On Friday, Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum, announced that he will be stepping down in 2024. Fischer, who took up his post in April 2016, was previously director of the Dresden State Collections from 2012–16. The search for his successor will begin in the autumn, according to a statement from the museum. Fischer says that he was hired to prepare a masterplan for the renovation of the British Museum building – a project that will take decades, details of which will be unveiled later this year: ‘It is now time to pass on leadership to continue creating a truly global museum whilst remaining at the heart of Britain’s cultural life.’ Among the challenges the new director will face is the long-running question of the status of the Parthenon Marbles – and also the looted Benin Bronzes.
Last Sunday (23 July), Russian missiles directly hit the Transfiguration Cathedral in Odesa in southern Ukraine. The Orthodox cathedral, which was first consecrated in 1809, demolished under the Soviet regime in 1939 and rebuilt in 2003, is at the heart of the historic part of the city. The archdeacon of the cathedral told the BBC that ‘The destruction is enormous; half of the cathedral was left without a roof, and the central piles and foundation were destroyed.’ Russia blamed the hit on Ukrainian air defence, a charge rejected by the Ukrainian government. Russian attacks on Odesa, Ukraine’s biggest port, has increased since the collapse of a deal allowing for the export of Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea and through the Bosphorus. UNESCO, which listed the historic centre of Odesa as a World Heritage Site earlier this year, says that it is ‘deeply dismayed and condemns [the Russian attack] in the strongest terms’.
The Dutch-American painter Joop Sanders, an early participant in the Abstract Expressionist movement, has died at the age of 101. He emigrated to the United States alone in 1938, at the age of 17, to the flee the Nazis; upon his arrival, he began a course of study under George Grosz before striking up a friendship in the early 1940s with Willem and Elaine de Kooning which brought him into contact with the rest of the New York avant-garde. After early success in the United States, Sanders returned to Europe in 1955, where he continued to exhibit widely. In 1959, after moving again to New York, he began to create monochrome sculptural canvases in several panels that could be rearranged at their owner’s discretion – works that would become his hallmark.
The London-based art dealer Esperanza Koren has been ordered to pay £111,000 after admitting to a court that she did not know the whereabouts of a Bosco Sodi painting she was loaned in 2012. Untitled in Red (2011) – a work that judge Alan Saggerson likened to ‘a burnt digestive biscuit’ – is owned by the Barcelona-based gallery Principal Art.
The RISD Museum has announced that Tsugumi Maki will be its next director. Maki, currently chief exhibitions and collections officer at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, succeeds Sarah Ganz Blythe who has served as interim director since 2020. And Eva Respini, who announced in May that she was stepping down as chief curator of the ICA Boston, has joined Vancouver Art Gallery as its new deputy director and director of curatorial programmes.