Art Movements

This week in art news: the Guggenheim pulled three works from an upcoming show over accusations of animal cruelty, Jean Nouvel dismissed claims of worker abuse at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and X-rays revealed the unusual contents of Dégas’s wax sculptures.

X-radiograph of Edgar Degas’s “Arabesque over the Right Leg, Left Arm in Front” (© Fitzwilliam Museum)

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

The Guggenheim Museum withdrew three works from its upcoming exhibition Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World, following a public outcry from animal rights activists. The museum attributed their decision to pull works by Peng Yu and Sun Yuan, Huang Yong Ping, and Xu Bing, to “explicit and repeated threats of violence.” An online petition objecting to the works has so far garnered over 750,000 supporters.

Jean Nouvel dismissed claims of worker abuse and exploitation at the Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi as an “old question.” “They have the same conditions, even better conditions, than those I see in other countries,” the architect told the Anglo-American Press Association. “We checked and it was fine. We saw no problem.” A 2015 report by Human Rights Watch concluded that migrant laborers working on Saadiyat Island’s Louvre and Guggenheim museum projects were living in squalid conditions, subjected to wage theft and underpayment, and routinely had their passports confiscated.

A series of X-rays taken by conservationists at the Fitzwilliam Museum revealed Edgar Degas‘s use of wine bottle corks, shop-bought armatures, and old floor boards for his wax sculptures of dancers.

Dissident cartoonist Ramón Esono Ebalé (aka Jamón y Queso) was arrested in Equatorial Guinea. The artist, who has produced work criticizing dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, had travelled back to his home country to renew his passport.

Richard Rogers challenged Prince Charles to engage in a public architecture debate after claiming he knows of five developers who have privately consulted the prince out of fear of his potential opposition. A spokesman for the prince of Wales denied the architect’s claims. In 2015, the Guardian published the so-called “black spider” memos, a number of letters sent by Charles to British government ministers and politicians advocating his stance on a number of socio-political issues — a violation of the monarchy’s tradition of political neutrality.

Nicole Eisenman‘s sculpture “Sketch for a Fountain” (2017) was vandalized for a second time. The work was spray painted with a swastika and a phallus on the eve of Germany’s 2017 election, in which the far-right party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) made historic gains in the Bundestag.

Hurvin Anderson, “Is it OK to be black?” (2016), oil on canvas, 130 x 130 cm (courtesy the artist)

The 2017 Turner Prize exhibition opened at the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull. This year’s nominees are Hurvin Anderson, Andrea Büttner, Lubaina Himid and Rosalind Nashashibi.

A Manhattan district judge dismissed a lawsuit filed against London’s National Gallery over the ownership of Henri Matisse’s 1908 portrait of Margarete “Greta” Moll.

A group of amateur archaeologists discovered a Roman mosaic in Boxford, England. Part of a larger villa complex, the mosaic is thought to depict Bellerophon, Hercules, and Cupid.

Developers filed an application to destroy the last remaining example of Victorian slum housing in Leicester, England.

The UK’s oldest postcard firm, J Salmon, will close in December. Founded in 1880, the firm remained a family business for five generations.

Anger Management, a pop-up store organized by Marilyn Minter and Andrianna Campbell, opened at the Brooklyn Museum. Featuring works designed by artists including John Baldessari, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, and Glenn Ligon, the store features objects dedicated to themes of “resistance, hope, and protest.”

The empty lot on the corner of Bedford and North 1st Street in Williamsburg — known to locals for its eccentric dioramas of stuffed animals — was listed for sale.


Wisdom King of Passion (Aizen Myōō) (1300s), Kamakura period (1333–1392) to Nanbokuchō period (1336–92), hanging scroll; ink, color, gold and cut gold on silk, 102 x 60.5 cm (courtesy Cleveland Museum of Art)

Agnes Gund donated works by Brice Marden, Robert Colescott, Claes Oldenburg, Donald Sultan, and Adja Yunkers to the Cleveland Museum of Art. The museum also announced a number of other recent acquisitions, including a portrait by Joseph Wright of Derby and a medieval painting of Aizen Myōō, one of the Five Great Wisdom Kings and protectors of the Five Wisdom Buddhas.

The Peabody Essex Museum acquired the Andover Newton Theological School’s collection of Native American and native Hawaiian objects. The museum has committed to identifying possible ownership of the artifacts in compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990.

Cheryl and Haim Saban donated $50 million to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

Yahoo’s cofounder, Jerry Yang, and his wife, Akiko Yamazaki, donated $25 million toward the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco‘s expansion project.

Peter Fu donated $12 million to the McGill School of Architecture.

The Akron Art Museum received an $8-million grant from the Knight Foundation.

Susan and Stephen Wilson donated $1.5 million to the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University.

Gerhard Richter plans to donate a new, multi-part artwork to the city of Münster, Germany.

The Museum of Fine Arts of Montreal acquired Henry Moore’s “Three Piece Reclining Figure No. 1” (1961–62).

The Woodson Research Center at the Fondren Library at Rice University acquired the archive of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

David Hockney donated his 32-panel painting “The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire” (2011) to the Center Pompidou.

The Vivien Leigh collection sold at Sotheby’s for £2.2 million (~$3 million) — a figure five times higher than the pre-sale estimate. Highlights included a sketch of the actress by Augustus John, a watercolor by Roger Kemble Furse, and a still life painting by Winston Churchill.

Roger Kemble Furse, “Vivien Leigh Reading with Tissy” (nd), watercolor, pen, ink, and pencil on paper (courtesy Sotheby’s)


Gerard Vaughan announced his retirement as director of the National Gallery of Australia.

Linda Blumberg will step down as executive director of the Art Dealers Association of America at the end of the year.

Augustus Casely-Hayford was appointed director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art.

Kathy Halbreich was appointed executive director of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.

Marko Daniel was appointed director of the Joan Miró Foundation.

Thomas Sokolowski was appointed director of the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University.

Nicola Trezzi was appointed director and chief curator of the Center for Contemporary Art Tel Aviv.

Kwame Kwei-Armah was appointed artistic director of the Young Vic in London.

Colin B. Bailey was elected to the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation’s board of directors.

Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi was appointed head of the International Biennial Association.

Rendering of the Studio Museum in Harlem’s new building, facade view from 125th Street (courtesy Adjaye Associates)

Diane Wright was appointed curator of glass at the Toledo Museum of Art.

Douglas Brinkley was appointed the New-York Historical Society’s first presidential historian.

The Meadows School of the Arts at SMU announced new faculty appointments, including the Roberto Conduru as professor of Art History.

Loring Randolph was appointed the Frieze art fair’s artistic director of the Americas.

Former Metropolitan Museum of Art curator Carlos Picón was appointed director of Colnaghi’s new New York gallery.

The Studio Museum in Harlem unveiled the first renderings for its new building.

Canada’s first-ever National Holocaust Monument was opened in Ottawa.

The American Museum of Natural History announced a $14.5 million renovation of the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians.

Architecture firm Yamasaki will reopen under the leadership of Robert Szantner, a longtime employee of the late architect Minoru Yamasaki (1912–1986). Szantner teamed up with fellow employees to purchase the firm’s intellectual property out of receivership.

Two museums dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent (1936–2008) will open in Paris and Marrakech next month.


The Corning Museum of Glass selected Karen LaMonte for its 2018 Specialty Glass Artist-in-Residence.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University were awarded the inaugural Sotheby’s Prize.


The July 1977 issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland, with a cover by Basil Gogos (via Flickr/Toho Scope)

Marc Balakjian (1938–2017), artist.

Katherine M. Bonniwell (1947–2017), Life magazine publisher.

Derek Bourgeois (1941–2017), composer.

Charles Bradley (1948–2017), soul singer and songwriter.

Robert Delpire (1926–2017), editor, curator, and gallery owner.

Ritha Devi (1924–2017), Indian classical dancer and teacher.

Basil Gogos (1929–2017), artist. Best known for his portraits of movie monsters and villains.

Billy Hatton (1941–2017), guitarist and singer. Founding member of the Fourmost.

Hugh Hefner (1926–2017), publisher and founder of Playboy.

Marian Horosko (1925–2017), ballet dancer and historian.

Albert Innaurato (1947–2017), playwright.

John Jack (1933–2017), jazz producer and promoter.

Myrna Lamb (1930–2017), feminist playwright.

Vann Molyvann (1926–2017), architect.

Zuzana Ruzickova (1927–2017), harpsichordist and Holocaust survivor.

David Shepherd (1931–2017), artist and wildlife conservationist.

Albert Speer Jr. (1934–2017), architect. Son of Nazi architect Albert Speer.

Pete Turner (1934–2017), photographer.

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