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LEADERSHIP UPDATES. Zdenka Badovinac, who was ousted in 2020 as director of the Moderna Galerija in Ljubljana, Slovenia, by the nation’s right-wing government, has been tapped to lead the Zagreb Museum of Contemporary Art in Croatia, Artforum notes. Meanwhile, Nathalie Bondil, who was fired as director of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts by its chairman in 2019, has reached a settlement with its board after bringing a lawsuit alleging unfair dismissal and libel, the Art Newspaper reports. The chair had accused Bondil of fostering a “toxic atmosphere,” which the museum rejected in a statement saying that, while a 2018 audit made recommendations to improve the workplace, she was “not personally the object of any allegation of harassment.”
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WHEN ART AND TECH COLLIDE. For New York magazine, Shawn McCreesh profiled artist Agnieszka Pilat, whose robot-infused paintings are beloved by certain digital moguls. They have won no acclaim in the mainline art industry, but Pilat does not mind. “The art world is notoriously unhappy about tech billionaires, and I am singing their song,” she said. Meanwhile, in the New Yorker, Rachel Monroe spoke with Erick Calderon, an NFT booster who just opened a gallery for his Art Blocks platform in the art enclave of Maria, Texas. Not everyone seems to be impressed with his approach. After Calderon presented at a town-hall meeting, artist Magalie Guérin said, “I’m feeling super depressed right now. I’m hearing no conversation about criticality. What makes this art?”
Pressure is mounting on the United Kingdom to return the Elgin marbles to Greece, following the Times of London coming out in favor of their repatriation. “Our strategy will be to turn up the heat,” said Tasos Chatzivasileiou, who advises the Greek prime minister on foreign policy. [The Guardian]
German artist Ali Mitgutsch, who illustrated beloved children’s books with action-packed scenes from an aerial view, has died at 86. “With his drawings, he made us—myself included—laugh, think and dream,” Germany’s president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said in a statement. [The New York Times]
The Iran-Australian artist Hossein Valamanesh, who was born in 1949, has died. Valamanesh’s work was subtle and poetic, sometimes inspired by Persian poetry, and made with natural materials. A retrospective is currently running at the Institut des Cultures d’Islam in Paris. [ArtReview]
Art critic Christopher Knight slammed the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for hosting an exhibition of works commissioned by Interscope Records to mark its 30th anniversary, writing that “ludicrous claims are being made about the ostensible seriousness and significance of the undertaking.” [Los Angeles Times]
David Chipperfield‘s restoration of the Mies van der Rohe–designed Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin has been put on the shortlist for the Mies van der Rohe Award, which honors a European architecture project every two years. (It is not restricted to Mies-related projects, for the record.) [Dezeen]
Scholarship is increasing on the Nazis’ plundering of antiquities from museums and excavation sites. However, “a complete account of what was stolen does not exist and is no longer possible,” one scholar said, speaking specifically of activity in Greece. [The New York Times]
LOOKING BACK. The last time that China held the Olympics, in 2008, some of the action took place in a new Beijing stadium designed by a team that included artist Ai Weiwei. Fourteen years later, as the country gets ready to host the games again, Ai is in a very different situation, living in exile after becoming persona non grata there because of his outspoken activism. In an interview with the Associated Press, the artist condemned the political environment in China, and discussed his work on the Bird’s Nest Stadium . “We had hoped,” he said, “that our architecture could be a symbol of freedom and openness and represent optimism and a positive force, which was very different from how it was used as a promotional tool in the end.” [AP]