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Pasolini memorial vandalised in Ostia

Plus: Durham Light Infantry Museum closes doors for the last time | Cheyenne Westphal to leave Sotheby’s | Former Pompidou managing director pleads guilty to misuse of public funds | Panthéon’s dome reopens after renovation | a profile of the BM’s new director, Hartwig Fisher

1 April 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Pasolini memorial vandalised in Ostia | A monument to the film director, writer, and poet Pier Paolo Pasolini in Ostia, near Rome, has been vandalised with neofascist symbols and homophobic graffiti. Memorial plaques in the park where the monument by Mario Rosati is located have also been destroyed. La Corriere della Sera reports that restoration efforts are already in place following the attack on the monument, and that an Italian far-right organisation called Militia has claimed responsibility (Italian language article). Pasolini was murdered in the town in 1975.

Durham Light Infantry Museum closes doors for the last time | Yet more depressing news from Britain’s regional museums as the Durham Light Infantry Museum closes its doors. Despite a lengthy campaign to keep the museum open after funding cuts put it at risk of imminent closure, it seems nothing could be done to save it. The DLI Museum, which attracted around 39,000 visitors in 2014‑15, houses some of the most important artefacts in British military history – some of which have already moved to Palace Green Library in central Durham for its Somme 2016 exhibition. Campaigner John Stephenson told local newspaper the Chronicle: ‘It is a sad day, a sad day for Durham and a sad day for all those who fought with the DLI, many lost their lives and the council should be ashamed to turn their backs on them.’

Cheyenne Westphal to leave Sotheby’s | Cheyenne Westphal, worldwide head of contemporary art at Sotheby’s, is to leave the auction house next month. Westphal, who has been at Sotheby’s since 1990, has masterminded a number of record auctions, including ‘Beautiful Inside My Head Forever’, the 2008 sale of Damien Hirst’s work that netted £121 million. Her departure comes in the wake of several other high-profile resignations at Sotheby’s, following the exit of Sotheby’s Europe chairman Henry Wyndham, Impressionist and Modern Art co-chairman Melanie Clore, and Westphal’s co-chairman Alex Rotter. As yet, Westphal has not confirmed her next move.

Former Pompidou managing director pleads guilty to misuse of public funds | Agnès Saal, the formerly managing director of the Pompidou Centre and director of the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel, will plead guilty to charges of misusing public funds while in office (French language article). Last year, it emerged that Saal had spent some €40,000 on taxi fares in a 10-month period while at the INA, and a further €38,000 during her time at the Pompidou. Saal’s plea means that she will avoid a public trial, and will instead face two hearings at the High Court of Créteil later in the month.

Panthéon’s dome reopens after three year renovation | The dome of Paris’s Panthéon has reopened to the public after a major renovation (French language article). The building, which houses the remains of France’s heroes, has required intensive restoration work over the years due to its ageing masonry and corroded metals. Between 2013 and the end of last year, the dome had to be completely re-leaded, and even now it seems that a second round of works must be carried out to secure other parts of the building. Experts estimate that tens of millions of Euros must be raised before further renovation can be carried out.

Hartwig Fischer: a profile of the BM’s new director | The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones has penned a profile of Hartwig Fischer, the new director of the British Museum. After speaking to figures close to Fischer, including predecessor Neil MacGregor, architect David Chipperfield, and Sächsische Zeitung arts editor Birgit Grimm, Jones is optimistic about the new director, whose appointment surprised many when it was announced last year. For an insight into his track record and the reasons as to why he was chosen for Britain’s top museum job, this is interesting reading.

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