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AN ARCHITECTURAL GIANT, GONE. Richard Rogers, the famed designer of such gems as the Centre Pompidou, has died 88, Dezeen reports. The avant-garde building of that Paris museum was overseen with Renzo Piano; neither was well-known when they won a competition to design it. Famed for effectively inverting the museum, so that its inner systems were displayed on its exterior, the building “regales the amateur structuralist with its color coding,” the New York Times noted back in 1976, one year before the museum was completed. On Instagram, the Centre Pompidou mourned Rogers as a “genius architect of our building and its utopia.” Rogers, who went on to win the vaunted Pritzker Architecture Prize, later designed the Lloyd’s building, one of the most iconic structures in London.
A NOW-FAMILIAR REFRAIN: The art world is bracing once more for closures, now that the Omicron variant has taken hold in many countries. The Netherlands went into what Reuters called a “Christmas lockdown,” and as a result, non-essential businesses like museums have to remain shut until January 14. (Even before the lockdown, however, some Dutch art events had already taken action—TEFAF, for example, postponed its Maastricht edition previously due to take place in March, as ARTnews reported last week.) The occasion may have been a solemn one, but Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum posted an upbeat message to Instagram, along with an image of a Felix Gonzalez-Torres work featuring a string of light bulbs: “Hang in there everybody, stick together, and keep those lights shining bright.” Meanwhile, a similar lockdown went into effect in Denmark, and museums there also closed their doors to the public, according to Apollo. So far, U.S. art spaces are still operating as normal, but we’ll be sure to let you know if that changes.
The Museum of Fine Arts Boston owns objects from the Benin Bronzes group, which was taken from the Kingdom of Benin in 1897 by British troops. Calling that act “theft,” the Boston Globe urged the museum to send them back. [The Boston Globe]
The Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, bought an 1840 daguerreotype featuring the American inventor Henry Fitz Jr. It’s thought to be one of the earliest daguerreotype portraits ever made in the U.S. [The Art Newspaper]
For a Dutch TV series called The Secret of the Master, art historian Lisa Wiersman is endeavoring to undertake a wild stunt: recreating Rembrandt’s The Night Watch (ca. 1642). [The National]
A long-mysterious pouch from a Scottish archaeological site has come into focus upon further research. Inside that pouch, experts discovered, was a centuries-old rock crystal jar that may have once held perfume. [The Guardian]
Peter Schjeldahl addressed a Metropolitan Museum of Art show about Walt Disney and French decorative art, writing that his doubts about the exhibition’s merit “faded” upon entry. [The New Yorker]
Jerry Saltz named the 10 best New York art shows of the year, from the final exhibition at Metro Pictures to an Alice Neel retrospective. [Vulture]
THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT. The Los Angeles Times reported this weekend that the writer Eve Babitz had died at 78 of complications related to Huntington’s disease. Babitz is most fondly remembered for her acerbic writings about L.A. and its culture, but she’s got a well-known art-historical connection, too. One time, in 1963, during Marcel Duchamp’s first-ever U.S. retrospective, at the Pasadena Art Museum, photographer Julian Wasser suggested that she play a game of chess in the nude with the artist. She took his dare and ran with it, and in the resulting image, you can see a naked Babitz and a clothed Duchamp sitting in a gallery, crouched over a table with a chess set between them. Recalling the events of that picture in a 2019 Literary Hub essay, Babitz wrote, “Of all the things that have ever gone on between men and women, this was the strangest, in my experience.”