Apollo
Art News Daily

More than 600 artists endorse Bernie Sanders in open letter

Plus: Oldest known cave paintings threatened by cement mining in Indonesia | Billionaire Rebekah Mercer no longer on American Museum of Natural History’s board, following years of protest | and James Brown (1951–2020)

25 February 2020

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

More than 600 artists endorse Bernie Sanders in open letter | 665 artists, including Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Kader Attia, Hito Steyerl and Nan Goldin, have signed an open letter endorsing the Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as part of a campaign organised by Artists4Bernie. Arguing that the lack of financial security experienced by many artists lessens the diversity of the field, the open letter states ‘medicare for all, universal childcare, canceling student debt, and free public college, are just a few of the progressive changes that we support’, adding ‘we strongly feel that only Sanders represents the values and virtues which all of us as cultural producers have always hoped to strive for’. Artists4Bernie was founded by the collective DIS, artist Mohammed Salemy and curator-writer Jennifer Teets.

Oldest known cave paintings threatened by cement mining in Indonesia | The world’s oldest known figurative cave paintings, dated in December to at least 40,000 years old, are under threat from local cement mining. The rock art featuring hunting scenes was discovered in 2017 at Maros-Pangkep on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, inside land controlled by Tonasa Cement Company. Scientists and authorities in the area have been working with Tonasa to protect the 3.6 hectares around the Bulu Sipong caves, now recognised as a cultural heritage site, but researchers have noted continued deterioration of the paintings’ surfaces, which they believe is caused by continued mining in the surrounding area, which produces disruptive vibrations, dust and pollution.

Billionaire Rebekah Mercer no longer on American Museum of Natural History’s board, following years of protest | The billionaire donor Rebekah Mercer has not had her term on the board of the American Museum of Natural History renewed, after it expired in December. The Mercer Family Foundation has not commented on the news, but Mercer’s position on the board has been repeatedly criticised due to the foundation’s donations to organisations that deny climate change, as well as the $15.5m they donated towards Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Some two dozen of the museum’s curators called for Mercer’s removal from the board in 2018, and in the same year 250 scientists signed  an online open letter calling for the museum to cut ties with her.

James Brown (1951–2020) | The American artist James Brown, who is known for producing semi-figurative paintings inspired by tribal art, has died in a car crash aged 68. Born in 1951 in Los Angeles, Brown moved to Paris to attend the École des Beaux-Arts, continuing to live there while he exhibited his work in New York, where he was represented by Leo Castelli. After moving to Oaxaca, Mexico in 1995, Brown and his wife Alexandra Condon (who also died in the crash) co-founded the Carpe Diem Press and published 13 limited-edition books. His work is held in the collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City and MoMA and the Whitney in New York.