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John Giorno (1936–2019)

Plus: Ettore Spalletti (1940–2019) | Charles Jencks (1939–2019) | Companies involved in fraudulent art investment case wound up by UK courts | Italian culture minister reappoints three museum directors

14 October 2019

Our daily round-up of news from the art world 

John Giorno (1936–2019) | John Giorno, the American artist whose work ranged from poetry to performance and to activism, died in New York on Friday at the age of 82. Giorno was born in New York and studied at Columbia University, graduating in 1958. In 1962 he met Andy Warhol; the two became lovers and collaborated on Warhol’s silent film Sleep (1963), which recorded Giorno sleeping for five hours. Inspired by Warhol and by subsequent relationships with Robert Rauschenberg and William S. Burroughs, Giorno produced poetry and sound art, notably The American Book of the Dead (1964), a volume of found poetry which presented news items as lines of verse, and ‘Dial-A-Poem’, a telephone service offering poems read by the artist’s friends. A retrospective of Giorno’s work took place at the Palais de Tokyo in 2015, organised by his husband and fellow artist Ugo Rondinone.

Ettore Spalletti (1940–2019) | The Italian painter Ettore Spalletti has died at the age of 79. Spalletti started painting in the 1970s, developing a methodical process of building up layers of the same fresh, light colours on top of one another to create near-monochrome canvases. His work was the subject of a three-part retrospective in Italy in 2014, with shows at MaXXI in Rome, the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina in Naples, and the Galleria di Arte Moderna in Turin.

Charles Jencks (1939–2019) | Charles Jencks, the cultural theorist, landscape gardener and architectural historian, has died at the age of 80. After beginning his career as an architect, Jencks made his name in the late 1970s for his writing about postmodern architecture, in books such as The Language of Post-Modern Architecture (1977). In 1995, he co-founded Maggie’s Centres, a UK-based charity that works to establish well-designed environments for cancer patients, after the death of his wife Maggie Keswick Jencks; Jencks later collaborated on centres around the world with architects including Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid. He designed many landscape gardens across Scotland, the most famous of which is the Garden of Cosmic Speculation (2003) at his home in Dumfriesshire, designed according to the same principles of modern cosmology that informed much of his writing.

Companies involved in fraudulent art investment case wound up by UK courts | Two British companies have been wound-up at the High Court in Manchester, after having received payments of almost £1.4m from individuals whom they had persuaded to make investments in works of art, claiming that they had been produced by eminent painters. Gem Tobin Ltd received around £700,000 from investors between October 2018 and June 2019, while Dionysus Design Services received more than £200,000.

Italian culture minister reappoints three museum directors | Dario Franceschini, the Italian culture minister, has announced that the directors of three of the country’s major museums will remain in their posts for a minimum of four years. Eike Schmidt has been reappointed as director of the Uffizi in Florence, after cancelling his planned move to the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna; Sylvain Bellenger will keep the directorship of the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples; and Cristiana Collu will remain at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome. James Bradburne, another of the 20 museum directors appointed during the Franceschini reforms in 2015, was also reappointed by Franceschini as director of the Pinacoteca di Brera last month.

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