This Week’s 10 Most Important Art News Stories

Artsy Editorial
Aug 7, 2015 6:11PM

Catch up on the latest art news with our rundown of the 10 stories you need to know this week.

Graph showing white non-Hispanics and underrepresented minorities on museum staffs by job category, courtesy of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation just released a report on the findings of its Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey. Gathered earlier this year, the numbers indicate that women may have the chance to take on future leadership positions but trends imply that minorities are most likely out of luck—with women making up 60 percent and non-Hispanic whites 77 percent of participating museum staff. The report then further breaks down those figures based on job field and decade born to look at possibilities for future growth. (via The Mellon Foundation)


According to a report by Artprice released earlier this week, the U.S. has overtaken China as the frontrunner of public art auctions. In the first six months of this year, the American market’s sales outstripped China’s $1.9 billion, reaching a total of $2.8 billion—which amounts to 30 percent of the worldwide revenue. This news comes on the heels of the worst day in China’s stock market in eight years. (via The Art Newspaper)


In 2013, Spanish authorities deemed Picasso’s Head of a Young Woman (1906) a national treasure, meaning that it could not be sold internationally. Valued at $28.3 million, the painting was most recently purchased in 1977 by Spanish banker Jaime Botín, who installed it on a British-registered yacht that he owned, leading to the painting’s seizure by French authorities last Friday when the yacht docked in Corsica. While Botín’s lawyer claims that the artwork’s permanent residence is on the yacht, whether it is docked in Spain or elsewhere, Spanish authorities could claim ownership if the courts find Botín guilty of violating cultural protection laws. (via The New York Times)


A series of closures are taking place at the National Gallery in London, due to the latest strike at the museum. The workers are protesting the privatization of security staff, which leaves many unionized security workers jobless—and have already taken industrial action 50 days thus far. The strikes are planned to continue during August, resulting in further room closures on the 5th, 6th, and 12th of the month. Rooms with work by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and many British artists from the 17th century are those subject to temporary closure. (via The Art Newspaper)


On Sunday, the Gulf Labor Coalition, in partnership with the G.U.L.F. (Global Ultra Luxury Faction) group, protested migrant rights and expressed Palestinian solidarity at the 2015 Venice Biennale. After stenciling a pro-Palestinian icon onto the Gulf Labor Coalition banner in the Arsenale—where it hangs as part of the coalition’s inclusion in Okwui Enwezor’s exhibition “All the World’s Futures”—the groups occupied the Israeli pavilion to hold a discussion on economic and cultural boycotts of Israel in relation to the art world. The groups are most known for their activism concerning poor labor conditions and wages throughout the construction of branches of major museums in Abu Dhabi—including a report they released this week that documents the information gathered from interviews with 50 workers. (via Hyperallergic, The Art Newspaper)


As a part of an ongoing investigation, the FBI has released surveillance footage of the night before the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art heist. The infamous theft, which lead to the disappearance of 13 works, valued at $500 million, by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas, and Manet, has remained a mystery since March 18, 1990. The footage depicts an unauthorized visitor being allowed into the museum by a guard. There is a $5 million reward on offer for anyone with additional information concerning the stolen artworks. (via ARTnews)


The British Museum is launching a virtual reality roundhouse this weekend. The institution will be giving visitors over the age of 13 3D headsets, tablets, and projections that prompt an experience of recently discovered objects in a virtual recreation of the Bronze Age, complete with a flickering fire. (via The Guardian)  


The Brooklyn Academy of Music is planning a $25 million expansion, connecting its three current spaces and adding patron amenities and visual art galleries. The project aims to establish BAM as a cultural anchor in downtown Brooklyn for the intersection of art and theater. Construction is set to finish in the fall of 2017. (via The New York Times)


Director and chief curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem Thelma Golden will join the board of directors at The Barack Obama Foundation, where she will be fundraising in order to expand the presidential library in Chicago. (via ARTnews) 


Björn Geldhof has been hired as Azerbaijani nonprofit Yarat Contemporary Art Space’s new artistic and strategic director. Geldhof, who curated the Ukrainian pavilion at this summer’s Venice Biennale, will continue to be responsible for exhibition and education programs at the Pinchuk Art Center through the end of 2015. (via Artforum)

In other news...

A wall collapsed because of construction in the building next to gallery Andrew Edlin’s new location, causing the inaugural show “Brent Green: If I Could Have Any Superpower…” to be postponed, though there were no injuries and no damage to the gallery space. (via the Observer)

Curator of contemporary British art at Tate Britain Lizzie Carey-Thomas will be moving to the Serpentine Galleries, where she will be the head of programs. (via Artforum)

This September, the Institute du Monde Arabe in Paris will be debuting 250 ancient Egyptian artifacts that were found in an underwater city in 2000. (via Hyperallergic)

Skidmore’s Frances Young Tang Museum has acquired 40 contemporary works on paper from Anne and Arthur Goldstein’s collection. (via ARTnews)

Slovakia’s cultural minister is making claims of improprieties in the provenance of a Bernini bust that was acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum in June. (via the Los Angeles Times)

Linda Downs, the current executive director and chief executive officer of the College Art Association, has announced that she will be retiring in February. (via Artforum)

Sarah Munro, the current Head of Arts for Glasgow Life, has been hired as the first female director of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. (via ARTnews)

Make your weekend plans with our preview of exhibitions on view in cities across the globe.

Artsy Editorial