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Week in Review: Isamu Noguchi’s Studio Will Open to the Public, Cuban Artists Arrested

Also, Hito Steyerl addresses the Sackler family controversy and opioid epidemic, 30,000 imperial objects were found underneath a zoo in Rio de Janeiro, and more.

Light sculptures made by Isamu Noguchi in the Noguchi Museum in Queens (via Wikimedia Commons)

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.

The Noguchi Museum in Queens, New York will soon allow the public a peek inside of Isamu Noguchi’s studio for the first time. “Unless you’ve been to the Noguchi during his lifetime and sat with him, very few people have ever been in the apartment,” said Brett Littman, the director of the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum. He expects the museum’s renovations (including a new 6,000-square-foot building) to complete in 2022, when the studio will be open to the public.  [NYT]

At the preview of her exhibition at London’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery, artist Hito Steyerl addressed “the elephant in the room” surrounding the controversial Sackler name attached to to the institution. (The gallery opened in 2013, supported by a $7.2 million grant from the Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation. In the face of the opioid epidemic, the Sacklers have come under fire as owners of Purdue Pharma, the manufacturers of OxyContin.) “Affected institutions and artists need to start coming together to find legal ways to address the problem and then commonly find ways to regulate it by using existing institutional bodies … Imagine you were married to a serial killer and wanted a divorce; it shouldn’t be a problem to get a divorce,” she said. Steyerl said she received advice from photographer and founder of PAIN Sackler Nan Goldin, who requested the artist address two of the drug advocacy group’s demands of all Sackler-associated institutions: that the institution remove the Sackler’s name from its buildings and publicly announce its refusal to accept future funding from the Sacklers. [Artforum]

As the 13th Havana Biennial begins, independent Cuban artists who have been leading campaigns against Decree 349 are being arrested and questioned by state authorities. Decree 349 has proven controversial for its tight restrictions on art production in the country. Artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara has been arrested multiple times in the past week. He was detained while carrying out a performance tribute to Daniel Llorente. “In the end, all the threats the police had made suggesting that if I continued with my performances they were going to imprison me turned out to be an intimidation strategy and nothing more,” explains Otero Alcantara. “They kept asking me if I had involved minors, but one of the premises of the piece was that the participants had to be of age.” He says that approximately 20 neighbors participated in the performance before police arrived. Another participant, who was holding an American flag as part of the performance, was also arrested. Artist Amaury Pacheco was detained by state authorities, while artist Michel Matos says he was interrogated for nine hours, in which an officer “made direct and recurring mention of Tania Bruguera and her desire to destroy the revolution.” [Diaro de Cuba/Facebook]

Over 30,000 objects from imperial Brazil have been discovered buried underneath the RioZoo, which was built in 1888. Among the artifacts are ceramics, glassware, accessories, metalware, uniforms, and other clothing from the 19th and 20th century. The zoo sits inside of Quinta da Boa Vista park, the same location that once housed the National Museum, which was tragically burned in a fire in 2018. Archeologists are cleaning and cataloging the objects, the majority of which will be given to the National Museum, and possibly go on view in temporary exhibitions while the museum rebuilds. [TAN]

Concurrent to the fire that damaged Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, there was a fire at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, which is considered the third holiest site in Islam. A guard told the Palestinian News Agency that “the fire broke out in the guard’s room outside the roof of the Marwani Prayer Room, and the fire brigade of the Islamic Waqf handled the matter successfully.” The fire lasted around seven minutes, and there was no reported damage to the compound’s permanent structure. [Newsweek/Smithsonian]

Belgian artist Wim Delvoye will throw his hat in the ring for the international competition to rebuild and redesign the Notre-Dame cathedral’s recently collapsed spire. “Based on the many years of deepening in the Gothic architectural style, Wim Delvoye feels strongly encouraged to contribute to the reconstruction of this monument [Notre Dame],” says a statement by the artist’s studio. [TAN]

TIME’s annual list of 100 Most Influential People bore the names of a few artists this year: 98-year-old Venezuelan artist Luchita Hurtado; founder of Studio Gang architecture firm, Jeanne Gang; and painter David Hockney. [artnet]

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London will name one of its galleries after British pop legend Elton John and his husband David Furnish after the couple made a significant donation to the V&A’s new photography center. [Artsy]

Transactions

Otto Piene, "Sketchbook: Groton" (2012), mixed media, Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of Elizabeth Goldring Piene, (© 2019, photo by Charles Sternaimolo)
Otto Piene, “Sketchbook: Groton” (2012), mixed media, Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of Elizabeth Goldring Piene (© 2019, photo by Charles Sternaimolo)

The Harvard Museums have received a gift of 70 sketchbooks by Otto Piene, from the poet and author Elizabeth Goldring, the artist’s wife. The sketchbooks date from 1935–2014 and are largely unpublished, and the next Stefan Engelhorn Curatorial Fellow in the Busch-Reisinger Museum (2019–21) will be appointed to study and catalogue the gift. Also included in the gift are a selection of pens that Piene used for his sketches. These will be held in the Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art (CTSMA) and will be used for the long-term preservation of the sketchbooks. [via email announcement]

This and other notable sales and acquisitions are chronicled in our latest Transactions story.

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