-form writing). Individual grants range from $15,000 to $50,000, and recipients include Chloe Wyma, Dawn Chan, Bradford Nordeen, Susan Snodgrass, and Wendy Vogel. The program has funded 272 writers since 2006. (ARTnews)


Hugh Hefner’s College Typewriter Sells for $162,000 – Julien’s Auctions sold items belonging to the late publisher of Playboy Magazine in a two-day sale running from November 30. Proceeds from the auction, which also included the typewriter and a 1962 letter of feminist writer Gloria Steinem (which sold for $22,400), will go to Hefner’s foundation, which advocates for civil liberties including LGBTQ rights. (Reuters)

California Rules That Auction Houses Can Get Attorney’s Fees – The Ninth Circuit court has ruled that defendants can recover attorney’s fees from the artists (including Chuck Close and Laddie John Dill) who unsuccessfully sued them under a California royalties law. Back in July the Ninth Circuit struck down a California state law requiring artists to be paid royalties when their work is resold. (Art Law Blog)

Mitchell-Innes & Nash Adds Annette Lemieux to Its Roster – The New York gallery announced the addition of Picture Theory artist Annette Lemieux to its roster of artists including Pope.L and Martha Rosler. (Instagram)

Pace to Represent Mary Corse in New York – The gallery is expanding its representation of Mary Corse from Asia to New York, and she will be the subject of an exhibition in its new building in New York in 2020. The gallery shares representation with Los Angeles’s Kayne Griffin Corcoran, and Lisson continues to represent Corse in London. Corse was previously represented in New York by Lehmann Maupin. (Press release)


Frieze Names Its New Publisher – Rebecca Ann Siegel has been named Frieze magazine’s new publisher. The co-founder of Even, an arts magazine focused on global culture and politics, Seigel previously worked for Pace Gallery in the president’s office. (Press release)

VIA Art Fund Gives $1 Million to Arts Organizations – VIA Art Fund and Wagner Foundation have joined forces to create a five-year, $1 million fund to support 25 small to mid-sized nonprofit arts organizations across the US. Each gets up to $40,000 to bankroll general operating costs or specific initiatives. Five grants will be awarded in the first open call for proposals. (Press release)

Bonhams Lures New Americas Head From Christie’s – Muys Snijders is leaving Christie’s to lead Bonhams’s postwar and contemporary art department in the Americas. Snijders said that, under the auction house’s new ownership by Epiris, “I envision tremendous growth for Bonhams.” (Press release)

Art for Justice Awards Announced – Agnus Gund’s Art for Justice Awards will go to 32 organizations and artists. They include the Aperture Foundation for the “Prison Nation” exhibition, and Mural Arts Philadelphia, which aims to change the narratives about people who have been jailed. (Press release)


Bridget Riley Will Paint a National Gallery Wall – The artist will paint a 60-foot-wide wall piece in London’s National Gallery inspired by John Constable’s paintings of clouds. Due to be unveiled in January, Messengers also references the numerous angels that appear in Old Masters paintings in the National Gallery. Riley is a former trustee of the gallery. (Press release)

Dutch Museums Are Willing to Return Looted Africa Art – The four institutions that form the Netherland’s Museums of World Cultures are ready to restitute art looted during the colonial era. The Amsterdam Tropical Museum, the Rotterdam World Museum, the Leiden Museum of Ethnology, and Berg’s Africa Museum want to establish the origin of some 450,000 objects of as “a matter of morality and ethics.” (Le Figaro)

Gilbert & George Strut Their Stuff at JW Anderson – The British artists Gilbert & George appear in as themselves in their collaboration with Jonathan Anderson for his latest JW Anderson range. The artists posed in their East London home and studio with a cast of male models for pieces ranging from a black leather jacket and silk scarf to a backpack that unfolds to become a jacket.”There is something seductive and political at the same time,” Anderson says. (Garage)



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