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Bassel Khartabil, founder of digital Palmyra project, executed

Plus: Hilton Als to organise series of shows at Yale Center for British ArtGraham Foundation grants $400,000 for international architectural projects | Sotheby’s releases earnings report for first half of year | and recommended reading

4 August 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Palestinian-Syrian internet freedom activist Bassel Khartabil executed | Bassel Khartabil, the Palestinian-Syrian internet freedom activist who co-founded the #NewPalmyra digital-reconstruction project, was executed shortly after his disappearance in October 2015, his family say they have learned. An open-source software developer, Khartabil was first detained by the Syrian government in March 2012. The  work of the #NewPalmyra project, which aims to reconstruct the ancient city of Palmyra as a virtual environment, has continued since Khartabil’s disappearance, and was recently presented in the Victoria & Albert museum’s special project for the Pavilion of Applied Arts at the Venice Biennale, ‘A World of Fragile Parts’.

Hilton Als to organise series of shows at Yale Center for British Art | American writer Hilton Als will be organising a series of exhibitions of contemporary British artists at the Yale Center for British Art, the Art Newspaper reports. Als, winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize for criticism and curator of a recent exhibition of Alice Neel paintings (reviewed for Apollo here), will over the next three years curate three successive solo exhibitions of the work of artists Celia Paul, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Peter Doig. Speaking at a press event, Als quipped that ‘I became interested in British art when I got tired of American art.’

Graham Foundation grants $400,000 for international architectural projects | The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts has awarded over $400,000 to 41 architectural projects around the world. Some of the organisations that have received grants this year include the Serpentine Galleries in London, in support of their annual architecture pavilion, and the Palais de Tokyo, whose off-site exhibition Singing Stones will run during the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Sotheby’s releases earnings report for first half of year | Sotheby’s earnings report for the first half of 2017 was released yesterday, revealing a mixture of improvements and losses in the auction house’s sales income over the six-month period. While the company’s aggregate auction sales decreased by two per cent from the same period last year (to $2.41 billion), its private sales and sales from inventory are up, making a consolidated sales total of $2.83 billion – four per cent more than last year.

Recommended reading | In the Paris Review, writer and painter Larissa Pham goes to Taos in New Mexico, where she thinks about a small blue painting by Agnes Martin. Meanwhile, on the sesquicentenary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth, Martin Filler for the New York Review of Books takes a look at the exhibition devoted to the architect at the Museum of Modern Art, and related publications. And at Artnet, the second instalment of Philippe de Montebello’s two-part interview addresses the fraught future of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which he directed from 1977 to 2008, and his own new role at Acquavella Galleries.

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