Omicron Hits Museums, Nightclub Celebrates Banksy, and More: Morning Links for January 4, 2022

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The Headlines

OMNICRON IS WREAKING HAVOC ON THE MUSEUM WORLD, with a growing list of U.S. institutions closing temporarily because of Covid-caused staff shortages and safety concerns, including the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, per the Hartford Courant, and the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, New York, per WGRZ. The Smithsonian is reducing visiting hours for most of its Washington, D.C., branches and shuttering the National Air and Space Museum through January 17, the Washington Post reports. If it is looking like a museum visit will not be on the agenda for you in the near future, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam may have just the thing for you. It has published online  a 717-gigapixel image of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch (1642). According to the Associated Press, the museum is billing it as “the most detailed photograph of any artwork.” If you are into that kind of thing, hours of pleasure await.

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MERCIFULLY, THERE IS ALSO NON-OMICRON MUSEUM NEWS. A mural that Faith Ringgold created for a women’s prison on Rikers Island is slated to be relocated to the Brooklyn Museum, the Art Newspaper reports. In Los Angeles, the OMA-designed Audrey Irmas Pavilion has been completed at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, and it includes GenSpacea cultural space that is focused on older people, the New York Times reports. And Eike Schmidt, the director of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, spoke with the Guardian about some of his headline-grabbing activities in recent years, which have included having the Italian fashion influencer Chiara Ferragni appear in a Vogue Hong Kong photo shoot inside the museum. On Instagram, she posed with Botticelli ’s The Birth of Venus (1485–86). “That was a little bit provocative and we knew it would be,” Schmidt told the paper. “We had about 1,000 complaints but 8,000 additional followers, so in the end it was a big win for us.”

The Digest

REAL ESTATE ACTION: An undeveloped 120-acre plot of land in the tony Los Angeles neighborhood of Beverly Crest owned by the late collector and Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen sold for $65 million (below the original $150 million asking price), the Los Angeles Times reports. It looks like you could build a pretty serious home on it! Also, actor, painter, and onetime rumored  National Endowment for the Arts chair nominee Sylvester Stallone sold his Beverly Hills abode to singer Adele for just a bit less, $58 million, the New York Post reports. That was also well below its ask of $110 million.

The South Korean department-store powerhouse Shinsegae has purchased an almost five percent stake, worth about $23.6 million, in Seoul Auction. The two firms plan to collaborate on art-selling initiatives, with an emphasis on NFTs and the metaverse. [The Investor/The Korea Herald]

The fire that tore through some of Cape Town’s parliamentary buildings over the weekend spared the nearly 4,000 artworks that the legislature holds in its collection. A suspect has been arrested and charged with arson and other crimes. [Bloomberg]

Alicia Cardenas, a closely watched Mexican American and Native American muralist, tattoo artist, and activist in Denver, was killed in the shooting spree in the city last week that left six dead, including the suspect. “Her tattoos speak to her eye for detail, with intricate stippling and line work, a Caravaggio-esque grasp of depth in her grayscale, and perfect use of symmetry and application of sacred geometry,” Emily Ferguson writes. [Westword]

The Orange County Museum of Art in California has tapped Courtenay Finn to be its chief curator, and Meagan Burger its director of learning and engagement. Finn has held the same title at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, and Burger has been manager of adult learning at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The OCMA is planning to inaugurate a new $93 million home in October. [Los Angeles Times]

Banksy-themed nightclub opened last year in Mazatlán, Mexico. As you may have guessed, it is unauthorized. Here is a look inside. [The Art Newspaper]

The Kicker

IN A MOVING AND CANDID ESSAY in Artforum, artist Allen Ruppersberg remembers the late, great Los Angeles dealer Margo Leavin, who died in October at 85. She was “feared and loved, courted and consulted, competitive and generous,” Ruppersberg writes. He recalls discussing his finances with her when he joined the gallery in the 1990s. “I was in debt, and Margo saw that I had multiple credit cards: ten, to be exact. She immediately said that no one should have that many credit cards and that if I was using them to produce work, that was to stop. We would figure out another way to go about getting things produced.” What more can you ask from your gallerist? [Artforum]


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