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Week In Review: Thousands of Artists Endorse Bernie Sanders; Physical Abuse Allegations Emerge at Philadelphia Museum

Also, conservative donor Rebekah Mercer leaves the board of the American Museum of Natural History, Bong Joon-ho’s film Parasite prompts housing reform in South Korea, and more.

Xandra Ibarra, video still of “Spictacle II: La Tortillera” (2014) (courtesy of Xandra Ibarra)

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.

Shocking accusations of physical and verbal abuse have emerged against Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA)’s previous director of retail, James A. Cincotta. Employees told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Cincotta would hit, slap, punch, pinch, and shove his colleagues to the point of bruising and tears.

Nan Goldin, Kara Walker, and Nicole Eisenman are among the artists endorsing the Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in a new open letter. When we first reported on the news on Monday, the letter had 665 signatories; it reached over 2,500 names after the South Carolina debate.

San Antonio’s Department of Arts & Culture is facing accusations of censorship and homophobia for removing Xandra Ibarra’s video work “Spictacle II: La Tortillera” (2014) from a group show at Centro de Artes, a city-funded art space. After a public meeting this week, the Centro de Artes Committee voted to reinstall the piece, but the decision now needs to be voted on by the San Antonio Arts Commission.

Curator Alice Iakubovych models a Bernie patch by Los Angeles-based artist Molly Surazhsky, one of the thousands of artists endorsing Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (courtesy of Molly Surazhsky)

The Sony World Photography Awards removed several entries depicting Hong Kong protests from its website, some believe due to pressure from Chinese authorities. The World Photography Organization said images by David Butow, Ko Chung Ming, and Adam Ferguson were flagged as they could potentially “contradict the competition’s terms and conditions.”

On the heels of its historic Academy Award wins, Bong Joon-ho’s film Parasite has prompted a government initiative to improve housing conditions in 1,500 semi-basement apartments, helping families like the movie’s working-class Kims.

A protest at the Museum of Natural History (courtesy of Ivy Arce)

Rebekah Mercer, a conservative megadonor and supporter of organizations backing climate change denial, is no longer on the board of the American Museum of Natural History. The activist group Revolting Lesbians, which has been campaigning for her removal since 2018, called it “a victory for the health of our planet and our democracy.”

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has lost one of its largest donors. The Ahmanson Foundation, a Los Angeles-based organization that supported LACMA for more than six decades, has ceased gifts to the museum, citing concerns over plans for its new building.

Amid reports on six deaths and more than 200 cases of the coronavirus, authorities have instructed museums and festivals in several Italian cities to cease their operations for at least a week. Italian institutions and events shuttered or postponed include the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the Venice Carnival, and exhibition venues run by Fondazione Prada.

Sotheby’s New York headquarters will now host the auction house’s Hong Kong Modern & Contemporary Art Sales in April (photo by Eden, Janine & Jim via Flickr)

The coronavirus outbreak has scrambled this spring’s auction schedule. While Christie’s announced earlier this month that it would push its 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in Hong Kong from March to May, Sotheby’s has now announced that it will be moving its Modern & Contemporary Art Sales in April from Hong Kong to New York. This and other notable sales and acquisitions are chronicled in our latest Transactions story.

This Week in the Art World

Cynthia Daignault, “Light Atlas” desert landscapes (detail) (photo by James C. Williams)

Cynthia Daignault is now represented by Night Gallery. | Artforum

Luhring Augustine will open a new space at 17 White Street in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood on May 1. | via email announcement

Brooklyn Public Library and Brooklyn Historical Society have announced a plan to combine institutions. | via email announcement

Caroline Kent is now represented by Kohn Gallery. | via email announcement

Mary Weatherford has been awarded the Aspen Art Museum’s 2020 Aspen Award for Art. | via email announcement

Ingrid Schaffner has been appointed curator of the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas. | ARTnews

Artists Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl will represent Austria at the 59th Venice Biennale. | Artforum

Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles has announced a new president, Charles Hirschhorn. | via email announcement

Philanthropist Alice Walton, artist Martin Puryear, and scholar Kwame Anthony Appiah are the recipients of this year’s Getty Medal. | via email announcement

Sharon Corwin has been appointed president and CEO of the Terra Foundation for American Art. | via email announcement

Anderson Ranch Arts Center will honor Simone Leigh with its 2020 International Artist Award and critics Jerry Saltz and Roberta Smith with its Service to the Arts Award. | Aspen Times

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has appointed William Keyse Rudolph as deputy director of curatorial affairs. | via email announcement

The Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp has appointed Anne-Claire Schmitz and Joanna Zielińska as senior curators. | via email announcement

The California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) announced the appointment of João Ribas as executive director and vice president of cultural partnerships for the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT). | via email announcement

Chiyo Ishikawa, deputy director for art and curator of European painting and sculpture at the Seattle Art Museum, announced she will retire in the summer of 2020. | via email announcement

In Memoriam

Claire Bretécher (1940-2020), French cartoonist | NYT

James Brown (1951-2020), Mexico-based artist | Yucatán Expat Life

Camila Maria Concepción (1992-2020), trans Latina writer, actor and activist | Variety

Joanna Frueh (1948-2020), writer, performance artist, scholar, and art historian | via email announcement

Michael Hertz (1932-2020), who helped design NYC’s subway map | NYT

Barbara Steveni (1928-2020), artist who co-founded Artist Placement Group (APG) | Artforum

Tobi Tobias (1938-2020), dance critic | NYT

Jack Youngerman (1926–2020), leading abstract artist | NYT

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