Asante King Calls on British Museum to Return Objects, Tacoma Art Museum Gets New Director, and More: Morning Links for May 17, 2023

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The Headlines

IN THE SALESROOM. The big New York auctions continued last night at Sotheby’s, which pulled in $426 million across a sale of modern art ($303 million) and another devoted to work from the collection of the late music exec Mo Ostin ($123 million), Angelica Villa reports in ARTnews. New records were set for Vilhelm Hammershøi and Isamu Noguchi. A 1951 René MagritteL’empire des lumières, from the Ostin collection went for an above-estimate $42.3 million, the second-highest amount ever paid at auction for a work by the Belgian Surrealist. In the modern-art sale, a 1901-02 Gustav Klimt seascape sold for $53.2 million to a Japanese collector after a seven-minute bidding battle. Setting aside those big numbers, the sales this week have been marked by a “cautious bidding atmosphere” and “evidence that the market has grown incrementally softer amid a chillier financial climate,” Villa writes in her dispatch.

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All-under-heaven complete map of the everlasting unified Qing empire during a photo call for the China's hidden century exhibition, which opens at the British Museum in London on May 18. Picture date: Tuesday May 16, 2023. (Photo by James Manning/PA Images via Getty Images)

THE BIG PICTURE. President Trump’s portrait may not appear at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., anytime soon, the Washington Post reports. The museum’s policy is not to display pictures of former presidents if they are running for office. Trump’s Save America political action committee donated $650,000 to the museum for the commissioning of portraits of the former president and former First Lady Melania Trump, breaking with the precedent of having donors provide the funds. A Post investigation found that Trump’s team had suggested donors before the PAC stepped in, though an anonymous individual did give $100,000 to the effort. Who is painting the pieces? “We don’t release artist names until the unveiling, although that may change in this case because so much time will go by,” a museum spox told the paper.

The Digest

Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the leader of the Asante people in Ghana, met with the British Museum’s director, Hartwig Fischer, and asked for the return of gold objects taken by British forces in 1874. The institution said that it is “exploring the possibility of lending items” to the country. [BBC News]

A two-year project has begun at Auschwitz to conserve 8,000 shoes of children who were killed at the concentration camp in German-occupied Poland. [The Associated Press]

The cover of the forthcoming ANOHNI album will feature photographer Alvin Baltrop’s indelible black-and-white portrait of gay-liberation activist Marsha P. Johnson[Pitchfork]

South Korean artist Lee Bae will install a 26-foot-tall sculptural stack of charcoal at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan next month as part of an exhibition that Busan’s Johyun Gallery is staging there. In July, Rock Center will host a celebration of Korean culture, from fashion to food. [Press Release]

LEADERSHIP WATCH. The Tacoma Art Museum in Washington has hiredAndrew Maus as its executive director, Tacoma Weekly reports. Maus is heading over from the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, North Dakota, where he has served as director and CEO. Meanwhile, Charlie Lockwood has been tapped to lead the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico, according to the Santa Fe Reporter. He was previously executive director of the nonprofit Texas Folklore.

ARTISTS SPACE. Photographer Dawoud Bey is in the Los Angeles Times, painter-sculptor Anselm Kiefer is in the South China Morning Post, artist-designer Andrea Zittel is in Vogue, and actor-painter Pierce Brosnan is in Vanity Fair.

The Kicker

POLITICAL ART. A Member of Parliament in Australia, Adam Marshall, was taking down some campaign signs with his face on them when he came across a few that had been vandalizedABC News (of Australia) reports. An anonymous street artist had used a black marker to give him facial hair, sunglasses, and various props on different posters. He posted about this enthusiastically on social media, and now they will be shown at the Pepper Box Gallery in the town of Warialda. “I wouldn’t characterize them as defaced,” Marshall told ABC. “I would say they’ve been enhanced.” [ABC News]

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