Maine’s Portland Museum of Art Plans Expansion, Looted Buddha Statue Returned to India, and More: Morning Links for February 14, 2022

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The Headlines

ARTIST CARMEN HERRERA, whose carefully honed geometric paintings achieved wide renown late in life, died on Saturday at the age of 106, Maximilíano Durón reports in ARTnews. Born in Cuba in 1905, Herrera lived in postwar Paris with her husband, the late Jesse Loewenthal, and exhibited her abstractions at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles. They settled in New York in 1954, and she worked in relative obscurity until about 20 years ago, when a critically praised gallery show boosted her profile. The Whitney Museum surveyed her work in 2016. In the fall, Lisson Gallery will inaugurate an L.A. branch with a show of her paintings. For more on Herrera: ARTnews published a primer on her remarkable career, and profiled her in 2015 in her New York studio, where she was famous for regaling interviewers while enjoying a glass of scotch.

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THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS. London’s Whitechapel Gallery in London is soon opening “A Century of the Artist’s Studio: 1920–2020,” a show devoted to the workplaces of artists, and in the Financial Times, writer Olivia Laing has an essay surveying them . She writes that they can be “a site of high-wire experiment” or “a type of circus,” and that “the private studio has elements of both monastic and prison cell.” Their economics are not easy, particularly for artists working in city centers, artist Richard Porter told her. “It’s very grueling to make it work.” The outgoing director of the Whitechapel, Iwona Blazwickproposed a possible countermeasure  for that in the Guardian: Rent vacant shops to artists at reduced rates. They are “going to bring with them a whole way of life, which brings a neighborhood back into viability,” she said.

The Digest

The Portland Museum of Art in Maine plans to more than double the size of its campus, and add a new building of six or seven stories with a rooftop sculpture garden. It is raising $85 million for the project—$15 million has been lined up so far, it said. [Portland Press Herald]

A 1,200-year-old stone Buddha sculpture stolen from a temple in India some 20 years ago has been returned to officials from the country. An Italian collector surrendered the piece after being shown evidence that it had been looted. [The New York Times]

Columnist Carolina A. Miranda took a look at the new SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, the home of Super Bowl LVI on Sunday, which was designed by a team led by Lance Evans of the firm HKS. Its design aims to keep the crowd “close to the action,” she writes, and if you “can afford one of the field cabanas, you could very well have a defensive lineman land in your beer.” [Los Angeles Times]

Some gift-shop souvenirs for the current Vincent van Gogh show at London’s Courtauld Gallery are being criticized as insensitive to mental illness. The offerings include an eraser in the shape of an ear (van Gogh of course sliced off one of his) and a soap bar labeled as being for “the tortured artist who enjoys fluffy bubbles.” [The Guardian]

Collector Billie Milam Weisman, the director of Los Angeles’s Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, which is named for her late husband, got the profile treatment from Georgina Adam. She liked making art in her earliest years, Milam Weisman recalled. “In school, we were given a limited amount of paper to paint on, so when I had used it all up I painted on my dress.” [Financial Times]

The Wordle craze has reached the communications department of the Centre Pompidou[@CentrePompidou/Twitter]

The Kicker

BRAVE BIDDING. At November’s evening sales in New York, one of the biggest headlines was crypto kingpin Justin Sun paying $78.4 million for a prized Alberto Giacometti sculpture, Le Nez (1947), at Sotheby’s. Astonishingly, Sun was pretty new to the artist’s work when he offered that formidable sum, it turns out. His adviser, Sydney Xiong, told New York Times reporter Zachary Small, “Before the auction, he didn’t know anything about Giacometti.” She talked with Sun about the sculptor’s practice for three hours before they vied for the piece—and the rest is art-advising history. [NYT]


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