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Italy’s Foreign Museum Directors at Risk as Culture Minister Eyes Up Local Talent

In further news: Lehmann Maupin gallery sues former employee for stealing ‘trade secrets’; was Robert Indiana in control of his final artworks?

Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, installation view. Courtesy: Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan; photograph: James O’Mara

Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, installation view. Courtesy: Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan; photograph: James O’Mara

Foreign museum directors in Italy face the sack after the new culture minister suggested locals be placed in the top jobs instead. Culture minister Alberto Bonisoli said that the country could draw on Italian talent for top leadership positions in museums – a significant reversal of the previous administration’s policy of offering the roles to international figures. Former culture minister Dario Franceschini launched an official international call for museum directors in 2015 in a bid to raise the standard of Italy’s museum system – experts from Britain, France and Germany were appointed to top positions. ‘I think they thought they wouldn’t find sufficient talent for the job in Italy,’ Bonisoli told The Times this week. ‘I don’t feel the need to go abroad.’ Will Italy’s museums survive the clash of insurgent populisms? Don’t miss Jamie Mackay writing last year on Franceschini’s legacy and the fate of the country’s famed art institutions.

Lehmann Maupin Gallery have filed a lawsuit against a former employee, alleging the theft of client data and ‘valuable trade secrets’. An updated complaint filed last week claimed that former director Bona Yoo also ‘maliciously corrupted’ information in Lehmann Maupin’s database, Artnet News reports. Yoo currently works as a sales director at Lévy Gorvy gallery. Yoo’s attorney said that ‘Lehmann Maupin brought this lawsuit purely out of spite towards a former employee’ and said that their client ‘intends to vigorously defend herself against her former employer’s baseless and vengeful claims.’

The first designs have been unveiled for a new GBP£288 million concert hall in London. The City of London’s Centre for Music, which will contain a concert hall and additional performance space for contemporary music is a bid to place a world-class concert hall in the UK capital. Designed by US architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the concert hall will be positioned on the London Wall site, with the Museum of London due to vacate the current premises. ‘Think what Tate Modern achieved at the start of the millennium for raising the profile of contemporary visual arts. We can do the same for music in the 21st century,’ Sir Nicholas Kenyon, managing director of the Barbican, commented.

What role did American pop artist Robert Indiana play in the creation of his final works? The New York Times reports that private text message discussions between the artist’s assistant and publisher around spinoffs of his iconic 1960s LOVE sculpture have come to light as evidence in an ongoing legal dispute, raising questions about whether Indiana was in control of the creation of his final artworks. Indiana died in May 2018 at the age of 89. The Morgan Art Foundation which holds the rights to create and sell works based on the LOVE design is suing Jamie L. Thomas and Michael McKenzie claiming they acted without Indiana’s approval. ‘If it is done while bob is alive it is art,’ McKenzie wrote in one text message, a fortnight prior to the artist’s death, ‘after that an estate collectible.’ Don’t miss Glenn Adamson writing on Indiana’s life beyond LOVE, and how he changed the course of US painting forever.

Was the devastating fire that engulfed the Glasgow School of Art last June preventable? A report in The Times states that a mist suppression system which had been ‘97% installed’ prior to a fire that hit the building in 2014, was then removed while the School underwent renovation. Experts told the paper that the technology should have been included in the restoration process. A spokesperson for the School told The Times that such discussion was currently ‘pure speculation’ with the cause of the fire still unknown.

Munich’s Haus der Kunst has appointed a commission to oversee its programming and strategy over the next two years, the Art Newspaper reports. The commission will be led by Bice Curiger, artistic director of the Vincent van Gogh Foundation, who will work alongsode Achim Hochdörfer, director of Munich’s Brandhorst Museum, and curator Ingvild Goetz. The group will ‘support the curatorial team and play an advisory and monitoring role concerning both content and feasibility of planned projects’. The museum has recently cancelled long-planned exhibitions including an Adrian Piper retrospective which was due to travel from New York’s MoMA and Los Angeles’s Hammer Museum this year. The institution has been without an artistic director since the departure of Okwui Enwezor last June.

The Zimbabwe biennial has been delayed due to political unrest. The art exhibition in Bulawayo has been moved from its October 2019 launch date to October 2020, following protests across the country over rising petrol prices and an ensuing government crackdown. Founder Sithabile Mlotshwa confimed the postponement of the biennial in comments made to the Art Newspaper.

And finally, in galleries, awards and appointments news: New York’s Miles McEnery Gallery now represents the artist April Gornik; Zoé Whitley has been named as the Hayward Gallery in London’s new senior curator, taking up the role in April; and recipients of this year’s College Art Association awards include Howardena Pindell, Senga Nengudi and Ursula von Rydingsvard – see the full list here.

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