News Recap: September 7, 2018

A weekly update of art world news.

The National Museum of Brazil in Flames. Photo By Felipe Milanez via Wikimendia Commons

The National Museum of Brazil in Flames. Photo By Felipe Milanez via Wikimendia Commons

National Museum of Brazil Catches Fire, Loses 90% of Collection to Flames
On September 2 at 7:00 PM, the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro battled flames in a fire that cost the museum over 90% of its collection. The fire alarms in the building did not go off. There was no established fire brigade. The fire hydrants next to the Museum had no water. As a result, museum employees threw themselves into the flames in an attempt to salvage some of the country’s history. Less than 10% of the Museum’s collection remains, including some books, a meteorite, and part of the zoology exhibit. The Museum was the oldest scientific institution in the country, previously the home to the Portuguese Royal Family, and held over 20 million historical artifacts. The National Museum of Brazil has faced decreasing funds since 2014, causing it to close intermittently in recent history. Citizens around the country are now calling for a federal financial commitment to the arts, something that may have prevented this tragedy in the first place.
Read the full story (Hyperallergic)

Antonin Kratochvil Resigns from VII Photo Amid Sexual Harassment Claims
Formerly celebrated photojournalist Antonin Kratochvil resigned from VII Photo, a photo agency he co-founded, on August 24. VII Photo made an announcement on September 3 confirming the resignation amid allegations of Kratochvil’s sexual harassment of female photojournalists. Kratochvil’s leave comes after a suspension in July following a lengthy report in the Columbia Journalism Review in which Kristen Chick outlined several cases of Kratochvil’s verbal and physical sexual harassment of VII Photo members. Kratochvil has denied all allegations, but his resignation was immediately accepted by VII Photo.
Read the full story (British Journal of Photography)

Mary Boone Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud
Gallerist Mary Boone has pled guilty to two counts of submitting falsified federal tax income documents. In 2012, Boone filed a loss of $52,000 for the year 2011, but Mary Boone Gallery profited approximately $3.7 million. In her tax documents, Boone cited personal expenses as business deductions and further confused the case by incorrectly filing her gallery income on personal tax documents. Mary Boone Gallery has been a New York fixture since the 1970s. Her often controversial antics branded Boone as a “flamboyant figure.” The Manhattan Attorney General said, “As Boone has learned, tax laws are not abstract.” In this case, each guilty verdict could lead to a maximum of three years in prison. Boone will be sentenced in January and has already agreed to back pay over $3 million in overdue taxes.
Read the full story (The New York Times)

Open Letter Criticizes Rencontres d’Arles Photo Festival for Gender Disparity
This week the French Libération published an open letter addressed to the Rencontres d’Arles Photo Festival demanding gender equality in representation. The annual photo festival, held in the South of France, has been dominated by male artists, and women are just as unequally represented in the fair’s management. The letter, available on Wordpress in English, was addressed to the Sam Stourdzé, the festival’s director, and signed by numerous photography and art professionals, including the director of the Whitechapel Gallery in London, Iwona Blazwick; the president of AICA International, Marjorie Allthorpe Guyton; and the senior curator of the Photographers’ Gallery in London, Karen McQuaid. An exclamation concluding the letter reads: “You, and only you, can play this triggering role for the Rencontres. In 2019, for the 50th edition of Arles—and the editions that follow—work a little harder to raise the percentage of exhibited female artists to 50%. Just do it!”
Read the full story (Artnews)

Art Basel to Introduce New Pricing Structure
Art Basel is rolling out a new sliding price structure, set to debut at the 2019 Switzerland edition of the fair. Previous editions of Art Basel have charged a flat fee for all participants, but beginning next year, booths in the main section will cost less per-square-meter for smaller galleries than larger galleries on a sliding scale determined by size. The high cost of art fairs has often been a struggle for galleries representing emerging artists, and Art Basel hopes this move with relieve some of the stress on smaller enterprises. However, an Art Basel spokeswoman reiterated that the restructuring of pricing “will not resolve the systemic issues faced by many galleries,” but recognizes it as “a solid step in the right direction.” The change in pricing structure follows David Zwirner’s suggestion at a New York Times conference addressing the issue earlier this year.
Read the full story here (The Art Newspaper)