Milford Graves Dies at 79, Indianapolis Museum Apologizes for Job Listing Language, and More: Morning Links from February 15, 2021

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The Headlines

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THE LEGENDARY ARTIST AND DRUMMER MILFORD GRAVES HAS DIED at the age of 79, the Guardian reports, terming him “a student—and eventually teacher—of many disciplines, from linguistics and human biology to martial arts.” Graves was a pioneer of free jazz, and spent years studying the relationship between the human heartbeat and music. In 2018, he was diagnosed with amyloid cardiomyopathy, or stiff heart syndrome, as the New York Times wrote in a 2020 profile; he was given six months to live. “It turns out, I was studying the heart to prepare for treating myself,” Graves told the paper. He collaborated with everyone from Albert Ayler to John Zorn, and created ingenious assemblages that were included in a solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and the 2018 Queens International in his native New York. In a Rolling Stone obituaryHank Shteamer wrote that Graves “figured out a way to feed the soul of anyone he performed with, dismantling barriers between drumming and dancing, between concert and healing ceremony, and even between musician and instrument.” PitchforkArtforum, and Consequences of Sound also have obits.

THE BIG QUESTION FACING MUSEUM DIRECTORS FOR A YEAR HAS BEEN: What can an institution do when it is closed to the public? Some have begun offering private, digital toursAgence France-Presse reports. Programs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art run $300 for 40 people, and the Louvre said it might add such events, according to the AFP. Empty venues are also undertaking maintenance and making Covid-era adjustmentsBBC News reports—for instance, British Museum staffers have been amping up ventilation to facilitate safer visits. In a roundup from ItalyFrieze’s Barbara Casavecchia highlights how shuttered art spaces have launched residencies and online programs—“a shift from the idea of the museum as an exhibition institution to one that is instead productive,” as Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna director Lorenzo Balbi put it. And collecting institutions are still collecting. The Science Museum in London has acquired the vial used in the first Covid-19 vaccination by the National Health Service. “I did well up, it was quite a moment,” the museum’s keeper of medicine (very cool title), Natasha McEnroe, told the BBC. “These vaccine vials will be thrown away in their millions. But one was a historic item, it’s unique.”

The Digest

The Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields apologized for a job listing for a new director position that stated a need to draw a more diverse group of visitors while still preserving its “traditional, core, white art audience.” [The New York Times]

Charles Boyer, Disneyland’s first full-time artist, has died. His work included illustrations for flyers, magazine covers, and portraits given to employees when they retired. [Inside the Magic]

Brenda Ballin, a beloved volunteer tour guide at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for around three decades, has died at 91. [The New York Times]

German auction veteran Lena Winter has joined Galerie König in Berlin to help run its in-house art fair, Messe in St. Agnes. [Artnet News]

In the Los Angeles Times, columnist Carolina A. Miranda slams coronavirus rules in California that mean museum gift shops are open for business, even as museums themselves remain closed . . . [LAT]

. . . and art critic Christopher Knight lambasted the Met’s recent trial balloon about selling some works to fund care of its collection amid a projected $150 million deficit. [LAT]

“Generations of female artists, composers, and writers have been lost to history because their names changed after marriage,” Vanessa Thorpe writes in a review of a new biography about artist Isabel Rawsthorne, who married three times, taking her husband’s name each time. [The Guardian]

The New York mayoral candidacy of Ray McGuire, the chairman of the Studio Museum in Harlem, has the backing of director Spike Lee, comedian Steve Martin, and now model Naomi Campbell. [Page Six]

The Los Angeles home of dealer Nino Mier and Gladstone Gallery partner Caroline Luce sports paintings by Albert Oehlen, Julian Schnabel, Carroll Dunham, and André Butzer. [Architectural Digest]

The Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey has named Laura J. Allen as its curator of Native American art. [New Jersey Stage]

The artist Janne Pyykko has created an elaborate abstract artwork via snowshoe footprints in snow on a golf course in Helsinki. [Associated Press/CTV News]

The Kicker

NEW DETAILS HAVE EMERGED IN THE ALLEGED WARHOL THEFT ATTEMPT at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York: a portrait of Warhol by Robert Mapplethorpe, not an actual work by the Pop king (as earlier stories had it), was the target of the possible crime, according to the Art Newspaper. The man charged in the case has pleaded not guilty. He has said that he “just wanted to make people laugh” by picking up the work and moving it, and that he did not intend to steal it. Museum officials reportedly intervened once he took it from the wall and secured it. [The Art Newspaper]

Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.


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