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Week In Review: Art Basel Hong Kong 2020 Canceled; Military Veteran Artists Urge MoMA to Divest From “Toxic Philanthropy”

Also, a man jumped to his death from Thomas Heatherwick’s Vessel sculpture in New York’s Hudson Yards, Delhi police censored a public artwork at India Art Fair 2020, and more.

MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, New York (photo by Hakim Bishara for 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.

After weeks of controversy, Art Basel Hong Kong has announced its decision to cancel the 2020 edition of the fair based on complications and concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. In a press release issued today, Art Basel’s parent company MCH Group said the fair had planned to move forward, but “the sudden outbreak and rapid spread of the novel coronavirus radically changed the situation.”

On Monday, 45 military veteran artists sent an open letter to MoMa and MoMA PS1 in solidarity with the artists in the ​Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991-2011​ exhibition, who have called on the museum’s board members to divest from “toxic philanthropy.”

A 19-year-old man jumped to his death from the Vessel in New York’s Hudson Yards on Saturday, February 1. In a 2016 review of the Vessel, Audrey Wachs, the former associate editor of the Architect’s Newspaper, had criticized the Vessel’s designer, Thomas Heatherwick, for “not learn[ing]” from past suicides from city bridges and tall buildings.”

In a draft executive order, the US government expressed its intent to impose the classical style on federal buildings so that they “once again inspire respect instead of bewilderment or repugnance.” The document proposes amending the Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture, to ensure that “the classical architectural style shall be the preferred and default style.”

“Fly with Aerocene Pacha,” Tomás Saraceno for Aerocene, 21-28 January 2020, Salinas Grandes, Jujuy, Argentina. Human Solar Free Flight as part of Connect, BTS, curated by DaeHyung Lee (all images courtesy the artist and Aerocene Foundation; photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, 2020; licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 by Aerocene Foundation)

Artist Tomás Saraceno launched a fuel-free solar air balloon over the Salinas Grandes salt flat in Argentina, breaking records and marking the first time a human has flown without the use of any fossil fuels, only air and sun.

Outrage poured in from around the world when musician Ballaké Sissoko said his kora, a traditional West African instrument, was broken by TSA Security. After returning to Paris from the United States, Sissoko discovered his kora shattered, along with a note from TSA apologizing for the inconvenience.

In a project titled Google Map Hacks, Berlin-based artist Simon Weckert created a virtual traffic jam across one of the main bridges spanning the Spree river in Berlin by walking the streets towing a hand wagon laden with 99 active cell phones.

Delhi police showed up at the India Art Fair 2020 after receiving an anonymous complaint about a public artwork. The installation featured slogans of resistance, Muslim hijabi women, and an Urdu protest song that were deemed “inflammatory.”

The Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. US Courthouse in Miami designed by Architectonica, one of the buildings criticized in the Trump Administration’s recent executive draft order (photo by Phillip Pessar/Flickr)

Researchers at Rutgers University found that occupational gender biases persist in online images. A study published in the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology revealed that photos of four professions — librarian, nurse, computer programmer, and civil engineer — tended “to represent and reinforce existing gender stereotypes.”

Emojipedia announced last week that it would release 117 new emojis, including bubble tea, an accordion, tamales, a trio of blueberries, a plunger, and flatbread.

The Well of the Scribes, when it was still intact, at the Los Angeles Public Library (images courtesy the Los Angeles Public Library)

The Los Angeles Public Library and Alta magazine are offering a reward of up to $10,000 to find the missing pieces of the Well of the Scribes, a bronze fountain that once stood in the gardens of the Central Library. Aside from one section that only recently resurfaced, the whereabouts of the rest of the sculpture remain unknown.

Last Sunday, full-page ads in both the New York and Los Angeles Times with the slogan “saveLACMA FROM TANKING” attacked the museum’s controversial redevelopment plan. The ads were not placed by the nonprofit Save LACMA but by the unrelated “The Citizens Brigade to Save LACMA,” a group founded by Greg Goldin and Joseph Giovaninni that used the nonprofit’s name.

A group of students, parents, teachers, and activists gathered Friday morning, January 31, at the New York City Department of Education (DOE) building in Lower Manhattan to protest police presence in schools and subway stations, and to demand tuition-free education at City University of New York (CUNY) colleges.

Jim S. Smoote II, “Untitled (Three Women)” (1969), looped and woven wool on a stitched felt and burlap, a work included in Swann Auction Galleries’s January 2020 sale of African-American art from the collection of Johnson Publishing Company. (photo by Jasmine Weber for Hyperallergic)

Swann Auction Galleries in New York held a record-breaking sale of African American art from the collection of the Johnson Publishing Company, which formerly published Ebony and Jet magazines. The bankruptcy sale, which featured work by 75 artists, totaled $2.7 million with an impressive sell-through rate of 100%. It also set auction records for 51 artists, 22 of which had never had work come to the auction block previously. This and other notable sales and acquisitions are chronicled in our latest Transactions story.

This Week in the Art World

Julie Curtiss, “After the Storm” (2017), acrylic and oil on canvas, 40 inches x 32 inches (image courtesy the artist and 106 Green)

White Cube Gallery now represents Julie Curtiss. | via email announcement

Lisson Gallery now represents Joanna Pousette-Dart. | ARTnews

LaToya Ruby Frazier has been named the inaugural recipient of the Gordon Parks Foundation/Steidl Book Prize. | Artforum

The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum elected Rob Forbes to its Board of Trustees. | via email announcement

Yuri Stone, formerly of MIT List Visual Arts Center, has joined Glenstone Museum as assistant curator. | via email announcement

The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art has appointed Mimi Alemayehou, Gay McDougall, and Gbenga Oyebode to its advisory board | via email announcement

The College Art Association (CAA) has announced the recipients and finalists of its 2020 CAA Awards for Distinction, including Darby English, Eleanor Antin, and Harriet Senie. | Artforum

The Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation has announced Tanya Aguiñiga and Dyani White Hawk as the recipients of its 2020 Art Prizes. | via email announcement

The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College has named Liza Parker as executive director and Gideon Lester as Artistic Director. | via email announcement

New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) will celebrate the induction of Kay WalkingStick and Chin Chih Yang into the NYFA Hall of Fame during its benefit in April. | NYFA Current

Red Bull Arts Detroit has announced its 2020 curatorial fellow, Taylor Aldridge, and resident artists American Artist, Logan Dandridge, Darryl DeAngelo Terrell, Bree Gant, Cameron Granger, David Hendren, Rowan Renee, Carlos Enrique Rodriguez, and Cristina Tufino. | via email announcement

In Memoriam

Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Caribbean poet and historian (1930-2020) | Guardian

Kirk Douglas (1916-2020), movie star of Hollywood’s Golden Age | NYT

Mary Higgins Clark (1927–2020), mystery novelist | Guardian

Beverly Pepper, American sculptor (1922-2020) | NYT

Gene Reynolds (1923-2020), TV producer and co-creator of M*A*S*H | NYT

Nello Santi (1931–2020), conductor of Italian opera | NYT

George Steiner (1929-2020), literary critic | Washington Post

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