Met Plans van Gogh Show, Natural History Museum Names New President, and More: Morning Links for December 7, 2022

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The Headlines

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BLOCKBUSTER TIME. In May, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will stage an exhibition focusing on Vincent van Gogh’s famed depictions of the cypress trees in the South of France, with some 40 works. Major loans are coming from MoMA (1889’s The Starry Night!), the National Gallery in London, and the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, the Netherlands. “The show is not only the first to focus on the motif but it’s also giving an unprecedented look at the back story behind these paintings that have long captivated our attention,” its curator, Susan Alyson Steintold the New York Times. The Met’s director, Max Hollein, said at a press conference covered by the Art Newspaper that van Gogh’s cypresses are the “most famous trees in art history,” and that he depicted them with “fierce power and expression.”

A GLORIOUS GRAVE. On Tuesday, archaeologists in the United Kingdom revealed that they had made a landmark discovery—a 1,300-year-old burial of a woman who appears to have been a powerful early Christian leader—on the site of a housing development 60 miles north of London, CBS News reports. Only tooth enamel of the 7th-century human remains, but the dig revealed a “30-piece necklace of intricately-wrought gold, garnets and semi-precious stones,” “the richest necklace of its type ever uncovered in Britain,” the Guardian reports. “This is the most significant early medieval female burial ever discovered in Britain,” the project’s leader, Levente Bence Balázs, told the paper. The finds were unearthed in April; research on them has only just begun.

The Digest

The American Museum of Natural History has named biophysical chemist Sean M. Decatur as its next president. Currently the president of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, Decatur will be the first Black head of the New York institution. He succeeds Ellen V. Futter, who is departing after 30 years at the helm. [The New York Times]

A court in the United Kingdom ordered the two climate activists who glued themselves to the frame of a John Constable painting at the National Gallery this summer to pay a total of £1,081 (about $1,310) for the damage that the museum said they caused. They had argued their action was protected expression. [The Guardian]

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who will become Brazil’s president next month, has said that he will restart the nation’s ministry of culture, which outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro shuttered. Possible picks for secretary of culture are said to include singers Chico César and Daniela Mercury and a number of politicians. [The Art Newspaper]

After more than three decades at Sotheby’s, Hong Kong–based senior international chairman Patti Wong, who helped develop the city into a vital auction hub in Asia, is departing. “Though I am stepping down—I will never go far,” she said in a statement. “Sotheby’s runs in my blood; we will always stay close.” [The Value]

Leonardo DiCaprio reportedly finished his time at Art Basel Miami Beach in the early hours of Monday morning with fellow actor Tobey Maguire and friends at an area Greek restaurant, smoking cigarettes and drinking water. Sounds like a perfect way to close out a busy week! [PageSix]

REVIEW ROUNDUP. The 2020 biography of artist Hilma af Klint by Julia Voss (freshly translated into English) “succeeds in making a deeply private life public and readable,” Madoc Cairns declares in the Guardian. And the Amedeo Modigliani show at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia is an “intimate retrospective,” and thoroughly researched, Karen Wilkin writes in the Wall Street Journal.

The Kicker

NE TRAVAILLEZ JAMAIS! The wily artist Cerith Wyn Evans has a show up at the Mostyn gallery in the town of Llandudno in his native Wales, and spoke with the Financial Times about his journey through the art world. As a budding conceptualist at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London in the late 1970s, he was dismissed for not making any work, he said. His defense: “Not making work is my work!” He was let back in, and the rest—decades of beguiling, experimental work—is, of course, history. [FT]


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