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France to sign heritage agreement with Saudi Arabia

9 April 2018

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

France to sign heritage agreement with Saudi Arabia | This week, the governments of France and Saudi Arabia are expected to sign a ten-year agreement to transform the Al-Ula region into a major cultural tourism destination. According to the Art Newspaper, the deal will see France assist Saudi Arabia in developing a ‘world class’ museum, tourist infrastructure and further archaeological projects in the area, which encompasses the UNESCO-listed Nabataean tombs. The estimated costs of the project are yet to be revealed, though TAN’s report suggests that the total could exceed $20bn, financed entirely by Saudi Arabia.

Cathy Wilkes to represent UK at 2019 Venice Biennale | Northern Irish installation artist Cathy Wilkes is to represent the UK at next year’s Venice Biennale, the British Council announced today. Wilkes, who is based in Glasgow, was nominated for the 2008 Turner Prize and won the inaugural Maria Lassnig prize in 2016. She was recently the subject of a solo exhibition at New York’s MoMA PS1. In a statement, Emma Dexter, the British Council’s director of visual arts, said that Wilkes ‘will trigger complex new meanings and atmospherics within the grand domestic architecture of the British Pavilion’.

Rubens portrait at risk of leaving the UK | British culture minister Michael Ellis has placed a temporary export bar on an oil sketch by Peter Paul Rubens, which could leave the country unless a buyer is found to match the £7.7m asking price. The work in question was used in Rubens’ 1609 portrayal of Balthasar in The Adoration of the Magi. The decision on an export licence will be deferred until July 2018, though if a potential buyer expresses serious intention to purchase, this may be extended until January 2019.

Debora L. Spar resigns as president of Lincoln Center | After just one year at the head of the Lincoln Center, Debora L. Spar has announced that she is to resign as president of the institution, reports the New York Times. In a letter sent to colleagues, Spar acknowledged that the past year had been ‘challenging’; ‘While we have achieved a lot together over the past year, I have also questioned whether the role is right for me,’ she wrote. Spar took over from previous Lincoln Center director Jed Bernstein, who resigned due to a relationship with a member of staff in 2016.

Nancy Ireson to join Barnes Foundation as deputy director of collections | Tate Modern curator Nancy Ireson has been appointed deputy director of collections and exhibitions at Philadelphia’s Barnes Foundation, reports ArtNet. Ireson, who has been behind Tate Modern exhibitions including last year’s Modigliani show and the current ‘Picasso 1932’, has served as the Tate’s curator of international art since 2016. She replaces Sylvie Patry, who announced that she intended to return to Paris’s Musée d’Orsay last June.

Recommended reading | Last December, Peruvian authorities forced the Lima Museum of Art to cancel an exhibition that addressed the country’s ‘dirty war’ against guerrillas of the Shining Path terrorist organisation. In Le Monde (French language article), Paulo A. Paranagua explains why the  exhibition’s sensitive subject provoked censure. In the New York Review of Books, its editor Ian Buruma reviews three volumes of photographs by Moriyama Daidō. ‘Only the greatest photographers can be easily identified by a unique personal style,’ he writes. ‘Moriyama is one of them’. Finally, the Observers Rowan Moore writes on Centre Point and the Hoover building – two once reviled London landmarks that are now in part being redeveloped into luxury accommodation.