Our daily round-up of news from the art world
Philippe Vergne to direct Serralves Museum in Portugal | The former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, Philippe Vergne, is set to become the next director of the Serralves Museum of contemporary art in Porto. Replacing João Ribas, who left his position in September 2018 over the alleged censorship of a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition which he curated, Vergne will begin his new position in April. The French curator left his post at MOCA last year – a little before the end of a five-year contract – shortly after the controversial firing of the institution’s chief curator, Helen Molesworth.
Michael Cohen claims Trump used ‘fake bidder’ to purchase $60,000 portrait of himself | Testifying yesterday before members of the House oversight committee in the US, President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen claimed that the president had ordered him to find a ‘fake bidder’ to purchase a portrait of himself by the artist William Quigley at an auction in 2013. Cohen also stated that ‘Mr Trump directed the Trump Foundation’ to repay the anonymous bidder – who was used to ensure that the portrait ‘would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon’ – $60,000. The president has accused Cohen of lying in his testimony to Congress.
Rothko Chapel to close temporarily for restoration | The Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas will be closing its doors to the public this coming Monday, in order to begin a $30 million refurbishment and expansion project. In the chapel building, the current skylight will be replaced by a new lighting system; three new buildings, for visitors and staff, are also planned. The chapel closure is set to last until the end of 2019, with the project as a whole expected to be completed in 2021.
Performance art festival Block Universe expands to Berlin | The Art Newspaper reports that for its fifth edition this year, London-based performance art festival Block Universe is expanding to Berlin with a programme of live works at the E-Werk Luckenwalde, a new contemporary art space in the city.