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French Artists React to Marine Le Pen

1 December 2015

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Artists Pen Open Letter to Marine Le Pen | Hundreds of artists including Daniel Buren and Melik Ohanian have put their name to an open letter addressed to National Front leader Marine Le Pen. The list of signatories, which is updated daily, currently numbers over 650. The missive comes in response to a similar open letter that Le Pen herself used to appeal to artists of France’s Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, where she is campaigning for regional elections. ‘We are under no illusion as to your intentions with respect to us’, the artists’ letter reads, ‘… creative freedom is first and foremost about being open to others… whatever the colour of their skin, their nationality or their religion’. The far-right Le Pen has yet to hit back with accusations of ‘elitism’, but the smart money says it can only be a matter of time.

US Senate Investigates Tax Status of Private Museums | Nearly a dozen private museums have come under scrutiny from Republican senators of the Senate Finance Committee, reports the New York Times. The committee will be asking for information on the institutions to ascertain whether they are eligible for their current tax exempt status. The institutions under investigation range from small museums like the Glenstone Museum in Potomac to the recently opened Broad Museum in Los Angeles. For the smaller institutions, the investigation could be disastrous.

White Cube’s Gilbert & George Show Polarises the Critics | A new exhibition by Gilbert & George that opened at London’s White Cube last week has caused a sharp split between the British art critics. In a five-star review for the Guardian, Jonathan Jones described the exhibition as ‘a diary of urban mayhem’, and praised the artists for their ‘rare alchemy’. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Alastair Smart’s verdict could not have been more different, describing the show as ‘probably their worst yet’. ‘The duo clearly wish to shock’, Smart wrote, ‘but all they really do is bore’. Ouch.

Olafur Eliasson Ice Sculpture Installed in Paris | After a period of uncertainty following the terrorist attacks on Paris last month, Olafur Eliasson’s sculpture Ice Watch will be unveiled in Place du Panthéon on 3 December to coincide with the UN Climate Summit. The work was initially intended for the city’s Place de la République, close to the scene of the attacks.

Director of National Academy Museum Steps Down | National Academy Museum & School director Carmine Branagan has stepped down from her post, leaving chief curator Maura Reilly to run the institution until a replacement is found. Branagan has been at the head of the New York museum since 2008, presiding over its first major upgrade of its facilities in a decade. Whether fairly or not, she has been criticised for her management of the Academy, in particular over some controversial staff layoffs and the appointment of Maurizio Pellegrin as creative director. She will remain involved with the institution until March.

Leslie Waddington (1934–2015) | Art dealer Leslie Waddington has died at the age of 81. After founding Waddington Galleries in Cork Street in 1966, he rapidly became one of the most respected dealers in Britain, working with artists including Patrick Heron, Peter Blake and Patrick Caulfield. Stephane Custot, with whom he was in business from 2011, has described him as a ‘true pioneer’. He will be sorely missed.