Apollo Magazine

Dam collapse has flooded the house of the Ukrainian artist Polina Rayko

Plus: Françoise Gilot (1921–2023), and the rest of the week’s top stories

Polina Rayko’s home in Oleshky, southern Ukraine prior to the flooding. Photo: Yescom/Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA-4.0)

Floodwater from the collapsed Nova Kakhovka Dam in the Russian-occupied Kherson province of southern Ukraine is reported to have submerged the house of the late Ukrainian artist Polina Rayko. Located in the town of Oleshky, the house, which was turned into a museum after Rayko’s death in 2004, contains decades of work, including numerous frescoes, by the self-taught artist. The Ukrainian army alleged on Tuesday that Russian forces had blown up the dam, devastating the region and prompting fears of a humanitarian disaster. Investigations into the dam are still ongoing.

The French painter Françoise Gilot has died at the age of 101. Though an accomplished artist in her own right, Gilot has often been eclipsed by her turbulent relationship with Pablo Picasso. Gilot was 40 years younger than Picasso and ended the relationship almost a decade after it had begun in 1953. In 1964, she published a memoir titled Life with Picasso, which became a best-seller and so infuriated Picasso that he broke off all contact with Gilot and their two children, Claude and Paloma Picasso. Gilot had a productive career that saw her painting well into her 90s; she was also a dedicated ceramicist. Her works are part of major museum collections, including that of the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Her death was confirmed on Tuesday by her daughter Aurelia Engel, who said that the artist had been dealing with heart and lung ailments.

According to the The Art Newspaper and publicly-available court documents, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has agreed to return in full $550,000 in donations from the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange and hedge fund FTX, led by Sam Bankman-Fried. The museum was gifted the money by FTX’s US entity West Realm Shires Services last spring, before the crypto exchange collapsed in November 2022. ‘The Met wishes to return the Donations to the FTX Debtors, and the FTX Debtors and the Met have engaged in good faith, arm’s length negotiations concerning the return,’ states the court filing. Repayment is to be made within one month of judicial approval.

Jean-François Bélisle has been appointed director and chief executive officer of the National Gallery of Canada, succeeding interim head Angela Cassie. Bélisle most recently served a seven-year stint as executive director and chief curator of the Musée d’art de Joliette (MAJ); he also curated the first edition of Papier Art Fair (now known as the Plural Contemporary Art Fair) in downtown Montréal in 2007. He will assume his new position on 17 July. In other appointments, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía museum has named Manuel Segade as its new director. Segade is currently director of the Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo in Madrid and curated Spain’s pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2017. Meanwhile, Sook-Kyung Lee, previously senior curator of international art at Tate Modern in London, will take up the role of director of the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester from August of this year. 

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