Met Gala Roundup, Philadelphia Museum Repatriates Shield, and Winston Churchill Painting to Auction

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The Headlines

THE MET GALA WAS LAST NIGHT IN NEW YORK, as you may have heard, alighting in September instead of its usual May slot because of the pandemic. The New York Times has a robust look at the scene and the outfits. (The theme: “American independence,” in a nod to the Met’s new show, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.”) Actor Dan Levy’s outfit from Loewe was a tribute to the late, great artist David Wojnarowicz, Vanity Fair reports. And right before the festivities commenced, the Art Newspaper notes, actor Timothée Chalamet, a a gala co-chair, presented a performance and installation with the street artist JR at the Breuer building (once a Met branch and now the temporary home of the Frick ). It involved Chalamet ripping open a paper banner to wander the museum. JR said of the work, “We enter in an American flag, to find a place, an identity, a position, a future, between the stripes and the stars. . . .” You get the idea.) The next edition of the gala has been penciled in for May.

THE BRITISH BULLDOG HEADS TO THE BLOCK. A never-before-auctioned Winston Churchill painting will be offered at Christie’s London next month with a top estimate of about $3.46 million, Penta reports. The work depicts a bridge in Aix en Provence, France, that—fun fact—also figures in two Cézanne watercolors. Earlier this year, actor Angelina Jolie sold a Churchill she had been given by her ex-husband, Brad Pitt, for some  $11.6 million at Christie’s. The prime minister gave that one to President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a gift. The October lot was a present to a Swiss man named Willy Sax, a paint maker who supplied the painter-politician. A thoughtful gesture (though not quite as juicy a provenance).

The Digest

Jasper Johns biographer Deborah Solomon delved into the behind-the-scenes drama behind the upcoming Johns retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum. One collecting couple told the PMA that they would prefer their prized Johns painting hang “in the bathroom at the Whitney” rather than the PMA, to which they had loaned it for 20 years. [The New York Times]

Speaking of the Philadelphia Museum of Art: It announced that it will return a 16th-century Italian shield to the Czech Republic after research indicated that it had been seized by the Nazis following their invasion of Czechoslovakia. The infamously assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand once owned the piece, which has been attributed to artist Girolamo di Tommaso da Treviso. [The New York Times]

A statue in Bordeaux, France, of Modeste Testas (1765–1870), an enslaved African woman, was splashed with white paint. Officials said the vandalism was “probably racist” and that a criminal complaint will be filed. The work was installed in 2019 to commemorate Testas, who was freed in the late 1700s, and lived to 105 in what is now Haiti. [BBC News]

The Pace Gallery has hired Halie Klein, a former corporate associate at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, to be its general counsel. At Wilkie, Klein was part of the team that worked with Pace on the sale of works from the collection of the late Donald Marron in a partnership with Gagosian and Acquavella. [Bloomberg Law]

The director of the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Jeff Rodgers, has stepped down unexpectedly after two-and-a-half years on the job. Rodgers succeeded Van Shields, who oversaw the contentious sale of works from the institution’s collection. [The Berkshire Eagle]

The new Museo Nacional del Perú, a $125 million government project, has officially been inaugurated south of Lima. Holding a collection of almost 50,000 pre-Columbian items, the building is set to be fully operational in 2024. [The Art Newspaper]

The Kicker

WHAT WILL THE AVANT-GARDE THINK OF NEXT? Artist Gavin Turk has launched a Kickstarter to package his urine into cans for a project called Piscio d’Artista (Artist’s Piss), FAD magazine reports. As you perhaps guessed, this is a tribute, of sorts, to Piero Manzoni’s 1961 Merda d’Artista . More than 80 people have already backed the initiative, pushing it well past its roughly $27,700 goal. The cans, released in a limited edition of 1,000, will be sold according to the value of their weight in silver—£333 (about $460) right now. “You might think I am taking the piss, in fact I am giving a piss,” Turk explained. Well said, sir. Thank you for that. [FAD]

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