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Martin Roth (1955–2017)

7 August 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Former V&A director Martin Roth has died aged 62 | Martin Roth, who last year resigned from his position as director of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, has died aged 62. Born in Stuttgart in Germany in 1955, Roth was the V&A’s first foreign-born director, joining the museum in 2011 after a decade as director general of Dresden’s state art collections. A politically engaged public figure and outspoken critic of the UK’s 2016 decision to leave the EU, Roth for the last five weeks had been serving as president of Germany’s Institute for Foreign Relations. Apollo’s editor Thomas Marks pays tribute to the influential museum director here.

National Trust in row over gay pride badges | The National Trust has come under attack for ‘forcing’ front-of-house volunteers at a Norfolk stately home to wear a gay pride badge on their uniforms, as part of the 2017 Prejudice and Pride programme celebrating the UK’s LGBTQ heritage on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality. After some staff members and volunteers at Felbrigg Hall protested the policy, it was heavily criticised in the right-wing press and by some NT members, causing the organisation to capitulate. Volunteers will no longer have to take on behind-the-scenes duties if they do not wish to wear the badges, which is now an ‘optional and personal’ decision – a reversal which has itself caused upset for those who supported the NT’s original policy.

US National Academy members pen open letter defending Dana Schutz | Over 70 members and members-elect of the US’s National Academy of Art have signed an open letter in support of a solo exhibition of work by artist Dana Schutz at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, after activists petitioned the ICA to cancel the show following the controversy over Schutz’s painting Open Casket, which was exhibited at this year’s Whitney Biennial (read Apollo’s review of the Whitney exhibition here). The letter, whose high-profile signatories include artists Marina Abramovic, Ed Ruscha and Kara Walker, affirms the importance ‘that artists not perpetrate upon each other the same kind of intolerance and tyranny that we criticize in others.’

V&A apologises after breastfeeding woman told to ‘cover up’ | A woman who was breastfeeding in the courtyard of the Victoria & Albert Museum took to social media to complain about being asked to ‘cover up’ by a member of museum staff, BBC reports. V&A director Tristram Hunt quickly took to Twitter to apologise to the woman, writing that the museum’s ‘policy is clear. Women may breastfeed wherever they like, wherever they feel comfortable & should not be disturbed.’ The museum account has also tweeted an apology, saying that its staff will now be reminded of the institution’s policy.

Recommended reading | Cindy Sherman, who has been taking photographic self-portraits since the 1970s, now has a public Instagram account. The New York Times takes a close look at this latest addition to Sherman’s oeuvre. And in the London Review of Books, T.J. Clark and Anne Wagner, who co-curated the Reina Sofia exhibition ‘Pity and Terror: Picasso’s Path to Guernica’, have contributed a pair of essays adapted from the exhibition catalogue on Picasso and tragedy and the women of Guernica (£)