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The week in art news – controversial road tunnel near Stonehenge gets the go-ahead

13 November 2020

The Secretary of State for Transport has approved plans to build a road tunnel for the A303 motorway near Stonehenge. The go-ahead has been given despite the recommendation of planning inspectors that the scheme would cause ‘permanent, irreversible harm’ to the World Heritage Site. The scheme is supported by English Heritage, which is responsible for Stonehenge, but has been condemned by archaeologists and environmentalists.

The British Museum has announced that it is extending its Endangered Material Knowledge Programme (EMKP) by seven years after receiving a grant of £8.8m from the Arcadia foundation. The programme gives grants to researchers studying traditional and local forms of knowledge. Since it was founded in 2018, the EMKP has funded projects about the Dalai Lama’s personal tailor and the El Moto community in Kenya, who make beads out of ostrich eggshells. The British Museum’s statement said: ‘Societies around the globe are changing at an unprecedented rate, and specialist, locally informed knowledge is in danger of being lost […].’

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s board of trustees will for the first time have two co-chairs: Candace Beinecke, previously chair of the museum’s legal committee, and Hamilton James, chair of its finance committee. They will take over on 12 January from the property developer Daniel Brodsky, who told the New York Times that ‘These are exceptionally challenging times and the opportunity to have two leaders with strong yet different experiences is a win-win for the museum.’

The state of New York is suing Sotheby’s for allegedly helping a client avoid taxes worth $27m on purchases. The complaint, filed on 6 November, alleges that in a breach of the New York False Claims Act the auction house allowed a collector to pose as an art dealer and claim exemptions that apply only to the art trade. Sotheby’s denies the allegations.

The film-maker and video artist Aldo Tambellini has died at the age of 90. The artist, who was born in New York but grew up in Italy before returning to study in the United States, was a leading figure of the avant-garde scene in his home city. Known for his preoccupation with black, which the artist insisted is ‘not the opposite of white; it is a state of being’, Tambellini was the subject of a retrospective at Tate Modern in 2012. The Guardian quotes Stuart Comer, curator of film at MoMA, as saying, ‘We have lost a titan.’