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Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Gets New Opening Date, Key Photo Curator Dies, and More: Morning Links for September 22, 2021

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The Headlines

A WEDNESDAY MUSEUM BLOTTER: The Guggenheim Museum said that it plans to open its long-awaited Frank Gehry–designed Abu Dhabi branch in 2026, the Art Newspaper reports. The project has been enormously delayed—first announced in 2006, it was at various points slated to open in 2012 and then 2017. Over in England, Prince Charles officially reopened the Aberdeen Art Gallery after a £34.6 million (about $47.2 million) renovation; BBC News has the details. And the Guardian shares that Britain’s Art Fund charity named the Firstsite gallery in Essex as its Museum of the Year, highlighting it as “an outstanding example of innovation and integrity” during the pandemic. The honor comes with a £100,000 (about $136,000) prize. Just six years ago, the paper notes, the museum’s future was in doubt because of funding issues that it has since overcome.

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A circular building pictured from below.

AND A LEGAL ROUNDUP: Maya Ruiz-Picasso has transferred to the French government a group of works by her father, Pablo Picasso, including six paintings, to cover an inheritance bill, ARTnews reports. Despite objections from eight Latin American countries, including Mexico and Peru, an auction of pre-Columbian artifacts took place in Munich, the Art Newspaper reports, though many works did not sell. Officials protesting the sale have called for some pieces to be repatriated. The auction house said the pieces had been legally obtained. And on Thursday, the Guardian reports, U.S. officials will return a tablet, which dates back more than 3,000 years, to Iraq, from which it was looted in 1991. It contains part of the Epic of Gilgamesh. The U.S. Department of Justice confiscated the piece from the crafts retailer Hobby Lobby, which intended to display it in its Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. Its titular Sumerian hero certainly could never have imagined such a journey.

The Digest

Peter C. Burnell, a photography scholar of immense influence, has died at the age of 83. Burnell was on the staff of the Princeton University Art Museum in New Jersey for over three decades, serving at various points as its director and photography curator. He was also a curator at the Museum of Modern Art. [Planet Princeton]

Willie Daniels, a Florida painter who was one of the original members of the Highwaymen, a group of Black artists in Florida who depicted luminous landscapes, died at 71. Daniels’s paintings have been widely collected, and he was was one of 26 Highwaymen who joined the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2004. [TC Palm]

The Belgian choreographer and artist Jan Fabre will go to trial next year on charges of sexual harassment and indecent assault, following complaints from some 20 dancers. Fabre has said “it was never my intention to intimidate or hurt people psychologically or sexually.” He faces five years in prison. [AFP/France 24]

Researchers have used aerial scanning technology to study the ancient city of Teotihuacán, which was built more than 2,000 years ago near what is now Mexico City. Two takeaways: Much of the contemporary urban landscape aligns with the layout of that time, and recent mining has destroyed archaeological features. [Gizmodo]

Indiana’s South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority (a group that does not appear often in this newsletter) is looking to offload memorabilia related to 1930s gangster John Dillinger, including his submachine guns. It came to hold the material when a local John Dillinger Museum shuttered in 2017. [The Associated Press]

It is a big moment for fans of painter Alma Thomas in Washington, D.C., right now. A “months-long, citywide celebration, coinciding with what would have been her 130th birthday” is underway, Kelsey Ables writes, with events at a variety of venues and an exhibition at the Phillips Collection. [The Washington Post]

The Kicker

“I REALLY WANTED TO COLLECT BECAUSE I DIDN’T THINK I WAS ABLE TO—to even walk into a gallery and say, ‘I’m interested in that painting,’ ” actor and comedian David Alan Grier said in an interview with the New York Times. “It’s like the art world does everything it can to repel you.” The In Living Color star started out with vintage posters for movies with all-Black casts; 20 years into collecting, he favors the work of emerging and mid-career Black American artists. (Walter Price , for one.) Grier also got into raising citrus trees during the pandemic. “My water bill was like $8,000 per month—it was like I was trying to wash Covid away,” he said. [NYT]

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