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FOLLOWING THE THIRD SUICIDE IN LESS THAN A YEAR AT THE VESSEL, Thomas Heatherwick’s widely disliked structure at Hudson Yards in New York, the 150-foot-tall sculpture-slash-architectural folly has been closed to the public. A spokesperson for Related Companies, the developer of Hudson Yards, told the New York Times that it was speaking with suicide-prevention experts about how to prevent more deaths. Gothamist published part of a letter that a local community board sent to Related following the first suicide at the landmark, which was last February, in asking what the company was doing to prevent future deaths. The chairman of the community board, Lowell Kern, said in an interview with the Times that, while he understood hesitation to alter an artwork, “After three suicides, at what point does the artistic vision take a back seat to safety?”
ARCHAEOLOGY FANS, REJOICE. This spring, Italy is planning to inaugurate the new Nymphaeum Museum of Piazza Vittorio, which will showcase artifacts associated with the Horti Lamiani pleasure garden beloved of the Roman emperor Caligula. “Historians have long believed that the remains of the lavish houses and parkland would never be recovered,” Franz Lidz writes in New York Times, but excavation work for a parking garage led to some remarkable finds. Caligula “was a capricious, combustible first-century populist remembered, perhaps unfairly, as the empire’s most tyrannical ruler,” Lidz says. Sympathy for Caligula isn’t unknown among historians who view the popular image of the Emperor as overblown. Alas, “I doubt these new discoveries will do much to rehabilitate his character,” says one scholar. Even if Caligula is one day rehabilitated, we will always have this very NSFW Francesco Vezzoli video-art portrayal of his court.
A new home in Los Angeles is hitting the market with a $350 million price tag. It comes stocked with its own art collection. [Architectural Digest]
French artist Claude Lévêque is reportedly being investigated by French police for rape and sexual assault of minors, and has suspended his representation by Paris gallery Kammel Menour. Lévêque has previously filed complaints of libel and blackmail over the allegations. [The Art Newspaper]
Snøhetta will redesign the grounds of the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin. Carmen Herrera has been commissioned to contribute a mural. [Designboom]
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has begun the process of designating as a landmark the Diego Rivera mural that the financially precarious San Francisco Art Institute has considered selling. The move could prevent any such sale. [KQED]
Collector Steve Wynn and his former attorney Lin Wood are reportedly talking “only through lawyers after Mr. Wynn fired Mr. Wood and kicked him out of his house last year.” Wood, a vocal proponent of outlandish election-fraud claims, alleges that Wynn disparaged him to President Trump. [The Wall Street Journal]
A painting of Tintin could set a new auction record for comic art in an upcoming Paris. [The Times]
The curator and photo editor Alice Rose George has died at 76. She commissioned photographers like Philip-Lorca diCorcia and Joel Sternfeld at major magazines. [The New York Times]
Turkish historian Filiz Çağman, an expert on manuscripts and miniature art, has died at the age of 81. [Hürriyet Daily News]
Lauren Tate Baeza, curator of African art at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, shared her favorite works from its collection. [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
The Smithsonian is partnering with PBS to publish educational programs online. [The Washington Post]
Jia Yi Gu has been named director of the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in Los Angeles. [Archinect]
The Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio has a new director of development: Jenny Wensink, a former fundraiser at Bowling Green State University. [The Toledo Blade]
Here are 12 essential art history books. [ARTnews]
The less said about “New York Is Dead” articles, the better, but for anyone who wants a reminder of just how fertile the city’s art scene continues to be, a new exhibition at La MaMa Galleria in Manhattan aims to deliver. “Downtown 2021” highlights more than 25 far-flung, wildly different art spaces via work by one or two artists that have shown at each recently, from Jenni Crain for 321 Gallery in Clinton Hill to Polly Apfelbaum and Madeline Hollander for ZAK’s, which has operated out of the Brooklyn Navy Yard studio of Zak Kitnick, who himself is in the show representing Bushwick’s Clearing gallery. These “spaces are archives of personal and public lives, repositories of creativity,” the show’s curator, artist Sam Gordon, told ARTnews in an email interview. The show’s title is a playful riff on the film Downtown 81 , which stars Jean-Michel Basquiat. “Downtown can be high and low, young and old, rich and poor,” said Gordon, who cofounded his own place, Gordon Robichaux, in Union Square in 2018. He is also writing an essay about important venues that have closed over the past couple years. There have, regrettably, been a lot of them. Putting the show together during the pandemic, “it became somewhat of a love letter to New York,” Gordon said, “and a statement that yes there is still so much going, so much of interest—not in the Hamptons or Palm Beach per se, where all the pop-up galleries got so much press, but here in Brooklyn, Queens, from small artist-run spaces to 5,000-square-foot spaces.” The exhibition runs through January 30.
Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.