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Week in Review: Whitney Museum Cancels Controversial Exhibition; Ai Weiwei Drops COVID-19 Documentary

Also, MoMA Chairman Leon Black is expected to be subpoenaed in the Virgin Islands in connection to his business dealings with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, and more.

The new monument to suffragists Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth in Central Park (all images 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.

Billionaire investor and art collector Leon Black, chairman of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, is expected to be subpoenaed in the Virgin Islands in connection to his business dealings with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The Whitney Museum in New York canceled an upcoming exhibition of artworks created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement after facing strong criticism for acquiring most of the works through social justice benefits at discount prices and without permission from the artists, many of whom are Black.

President Donald Trump sought posthumously pardon Susan B. Anthony, the women’s suffragist who was arrested and fined $100 after voting illegally in 1872. However, the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House in Rochester, New York immediately rejected the presidential pardon.

A statue of three pioneers of women’s rights — Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, and Susan B. Anthony — joined Central Park’s collection, which previously featured only fictional women.

As incessant floods continue in China, water reached the toes of the Leshan Giant Buddha — the largest Buddha statue in the world — for the first time in at least seven decades.

Ai Weiwei dropped a surprise film about the COVID-19 lockdown in Wuhan.

In an unexpected perk, bicycle valet will be available at the Metropolitan Museum from its August 27 reopening through September 27.

Transactions

At Sotheby’s, a collection of intimate artist portraits shot by self-taught photographer Aubrey Mayer are heading to the auction block. The six limited-edition portraits, which were printed on aluminum, paper, and linen in 2020, include aura-heavy images of painters Jacqueline Humphries, Henry Taylor, and Jonas Wood at work in their studios. The sale also includes multi-image compositions, referred to as contact sheets, of artists Mark Grotjahn, Ed Ruscha, and Raymond Pettibon.

The Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel (HAB) in Germany acquired an important “friendship book” formerly owned by internationally renowned diplomat, merchant, art dealer, and collector Philipp Hainhofer (1578-1647). The album, which was rediscovered in 2006, includes illustrations, inscriptions, and decorations by important figures — including kings and emperors — who Hainhofer met in the period between 1596 and 1647 during his extensive travels across Europe. HAB acquired the album for €2.8 million (~$3.3 million) via a private sale at Sotheby’s, using funds from the Cultural Foundation of the Federal States, the German Culture Ministry, the Volkswagen Foundation, the Ernst von Siemens Art Foundation, the Lower Saxony Foundation and the Rudolf August Oetker Foundation. The library had attempted to purchase the book previously, 373 years ago.

This Week in the Art World

The Venice Biennale’s highest prize traditionally recognizes artists participating in the show; this year, on the occasion of the its 125th anniversary, it will honor the memory of four recently deceased artistic directors: Maurizio Calvesi, Germano Celant, Okwui Enwezor, and Vittorio Gregotti.

Alberta Whittle is the winner of the 2020 Frieze Artist Award. | Frieze

The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs named Yazmany Arboleda, Amanda PhingbodhipakkiyaAndre D. Wagner, and Sophia Dawson as the 2020 NYC Public Artists in Residence

Christopher Scoates is leaving his position as Director at the Museum of Art and Design in New York.

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery added Shilpa Gupta to its roster. | ArtDaily

Longtime director Joseph C. Thomson is parting ways with the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts (MASS MocA).

Maya Lin was named the 2020–21 Senior Fellow at the Lunder Institute for American Art at Colby College in Maine.

teamLAB will open a permanent exhibition space in Utrecht. | Art Newspaper

The recipients of the 2020 San Francisco ArtadiaAwards are Lava Thomas and Marcela Pardo Ariza. | San Francisco Chronicle

Cromwell Place, a complex for 14 galleries including Alexander Gray Associates and Gallery Wendi Norriswill open in London this October. | Art Newspaper

The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania named Zoë Ryan as its new Director. | Penn Today

Ishu Han is the winner of the Nissan Art Award 2020 Grand Prix. | Nissan 

The awardees of the 2020 Hamptons Virtual Art Fair are Richard Mayhew, Audrey Flack, Deborah Butterfield, Elliott Erwitt, and Bruce Lewin. | Broadway World

In Memoriam

Dan Budnik (1933–2020), photojournalist | New York Times

Chi Chi DeVayne ( 1985–2020), Drag Race star and LGBTQ+ advocate | them

Heinz Frank (1939–2020), Viennese sculptor and installation artist | ARTnews

Maria Janion (1926–2020), Polish feminist, scholar, and professor | Gazeta Wyborcza

Judit Reigl (1923–2020), Hungarian-born abstract painter | Guardian

Gail Sheehy (1937–2020), journalist and author | New York Times

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