Trump PAC Donates for Smithsonian Portraits, Collector and Philanthropist Donald Jonas Dies at 92, and More: Morning Links for July 27, 2022

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The Headlines

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A GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING. Former President Trump’s Save America PAC has donated $650,000 to the Smithsonian to cover almost all the cost of commissioning portraits of himself and former First Lady Melania Trump for the National Portrait Gallery, the Washington Post reports. Intriguingly, two artists have been tapped for the job, but their identities remain a secret. (Barack and Michelle Obama went with Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively.) Such portraits have typically been funded by private donations, according to the Post. The Obamas’ were paid for by hundreds of donors, including notables like John Legend and Chrissy Teigen. No date has been set for the unveiling of the Trumps’ portraits.

‘IF YOU DIE RICH, YOU DIE POOR, REALLY,’ the retailer, art collector, and philanthropist Donald Jonas, once said. Along with his late wife, Barbara, Jonas assembled a collection of prized Abstract Expressionist works that they sold to donate to charities, particularly nursing causes. Late last month, Jonas died in New York at 92, Ed Shanahan reports in the New York Times. Over a long career, his ventures included a women’s clothing business (Barbara Lynn Stores, named for his wife) and Lechters Housewares (named for his collaborator, Albert Lechter). In 2005, the couple gave 15 works, including examples by Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning, to the Jewish Communal Fund to sell at auction, raising $44 million. Explaining their focus on nursing, Jonas once said, “The nurses are the backbone of our health system.”

The Digest

Another day, another masterpiece-infused climate protest in Europe! This time, on Sunday, protestors with the group Ultima Generazione left the glue at home, and instead chained themselves to a railing at the Giotto-frescoed Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy. They were arrested. [The Art Newspaper]

Waanyi artist Gordon Hookey, who currently has a career survey up at the UNSW Galleries in Paddington, Australia, got the profile treatment. As it happens, “why I’m doing all these works about Trump is because it’s so unjust a bullshit artist is believed by so many people,” Hookey said. [The Guardian]

President Biden named Acquavella Galleries director Michael FindlayAlbuquerque Museum director Andrew Connors, and six others to the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, which provides input on matters like protecting artifacts abroad and import rules on cultural material. [The Art Newspaper]

Ready your paddles. A bounty of material from the legendary Hôtel Lambert in Paris is going to auction this fall at Sotheby’s, including candelabras commissioned by Marie Antoinette[Artnet News]

The Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, has a new director, Andrea Gyorody, who has been its interim leader since last October. She replaces Michael R. Zakian, who died in January 2020. [Press Release/Pepperdine]

The Kicker

A MOVER AND A SHAKER. The Brooklyn Museum’s director, Anne Pasternak, answered Curbed’s “21 Questions,” and revealed that, when she stays in hotels, she rearranges the furniture and hides magazines and other distractions in drawers. Pasternak likes to stretch, and “can’t stand the clutter,” she said. She only goes so far, though. “The only thing I don’t do is take artwork off the wall because I don’t want to look at the nail,” she said. [Curbed]


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