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Week in Review: NEA and NEH Receive $150M in Stimulus Package; van Gogh Stolen During COVID-19 Closure

Also, DC’s National Gallery of Art restituted a Pablo Picasso drawing to the descendants of a German-Jewish banker, and more.

Vincent van Gogh, “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring” (1884) (image courtesy Groninger Museum)

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.

Hyperallergic breaks down what the $2 trillion stimulus package, which promises the NEA and NEH a respective $75 million, means for the arts. One stipulation of the act calls for “union neutrality” for companies with 500-10,000 employees receiving loans, which may impact the wave of unionizations at nonprofit museums.

With museums across the Netherlands closed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, burglars used the pandemic to lift a Vincent van Gogh painting from the Signer Laren museum.

Male Harp Player of the Early Spedos Type, 2700–2300 B.C., Cycladic. Marble, 14 ⅛ x 11 1/16 inch. Recreation by Irena Ochódzka with canister vacuum (image courtesy the J. Paul Getty Museum)

Students at some of the most renowned art universities in the country, including the Rhode Island School of Design, Yale, and NYU Tisch, are sounding alarm bells about their schools’ handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

People on the internet are restaging famous paintings at home while museums are closed.

The Illuminator’s guerrilla projection onto a building on 31st street in Manhattan (image courtesy the Illuminator)

While a NY Senate bill proposes a 90-day rent suspension, small NYC galleries say their landlords have ignored requests for negotiation during their closures.

A guerilla projection, organized by the activist collective the Illuminator, urged NYC to “cancel the rent” and “end bail,” among other demands related to COVID-19 relief.

Artists accused the New Mexico Museum of Art of censoring anti-fracking artworks.

Transactions 

Jessie Willcox Smith’s cover art for a November 1920 issue of Good Housekeeping (image courtesy Nate D. Sanders Auctions)

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. has restituted Pablo Picasso’s pastel drawing “Head of a Woman” (1903) to the descendants of German-Jewish banker Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, a victim of Nazi persecution, sold “Head of a Woman” under duress to German art dealer Justin K. Thannhauser in 1934; the work went on to be donated to the National Gallery in 2001. Unusually, the museum returned the work before a lawsuit had even been filed, in an effort to avoid the fees associated with litigation. The decision “does not constitute an acknowledgment of the merit or validity of the asserted claims,” the museum told The New York Times. This isn’t the Mendelssohn-Bartholdy heirs’ first restitution claim: the family has reached settlements over similar claims previously levied against the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation.

In response to hits suffered by the United Arab Emirates’s cultural sector, including the postponement of Art Dubai to spring of next year, the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy purchased over $400,000 worth of art made by Emirati artists. The new acquisitions will be housed in UAE embassies worldwide as part of the country’s unofficial Artists in Embassies program. The works will be on view as a group in an online exhibition held by Alserkal Avenue later this month, before they disperse.

At Nate D. Sanders Auctions in Los Angeles, Jessie Willcox Smith’s cover art for a November 1920 issue of Good Housekeeping sold for $82,500, with bidding starting at $60,000. Titled “We Give Thee Thanks,” the mixed media illustration features two bobble-headed children praying at a dining table; it went on to grace the cover of the UK issue of the magazine in April 1922. Smith, a prominent figure in the Golden Age of American Illustration, was known for her domestic scenes in magazines and books including Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. She was the exclusive Good Housekeeping cover artist from 1917 to 1933.

This Week in the Art World

Photograph by KyeongJun Yang, winner of the 2020 ZEISS Photography Award (© KyeongJun Yang, ZEISS Photography Award 2020, World Photography Organisation)

Classicist Mary Beard has been appointed a trustee by the British Museum. | The Guardian

The J. Paul Getty Board of Trustees appointed Kavita Singh, art historian and scholar, and Anne Sweeney, entertainment executive, as trustees. | Getty

David Kordansky Gallery now co-represents interdisciplinary artist Adam Pendleton. | David Kordansky

The A.I.R. Fellowship Program announced its 2020–2021 awardees Aika Akhmetova, Destiny Belgrave, Lizania Cruz, Kyoung Eun Kang, Sky Olson, and Bat-Ami Rivlin. | via email announcement

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden named Marina Isgro the Associate Curator of Media and Performance Art. | Artforum

Michelle Grohe, the education curator at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, was awarded the National Art Education Association’s 2020 National Museum Education Art Educator Award. | via email announcement

Richard Benefield, former executive director of the David Hockney Foundation, has been named executive director of the George Rickey Foundation. | Artdaily

The World Photography Organisation bestowed KyeongJun Yang with the 2020 ZEISS Photography Award. | ePHOTOzine

Isimeme (Meme) Omogbai has been named the new executive director of the College Art Association (CAA). | Artforum

In Memoriam 

Mark Blum (1950–2020), theater and television actor | NBC

Lucia Bosé (1931–2020), Italian actress | Billboard

Tomie dePaola (1934–2020), children’s book author and illustrator | NPR

Patrick Devedjian (1944–2020), French politician and museum advocate | Art Newspaper

David C. Driskell (1931–2020), artist, scholar, and educator specializing in African American art history | Press Herald

Stuart Gordon (1947–2020), horror film director | New York Times

Zororo Makamba (1990–2020), Zimbabwean television host | CNN

Krzysztof Penderecki (1933–2020), Polish composer | Pitchfork

Jenny Polanco (1958–2020), Dominican fashion designer | New York Times

Peregrine Pollen (1931–2020), auctioneer | Art Newspaper

Michael Sorkin (1948–2020), architect and urbanist | Wallpaper*

Idelle Weber (1932–2020), Pop artist | Artforum

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