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The week in art news – Sam Gilliam (1933–2022)

1 July 2022

The painter Sam Gilliam has died at the age of 88. Born in Tupelo, Mississippi, Gilliam studied fine arts at the University of Louisville; he moved to Washington, D.C. in 1962 after marrying Dorothy Butler, the first Black female reporter at the Washington Post. In the US capital he became influenced by the work of Color Field artists such as Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland. In around 1965, he made his first draped works, suspending lengths of vividly painted, unstretched canvas from walls and ceilings; his breakthrough came a few years later, with a widely praised solo exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1969. Gilliam’s explorations of the sculptural possibilities of painting took many other forms over the remainder of his long career – working on canvas, metal and wood of all shapes and sizes, and in recent years with CGI modelling – and he continued to experiment with means of applying colour, whether staining or soaking canvases in pigment or pouring it freely over them. Major public commissions include a 28-feet-wide, five-panel work, Yet Do I Marvel, for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2016. Recent years brought Gilliam further acclaim, with his a display of his work at the Venice Biennale in 2017, and solo shows at Kunstmuseum Basel (2018) and Dia:Beacon (2019).

Daniel Weiss, CEO and President, of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, has announced that he is stepping down in June 2023, having served at the head of the institution since 2015. Weiss has been praised for a tenure in which the museum carried out major capital projects including the redevelopment of the British Galleries and fostered a more inclusive environment for its staff. Since 2018, he has led the institution alongside Max Hollein, who as director has overseen the museum’s programming while Weiss has looked after finances and operations. It is not yet known whether a replacement for Weiss will be found to continue this two-pronged leadership structure, or whether Hollein will assume his responsibilities.

On Tuesday (28 June), four men – one armed with a sledgehammer, another reportedly with a gun – carried out an armed robbery at TEFAF fair in Maastricht. The glass of two vitrines at the booth of London jewellery dealer Symbolic & Chase was smashed. Dutch police have confirmed that jewellery has been stolen; the fair has yet to confirm the value of the items. Two Belgian men, arrested shortly after the incident, were released from custody without charge on Thursday.

Aaron De Groft, CEO and director of the Orlando Museum of Art, has been removed from his post by trustees after FBI agents raided the museum last week. Agents from the bureau’s Art Crime Team seized 25 paintings with disputed attributions to Jean-Michel Basquiat, which were included in the exhibition ‘Heroes & Monsters: Jean-Michel Basquiat’; according to the search warrant, the paintings had been under investigation since their discovery in 2012.