Donald Trump weighs in on fate of Confederate monuments

Plus: Blanton Museum receives seven Leon Polk Smiths | New York’s Queens Museum in Israel row | Worker strikes cause Barcelona museums to close | and new culture fund for Hull and Humber region

17 August 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Donald Trump weighs in on fate of Confederate monuments | President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to criticise the removal of Confederate monuments from public spaces in some US towns and cities. ‘Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart,’ he said in a series of tweets on Thursday afternoon: ‘Also…the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!’ Trump’s latest comments double down on those he made at a press conference on Tuesday, in which he expressed sympathy for the cause of white nationalists who gathered in Charlottesville last weekend to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. The rally, which included neo-Nazi groups and members of the KKK, resulted in violent clashes with counter-protestors, one of whom, Heather Heyer, was killed when a car was deliberately driven into a crowd.

Blanton Museum receives seven Leon Polk Smiths | The Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin has added seven works by Leon Polk Smith to its collection. The three paintings and four drawings by the post-war abstract artist, who spearheaded the ‘hard-edged’ geometric approach, join the Blanton courtesy of a combined gift from the Leon Polk Smith foundation and from Austin-based collectors Jeanne and Michael Klein.

New York’s Queens Museum in Israel row | The Queens Museum in New York came under strong criticism yesterday from Israel’s UN ambassador Danny Danon, after the museum reversed a deal allowing the Israeli Mission to use its space for a celebration of the 1947 UN resolution which led to the creation of a Jewish state. The museum building served as UN headquarters between 1946 and 1950. Danon called for the institution’s director Laura Raicovich to be dismissed from her position for her decision, which he described as ‘blatant discrimination’. The Jerusalem Post reports that the museum subsequently went back on the cancellation, and has now agreed to hold the event on 29 November.

Worker strikes cause Barcelona museums to close | Yesterday in Barcelona an indefinite strike was declared (Spanish language article) by the workers of the company Serveis Educatius Ciut’art, which provides services to many of the city’s cultural centres and museums. As a result of the strike, four major museums – MACBA, Fundación Tàpies, Fundación Miró, and La Virreina Centre de la Imatge – were forced to close and another four institutions, including the Design Museum and the Historical Archive of Barcelona, were partially opened with reduced operations. The workers were striking in protest against budget reductions, the precariousness of their work and poor working conditions. Normal services have now resumed at most of the institutions, but Barcelona’s main contemporary art museum MACBA, remains closed, El Pais reports (Spanish language article).

New culture fund for Hull and Humber region | The Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce has announced the launch of a new art and culture fund, to commemorate the 180th anniversary of the chamber and Hull’s status as the UK’s 2017 city of culture. The 20-year fund will be generated through the body’s own investments and, it is hoped, donations from businesses, to support cultural projects throughout the Humber region of north-eastern England.