Johanna Burton to Lead MOCA Solo, Arc de Triomphe Gets Wrapped, and More: Morning Links for September 15, 2021

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The Headlines

AND THEN THERE WAS ONE. After a topsy-turvy stretch, the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles said that Johanna Burton, its newly appointed executive director, will be its sole leader, the Los Angeles Times reports. Burton will be the first woman to run the 42-year-old institution. When she was appointed at the start of the month, MOCA’s plan was for her to work alongside Klaus Biesenbach, who had taken the title of artistic director. However, Biesenbach announced on Friday that he had been hired to run the Neue Nationalgalerie and the forthcoming Museum of the 20th Century in Berlin. MOCA said it will not hire a new artistic director, which “appears to confirm the implications of the museum’s earlier decision to divide the job as an effort to compensate for Biesenbach’s management weaknesses,” the New York Times writes. MOCA’s board chair, Maria Seferian, told the L.A. Times, “This is a great opportunity for Johanna to define her vision and her team.”

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THAT’S (ALMOST) A WRAP. It has taken some 60 years, but Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s vision of ensconcing Paris’s Arc de Triomphe in fabric is nearing completion. The work officially runs from September 18 through October 3, but in photos, it is looking pretty well covered. Some 25,000 square meters (about 269,000 square feet) of recyclable polypropylene are being used on the Napoleon-commissioned monument, per ArchDaily . A new book documents the journey to realizing the work, which the artist-couple first dreamed up while living near the historic site in the early 1960s. (The Art Newspaper has photos.) Jeanne-Claude died in 2009, at 74. Christo died in May of 2020, at 84. (Fun fact: They were born on the same day.) Christo’s reaction to learning that that the project had finally gotten the go-ahead? He told TAN, “I am flabbergasted.”

The Digest

On Tuesday, Egypt opened to the public an ancient tomb in Saqqara that dates back more than 4,000 years, marking the completion of restoration work that began in 2006. The Southern Tomb, as it’s known, is part of a cemetery complex dedicated to the pharaoh Djoser[Associated Press/Courthouse News]

Land in Missouri that includes Picture Cave, with Native American wall paintings from more than a millennium ago, just sold for $2.2 million to an unnamed buyer. Members of the Osage Nation had been attempting to acquire the property, and said in a statement, “Our ancestors lived in this area for 1,300 years. This was our land. We have hundreds of thousands of our ancestors buried throughout Missouri and Illinois, including Picture Cave.” [Associated Press/The Guardian]

Faith Ringgold, the revered African American artist, activist, and children’s book illustrator, will have her first full-scale New York retrospective next year at the New Museum. Ringgold turns 91 in October. [The Art Newspaper]

Charlotte Johnson Wahl, the mother of British prime minister Boris Johnson, and a painter of portraits and cityscapes, has died at the age of 79. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease when she was 40, she kept painting. [BBC News]

A Beverly Hills estate that once belonged to newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst sold to an investment company owned by art collector and philanthropist Nicolas Berggruen for $63.1 million, after “71 inquires, 41 private showings, 12 written offers, and 5 overbidders.” [New York Post]

Prized Meissen porcelain once owned by the collectors Franz and Margarethe Oppenheimer, taken by the Nazis, and recently restituted to the Jewish couple’s heirs sold for $15 million at Sotheby’s New York, seven times its estimate. Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, which had held some of the nearly 120 pieces, acquired more than half the lots. [Artnet News]

The Kicker

THE MYSTERY CONTINUES. Almost two years ago to the day, Maurizio Cattelan’s much-discussed golden toilet was stolen from Blenheim Palace in England. It remains missing, and BBC News reports that a reward of £100,000 (about $138,000) is still being offered. (The piece, titled America, is valued at some $6 million.) Seven people were arrested in connection with the burglary, but no one has ever been charged.  “Will we ever see that toilet again?” Matthew Barber , police and crime commissioner for the Thames Valley, said in an interview with the outlet. “Personally I wonder if it’s in the shape of a toilet to be perfectly honest.” One running theory is that the hardware has been melted down and sold. [BBC News]


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