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Eight artists withdraw from Whitney Biennial

Plus: Marisa Merz (1926–2019) | César Pelli (1927–2019) | Palais de Tokyo names Emma Lavigne as president | and recommended reading

22 July 2019

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Eight artists withdraw from Whitney Biennial | Eight artists have asked that their works be removed from the Whitney Biennial. Four announced their decision on Friday 22 July, citing the Whitney Museum’s ‘inertia’ over calls for the removal of Warren B. Kanders from his position as board vice chairman; a further four artists, including the London-based collective Forensic Architecture, announced their withdrawal the following day. On 17 July, an essay in Artforum entitled ‘The Tear Gas Biennial’, by artists Hannah Black, Ciarán Finlayson, and Tobi Haslett, had called on artists to boycott the Biennial in protest at the production and sale of tear gas manufactured by a subsidiary of the company Safariland, of which Kanders is chairman and CEO.

Marisa Merz (1926–2019) | The Italian sculptor Marisa Merz has died at the age of 93. Born in Turin in 1926, Merz did not begin her artistic career until the age of 40, when she began to create abstract mobiles for her daughter from strips of kitchen aluminium. Merz continued to create sculptures with common, frequently domestic materials, and from the mid 1960s she became involved with the Arte Povera group in Turin; Merz remained the only woman associated with the movement. In 2013, she was awarded a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale; in 2017 she had a major retrospective at the Met Breuer. 

César Pelli (1926–2019) | César Pelli, the Argentinian-American architect best known for the sleek skyscrapers he designed in major cities around the world, has died at the age of 92. Pelli’s most famous works include the World Financial Center, New York (completed in 1988), One Canada Water, London (1991), and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur (1988), for which he was given the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004. Between 1977 and 1984, Pelli was dean of the Yale School of Architecture.

Palais de Tokyo names Emma Lavigne as president | The Palais de Tokyo in Paris has appointed Emma Lavigne as its new president. Lavigne, currently president of the Centre Pompidou-Metz, will become the first woman to run the institution.

Recommending reading | In the Paris Review, James Sturm discusses the ‘subtle graphic wit’ of William Gropper’s Alay-Oop (1930) – an important precursor to the modern graphic novel.

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