Billionaire Collector Fayez Sarofim Dies at 93, FBI Investigates Basquiats in Orlando Museum Show, and More, and More: Morning Links for May 30, 2022

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The Headlines

THE ARTIST, CURATOR, AND HISTORIAN SAMELLA LEWIS, whose work helped to define and preserve African American art history, died on Friday at the age of 98, Alex Greenberger reports in ARTnews. Lewis’s vast accomplishments include writing the canonical books Black Artists on Art (1969), which was released by her own press, and Art: African American (1978); founding the Museum of African American Art in Los Angeles; and creating an expansive body of art, with a particular focus on prints. “Because Lewis’s prints were reproduced frequently in literature, they have been seen widely,” Greenberger writes. “And yet, Lewis’s art is not as commonly exhibited in institutions as that of her colleagues.” Curator Naima J. Keith has described the artist’s works as “pictorial manifestations of the age of civil rights and black liberation.”

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REAL TALK. An art dealer in Palm Beach, Florida, Daniel Elie Bouaziz, has been indicted on federal charges for allegedly selling fake works by Jean-Michel BasquiatRoy LichtensteinBanksy, and more, Alex Greenberger reports in ARTnews. The dealer’s lawyer has not responded to a request for comment. Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that the F.B.I. Art Crime Team has been investigating 25 works billed as Basquiats in a show at the Orlando Museum of Art in Florida. The owners of the works say that they were discovered in 2012 in a storage locker that had been used by screenwriter Thad Mumford. Some experts have raised questions about the authenticity of the pieces; the museum’s director, Aaron De Groft, who has maintained that they are real, did not comment in the Times story.

The Digest

Billionaire money manager, collector, and philanthropist Fayez Sarofim died on Saturday at his Houston home at the age of 93. Sarofim acquired pieces by Edward HopperWillem de KooningEl Greco, and many more. His charitable efforts included a $75 million gift to Houston’s Museum of Fine Art for its recent expansion. [Forbes]

The French artist Claude Rutault, who pursued a rigorously conceptual approach to painting, died on Saturday at the age of 80. “Those who knew him will miss his mischievousness, intelligence, strong personality, generosity, and freedom of spirit, evident in his work,” his gallery, Perrotin, said. [ARTnews]

An unidentified man was taken into custody after smearing cake on the bullet-proof glass that protects the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. The Leonardo was not harmed. Video from the scene shows the man declaring that the action was an environmental protest. [ARTnews]

Mayan city has been discovered at a construction site near Merida, Mexico. Archaeologists believe that the area, which has buildings for people at various places in a social hierarchy, was inhabited by some 4,000 around the years 600 to 900. [Reuters]

HUMAN RESOURCES. The Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, has named Tyler Blackwell curator of contemporary artLeo Weekly reports. He is currently an associate curator at the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston. And the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, Massachusetts, has tapped Simon Morsink to be its executive director, the Telegram & Gazette reports. Since 1994, he has run the Morsink Icon Gallery in Amsterdam with his brother Hugo Morinsk.

HOME IS WHERE THE ART IS. Lehmann Maupin partner Jessica Kreps gave Cultured magazine a look at her Upper West Side home, which includes pieces by Hillary Pecis and Mel Bochner, and Architectural Digest ventured inside a recently renovated Dallas residence that has Andy WarholUgo Rondinone, and Sam Gilliam on the walls.

The Kicker

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN TILDA SWINTON ASLEEP IN A BOX? New Yorkers may recall that the Museum of Modern Art presented that sight—a performance conceived by artist Cornelia Parkerback in 2013. The piece came up in a new New York Times profile of Parker that probes the connections that her work has to Catholicism. Critic and historian Marina Warner proposed that the snoozing actress “looked a bit like one of those mummified saints who are not meant to be mummified, but have been preserved miraculously because of their sanctity.” [NYT]


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