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, July 30.
Greta Thunberg Criticizes Science Museum’s Pact With Oil Company – London’s Science Museum is under fire following reports that it signed a sponsorship contract with the oil giant Shell that included a “gagging clause,” meaning that the museum could “not damage the goodwill and reputation” of the company. Shell sponsored an exhibition titled “Our Future Planet,” which looks at carbon capture technology and natural solutions to the climate emergency. “The ‘Science’ Museum just killed irony (and their own reputation),” tweeted Thunberg. (Evening Standard)
Visitor Numbers Plummet at French Museums – The newly introduced health pass is wreaking havoc on cultural venues in France. Implementing checks of visitors’ vaccination and testing status has required institutions to make new hires at the same time that some venues have seen a drop in attendance. The Chauvet Cave, for example, which is home to the some of the world’s most famous prehistoric rock art, has seen a 20 percent drop in attendance and has had to hire three new employees to manage the passes. (France Bleu)
Britney Spears Is Making Art Again – The pop star, who has been making headlines recently with her legal battle over her conservatorship, has turned to art to keep her spirits up. Spears recently made a floor painting in her house, captured in a video posted to Instagram. “As you guys know there’s a lot of change going on in my life,” she wrote. “[T]oday I was feeling overwhelmed so I went to Michael’s and got white paper and paint 🎨 !!!” The large, colorful abstract work “is an expression of how I’m feeling at the moment… rebellious… colorful…bright…bold …spontaneous…magical…,” Spears wrote. (Instagram and Page Six)
Dealer Admits to Selling Fake Indigenous Art – An art dealer has admitted to selling fake indigenous Haida art by a fictional artist named “Harvey John.” The fraud was spotted by a group of online sleuths, who noticed that the style of the art was not in keeping with Haida art traditions. Nevertheless, the dealer managed to get “John’s” work into important collections. (CBC)
MOVERS & SHAKERS
A New Art Fair Launches – Fair Art Fair is a new digital app that aims to support artists, curators, and collectors by helping them connect with each other and build a more transparent art world. Users become part of a community, and Fair Art Fair plans to host digital exhibitions as well as physical ones. (Press release)
RIBOCA Gets a New Chief Curator – Leading German curator René Block has been tapped to curate the next Riga Biennial, RIBOCA3, which will take place from July 15 to October 2, 2022, in the Latvian capital. The young biennial’s previous curators were Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel, director of Lafayette Anticipations, and Katerina Gregos, artistic director of the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens. (Press release)
Anglo-Saxon Coin Found by Metal Detectorist Could Fetch £200 Million – A coin dating to between 802 and 839 that was found by a metal detectorist last year is going up for sale on September 8 in London. The rare find is estimated for between £150,000 and £200,000 and will be sold at Dix Noonan Webb. (Evening Standard)
Italian Bank Halts Plans to Sell Art Collection for Charity – UniCredit, a Milan-based bank, will not go through with a previously announced plan to raise funds for social impact initiatives and support for emerging artists by selling off its 60,000-work art collection, which includes pieces by Gerhard Richter, Yves Klein, and Andreas Gursky. It said the reason for calling off its Art4Future initiative was because the works are “a fundamental part of [Italy’s] history and heritage on which to build our future.” The works will be made available digitally and through a touring exhibition instead. (ARTnews)
FOR ART’S SAKE
Hunter Biden Fires Back at Critics – What does Hunter Biden think about those who call his art overpriced? “Fuck ’em,” he told the art podcast Nota Bene. “The price [of an artist’s work] is completely subjective and sometimes has nothing to do with anything other than the moment,” he said, citing Maurizio Cattelan’s notorious banana art, Comedian. He went on to add that the conservative hubbub over his art has at least gotten his work more viewers: “I think I am the most famous artist in the MAGA world.” (PageSix, Nota Bene)
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