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R.I.P. LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI. The storied poet, artist, publisher, and bookseller has died at the age of 101 in San Francisco, where he cofounded the City Lights bookstore in 1953. Ferlinghetti was the “spiritual godfather of the Beat movement,” the New York Times writes. He was also “a heroic defender of free speech and a stalwart friend of the creative fringe,” as the Washington Post says, narrating the story of how he was arrested on obscenity charges in 1957 for publishing Allen Ginsberg’s landmark poem “Howl.” “I wasn’t worried,” he once told the Guardian . “I was young and foolish. I figured I’d get a lot of reading done in jail and they wouldn’t keep me in there for ever. And, anyway, it really put the book on the map.” He was acquitted at trial, in a major victory for First Amendment advocates. Beyond his well-known literary pursuits, Ferlinghetti was also a painter of brushy figurative works, and had his first New York solo show last year at the New Release gallery. “How many other amazing paintings has he done?” the critic John Yau wrote in a glowing review of that show. “How come we don’t know about them?”
BRITISH OFFICIALS HAVE SAID THAT ART MUSEUMS cannot reopen until mid-May, more than a month after shops. At that point, they will have been closed for more than five months. Unsurprisingly, many are displeased. “It is just nuts,” Rebecca Salter, the president of the Royal Academy of Arts told the Guardian. And Apollo editor Thomas Marks writes that the decision “looks like a clear expression of what many who work in the arts have come to suspect of this government: that it sees culture as an afterthought, something easily left on the shelf.” On the bright side, U.K. museums at least have a reopening date. In Los Angeles, cultural institutions are approaching the one-year anniversary of being shuttered, as the New York Times reported, and cannot resume welcoming visitors if their cases are above seven per 100,000 over a seven-day period. That figure stands at 20 per 100,000 now.
Artists are beginning to take up the question of how those who died of Covid-19 should be memorialized—and how frontline workers should be honored. [The New York Times]
The Munch Museum in Oslo is preparing to open its new 13-story home, designed by Estudio Herreros. [Architectural Digest]
Staging blockbuster art exhibitions is not a simple business. Kelly Burke looked into the work—much of it cloaked in secrecy—that has gone into the National Gallery of Australia’s upcoming show of more than 60 works from the National Gallery in London. One definite fact: Not all the pieces flew on the same airplane. [The Guardian]
The Malaysian multidisciplinary artist Jeganathan Ramachandram has died at the age of 58. “Using an ancient method of dabbing, his paintings told stories about his roots, ideology, and often celebrated Hindu scriptures,” Daryl Got writes. [The Star]
The artists who created camouflage, decoys, and other optical tricks in order to win World Wars I and II “reveal a new direction in the story of illusionism in art,” Matthew Wilson says. [BBC]
Speaking of decoys (of a very different kind), several rare, antique carvings of ducks recently sold for more than $100,000 each at Copley Fine Art Auctions in Hingham, Massachusetts. [Chesapeake Bay Magazine]
Collectors Michael Yong-Haron and Saniza Othman have been buying the work of Yong-Haron’s grandfather, the late Malaysian painter Yong Mun Sen, whose family sold off his work after his death in 1962. Art institutions have been paying attention. [South China Morning Post]
The Cincinnati Art Museum has acquired 40 of the 41 paintings that appeared in Barbara Rose’s landmark 1979 touring exhibition “American Painting: The Eighties” through a gift, and will put them on view next month. [Cincinnati Business Courier]
Rose, an influential and perspicacious art critic and curator, died in December at the age of 84. [ARTnews]
Art flack Adam Abdalla, the founder of the Cultural Counsel firm, has been publishing a journal of art and wrestling called Orange Crush. “Wrestling does take artistic chances to tell a story,” said, comparing one recent match to the work of performance artist Marina Abramovic. [CNN]
DURING THE STORMING OF THE U.S. CAPITOL ON JANUARY 6, “statues, murals, historic benches and original shutters all suffered varying degrees of damage, primarily from pepper spray accretions and residue from chemical irritants and fire extinguishers,” according to written testimony that Architect of the Capitol Brett Blanton submitted in advance of his appearance at Congressional hearings today. The Daily Mail says that the potentially affected works include portraits of Presidents John Madison and John Quincy Adams. Another remarkable detail from Blanton’s remarks: During the attack, his staff “raced to the roof to reverse the airflows within the building to help clear the air of chemical irritants, like bear repellents and pepper spray.” [The Daily Mail]
Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.