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Milan Museum and Donor’s Heir Tussle Over 600 Works, Australian Museum Investigates Donor’s Past, and More: Morning Links for March 22, 2022

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The Headlines

THE DEPARTMENT OF PATRONAGE. In Australia, the Wollongong Art Gallery is looking into claims that a supporter who gave it some 100 pieces decades ago may have been a Nazi collaborator in his native Lithuania, ABC News (of Australia) reports. The donor under scrutiny, Bronius “Bob” Sredersas, died in 1982. He moved to Australia in 1950, and an exhibition space in the museum is named for him. Meanwhile, in Milan, the Museo del Novecento is dueling in court with the heir of Mario Bertolini, who gave it around 600 artworks before his death in 2020, the Art Newspaper reports. The heir, who is seeking the return of the collection, argues that the museum failed to honor an agreement it made to allow Bertolini to hold 15 percent of the works in his home, and that proper procedures were not followed in the signing of the deal. The museum says that it fulfilled the agreement and adhered to the necessary protocols.

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THE STUDIOS OF ARTISTS. The trailblazing sculptor Simone Leigh was profiled by Calvin Tomkins in the New Yorker. Next month, she will represent the United States at the Venice Biennale. The venturesome video artist Ulysses Jenkins—featured in ARTnews last month, in connection with his Hammer Museum retrospective in Los Angeles— spoke with Carolina A. Miranda in the L.A. Times. The gimlet-eyed painter Cui Jie chatted about her beguiling paintings of architecture, now on view at the Focal Point Gallery in Southend-on-Sea, England, with Skye Sherwin in the Guardian. And in case you missed it: The multi-hyphenate master John Waters, who is publishing his debut novel in May, was in typically fine form in a recent New York Times Magazine Q&A. “Everything I’ve ever done is about using humor as a weapon,” he said.

The Digest

During a work of aerial choreography at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art earlier this month, part of performer Yaser Khaseb’s body splashed into a giant pool of oil that is part of a 1977 sculpture by Noriyuki Haraguchi. Two days later, Iran’s government replaced MOCA’s director. The museum said it will restore the piece. [ArtAsiaPacific]

The Ernst von Siemens Art Foundation is providing one year of funding for German museums to hire Ukrainian and Russian curators who have been forced to flee their countries amid war. [The Art Newspaper]

In November, ARTnews will host a five-day trip to Los Angeles, going behind the scenes at key museums, galleries, and private collections—and stopping at great restaurants along the way. Art Market Monitor editor and former ARTnews editorial director Marion Maneker will lead the tour. We invite you to join us. [ARTnews]

The photojournalist Sumy Sadurni, who focused on human-rights issues, with an emphasis on East Africa, died earlier this month in Kampala, Uganda, at the age of 32, in a car accident. “Sumy passionately deployed her skills in the service of the underdogs,” Stella Nyanzi, a Ugandan feminist activist, wrote. [The New York Times]

The Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts awarded $400,000 in grants to 18 Los Angeles arts groups with budgets under $5 million, including JOAN ($15,000), the Feminist Center for Creative Work ($30,000), and the Armory Center for the Arts ($26,500). [Los Angeles Times]

Journalists and yacht aficionados have been keeping a close eye on the superyachts of Russian oligarchs. As some of those individuals have been hit with sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine, they appear to be trying to avoid having their boats seized. As of yesterday, collector Roman Abramovich’s Solaris was reportedly off the coast of Turkey. [The Wall Street Journal]

The Kicker

THE FILES OF THE ARCHITECT. Robert A. M. Stern, whose many buildings include the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, answered 21 wide-ranging questions from Curbed. His art purchases have included pieces by Andy Warhol and Donald Judd , he revealed—although, “I no longer engage in the art world,” he said. (Maybe the work of the Cui Jie, mentioned above, would get him back in the game?) Asked about one thing he would change about the architecture field, Stern replied that “the amount of time each architect spends in trying to get projects and doing elaborate responses is perhaps time not so well spent. Each of us has drawers full of requests for proposals fulfilled, but not awarded.” No doubt many artists can sympathize. [Curbed]

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