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Museums Offer ‘Slow Art Day’ to Celebrate the Pleasure of Patient Looking

In further news: revolver that killed Van Gogh goes under the hammer; Berlin’s Jewish Museum says no to Sackler money

Tate Modern, 2019. Courtesy: Getty Images; photograph: Mike Kemp

Tate Modern, 2019. Courtesy: Getty Images; photograph: Mike Kemp

Hundreds of museums across the world are participating in Slow Art Day, on 6 April – an annual celebration of the pleasures of spending extended periods of time with particular artworks. Arts institutions taking part include the Tate Modern and the Ashmolean Museum in the UK, and the Art Institute of Chicago and the Hirshhorn Museum in the US. ‘By slowing down, it helps us to see art in a new way that energises rather than demoralises, it will blow your mind,’ Slow Art Day founder Phil Terry told the BBC. The average gallery visitor spends just 27 seconds looking at an artwork, according to a study published in 2017. Slow Art Day hopes to inspire a more patient, nuanced way of viewing artworks. The Tate Modern has been offering slow art viewings for its current show of the French Post-Impressionist painter Pierre Bonnard. Don’t miss Figgy Guyver writing on what a ‘slow look’ at Bonnard’s harmonic, memory-drenched paintings, reveals: ‘Bonnard’s paintings offer pleasurable reward for patient looking. Studying Nude in an Interior (c.1935), for instance, is a harmonic experience: the orange wallpaper, a sliver of a standing purple nude, a fuchsia bathtub, the mint dresser. Round and around your eye can turn.’

A revolver thought to have been used by Vincent van Gogh to take his life in 1890 is to be put up for auction in Paris. The now-corroded Lefaucheux handgun will go under the hammer on 19 June. The auction house AuctionArt called it ‘the most famous weapon in the history of art’, and said in a statement: ‘Several pieces of evidence show it must be Van Gogh’s suicide gun: it was discovered where Van Gogh shot it; its caliber is the same as the bullet retrieved from the artist’s body as described by the doctor at the time.’ Van Gogh scholar Martin Bailey told CNN that he hoped that the new owner would treat the object ‘with respect’ and not showcase it as a ‘gruesome relic.’

The Jewish Museum in Berlin has announced that it will no longer accept funding from Sackler money. It joins a list of museums including the National Portrait Gallery, Tate and the Guggenheim who have said no to Sackler gifts over the family’s company Purdue Pharma which produces the painkiller OxyContin, alleged to have fuelled the US opioid crisis. The museum last accepted Sackler funding in 2002. However, the institution has no plans to rename its Sackler Staircase. Don’t miss Nan Goldin on why the art world must reject Sackler money. And should the debate over ethical sponsorship extend to museums rejecting Big Tobacco?

In awards and galleries news: Jimmie Durham will be the recipient of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2019 Venice Biennale; Meriem Bennani has won this year’s Eye Art & Film Prize, awarded by Amsterdam’s Eye Filmmuseum; Lehmann Maupin represents Lari Pittman; and Gagosian represents Nathaniel Mary Quinn.

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