This Week in Art

This Week in Art


It’s no fun, but also impossible to avoid; the coronavirus continues to affect the art world in myriad ways. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first with these COVID-19 updates:

  • In lieu of the nationwide lockdown, many of Italy’s galleries have closed for the time being amidst worries around a drop in sales and the inability to travel to art fairs around Europe and the world. 
  • After the cancellation of Art Basel Hong Kong companies are turning to online viewing rooms to continue to facilitate sales. Along with being an interesting test of how galleries and auction houses adapt to major disease events, the use of online viewing rooms will be a test of the future of how art is bought and sold. Will art fairs become obsolete in the face of the ease that comes with just clicking a button? We’ll just have to wait and see. 
  • The Louvre is limiting the number of visitors it will let into the museum and is only accepting card payments to limit the spread of germs. Japan and South Korea have closed a number of their museums, and art fairs around the world are being modified, postponed, and even canceled. 

TEFAF Maastricht

Photo Courtesy Forbes

TEFAF Maastricht was closed at the end of the day Wednesday by organizers in light of an exhibitor testing positive for coronavirus. The exhibitor had already left the fair, but officials decided it was safest to close the event.

Cleveland Museum

The atrium at the Cleveland Museum. (Wikimedia Commons)

On a more lighthearted note, The Cleveland Museum of Art will soon be receiving its largest donation in 60 years which includes works by Matisse and Picasso, among others. Local philanthropists Joseph P. Keithley and Nancy F. Keithley are donating more than 100 works of art, some immediately and some as a part of a promised gift. 

Museo Nacional del Prado

For a nice reprise, take a look at Museo Nacional del Prado in Spain’s Instagram series about its employees. The videos show employees who otherwise might not be celebrated in the museum talking about their favorite works from the collection. 

Helsinki Bienniale 

The Helsinki Biennale has released its list of 40 artists that will be shown at the event, which will run from 12 June to 27 September 2020. This will be the first inaugural Helsinki Biennale. The Biennale will be based around the theme “the same sea.” 

Read the list of artists here

International Women’s Day 

Local history blog Look Up London ran a number of walking tours centered around women’s history this week. Many of the walks explored women through artwork, in particular with tours at the British Museum and Tate Modern.

The Royal Academy also held a week of panel discussions and events leading up to and after the day. 

Museum of Chinese In America

A photograph from the fire that destroyed a large part of the Museum of Chinese in America’s collection. (Lloyd Mitchell/ New York Times)

Efforts are being made to salvage archives from the New York City building at the center of a devastating fire in January. About 80% of the archives remain in the building, with only 20% being successfully salvaged in recent attempts. The building is set to be demolished. 

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston will open it’s new Center for Netherlandish Art later this year. The centre will be the first of its kind, creating an opportunity for the museum to distinguish itself and become a driving force in the research of Dutch and Flemish art. The centre will be headed by Chris Atkins, who was hired last year from the Philidelphia Museum of Art. 


Shows recently opened and opening soon

An image from the upcoming exhibit Cecil Beaton: Bright Young Things at the National Portrait Gallery. (Image from the National Portrait Gallery)

Cao Fei: Blueprints at the Serpentine Gallery, opened 4 March


Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things at the National Portrait Gallery, opening 12 March


Christo and Jeanne-Claude in Paris at the Centre Pompidou, opening 18 March


John Baldessari at the Moderna Museet, 21 March


Félix Fénéon The Anarchist and the Avant-Garde- From Signac to Matisse and Beyond at the MOMA, 22 March


What we’re reading 

This piece from the New York Times explores a show on view now at the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum in Boston. The show centers around John Singer Sargent’s secret muse, a man named Thomas McKeller, who was a model for many different figures in some of Sargent’s most well-known work. 

ARTNews’ piece about the Tate Modern’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint is an interesting dive into the need for museums to be accountable for their climate impact, and the good and bad that comes with the realities of becoming more sustainable.