Good morning! It’s Wednesday, January 6.
THERE IS MORE TURMOIL AT THE SAN FRANCISCO ART INSTITUTE. The financially beleaguered school is considering the sale of a Diego Rivera mural on its grounds that is estimated at $50 million, Zachary Small writes in the New York Times. An SFAI official said that George Lucas is interested in buying the 1931 fresco, The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City, Small reports, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern could take ownership of it in another scenario. Some SFAI staffers, former students, and observers are furious. “It would be a crime against art and the city’s heritage,” one local politician said. The institute’s budget problems date back to a 2016 loan that financed the construction of a new campus. Last fall, the University of California Board of Regents bought $19.7 million in debt to keep the school afloat, taking over the deed to its property. The school has six years to purchase it back.
The possible sale of the landmark Rivera comes as cultural institutions have been selling—or considering the sale of—art to grapple with pandemic-battered budgets or pursue new initiatives. London’s Royal Opera House sold a David Hockney portrait for $16.9 million last year. (A trustee bought it, and plans to loan it to the ROH.) And the Brooklyn Museum has sold works to endow a fund that will help cover collection-care costs. Lucas has been a player in a similar, earlier case. In 2018, his forthcoming Los Angeles museum snapped up a major Norman Rockwell painting deaccessioned by the Berkshire Museum as part of a sell-off that its board said was necessary to ensure the future viability of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts organization. Those sales divided the community and led to a lengthy legal battle.
Yinka Shonibare has been tapped to create a memorial in Leeds, England, for David Oluwale, a Nigerian immigrant who drowned in the River Aire in the city in 1969 after witnesses saw him being chased by police. The officers involved were found guilty of assault in a case that made Oluwale’s “name synonymous with institutional racism,” as The Guardian’s Lanre Bakare writes. In the story, Shonibare calls unwarranted stops of young Black men in the United Kingdom “relentless, annoying, and embarrassing.” The work is being supported by the city government and the Arts Council after a long push from local activists for a Oluwale memorial.
The Public Sphere
Meanwhile, in Budapest, Hungary, the country’s far-right government has been attacking a sculpture by Péter Szalay that addresses the Black Lives Matter movement, the Guardian reports. The three-foot tall work, a kneeling Statue of Liberty, will be displayed for two weeks. The chief of staff for prime minister Viktor Orbán called BLM “basically a racist movement.” (Conservatives have been starting the year with a great deal of outrage over public art, daily Breakfast readers may note. Yesterday, it was a huge depiction of a vagina in Brazil that had folks raising hackles.)
South Korean artist Kim Tschang-yeul, whose meticulous paintings of water droplets won him acclaim, is dead at 91. [Yonhap News Agency]
Marshall McKay, the first Indigenous board chair of the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, has died at age 68. [ARTnews]
Through his foundation, veteran artist McArthur Binion is aiming to help younger artists. [The Art Newspaper]
Julia Cameron, the author of the 1992 bestseller The Artist’s Way, has a new book. It’s a guide to stoking your creativity. [BBC]
French journalist Valeria Costa-Kostritsky asks, “Is France’s commitment to restitution waning?” [Apollo]
At the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, director Mary Ceruti is aiming to include more Minnesota artists in its programming and collection. [Mpls.St.Paul]
Did you attend the St Albans School of Art in England? Curators at a local museum want to speak with you. [The Herts Advertiser]
On Instagram, Jennifer Lopez shared a portrait of herself by Malaysian artist Haze Long [Yahoo News!]
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are said to be divorcing. [Page Six]
“In 2017, we were doing 12 art fairs,” New York and Aspen dealer Marianne Boesky told Scott Reyburn. This year, Boesky has six on her calendar.” “But I’m not sure,” she said. “Every two weeks we seem to change our plans.” [The New York Times]
Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.