• David Medalla. Photo: Tate.

    David Medalla (1938–2020)

    Filipino artist David Medalla, who fascinated viewers with his soap-bubble-spewing “Cloud Canyon” sculptures of 1963–2011, and who in 1964 cofounded the influential London gallery Signals, has died at the age of eighty-two. His death in Manila was announced by his partner and longtime collaborator curator, Adam Nankervis. A self-described “poet who celebrates physics,” Medalla produced pioneering works of kinetic art, and in the past decade came to be recognized for his exemplary contributions to the fields of installation and participatory art.

    Born in Manila in 1938, Medalla made local headlines

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  • Zdenka Badovinac.

    Zdenka Badovinac Fired From Moderna Galerija by New Slovenian Government

    Zdenka Badovinac was forced by Slovenia’s new right-wing government from her post as director of Ljubljana’s Moderna Galerija, a position held since 1993. The removal, announced in November and effective December 24, reflects an attempt on the part of the government, formed in March of this year, to implement a more conservative and nationalistic culture.

    Badovinac is widely known for spearheading the development of Moderna Galerija, the region’s most prominent, and arguably most progressive, museum. Christened “the house that Zdenka built” by the late Okwui Enwezor, Moderna Galerija under

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  • “Blue” Gene Tyranny.

    “Blue” Gene Tyranny (1945–2020)

    The composer and pianist Robert Sheff, better known as “Blue” Gene Tyranny—whose collaborations with the likes of Laurie Anderson, Robert Ashley, Carla Bley, and Iggy Pop placed him at the center of the avant-garde’s entanglement with pop music—died of complications from diabetes on December 12 in Long Island City, Queens, where he lived for the last two decades. Announcing his passing on Instagram, the record label Unseen Worlds called Tyranny “a shining enigma of generosity and brilliance, so gifted musically that he was able to live his life in music.”

    Born Joseph Gantic in San Antonio, Tyranny

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  • Barbara Rose, 1981. Photo: © Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.

    Barbara Rose (1936–2020)

    Art critic and historian Barbara Rose—who helped define the major art movements of the latter half of the twentieth century, and who consistently defended the medium of painting against reports of its obsolescence—died on Friday at age eighty-four from cancer. Distinguished by a perspicacity and openness in exploring postwar art and its contradictions, Rose’s prolific writing and interviews form a key contribution to the art history of the United States and beyond. After coming to prominence in 1965 with a landmark essay in Art in America titled “ABC Art”—which began to codify what would eventually

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  • Kirsten Langkilde.

    Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Rector Forced Out in Wake of Protest Action

    Kirsten Langkilde, rector of Copenhagen’s prestigious Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, was forced by the Danish culture ministry to resign after a faculty member stole a 1950s replica bust of eighteenth-century ruler Fredrik V, the school’s founder, and tossed it into a nearby canal as an act of protest against the academy’s colonial roots.

    Katrine Dirckinck-Holmfeld, a postdoctoral researcher at the academy, was let go after claiming credit for the November 6 sinking of the 1950s statue, which she branded a “happening” that she hoped would draw attention to the school’s involvement in the

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  • Nan Goldin, The Sackler Courtyard, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2017.

    Sackler WhatsApp Chats Reveal Reliance on Museums to Clear Family Name

    A raft of private Sackler family WhatsApp chats published December 19 by The.Ink reveals that members of the family sought the help of beneficiary arts institutions in clearing the Sackler name in relation to the Purdue Pharma suit that was settled in October. That suit, which centered around Purdue’s practice of aggressively marketing the opioid OxyContin while downplaying the drug’s addictive qualities, ultimately saw the drugmaker plead guilty to the felony charges of defrauding the US government; violating the US Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; and violating the federal anti-kickback statute.

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  • John Outterbridge.

    John Outterbridge (1933–2020)

    John Outterbridge—the pioneering California assemblagist who quarried scrapyards to fashion metaphors for the new forms needed to reshape American social consciousness as well as for the complexities of Black life—has died at age eighty-eight. As a key figure of the California Assemblage movement in the 1960s and the director of the Watts Towers Art Center from 1975 to 1992, Outterbridge became central to a Los Angeles community of African American artists who included David Hammons, Noah Purifoy, John T. Riddle Jr., and Betye Saar.

    Born in segregated North Carolina in 1933, Outterbridge’s interest

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  • The National Mall, where the museums are expected to be built.

    Congress Approves New Smithsonian Museums Celebrating Latinos, Women’s History

    As part of the $2.3 trillion year-end spending bill authorized by Congress yesterday, both houses voted to approve the establishment in Washington, DC, of a national women’s history museum and the National Museum of the American Latino, both of which will operate under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution.

    The legislation, which was decades in the making, hit an unexpected snag on December 10, when Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) stood against it during a unanimous-voice vote on the matter. Lee called the museums “divisive” and argued that the history of women and Latinos should be honored within

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  • United Palace theater in Washington Heights, New York.

    Live Arts Venues in US to Receive $15 Billion Stimulus

    With Congress’s passing yesterday of the $900 billion coronavirus stimulus package, the Save Our Stages (SOS) act passed as well, with the result that $15 billion of the stimulus money will be available to the many live arts venues in the United States that have been struggling since March, when Covid-19 brought touring to a halt and forced the nationwide closure of venues ranging from all-ages basement clubs to Broadway theaters.

    Under the provisions of SOS, independent venues and promoters will be able to apply for grants from the Small Business Administration that will cover six months of

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  • The United States Capitol.

    Trump Signs Executive Order Mandating “Beautiful” Federal Architecture

    With less than a month left in office, President Donald Trump today signed an executive order establishing classical architecture as the “preferred” style for any new federal building constructed in Washington, DC. The order does not mandate the style, but does decree that new federal structures be “beautiful” and that they “command respect from the general public.” The order is additionally concerned with the buildings being immediately recognizable as civic structures.

    An earlier draft of the order, released in February, that would have banned modernist design outright aroused the ire of the

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  • The manuscript of Avant et après by Paul Gauguin. Photo: The Courtauld

    UK Arts Institutions Receive Record $87 Million in Taxpayer-Donated Works

    British taxpayers donated artworks worth a record-breaking total of $87 million to UK arts institutions this year as part of the government’s Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) tax program, which allows individuals gifting works of national importance to UK institutions to write off inheritance tax debt, The Art Newspaper reports. According to Arts Council England, the scheme gained significantly in popularity this year, as did the Cultural Gifts Scheme, which allows living individuals to donate works in exchange for tax breaks.

    Among the works gifted were a Paul Gaugin manuscript—the donation of which

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  • Rendering of Fallen Sky. Image: Sarah Sze.

    Storm King Commissions Sarah Sze to Make First New Work to Enter Collection in 13 Years

    Storm King Art Center in New York’s Hudson Valley is commissioning Sarah Sze to create a new site-specific sculpture to be installed on its grounds in 2021—the first new work to enter Storm King’s permanent collection since Maya Lin’s 2008 Storm King Wave Field. Sze’s Fallen Sky will occupy what the institution describes as a “deliberately incomplete and increasingly delicate 36-foot-diameter spherical cavity, sheathed in mirrored stainless steel.” 

    The work explores themes running throughout Storm King’s collection, including the use of scale to engage with the landscape as well as the dialogue

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