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The week in art news – Philip Guston show postponed to 2024

Plus: Agreement reached in dispute over Robert Indiana’s estate | Two Manhattan antiquities dealers charged with fraud | and ARCO Madrid and London Art Fair postponed

25 September 2020

In a joint statement released on Monday, but not widely reported until later in the week, the four museums due to host a Philip Guston retrospective announced that that they are delaying the show until 2024: ‘We are postponing the exhibition until a time at which we think that the powerful message of social and racial justice that is at the center of Philip Guston’s work can be more clearly interpreted.’ Artnews reports that a spokesperson for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., where the exhibition was set to open in July 2021, pointed to the organisers’ concern about images of Ku Klux Klan members in some of Guston’s works. The other museum venues are Tate Modern, the MFA Boston and MFA Houston. Mark Godfrey, curator of the Tate Modern show, questioned the decision in an Instagram post (no longer available but reported in the Art Newspaper and elsewhere): ‘It is actually extremely patronising to viewers, who are assumed not to be able to appreciate the nuance and politics of Guston’s works.’ Guston’s daughter, Musa Mayer, has also released a statement in which she says, of the works in question: ‘My father dared to unveil white culpability, our shared role in allowing the racist terror that he had witnessed since boyhood, when the Klan marched openly by the thousands […] The danger is not in looking at Philip Guston’s work, but in looking away.’

An agreement has been reached in the dispute over the estate of Robert Indiana. The Morgan Art Foundation, which owns the copyrights to the artist’s work, and the Star of Hope Foundation, which is the sole beneficiary of his estate, have reached an out-of-court settlement. The details have not been made public, but a lawyer for the Morgan Art Foundation has confirmed that the two will work together ‘with respect to a number of different projects, including the artist’s catalogue raisonné, the maintenance of the artist’s website, the promotion and fabrication and sale of the artist’s editioned works’.

The Manhattan federal court has charged two antiquities dealers – Erdal Dere, the owner of the Manhattan-based antiquities gallery Fortuna Fine Arts Ltd, and his business partner Faisal Khan – with fraud by using fake provenance records to sell antiquities. The dealers each face two counts of wire fraud, which each carry a maximum prison term of 20 years, and Dere is also charged with aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory two years in prison. In 2018, the Manhattan DA’s office seized an ancient Etruscan terracotta vessel, Hare Aryballos (c. 580–560 BC), from Fortuna Fine Arts over concerns about its export licence from Italy.

In the latest art fairs to be postponed, ARCO Madrid – due to take place in late February – has announced that its 40th edition will now take place in July 2021. London Art Fair has also decided not to go ahead next January and will announce alternative plans in the near future.

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