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Leon Black.

Australia’s Oldest Rock Art Identified, the Whitney Museum Lays Off More Staff, and More: Morning Links from February 23, 2021

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The Headlines

SCIENTISTS IN AUSTRALIA HAVE DETERMINED VIA RADIOCARBON DATING that a painting of a kangaroo on sandstone in Western Australia is more than 17,000 years old, the Guardian reports. That makes it the oldest known example of rock art on the continent. On the other side of the world, activists argue that a proposed solar power plant in rural Nevada could harm endangered species and affect the viewing experience of Michael Heizer’s landmark earthwork Double Negative (1969), which he created by removing about a quarter-million tons of desert sandstone. “We are not against renewable energy but we feel it needs to be placed more responsibly,” said one activist. Heizer supporters are calling on state and federal officials to prohibit development near the piece, TAN says. Some may recall that former Nevada Senator Harry Reid was involved in helping to protect Heizer’s epic City artwork in the Nevada desert. Here is a photo of the senator, the artist, President Barack Obama, and friends celebrating that effort, in ARTnews.

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Leon Black.

BILLIONAIRE INVESTOR LEON BLACK REMAINS CHAIRMAN of the Museum of Modern Art, but artists including Ai Weiwei and Hito Steyerl are calling for his ouster after it was revealed that he paid more than $158 million to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, the New York Times reports. Students at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, are also demanding that the Black Family Visual Arts Center be renamed. Black gave $48 million for the center, Hyperallergic reports. Black and MoMA director Glenn D. Lowry declined to comment to the Times; a Dartmouth spokesperson said that “Leon Black has stated that he is appalled by Epstein and deeply regrets his involvement with him.”

The Digest

The Whitney Museum in New York laid off 15 staffers, citing decreased revenues and “extremely low attendance.” [The Art Newspaper]

Ian Parker has filed a barnburner of a profile of artist Nicole Eisenman that covers how she rose to fame, beat her drug addiction, and made ends meet before her painting career took off: at one point “she was hired to paint murals, in a socialist-realist style, in Coach stores.” [The New Yorker]

Twenty-five drawings acquired by the late collector Howard Karshan have been given to the Courtauld Gallery in London by his wife, Linda Karshan. The artists represented include Cézanne, Klee, Twombly, and Beuys. [The Guardian]

A recently burglarized C.F. Goldie painting with an estimated value of more than $1 million has been recovered by police in New Zealand. Three have been arrested in the case. [1 News/TVNZ]

Charles Hill, an art detective who was once involved in recovering a version of Edvard Munch’s The Scream (1893), has died. He was 73. [ARTnews]

The California African American Museum in Los Angeles has a new executive director, Cameron Shaw, who has been its deputy director and chief curator since 2019. [Los Angeles Times]

Dodie Kazanjian spoke with the Los Angeles painter Sarah Cain, who will soon have a show in the atrium of the National Gallery of Art’s East Building in Washington, D.C. Its title: “My favorite season is the fall of the patriarchy.” [Vogue]

Eric Fitzgerald Reed and Allen Karp have been named co-chairs of the board of trustees at the Newark Museum of Art in New Jersey. They are, respectively, executives at Verizon Communications and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. [TapIntoNewark]

While most cultural venues in France remain closed, galleries have been operating and seeing large numbers of visitors. “There are no theaters, no cinemas, no museums—and there comes a time when Netflix is not enough,” said one gallerygoer. Despite the crowds, 78 percent of dealers have had their sales drop during the pandemic, according to one study. [France 24]

Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban believes that non-fungible tokens, which can be used to represent digital artworks in transactions, will be big. “Gen Z value digital goods more than anything, other than maybe a house, maybe a car [and] their phone. After that, it’s digital,” he said. “They’re going to respect something that’s digital before they buy something that’s physical.” [CNBC/Make It]

Page Six item from New York that is more easily quoted than summarized: Art journalist and cartoonist Anthony Haden-Guest “was set to be presented with a life-sized portrait of himself last week at UEast Gallery by David Richardson, the artist, veteran, and current assistant secretary for the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office.” However, a snowstorm prevented the assistant secretary from getting to the party. [Page Six]

The Kicker

ASKED TO NAME AN ARTWORK THAT HE WISHES HE HAD PURCHASED, art collector Rami Fustok, who is the owner of the Mandrake hotel in London, revealed, “I actually wish I’d bought more of the Jeff Koons-designed Balloon Venus bottle holders from Dom Pérignon.” He did once spend $400,000 on a Romero Britto sculpture, though. Life: it’s all about choices. [Artnet News]

Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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