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The week in art news – Texan princess evicted from 16th-century Roman villa

23 April 2023

A Texan-born princess has been evicted from a 16th-century villa in Rome after a court ruling. The Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi is home to the only surviving ceiling mural by Caravaggio, as well as dozens of other works of art including interior frescoes by Guercino, paintings by Scipione Pulzone, Domenichino and Ottavio Leoni, and six Roman reliefs. Boncompagni Ludovisi is said to have taken with her some personal possessions, but left behind virtually everything else. The villa has been at the heart of a bitter legal battle between Boncompagni Ludovisi, the second wife of the late Prince Nicolò, and the prince’s children from his first marriage. A lawyer for princess Ludovisi told the Art Newapaper that his team has filed an appeal against the eviction.

Boris Eldagsen has turned down the top prize in the Sony World Photography Awards (SWPA) after revealing that his image was created using artificial intelligence. The black-and-white photograph, titled The Electrician, is part of the German photographer’s Pseudomnesia: Fake Memories series and was created using the image generator DALL-E 2. Eldagsen claims to have entered the image as a test, to see if the judges were discriminating between real photography and A.I. works. The photographer wrote in on his website: ‘We, the photo world, need an open discussion. A discussion about what we want to consider photography and what not.’

The French auction-house Artcurial has expanded into Switzerland with the acquisition of Beurret Bailly Widmer Auktionen in Basel. The house will be renamed Artcurial Beurret Bailly Widmer, with the three founders remaining as partners. Founded in Paris in 2002, Artcurial also has locations in Monaco and Marrakech; it reported record sales of €216.5m last year.

The architectural historian Elain Harwood has died at the age of 64. After taking up a position with Historic England (then English Heritage) in 1984, Harwood remained with the organisation throughout her career, most recently as senior architectural investigator. She was renowned as an authority on (and advocate for) post-war architecture in Britain; her books include ENGLAND: A Guide to Post-War Listed Buildings (2003) and Space, Hope, and Brutalism: English Architecture, 1945–1975 (2014).

Youn Bum-mo has resigned as director of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) in Seoul. He tendered his resignation to South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on 10 April. No official reason has been given for his departure, but the Korea Herald reports that Youn, who was appointed in 2019, has ‘come under scrutiny after the current conservative Yoon Suk Yeol administration came into power in May 2022’. Elsewhere, Jay Xu, director of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco since 2018, has announced plans to step down in 2025.