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Week in Review: Protests Escalate as Museum of Modern Art Reopens, Protest Banners From Downtown Beirut

Also, a bulletproof memorial to Emmett Till was mounted in Mississippi, Instagram held a private meeting with artists about its censorship policies, and more.

Protesters leaving the Museum of Modern Art after crashing its VIP party. (photo by Hakim Bishara/Hyperallergic)

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.

Four days before it reopens its $450 million refurbished galleries to the public, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York held an exclusive preview party for VIP guests. But the patrons of the museum had to jostle their way through a group of about 150 organizers and artists, who came to crash the party. A small number of activists managed to infiltrate the event and stage an action that perplexed the cocktail-sipping attendees, carrying signs reading “MOMA DIVEST” and “BURN PRISONS, PLANT TREES.”

Activists blocking traffic on 53rd Street during a protest outside the Museum of Modern art in New York. (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

The following Monday, October 21, protestors blocked the entrance to the museum and interrupted traffic on 53rd Street to demand the removal of MoMA trustee Steven Tananbaum, a hedge fund manager accused of profiting from Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. Seven, including former speaker of New York City Council Melissa Mark-Viverito, were arrested.

Some windows remain smashed in downtown Beirut.

Hrag Vartanian, Hyperallergic’s co-founder and editor in chief, documented the signs and banners popping up throughout Beirut, Lebanon since around-the-clock protests started on Thursday, October 17.

A group of 280 leading scholars, writers, and artists have signed a petition to boycott Turkish government-sponsored academic and cultural institutions. Signatories include famous scholars Angela Davis and Noam Chomsky; art critics Boris Groys and David Levi Strauss; anthropologist Michael Taussig; musician Brian Eno; and Eyal Weizman, founding director of the London-based collective Forensic Architecture, among others. The petition was released in response to Turkey’s invasion of Kurdish regions in northeastern Syria.

The bulletproof memorial sign being installed on the bank of the Tallahatchie River. (all photos courtesy of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center)

A fourth memorial for Emmett Till has been mounted in Mississippi at the bank of the river where the murdered boy’s body was retrieved. Three prior signs had been vandalized — two shot at, and one thrown in the river. But this time, it’s bulletproof. “These markers are part of a moral responsibility that our community owes to the Till family,” said Patrick Weems, co-founder of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center. “It’s our sacred oath to keep these markers up, and to continue to tell the truth about what took place in our community.”

Earlier this week, Instagram held a private meeting with artists about its nudity policies. Just hours later, ironically, one of the participating artists, Micol Hebron, had her account suspended for posting a topless photo outside of Instagram headquarters.

Ron Meyer, vice chairman of NBCUniversal and a co-founder of the omnipotent Creative Artists’ Agency (CAA), has filed a $10 million lawsuit in California Superior Court against two art dealers who allegedly sold him a fake Mark Rothko painting. Meyer bought the work for $900,000 in 2001 from Manhattan art dealer Susan Seidel. He paid an additional $45,000 commission fee — or 5% of the sale — to Seidel. His suit is seeking $10 million in damages for fraud and breach of warranty.

The latest version of Central’s Park’s planned suffrage monument (images courtesy the New York City Public Design Commission)

After months of fiery public debate, the New York City Public Design Commission has accepted artist Meredith Bergmann’s proposal for a Central Park monument to women’s suffrage. A panel for the commission approved the monument in a meeting on Monday, October 21. Following criticism over the historical accuracy of Bergmann’s previous designs, the bronze and granite statue was revised again to reflect differences of opinion between abolitionist Sojourner Truth and her fellow suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

New York City has commissioned a monument of the Lyons family, celebrated Black Americans and prominent land-owners in Seneca Village. According to the Central Park Conservancy’s website, the area was home to “the first significant community of African-American property owners.” Members of the Lyons family, contributors to that community, were educators and abolitionists who operated a boardinghouse for Black sailors — which also functioned as a stop on the Underground Railroad. The land was taken under eminent domain to build Central Park. But the structure won’t actually sit in Seneca Village proper. Rather, the monument’s designated spot is nearly 20 blocks uptown, on 106th street. To activist-historian Jacob Morris, the decision — in all of its imprecision — is a slap.

Herman Melville, two volumes of classical poetry, one signed, both annotated throughout,
(ca. 1860) (image courtesy Swann Galleries)

Swann Galleries has sold a set of two books featuring the scrawled marginalia of Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick. The books are two volumes of classical poetry, one of which was signed by Melville. Both are heavily annotated in the author’s loopy handwriting, paragraph symbols, and other markings. The books are copies of Juvenal and Persius’ The Satires and Euripides’ The Tragedies, vol. III — both purchased in 1859 as part of a 37-volume set, Classical Library, published by Harper and Brothers (the progenitor of modern-day publisher Harper, of HarperCollins). The two books sold for $106,250, while the full sale raked in $1,011,799 in receipts.

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

Learn about opportunities you can apply for this month in our latest “Opportunities for Artists in October 2019.”

Also, check out Hyperallergic’s lists of must-see, fun, and insightful art events in New York and Los Angeles this fall.

This Week in the Art World

Elias Sime, “Tightrope 8” (2009-2014) reclaimed electronic components on panel, 44 1/16 x 70 13/16 in; private collection, New York (© Elias Sime; photograph by Adam Reich Photography)

Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Elias Sime will be honored at the Smithsonian’s National Museum’s African Art Awards. | via email announcement

An artist-led space in Beijing, the Arrow Factory, has closed. | Artforum

Dawoud Bey is now represented by Sean Kelly in New York. | ARTnews

Fort Gansevoort has opened an outpost in Los Angeles. | via email announcement

Andrea Lissoni was named artistic director of Haus der Kunst in Berlin. | ARTnews

The estate of Ed Moses is now represented by Kohn Gallery. | via email announcement

Oolite Arts in Miami has announed the recipients of its Ellies award. $500,000 will be distributed among the 45 winners. | Artforum

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith was awarded the Murray Reich Distinguished Artist Award by the New York Foundation for the Arts. | via email announcement

Mary Sibande is now represented by Kavi Gupta. | via email announcement

Polly Staple was named director of Tate’s collection of British art. | via email announcement 

The Tamayouz Excellence Award has granted its Women in Architecture and Construction awards to Dana AlAmri, Dr. Zeynep Celik, and Shahira Fahmy. | Arch Daily

Christina Vassallo was appointed executive director of the Fabric Workshop and Museum. | via email announcement

Obituaries

Hildegard Bachert (1921–2019), art dealer and gallery director who championed artists like Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt | NYT

Ed Clark (1926–2019), experimental Abstract Expressionist painter | Culture Type

Huang Yong Ping (1954–2019), avante-garde artist | artnet

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