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  • Alfred Leslie, 1986. Photo: Jack Mitchell/Getty Image.

    Alfred Leslie (1927–2023)

    Alfred Leslie, whose monumental, planar grisaille portraits of the 1960s at once rejected abstraction and the romanticization of the figure, died January 27 in Brooklyn of complications related to Covid-19. He was ninety-five. A native of New York City, he was an early auteur in the world of underground film beginning in the 1940s, eventually collaborating with Robert Frank on the 1959 Beat classic Pull My Daisy. His figural canvases, begun in the early 1960s, were no less shocking to audiences than Abstract Expressionism had been a generation before, thanks to their direct and unyielding mien.

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  • The British Museum. Photo: Ham/Flickr.

    Museum Staffs Across the UK Plan Strikes

    Members of the PCS Culture Group, a branch of the UK’s Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), will strike in February to protest low wages after the government offered workers raises of just 2 percent, compared with the national inflation rate of 9.2 percent as of December 2022. PCS members voted on the action November 7, 2022, with 86.2 percent of balloters in favor.

    Chief among the arts institutions whose workers are involved in the action are London’s British Museum, whose staff will stage a weeklong strike beginning February 13. That date marks a half-term school holiday, during which

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  • Facial recognition technology revealed that the faces in the de Brécy Tondo were almost certainly painted by Raphael. Photo: The de Brécy Tondo Trust.

    Facial Recognition Technology Suggests Raphael Painted the de Brécy Tondo

    A group of researchers from the University of Nottingham and University of Bradford using facial recognition technology to inspect a canvas known as the de Brécy Tondo discovered that the faces in the painting are identical to those in a Raphael altarpiece. The team concluded that the tondo, whose author had previously been unknown, was likely painted by the Italian master.

    The de Brécy Tondo was purchased at an English country-house sale in 1981 by Cheshire businessman George Lester Winward. Though some experts believed it to be a Victorian copy of a Raphael, Winward came to believe that it was

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  • Kapwani Kiwanga. Photo: © Bertille Chéret.

    Kapwani Kiwanga Will Represent Canada at 2024 Venice Biennale

    Rising multidisciplinary artist Kapwani Kiwanga will represent Canada at the Sixtieth Venice Biennale, to take place April 20–November 24, 2024. Kiwanga is the first Black woman to receive a solo exhibition at the Canadian Pavilion and the second Black artist to so do, after Stan Douglas, who represented Canada at the Biennale in 2022. News of her selection was announced jointly by National Gallery of Canada, which commissions the pavilion commissioner, and the nonprofit National Gallery of Canada Foundation, which sponsors the effort.

    The Canadian-born Paris-based Kiwanga works across media

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  • Kathy Halbreich. Photo: Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.

    Kathy Halbreich to Step Down as Rauschenberg Foundation Director

    Kathy Halbreich announced today that she will depart in May as executive director of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, which she has led since 2017. Halbreich arrived to the organization after nearly a decade as the associate director and Laurenz Foundation Curator of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. “It’s a foundation focused on doing the best for artists,” she said at the time. “The more I learned, the more perfect the match felt as my next chapter.” Though she noted that the organization’s board will begin searching for a new candidate immediately, she did not cite a reason for her departure,

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  • Asma Naeem. Photo: Christopher Myers.

    Asma Naeem to Lead Baltimore Museum of Art

    The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) has announced Asma Naeem as its next director, effective February 1. Naeem is the first person of color to lead the institution since its founding in 1914. She steps into the role from her previous position as BMA’s interim codirector, which she occupied alongside Christine Dietze since June 2022. Naeem succeeds the well-regarded Christopher Bedford, whose sometimes controversial tenure lasted from 2016 to 2022, when he departed to helm the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

    “The BMA is committed to bringing diversity and equity into every aspect of its work,

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  • The Guggenheim in New York. Photo: Blink+/Photo.

    Jewish Heirs Sue Guggenheim Over $200 Million Picasso

    Descendants of a Jewish family that fled Nazi Germany have launched a suit against New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, demanding the return of a $200 million Picasso painting. Heirs of Karl Adler and Rosi Jacobi, with the support of a group of Jewish nonprofits, on January 20 filed suit in Manhattan’s Supreme Court seeking the return of Picasso’s 1904 Woman Ironing. The painting, from Picasso’s Blue Period, has hung in the Guggenheim since 1978.

    Thomas Bennigson, Adler and Jacobi’s great-grandson, avers in the suit that Adler, who ran a profitable leather manufacturing business, purchased

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  • John Akomfrah. Photo: Smoking Dogs Films.

    John Akomfrah to Represent Britain at 2024 Venice Biennale

    British Ghanaian filmmaker and artist John Akomfrah has been selected to represent Britain at the Sixtieth Venice Biennale, to take place April 20–November 24, 2024. Akomfrah, who was knighted this past New Year’s Eve in recognition of his contribution to the arts, is widely known for his incendiary multiscreen installations themed around imperialism, migration, slavery, racial injustice, and climate change. His work earlier appeared in the 2015 and 2019 iterations of the Biennale.

    “The quality and contextual depth of his artistry never fails to inspire deep reflection and awe,” said British

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  • Anthony Huberman. Photo: John Giorno Foundation.

    Anthony Huberman Named Executive Director of John Giorno Foundation

    Anthony Huberman has been appointed executive director of the John Giorno Foundation, the New York–based organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of work by the eponymous American artist, poet, and activist; additionally, he will serve as artistic director of its venue, the Bunker. Huberman takes the reins from the foundation’s inaugural director, Elizabeth Dee, who has occupied the role since 2020. He arrives to the foundation from San Francisco’s CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, where he has served as director and chief curator since 2013.

    In his new capacity, Huberman

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  • *Michael Rakowitz’s The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist, 2018, displayed on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. Photo: Tony Hisgett/Flickr.

    Michael Rakowitz Offers Work in Exchange for British Museum Repatriation of Assyrian Sculpture

    Iraqi American artist Michael Rakowitz has promised to donate a large-scale work to London’s Tate Modern if the British Museum returns an Assyrian artifact to Iraq. Rakowitz has tendered his 2018 sculpture The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist, a massive winged bull—or lamassu—made of date-syrup cans, which he created for the prestigious Fourth Plinth commission in London’s Trafalgar Square, the competition itself the subject of recent debate. In exchange, he seeks the repatriation of one of two Assyrian gypsum statues depicting lamassus in the form of human-headed winged lions and dating to

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  • Rachel Whiteread. Photo: Christian Zürn/Wikimedia Commons.

    Rachel Whiteread Urges End to Trafalgar Square Fourth Plinth Commission

    Turner Prize–winning sculptor Rachel Whiteread is calling for an end to London’s prestigious Fourth Plinth commission on the grounds that the works selected for it rarely find permanent homes when their day in the sun atop the empty Trafalgar Square plinth for which it is named is over. Whiteread, whose Monument, an upside-down translucent resin replica of the plinth, was selected for the honor in 2001, noted that she had not been able to place it since. The Guardian reports that roughly 75 percent of all past Fourth Plinth commissions are in storage, and that only one is on display in the UK.

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  • Manuel Borja-Villel. Photo: La Invisible Centro Social y Cultural/Wikimedia Commons/Wikimedia Commons.

    Manuel Borja-Villel to Depart as Director of Reina Sofía

    Manuel Borja-Villel, who has led Madrid’s Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía for fifteen years, will not stand for re-election to the post this spring. According to Spanish daily El País, he will depart the role on January 20. Borja-Villel is eligible to reapply for the role of director through a public competition, which opens February 1, but told Spanish news outlet Efe that he had made the decision to leave “quite some time ago” after conferring with his staff and his family. He waited until the last possible moment to make the announcement, concerned that doing so earlier might

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