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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.
David Hockney’s 1972 painting “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” sold for $90.3 million at a Christie’s postwar and contemporary art auction in New York. The groundbreaking auction marked the sale of the most expensive work by a living artist ever sold. The bidding lasted just nine minutes, eventually selling to a buyer via telephone represented by Christie’s US chairman Marc Porter. The work was offered without a reserve (meaning there was no predetermined minimum offer), but was estimated to sell for around $80 million. [NYT]
The Museum of Modern Art has announced Glenn Lowry will retain his directorship of the museum through 2025. He was previously scheduled to keep the position through 2020. MoMA recently withdrew its rule that senior staff should retire at age 65, after Lowry told the New York Times in 2014 that he would comply with the rule. By 2025, Lowry will be in his early 70s, and will be entering his third decade as MoMA’s director. [NYT]
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) board chair, Leon Black, and his wife, Debra, will donate $40 million to MoMA’s expansion. They announced the gift at the museum’s annual film benefit gala. The museum will create a two-floor Debra and Leon Black Family Film Center. [NYT]
Experts from Cambridge University’s Fitzwilliam Museum have attributed bronze sculptures to Michelangelo, citing the statue’s particularly chiseled ab muscles as proof of authorship. (Michelangelo often opted for eight- or ten-pack abs on his male nudes.) The three-foot-high figures, depicting two nudes riding panthers, as the Rothschild bronzes. After four years of technical research, they have confidently made the claim. [BBC]
Italy’s far-right Lega party wants to renegotiate its loan agreement with the Lourve. The country had promised its Leonardo da Vinci paintings to the French museum in 2017, so they could go on view in 2019. But now, the country would like its Leonardo da Vinci paintings returned so the nation can host its own 2019 mega-exhibition for the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death. The Italian junior culture minister, Luca Bergonzoni, says the loan agreement made by previous culture minister, Dario Franceschini, is detrimental. “Leonardo is Italian, he only died in France,” Bergonzoni said. “To give the Louvre all these paintings would put Italy on the margins of a major cultural event.” [AFP]
The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art has extended its famed Sol LeWitt exhibition another decade. As the show celebrates its 10th anniversary, MASS MoCA has announced the exhibition, first scheduled to cease in 2023, will instead close in 2043. [TAN]
A curator at the National Portrait Gallery in London has retrieved an unfinished Thomas Gainsborough painting, which was last seen in the 18th century, after releasing an advertisement looking for the work in the UK magazine Country Life. The first day of the ad’s run, a collector contacted the NPG to say they were in possession of the missing work, Margaret Gainsborough, the Artist’s Daughter, Playing a Cittern. The NPG will include the work in the planned exhibition Gainsborough’s Family Album, which will open in February 2019. [The Times of London]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced a $70 million renovation of the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, which is dedicated to Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Architect Kulapat Yantrasast will lead the design project, which will begin in late 2020 and complete in 2023. The Met’s director, Max Hollein, announced the renovation as he entered his 100th day in the position. He says the renovation will introduce the geographic regions in the context of “the global canon of art history.” [NYT]
SpaceX has put a delay on Trevor Paglen’s space artwork, “Orbital Reflector” (2018). They will be carrying out further inspections on the space launch, including the artwork made in collaboration with the Nevada Museum of Art. The new launch date has not yet been announced. [Geekwire]
British artist Gavin Turk was one of 82 people arrested in central London for participating in a mass civil disobedience organized by an activist collective called Extinction Rebellion. The protesters occupied five of the city’s bridges to force government officials to directly address climate change. Turk was held for several hours and released later the same day. [Guardian]
The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden have jointly acquired Arthur Jafa’s single-channel video “Love is the Message, The Message is Death” (2016).
This and other notable sales and acquisitions are chronicled in our latest Transactions story.
More News from This Week:
- President of France Will Recommend Full Restitution of Looted African Works
- Turkey Cracks Down on Cultural Workers and Academics Tied to Detained Philanthropist
- One Year After Demanding Gender Equality in Argentina’s Art World, Activists Reflect on Progress
- Cal State Long Beach Students Protest Museum Director’s Firing
- Unionized Art Installers and Maintenance Crew Protest Low Wages at MoMA PS1
- Ron English Plans to Whitewash a $730,000 Banksy, and then Sell It
- Easter Islanders Are Visiting British Museum to Request Repatriation of Ancestral Heritage
- Denied Entry, Cats Try to Paw Past Japanese Museum Security Guard