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NEWS FROM THE GREAT WHITE NORTH. The Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto has hired a trio of architecture firms—Selldorf Architects, Diamond Schmitt, and Two Row Architect—to create a design for a new 50,000-square-foot building that will be devoted to global modern and contemporary art. Selldorf has been on a tear of late. Its expansion of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, which was just unveiled, has earned strong reviews, and construction is underway on its expansion of the Frick Collection in New York. Meanwhile, the Portrait Gallery of Canada in Ottawa tapped Robert Steven, former head of the Art Gallery of Burlington, to be its next director.
THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. Art depicting animals is having a moment, Francesca Gavin argues in the Financial Times, noting that Sotheby’s recently had a sale devoted to the theme, among other data points. It has “become a way of addressing ideas around dominance and oppression, environmental change or, simply, intimacy,” Gavin writes. As it happens, a collection of sculptures by the late animal-loving artists Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne (bird candlesticks, a bronze sheep) are being sold by Daniel Marchesseau to help fund an extension of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Guardian reports. And in June, at New York’s American Museum of Natural History, Levon Biss will show close-up photos he makes of insects. Bliss told the New York Times, “I want to raise awareness of the insect decline crisis and have conversations to help the public understand that we need biodiversity in the insect world.”
The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit said that it has “parted ways” with its new director, Cara Courage, who was named to the post only in February, after an 18-month search. Courage had been at Tate Modern in London, leading its Tate Exchange program. She has not commented. [Detroit Metro Times]
The Polish government replaced Jarosław Suchan as the leader of the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź with Andrzej Biernacki, who said that he intends to “diversify” its offerings beyond the “pro-environmental, gender or queer art that is promoted by the Western cultural institutions.” Many in the local art world condemned the surprise move. [Artforum]
Through his Museum of Art & Photography, the businessman and collector Abhishek Poddar has created an open-source encyclopedia for art history in India that currently has 2,000 entries. Its team of researchers plans to add about 1,000 more each year. [CNN]
The Freud Museum in London, which is the onetime home of Sigmund Freud, will for the first time host a show of work by artist Lucian Freud, a grandson of the psychoanalysis founder. Opening in July, it will include paintings, letters, family photos, and more. This year marks the centennial of Lucian Freud’s birth. [The Guardian]
A new record has been set for a piece of armor at auction: A ca. 1560 gilded helmet went for €690,000 (about $726,000) with fees at Thierry de Maigret in Paris this month, more than 10 times its high estimate estimate. The piece was part of four armor sets commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I. [Financial Times]
Artist Raphael Montañez Ortiz, who helped found El Museo del Barrio in New York in 1969, is now the subject of a retrospective at the museum. He got the profile treatment from Mark A. Stein. [The New York Times]
‘THE GRAND DAME OF LAS VEGAS.’ Billionaire businesswoman and collector Elaine Wynn (a veteran of the ARTnews Top 200 Collectors list) is the subject of an extensive profile in WSJ. Magazine that touches on her divorce from Steve Wynn, her prowess in the corporate boardroom, and the “mini Oval Office” that she had at a former residence for President George H.W. Bush to use when he visited. (Thoughtful!) One great moment: She recalls that, after anonymously snapping up a Francis Bacon triptych for $142.4 million at a 2013 Christie’s auction, most people proposed that a man had made the purchase. “I remember being offended that speculation centered on men, and nobody thought that a woman would either have the money or the balls,” she said. [WSJ]