Venice Biennale Posts Record Attendance, Wellcome Collection Axes ‘Racist, Sexist, and Ableist’ Display, and More: Morning Links for November 28, 2022

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The Headlines

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MUSEUM MELEE. The fight over Annabelle Selldorf’s planned redesign of the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in London is continuing to rage. Architect Denise Scott Brown, who designed the space with her late husband Robert Venturi, told the Guardian, “She’s making our building look like a circus clown.” Selldorf’s proposal focuses on opening up the lobby of the wing, which debuted in 1991, to allow it to serve as the museum’s main entry point. Some prominent architects also recently argued that it turns “a finely conceived space into an airport lounge.” The National Gallery’s architecture has long drawn controversy, as Catherine Slessor noted earlier this year in DezeenWilliam Thackaray once termed its central structure, which was designed by William Wilkins and inaugurated in 1838, as “a little gin shop of a building.”

ON THE MARKET. A Max Beckmann self-portrait from 1943–44 is headed to auction in Berlin this week with the highest estimate ever placed on an artwork in Germany, €20 million–€30 million (about $15 million–$31.1 million), the Guardian reports. That means that, if the painting sells at Villa Grisebach  on December 1, it will shatter the current record price for a work at auction in Deutschland, a figure set back in 2018 when another Beckmann went for €4.7 million. The artist painted the iconic work, which has his face cloaked in a shadow, while he lived in Amsterdam, in exile from Nazi Germany.

The Digest

The 2022 Venice Biennale closed on Sunday, and reported record attendance, with more than 800,000 tickets sold. That was a 35 percent jump over the 2019 edition. This year’s exhibition ran a bit longer—197 days to 2019’s 173. [Press Release/La Biennale]

Speaking of museum renovations in London, the National Portrait Gallery, which is currently undergoing a major refurbishment, said that it will rechristen its first floor the Blavatnik Wing following a £10 million ($12.1 million) donation from the foundation of businessman Leonard Blavatnik[The Art Newspaper]

The Wellcome Collection in London, whose collections include medical artifacts and art, said that it has closed one of its permanent exhibition displays, titled Medicine Man, because it promotes “a version of medical history that is based on racist, sexist and ableist theories and language.” [The Guardian]

Spencer Tunick, the photographer famed for snapping large groups of naked people, brought together around 2,500 volunteers to pose nude on Bondi Beach in Sydney for a campaign aimed at encouraging Australians to check for skin cancer. [BBC News and The Guardian]

The director of M+ in Hong Kong, Suhanya Raffel, has been tapped to be president of the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art, an industry group with some 700 members, ArtReview reports. Raffel will succeed Mami Kataoka, the leader of the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. [ArtReview]

ARTIST INTERVIEWS. Somaya Critchlow, who has a solo at Maximillian William in London, is in the GuardianKaren Lamassonne, now showing at the Swiss Institute in New York, is in the Financial Times. And Lucia Laguna, who has a show up at Sadies Coles HQ in London, is, too.

The Kicker

A ROYAL WELCOME. What is the only thing better than David Hockney being in attendance at a party? When David Hockney is in attendance in a fresh plaid suit and bright yellow Crocs! Such was the scene on Thursday at a luncheon at Buckingham Palace in London, CNN reports. (The event was for the Order of Merit, of which the artist is a member.) King Charles was apparently pleased with the footwear choice. “Your yellow galoshes!” he remarked. “Beautifully chosen.” [CNN]


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