Wrapped Arc de Triomphe Draws Criticism, Art Institute of Chicago Staffers Organize, and More: Morning Links for September 23, 2021

Wrapped Arc de Triomphe Draws Criticism, Art Institute of Chicago Staffers Organize, and More: Morning Links for September 23, 2021

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The Headlines

THE MOMENT HAS ARRIVED. The Arc de Triomphe in Paris has been wrapped, as the latest artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude intended, and the reactions are rolling in. Some are less than positive. A right-wing French politician dubbed it “a garbage bag draped over one of our most glorious monuments,” Sebastian Smee notes in the Washington Post, and in Bloomberg Kriston Capps quotes a tweet from a TV journalist: “I am ashamed. Sorry.” Nevertheless, the installation—on view only until October 3—is drawing huge crowds and plenty of praise. President Macron, for his part, said, “This is the achievement of a 60-year-old dream, a crazy dream come true.” The artists first imagined the piece in 1961, and Christo spent two years lining up the necessary permissions for it before his death in 2020, according to Bloomberg, which delves into the logistics involved. For one thing, the almost 270,000 square feet of polypropylene fabric will be recycled.

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UPDATES FROM THE ARTISTS: Tracey Emin is free of cancer and has plans to turn her studio in Margate, England, into a museum after her death, she told Artnet NewsAnish Kapoor has listed a gargantuan Central London residence for about $26 million, quite a jump from the roughly $5 million he paid back in 2009. (It’s a big week for artist’s and real estate, with Kanye West also snapping up a $57.3 million Tadao Ando house in Malibu.) And Betye Saar spoke with the Guardian about her long career. “Why has Saar’s art sustained interest?” Nadra Nittle asks. “It’s good,” says the artist. “And it’s made with good intentions.”

The Digest

Organizers at the Art Institute of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute said that a majority of employees have signed paperwork to form a union. They are asking the institutions to voluntarily recognize what would be the first union at a museum in the city. [Chicago Tribune]

Soedarmadji Jean Henry Damais, a pioneering curator, collector, and museum director in Indonesia, has died at 78. Damais “opened ten museums in just three years, between 1974 to 1977,” artist Syagini Ratna Wulan said. “The institutions were created within old buildings as he believed in preserving heritage architecture, something which is currently lacking.” [The Art Newspaper]

The National Gallery of Australia has commissioned artist Lindy Lee to make a 13-ton sculpture for AU$14 million (about $10.1 million), the most it has ever paid for an artwork. The previous record holder, in raw Australian dollars, was an AU$8.2 million James Turrell “Skyspace.” The museum’s famous 1973 purchase of Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles (1952) was for AU$1.3 million—equal to about AU$12.6 million today. [The Sydney Morning Herald]

A guild of artists in Benin City, Nigeria, has offered to give the British Museum contemporary works in exchange for the return of the plundered Benin Bronzes that it holds. “We never stopped making the bronzes even after those ones were stolen,” one of the artists said. “I think we make them even better now.” [Reuters via ArtReview]

Thaddaeus Ropac has hired Dawn Zhu, formerly of Gagosian, to be its director of Asia. Next month, Ropac will open its first gallery in Asia, in Seoul. [Financial Times]

Mina Stone, the chef behind MoMA PS1’s boîte, Mina’s, has a new cookbook, Lemon, Love & Olive Oil, and did an interview with artist Urs Fischer, whose studio she used to cook for. When she cooked at Gavin Brown’s gallery, “people would walk upstairs to the kitchen and think me working there was performance art,” Stone said. [Cultured]

The Kicker

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN! In the 1950s, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was hired to design a fraternity house at the Indiana University Bloomington. Regrettably, the local chapter of Pi Lambda Phi ended up not being able to afford the project, and his plans faded into obscurity, unknown to even his close associates. But in 2013, WSJ Magazine reports, the project was rekindled, the blueprints were tracked down, and (with the help of architect Thomas Phifer ), the 10,000-square-foot structure has been built. It sounds like an ideal frat house, but it will instead house part of the university’s school for art, architecture, and design. The architect’s biographer, Edward Windhorst, said that the rediscovery was “like finding a Rembrandt in a desk drawer.” [WSJ. Magazine]

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