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Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden Redesign Approved, Lawrence Weiner Dies at 79, and More: Morning Links for December 3, 2021

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The Headlines

LAWRENCE WEINER, the relentlessly adventurous artist who made language his medium, died on Thursday at 79. No cause of death was stated in the announcement by his galleries; he said last year that he was being treated for cancer. “With his sculptural installations composed from koan-like text, Weiner experimented with the slippery nature of language and the ways that words connote meaning,” Alex Greenberger writes in ARTnews. For more than 50 years, Weiner occupied a kind of outer limit in Conceptual art, a field he helped define, by creating numerous works with just text. “The piece need not be built,” as he famously wrote in a 1969 manifesto. Over a long and storied career that included forays into film and children’s literature , he conceived phrases that graced everything from gallery walls to windows, bookmarks to sugar packets, and became widely influential. “A lot of people were able to copy what I did,” he once said, “and that’s good. That’s what art is for. Art is for people to use.”

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A FRIDAY MUSEUM ROUNDUP: The Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., has gotten the go-ahead for artist Hiroshi Sugimoto’s hotly debated reworking of its sculpture garden, per the Washington Post. Collector Stuart Weitzman is giving all of his proceeds from his recent sale of prized collectibles (which totaled more than $32 million) to the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, the New York Times reports. And the Guardian has the news that the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is readying what it believes will be the largest display of Vermeer paintings ever assembled. (He made around 35, and they are tricky to obtain as loans given their fragility and value.) “I think that will be impossible to have them all, but we are getting lots, more than I ever dreamed to have,” the museum’s director, Taco Dibbits, said.

The Digest

An artist who created sculptures for adult-film legend Ilona Staller (aka Cicciolina) to use in her work has filed suit against Jeff Koons, alleging that Koons featured one of his works without his permission in his notorious “Made in Heaven” series some 30 years ago. Koons has not yet commented. [Reuters]

After returning a looted Indian sculpture in its collection, the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Saskatchewan said it is undertaking a review of 2,000 pieces it holds. [CBC]

After three years leading the Mattress Factory art center in Pittsburgh, Hayley Haldeman will step down in April. She took charge in the wake of its founder, Barbara Luderowski, dying, and the museum reaching a settlement over allegations that it mishandled sexual misconduct claims. (Fun fact: Haldeman’s husband is Democratic Congressman Conor Lamb, who is is running to represent Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate.) [WESA]

New York City has filed suit against the fashion-media company L’Officiel USA on behalf of 24 freelance writers, photographers, and other workers who say they are owed compensation. Officials at the firm, and its French counterpart, have not commented. [The New York Times]

For Sotheby’s in Beverly Hills, Strokes drummer and artist Fabrizio Moretti has created an installation to hold an Anish Kapoor sculpture. Back in 2019, the musician conceived an installation for a display of Old Masters at the house in collaboration with the dealer and collector Fabrizio Moretti. (No relation.) [Architectural Digest]

To toast the rerelease of Marcel Duchamp’s classic 1959 monograph, some leading artists shared their thoughts on his work. “I always found his dealing with erotica and sex not only beautiful but funny and irreverent as no male artist of his generation did,” Monica Bonvicini said. [Wallpaper]

The Kicker

DO YOU WANT ROCK-HARD ABS? Artist Cory Arcangel plugged phrases like “killer abs to die for in 30 days” into an AI deep learning model to see what kind of imagery it would generate. The results, which he published on Buzzfeed, are very entrancing—and very unpleasant. Writes Arcangel, “TBH, I have absolutely no idea how it all works, but what I do know is the images it makes are totally gross.” Enjoy! [BuzzFeed]

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