Your Weekly Arts News (April 16 – 23)

Your Weekly Art News is a digest of the most important developments coming out of the art world from markets, finance, upcoming shows, exhibitions, and scandals. Here’s what you need to know this Monday, April 16th. 

  • Is curating inherently corrupt? A new essay by Àngels Díaz Miralda Tena argues so:

Curating used to be a straight-forward profession. A carer for collections, the task was to mediate objects from academic perspectives and art history. Today the role has become indefinable, and the conflation between director and curator, problematic. The “ethics of curating” is an unquestionable foundation of programming in institutions. The topic has been examined numerous times and individuals have spoken out about what this ethics entails. The rapid privatization of institutions mirrors the world around us, and can be compared to the cuts in services, universities, and infrastructure. As artists and biennials focus on social problems concerning our current realities, they continue to operate in a crumbling economic system which goes largely criticized, but remains unaddressed from within.

Curators might be susceptible to corruption, but they are also at the front line of full-out neoliberal capitalism and the chaotic flipping vortex of the non-linear art market.

Illustrations by Berke Yazicioglu

  • Scrutiny and scandal in Italy, as the Beretta family face uneasy questions about their arts patronage and support of the NRA and the Venice Biennale, as per Rachel Corbett in artnet News: 

Amid heightened scrutiny of the sources of cultural funding, the family has so far managed to stay out of the crosshairs. In recent months, the question of whether cultural institutions have a responsibility to reckon with the source of a donor’s wealth has come into sharp focus. Protests against the philanthropic Sackler family’s ties to the opioid crisis and, before that, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s relationship with fossil-fuels billionaire David Koch and Tate’s with the oil company BP have placed unprecedented scrutiny on philanthropists.

US after February’s massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida, few Americans are familiar with the Berettas, the 500-year-old Italian gun manufacturing family whose current matriarch is a prominent art collector and patron.

Umberta Gnutti Beretta, the wife of 15th-generation Beretta scion and CEO Franco Beretta, has recently funded the Venice Biennale, the Poldi Pezzoli museum in Milan, and the Brescia Museums Foundation in northern Italy.

She is also an avid contemporary art collector, buying work by Vanessa BeecroftTracey EminTerry O’Neill, and David LaChapelle, among others. Two years ago, the Beretta family lent their private island on Lake Iseo to Christo to build his fabric walkway-on-water The Floating Piers (2016).

The Beretta family at their home in Brescia, Italy. © Dominik Gigler. Image courtesy of Dominik Gigler Fotografie.

  • The Met belongs to Max Hollein – The Metropolitan Museum of Art has named the former director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco as its new director, the first time in 60 years that the institution has hired a leader from outside its own curatorial ranks. 

Max Hollein. Courtesy of the Staedel Museum.


  • Tim Schnieder examines data from the Hong Kong art industry, identifying several broad trends:

In recent years, Hong Kong has transformed in the eyes of the Western art industry. Formerly a destination that warranted attention primarily during Art Basel Hong Kong and a few scattered auctions, the region now hosts permanent spaces from many of the most powerful galleries in the world, while Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips are all seeking to expand their influence there in various ways. The three major trends he identifies are:

1. Hong Kong Buyers Prefer Asian Artists—By Far

2. Postwar Art Rules, Modern Art Comes in Second, and Old Masters Lag Far Behind

3. Buyers Favor Fine Art Over Other Categories

Ken Yeh, then deputy chairman of Christie’s Asia, speaks about Andy Warhol’s Lemon Marilyn when it was on display in Hong Kong. (Yeh joined Phillips in late 2017.) Photo Woody Wu/AFP/Getty Images.

  • The SP-Arte fair in Brazil faces uncertainty amid worsening political instability in the country:

Artists and dealers remain hopeful that the country’s art market can survive the political chaos.

Just four days before the opening of SP-Arte, Brazil’s premier art fair, news broke that former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had been sentenced to a 12-year jail term on corruption charges.

Lula, as the former leftist leader was known, had been publicly eyeing a re-election bid and was ahead in the polls against incumbent populist Michael Temer. His jailing leaves Brazil’s Worker’s Party without a viable candidate only months before the country’s October election. This destabilization comes just after Brazil’s art scene weathered an onslaught of right-wing aggression aimed at censoring and intimidating artists, galleries, and institutions.

It all raises the question, can Brazil’s once thriving art market survive this political instability? Against the odds, battle-hardened players the Brazilian art market insist that they’re looking to the future with optimism.

Activists celebrate following the arrival of Brazilian ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at police headquarters to serve his 12-year prison sentence on April 7, 2018. Photo: HEULER ANDREY/AFP/Getty Images

  • The Ukrainian art patron, philanthropist and billionaire Victor Pinchuk is under investigation by Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe into foreign meddling in the US election:

It may have looked like a great deal at the time: $150,000 for a 21-minute video address by Donald Trump sent to a conference organized by his friend, the Ukrainian billionaire art collector and steel magnate Victor Pinchuk. But Pinchuk’s especially generous “honorarium” to the Trump Foundation in September 2015 for the video appearance that month is now being scrutinized by special counsel Robert Mueller as he investigates alleged foreign influence on the US presidential election.

Marcus S. Owens, a former head of the Internal Revenue Service division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, told the New York Times that the donation was “an unusual amount of money for such a short speech.” Owens added that it “looks like an effort to buy influence.” Trump has repeatedly denounced the investigation as a “witch hunt.”

 The Victor Pinchuk Foundation has responded by pointing out that in late 2015, Trump was among a number of candidates to be the Republican nominee. In the video, Trump began his short speech by declaring: “Victor I have known for a long time and he is a tremendous guy, a tremendous guy,” before stating that Ukraine has not been treated right by the US or Europe. It was one of Trump’s first forays into foreign policy.



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