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Week in Review: One-third of US Museums May Never Reopen; MOCA Detroit Director Terminated

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Postcard “Rue Daubigny, Auvers-sur-Oise” superimposed with parts of the painting “Tree Roots” (1890) by Vincent van Gogh (©arthénon)

Week in Review is a weekly collection of news, developments, and stirrings in the art world. Subscribe to receive these posts as a weekly newsletter.

One-third of US museums may never reopen, according to a survey by the American Alliance of Museums.

Following complaints of a “toxic work environment” by over 70 former employees, the Board of Directors of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) has terminated its relationship with former Executive Director Elysia Borowy-Reeder.

After Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) employees publicly voiced concerns about a culture of abuse and mishandled sexual misconduct complaints, the museum hired an external consulting firm to assess its workplace environment. The results of the examination, shared with staff in an online meeting on Tuesday, July 28, paint a grim picture that implicates all levels of the museum’s leadership.

Wouter van der Veen, the scientific director of the Institut van Gogh, has pinpointed the likely location of Vincent van Gogh’s final painting, “Tree Roots” (1890). He made the connection after he noticed the oil painting’s clear resemblance to a portion of a postcard from the French town of Auvers-sur-Oise, where the Dutch painter took his life in 1890.

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Poster templates by Artists of Workers, targeting the Guggenheim Museum (courtesy of Artists of Workers)

The group Artists for Workers created a website parodying the Guggenheim Museum, mimicking the visual language of the institution’s official website to pressure the museum “to improve material conditions for workers and build solidarity among artists and arts workers.”

The Kunstverein Hannover in Germany, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montreal have all suspended their forthcoming exhibitions of Jon Rafman’s work after allegations of sexual misconduct against the Canadian digital media artist surfaced online.

In March, the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) announced that it is heading towards a permanent shutdown, citing years of declining student enrollment and financial losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. But now, after securing more than $4 million in donations, the 149-year-old school says it will remain open.

In a bipartisan, unanimous vote, the House passed legislation to create the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino.

Amid mounting nationwide uncertainty over the return to in-person instruction this fall, some of Columbia University’s faculty are balking at the administration’s request that they “reconsider the modality of their courses” after the vast majority of instructors “elected to teach online only.”

After the Trump administration walked back regulations that would revoke the visa status of all international students attending online-only schools, ICE updated the ruling to target incoming students.

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The chic mallard was found nesting on the Met Museum’s Cantor Rooftop Garden last week. (photo from @metmuseum, used with permission)

A brown duck has built her nest in a planter on the Metropolitan Museum’s Cantor Rooftop Garden.

On Sunday, July 26, French police arrested and charged a church volunteer who has admitted to setting a fire that severely damaged the interiors of the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul in Nantes.

Transactions

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Installation view of “The Seated I” (2019) for the Facade Commission: Wangechi Mutu, The NewOnes, will free Us (2019) (Courtesy of the Artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. Image credit: the Metropolitan Museum of Art; photo by Bruce Schwarz)

New York’s Metropolitan Museum has acquired two bronze statues by Kenyan-American artist Wangechi Mutu, “The Seated I” (2019) and “The Seated III” (2019). The acquisitions are part of The NewOnes will free Us, a group of four statues made by Mutu for the inaugural Met Fifth Avenue façade commission. The series, which plays on the classical trope of the caryatid, has been on view on the Met’s exterior since September 2019 and remained on view throughout the museum’s shutdown due to COVID-19; the two acquisitions will go on to be exhibited inside of the museum. The Met also owns Mutu’s diptych “My Strength Lies (2006), purchased last year.

At Sotheby’s London, the “Rembrandt to Richter” sale garnered £149.7 million (~$192.7 million), at the high end of a presale estimate of $139.3 million to $200.1 million. “Rembrandt to Richter” was the first “live” London evening sale since February, though the salesroom itself was empty. The cross-category auction included one of the three Rembrandt self-portraits in private collections (“Self-portrait of the artist, half-length, wearing a ruff and a black hat” (1632)), which garnered £14.5 million (~$19 million), and a generously sized four-panel cloudscape by Gerhard Richter (“Wolken (fenster)” (1970)), which sold for £10.4 million (~$13.6 million). Joan Miró’s “Peinture (Femme au chapeau rouge)” (1927), one of two paintings on offer from the collection of Ronald Perelman, sold for £22.3 million (~$28.7 million), marking it as the most expensive work sold in Europe this season.

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden acquired two large-scale outdoor sculptures by Sterling Ruby and Huma Bhabha. Bhabha’s “We Come in Peace” (2018) is a 12-foot-tall bronze figure, cast from cork, that nods to the 1951 sci-fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still. Ruby’s “DOUBLE CANDLE” (also 2018) consists of two bronze candles that stand at more than 24 feet tall. The sculptures will be exhibited in the Hirshhorn garden, which has been the subject of public debatesince the museum proposed a contentious garden redesign by Hiroshi Sugimoto.

This Week in the Art World

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Gala Porras-Kim, 13 fabric fragments from the MET reconstruction (2016), ink, colored pencil and marker on paper (Photo courtesy of Commonwealth and Council)

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation gave a $2 million grant to the ICA Miami’s Art + Research Center. | Art Newspaper

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery announced its inaugural Instagram Artist-in-Residence Bradford Grant. | Howard Newsroom

Sales director Graham Steele is leaving Hauser & Wirth. | artnet

The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC named Sheila McDaniel as its new administrator. | National Gallery of Art

The Graham Foundation announced its 2020 grantees. | Graham Foundation

The California African American Museum (CAAM) in Los Angeles appointed Taylor Renee Aldridge as visual arts curator and Susan D. Anderson as history curator. | Artforum

Silver Art Projects announced the 25 inaugural Artists-in-Residence at 4 World Trade Center. | Silver Art Projects

The Getty Research Institute announced its 2020/2021 Research Residents and Artist-in-Residence Gala Porras-Kim. | GettyNews

The estate of Gustav Metzger will be represented by Hauser & Wirth. | FAD Magazine

Adam Budak is will serve as director of the KestnerGesellschaft in Hanover. | Monopol

The participating artists in Ireland’s 2020 EVA Internationalwere announced. | e-flux

Los Angeles gallery Chimento Contemporary is closing. | Chimento Contemporary

Eva Chimento has accepted a position as director at Telluride Gallery of Fine Art. | Chimento Contemporary

Eames Ore-Giron joined the roster at James Cohan in New York. | Artdaily

The Kraszna-Krausz Foundation released the shortlisted titles for its 2020 Photography Book Award and Moving Image Book Award. | Artdaily

Christina and Emmanuel Di Donna launched gallery Sélavy in the Hamptons. | Architectural Digest

In Memoriam

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Rebeccah Blum (image courtesy Emma Blum)

Rebeccah Blum (1967–2020), curator, editor, and translator | Hyperallergic

Richard Brettell (1949–2020), Impressionism scholar and Texan museum director | Texas Standard

Herman Cain (1945–2020), businessman and former presidential candidate | CNN

Saul Fletcher (1967–2020), British-born photographer  | Monopol

El Gilbert (1953–2020), San Francisco gallerist | Artforum

Peter Green (1946–2020), Fleetwood Mac guitarist | Rolling Stone

Queasha Hardy (1991–2020), Louisiana hairstylist | Human Rights Campaign

Olivia de Havilland (1916–2020), Hollywood actress | Hollywood Reporter

Marcuse “Cusie” Pfeifer (1936–2020), New York gallerist | Artforum

Lady Red Couture (1977–2020), Los Angeles drag icon | them

Lotty Rosenfeld (1943–2020), Chilean artist | ARTnews

Kansai Yamamoto (1944–2020), Japanese fashion designer | New York Times

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