Art Industry News: Lily Safra, a mega-collector whose life was defined by opulence and tragedy, died at 87 + Other stories

Art Industry News is a daily summary of the most important developments in the art world and the art market. Here’s what you need to know on Monday, July 18.


Behind the Scenes of Ukraine’s Culture War – Art critic Jason Farago traveled to Ukraine to report from the field on the place of culture in the crosshairs of a war that is not only about power, but also about identity. The creative professionals he met “make no distinction between the survival of the Ukrainian people and land and the survival of its history and its ideas. While Russia is actively trying to erase Ukraine’s national identity, that country’s music, literature, movies, and landmarks are not recreations. These are battlefields. (New York Times)

Indigenous artists call on the Canadian government to step up regulation of the art market – Artists are lobbying the Canadian government to tighten regulations in an effort to stop the importation and sale of fake Indigenous art from Eastern Europe and Asia. Artists want to be able to use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to stop counterfeiters and want new legislation that awards damages to affected Indigenous artists, who they say have lost millions of dollars in sales. (The arts journal)

Collector Lily Safra dies at 87 The Brazilian-born socialite and philanthropist “with enough twists and tragedies to fill a dozen Danielle Steel novels,” in the words of her obituary, died July 9 at her Geneva home of pancreatic cancer. Its collection included works by Alberto Giacometti, Gerhard Richter and other 19th and 20th century masters. She has sold some of her artwork and jewelry to benefit charities including museums, medical institutions and children’s aid. And she made international headlines when her fourth husband, banker Edmond J. Safra, died in a fire at their penthouse in Monaco in 1999, after locking himself with a nurse in a bathroom that also served as a safe. (New York Times)

What’s going on in Pace’s Discord? – As part of its push into the NFT world, Pace has opened its own top notch Discord channel. The attempt to build a community there reveals a clash of expectations between ordinary NFT investors and elite art collectors, as Pace moderators try to drum up excitement for the ‘Moon Phases’ series. by Jeff Koons, priced at $2 million each. “Nobody in Discord seems to care about putting a Jeff Koons sculpture on the moon – they’re interested in putting something they own on the moon,” writes Sean Kennedy. (Outland)


Russian artist-activist acquitted of ‘pornography’ charges – Yulia Tsvetkova, a 29-year-old feminist and LGBTQ+ activist and artist, has been acquitted of pornography charges related to illustrations of female sex organs she posted on her “Vagina Monologues” social media page. She was placed under house arrest after authorities in the remote town of Komsomolsk-on-Amur opened a criminal case for her alleged dissemination of “pornographic material” in 2019. She faces up to six years in prison. (Moscow time)

Maryland Institute College of Art is laying off staff in the middle of Union Drive – Citing budget deficits, tThe Baltimore art school laid off employees just weeks after its staff voted to join the SEIU Local 500 union on May 24. The layoffs reduce the staff bargaining unit by approximately 10%. Union representatives asked the administration to enter into negotiations before changing the working conditions of the employees, but the administration said the changes were necessary. (art forum)

The Accademia Museum voluntarily recognizes the union – In other news from the Museums Union, The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles voluntarily recognized its staff union two months after a group of museum employees said they wanted to join the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The Academy Museum union will represent approximately 160 employees in 17 different departments. (Hyperallergic)

Closure of the Santa Barbara Museum of Contemporary Art – The Southern California museum plans to permanently close on August 28. After being under financial pressure for years, the pandemic was the final nail in his coffin. Founded in 1976, the museum has operated from its current location in the Paseo Nuevo shopping center since 1990. (Santa Barbara Independent)


O’Flaherty’s massive art opening was shut down by cops – The opening of an open-call group exhibition at the Manhattan Unorthodox Art Gallery co-directed by artist Jamian Juliano-Villani became so crowded that it was shut down by police at 8:30 p.m. There are over 200 artists included in “The Patriot”, a parody version of the summer collective show. (ART news)

Frank Bowling’s little-known sculptures are on display – At the Stephen Lawrence Gallery in London, a new exhibition (until September 3) by acclaimed painter Frank Bowling focuses on his lesser-known sculptures. These abstract works, often made from steel and other wreckage the artist has collected over the years, follow the same logic as his paintings, with a particular emphasis on geometry. (Guardian)

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