LA MOCA Director Philippe Vergne's House For Sale; Is He On the Way Out?

In further news: Gillian Ayres (1930-2018); Met appoints Max Hollein as director; Cannes announces official selection

Philippe Vergne. Courtesy: LA MOCA

Philippe Vergne. Courtesy: LA MOCA

The rumour mill is spinning after news that LA MOCA director Philippe Vergne has put his USD$4 million Hollywood Hills home up for sale – how long will he stay in his current role now? After his unexpected and controversial firing of MOCA’s chief curator Helen Molesworth last month, the expiration of his own contract looming, and now his mansion on the market – according to a LA Times report – the question of how long Vergne will stay in the post is being asked. The museum has refused to comment – a hushed strategy that feels familiar, writes Deborah Vankin, to how MOCA have dealt with past changes in leadership.

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British abstract painter Gillian Ayres, known for her monumental, swirling colourful canvases, has passed away at the age of 88 – the news was confirmed by her gallerist Alan Cristea. Ayres was nominated for the Turner in 1989. She became a Royal Academician in 1982, and was appointed a CBE in 2011. ‘I want an art that’s going to make me feel heady, in a high-flown way. I love the idea of that,’ Ayres said in a 1995 interview.

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has appointed Max Hollein as its new director. Hollein is currently chief executive and director at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. He succeeds Thomas P. Campbell who left last year amid reports of ongoing financial difficulties at the museum. Chairman of the Met’s board Daniel Brodsky said of Hollein: ‘He is an innovative and inspiring museum leader and has a proven record of building collections and organizing outstanding exhibitions.’ Hollein will begin in the new role in August. The Met’s announcement of a mandatory USD$25 admission charge for non-New Yorkers received widespread public criticism at the beginning of the year.

In contrast, Germany’s Humboldt Forum will trial a free entry scheme for its federal museums – though according to the Art Newspaper, critics are warning that the no-charge admissions policy for permanent collections might make it difficult to introduce ticketing at a later stage.

In gallery news: after 10 years in operation, London’s Supplement Gallery is closing – its final exhibition will be of artist Mimi Hope which will run 14–29 April; the veteran New York Postmasters Gallery is turning to crowdfunding to support its activities – it has joined Patreon with subscription levels ranging from special viewings to exclusive lunches, hoping to follow ‘a new model – a radical hybrid combining the strength of the market with the support of the community’; New York’s Gladstone Gallery now represents Vivian Suter, with a solo exhibition planned for early 2019; and P.P.O.W., New York, will represent Judith Linhares.

In awards news: this year’s BP Portrait Award has announced its shortlist, with artists Miriam Escofet, Felicia Forte, Ania Hobson and Zhu Tongyao in the running – the winner will be announced in June; LA’s Mike Kelley Foundation has named recipients for its 2018 Artist Project Grants – the Craft & Folk Art Museum, Fulcrum Arts, Hammer Museum, JOAN, LA Freewaves, LAXART, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Museum of Latin American Art, Self Help Graphics & Art and the Underground Museum will receive a total of USD$400,000 in support; ArtCenter/South Florida have announced a new USD$500,000 visual art awards called the Ellies, with first recipients anounced in October; and the official selection for the 71st Cannes film festival, which runs 8–19 May, is here, with Jean-Luc Godard, Spike Lee and Jia Zhangke in competition – only three out of 18 films competing for the Palme d’Or have female directors.

Finally, Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art has announced the artist list for the 2018 Carnegie International – opening 13 October – which includes Tacita Dean, Jeremy Deller, Karen Kilimnik and Rachel Rose.

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