Biden Revamps Architecture Panel, Artist Jackie Matisse Dies, and More: Morning Links from May 26, 2021

Biden Revamps Architecture Panel, Artist Jackie Matisse Dies, and More: Morning Links from May 26, 2021

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The Headlines

PRESIDENT BIDEN HAS NOMINATED FOUR PEOPLE to the Commission of Fine Arts, which advises on the design of federal buildings in Washington, D.C., NPR reports. The move, which will diversify its membership, comes a day after the president pushed out four members appointed by President Trump. Trump’s appointments had made the seven-member board all white and all male. The proposed new members are architects Peter CookHazel Ruth Edwards, and Billie Tsien, and the designer and urbanist  Justin Garrett Moore. The commission’s ousted chair, Justin Shubow, told Artnet News, “Nothing like this has ever occurred in the 110-year history of the fine arts commission.” Artnet notes that Shubow is involved with the National Civic Art Society, which took part in drafting a Trump executive order aimed at promoting neoclassical buildings. (That has since been revoked.) Shubow called Biden’s actions “an attack on classical architecture.”

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A SURVEY OF 10 MAJOR MUSEUMS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA by the Los Angeles Times found that only 19.5 percent of their board members are nonwhite, a stark contrast to the almost 74 percent of L.A County that is nonwhite. Of the 334 board seats covered in the report, 18 were held by Black people. That is 5.4 percent, while the county’s population is 9 percent Black. Meanwhile, the Art Newspaper has an overview of how American museums have been attempting to improve the diversity of their staffs, audiences, and programming amid the racial reckoning that followed the murder of George Floyd. One glaring statistic the report cites: the Association of Art Museum Directors estimates that some 85 percent of the directors of its 227 members are white.

The Digest

The architect and historic preservationist Charles Cassell, who was a passionate advocate for D.C. statehood, has died at the age of 96. A World War II veteran, he opposed the design for the World War II Memorial in the city, saying it would “desecrate the National Mall.” [The Washington Post]

The artist Jackie Matisse, who created freewheeling kite works and collaborated with figures like the composer David Tudor and the filmmaker Molly Davies, has died at 90. Beyond her own artistic work, she was involved with preserving the archives of Marcel Duchamp, who married Matisse’s mother, Alexina “Teeny” Duchamp, after her divorce from the art dealer Pierre Matisse. [Tilton Gallery/Art Daily]

Newfields, the home of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, has listed the residence it provided to its director. The asking price is $2.2 million. The broker handling the listing said the institution had been in talks to sell even before its chief, Charles Venable, resigned in February amid controversy. [Indianapolis Business Journal]

Luxury giant (and ARTnews Top 200 Collector) François Pinault discussed his latest private museum, the Bourse de Commerce in Paris, and his life with the Times. “Humility must be worked on with a pumice stone every day,” he said. “The ego is something that grows if you don’t apply weed killer.” Pinault also detailed his longtime friendship with artist David Hammons.  [The New York Times]

Speaking of Hammons, Alex Greenberger has a new overview of his work, which “aspires toward unknowability,” he writes. [Art in America]

The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston has named Allison Glenn to be its next senior curator and director of public art. Glenn comes from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, where is associate curator of contemporary art. She also curated the show that honors the life of Breonna Taylor at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. CAMH’s senior curator position was last held by Valerie Cassel Oliver, who departed in 2017 to become curator of modern and contemporary art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. [Houston Chronicle]

Art fairs are slowly coming back, and now fashion shows are, too. While many presentations at Milan Fashion Week in June will be digital-only affairs, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, and Etro are planning to stage live events with in-person audiences. [Associated Press]

The Kicker

DOWN IN AUSTRALIA, TWO VETERAN ART DEALERS ARE WINDING DOWN their businesses. For a lively and moving story in the Financial Review, journalist Gabriella Coslovich spoke with Nevin Hurst, 87, and Denis Savill, 80, as they went about selling off inventory and handling other closing tasks. “It’s going to be sad, extremely sad, because it’s your life, and honestly, sincerely, it means more to me than money,” the Hobart-based Hurst said. Saville, who works in Sydney, has something of a retirement bonus awaiting him, having wisely bought his three-story gallery in 1985, just 11 days before a capital gains law took effect. He spent AU$250,000 on it, and is listing it for AU$4.8 million (about US$3.74 million). “I don’t have to pay tax on it,” he said. [FR]

Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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