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The week in art news – Laurence des Cars becomes first woman to lead Louvre

28 May 2021

Laurence des Cars has been appointed by Emmanuel Macron as the new president-director of the Louvre in Paris; she is the first women to hold the role in the history of the institution. Des Cars replaces Jean-Luc Martinez, who had been seeking a third term after eight years at the head of the world’s largest museum. Martinez was believed to have retained the support of the French culture minister Roselyne Bachelot, but his management style and unorthodox merchandising initiatives have come in for criticism. Des Cars, an expert in art from the 19th and early 20th centuries, arrives at the Louvre from the Musée d’Orsay; she takes the reins on 1 September.

Tony Hall, the former director-general of the BBC, has resigned as chairman of the National Gallery in London. The announcement on Saturday came two days after a BBC inquiry found that journalist Martin Bashir had used ‘deceitful methods’ to obtain a landmark interview with Princess Diana in 1995. Hall, who led a previous investigation in 1996 that cleared Bashir of all charges, said in a statement that his continuing as chair of the National Gallery would be a ‘distraction’ to the institution. The chairman of the National Trust, Tim Parker, is also stepping down. A group called the Restore Trust had been planning to organise a vote of no confidence in Parker’s leadership at the next AGM, motivated in particular by the recent report published by the NT about the links between its properties and Britain’s history of colonialism and slave-trading.

The German-American author and illustrator Eric Carle, creator of beloved children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, has died at the age of 91. The classic tale of munching and metamorphosis, which Carle wrote, illustrated and designed in 1969, has sold some 50 million copies worldwide, making it among the most popular children’s books of all time. Carle worked on more than 75 books over the course of a six-decade career.

Joe Biden’s administration has instructed Justin Shubow, chair of the US Commission of Fine Arts, to resign from his post, along with three other board members. The four were each appointed during Trump’s presidency, and are believed to have played a key role in drafting the executive order issued in Trump’s final year of office to ‘Make Federal Buildings Great Again’ by building them in the neoclassical style. Shubow initially refused to resign, saying that the move ‘represents an attack on classical architecture’, though Biden has now named four new appointees to the vacant roles.