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Palmyra may be safe – but Mosul is in peril

28 April 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Greater part of Palmyra left standing as ISIS continue path of destruction in Nineveh | UNESCO experts brought in to assess the situation in Palmyra since its recapture by government forces have concluded that, despite the loss of several ‘emblematic’ structures, the site as a whole ‘retains a large part of its integrity and authenticity’. The situation over the border in Iraq is more unstable. As National Geographic reported last week, photographs appear to confirm that ISIS have destroyed the ancient gates of the city of Nineveh (now Mosul) – possibly in response to the Iraqi government forces’ advance on the city. Meanwhile, a structurally unsound dam upstream from Mosul remains a concern: Italian engineers arrived at the site earlier this month to make repairs, but some local engineers have played down the risk – and let’s hope they’re right.

Finaldi: ‘potential’ for expansion at National Gallery | In an interview with the Times (£) yesterday, National Gallery director Gabriele Finaldi admitted ambitions for expanding the museum in order to make space for more temporary exhibitions. ‘The floor space of the gallery hasn’t actually changed pretty much in a generation and we are now having 50 per cent more visitors, and potentially that is going to grow in the future – if the London population grows and tourism continues to grow,’ he told the paper. He has his eye on St Vincent House – a neighbouring building the gallery owns but leases out. ‘All options are being considered,’ an NG spokesperson told the paper when asked how the building might be used.

Romanian culture minister resigns | Romanian culture minister Vlad Alexandrescu has tendered his resignation following complaints over his handling of a scandal at the Bucharest National Opera. According to the New York Times, Mr Alexandrescu, a scholar of early modern Europe, has stated that his resignation is a response to resistance to structural reforms he was attempting to implement within Romania’s cultural sector.

LACMA receives combined donation of $75 million | Two major donations this week have provided a considerable boost to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s ambitious plans for a new building, reports the LA Times. Collector and co-chair Elaine Wynn has now pledged $50 million towards the project, while former Univision chair A. Jerrold Perenchio has promised $25 million. The donation brings the museum’s $600 million fundraising campaign almost to the halfway mark.

18th-century state bed saved from Clandon Park ruins | Conservators poring over the remains of Clandon Park in Surrey have salvaged a state bed dating from 1710 from the ruins, reports the Guardian. Rumour has it that the bed was last occupied by a French aristocrat later executed in the Great Terror. It’s survival is described as ‘remarkable’ following the fire that burned the building down a year ago.

Recommended reading: Gagosian on Gagosian and how A.I. could kill great art | The Wall Street Journal has spoken to Larry Gagosian about Cy Twombly, Leo Castelli and hawking posters off the street. ‘I’ve always been somebody who just kind of does what’s in front of me,’ says the world’s most famous art dealer. Meanwhile in the Guardian, Catherine Shoard fears for the future of art in the face of ‘smart’ technology. ‘Software will at some point paint masterpieces and pen bestsellers. Even, perhaps…opinion columns in our newspapers,’ she writes. What does she make of the ‘new Rembrandt’ unveiled recently, we wonder? And in Le MondeFrançois Pinault discusses the plans for his new museum in Paris – and for extending further branches around the world. (French language article.) ‘I’ve been approached by great metropolises, including Los Angeles. Why not, one day? Never say never.’