Briefing

Munich’s Haus der Kunst embroiled in Scientology scandal; Martín Ramírez to inaugurate the new ICA LA

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A work by self-taught artist Martín Ramírez

A work by self-taught artist Martín Ramírez who has the inaugural show at the ICA LA this September

  • US billionaire and philanthropist J Tomilson Hill has hit back at ‘false statements’ made over his refusal to sell a 16th-century masterpiece to the National Gallery in London. A partner in asset management group Blackstone and one of the world’s foremost art collectors, with a collection thought to be worth in excess of USD$800 million, Hill said he felt ‘battered’ by criticisms that he rejected a £30.7m offer for the 1530 work Portrait of a Young Man in a Red Cap by Jacopo Pontormo after the gallery successfully fundraised the money. Hill said the devaluation of Pound Sterling meant he would be short-changed by the sale. Hill purchased the painting, one of only fifteen surviving portraits by Pontormo, in 2015 for $48m (£30.7m).
     
  • The Institute of Arab and Islamic Art, will open an 2,500-square-foot cultural space in downtown Manhattan this May to host exhibitions travelling from institutions in Arab countries, the Art Newspaper reports. The founder, Mohammed Rashid Al-Thani, who is based in New York, said of his venture: ‘It made absolute sense to build an institute that would not only showcase the breadth of art and culture from the Arab and Islamic worlds, but also challenge certain stereotypes and misconceptions that hinder cross-cultural understanding.’
     
  • Munich’s Haus der Kunst is being investigated by the authorities after an employee with ties to the Church of Scientology was dismissed for placing ‘great psychological pressure’ on staff members and allegedly discriminating against non-Scientologists during the hiring process. Director Okwui Enwezor fired the unnamed employee after numerous complaints about his behaviour. The employee, who joined the institution as a freelance accountant in 1995 and eventually became an external personnel manager, was actively attempting to recruit colleagues to join the religion.
     
  • The new Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles – formerly the Santa Monica Museum of Art – has announced its inaugural show will be of artist Martín Ramírez and will open for Pacific Standard Time in September. Considered an outsider artist, Ramírez was a Mexican migrant worker who immigrated to California in 1925, but was institutionalized for the majority of his life due to his schizophrenia. While confined to the hospital, he produced more than 300 drawings depicting tunnels, animals, and men on horseback. Fifty works will featured in the exhibition. ICA LA director Elsa Longhauser said the show ‘will look at his work through the lens of Latin American imagery, Latin American culture, and the contemporary issues of migration and incarceration.’

 

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