Apollo Magazine

Spread of coronavirus causes museums across northern Italy to close

Plus: Collector files lawsuit for $1m against Princeton University  | Yona Friedman (1923–2020) | Jack Youngerman (1926–2020) | Sotheby’s moves Hong Kong sales to New York | Nazi-looted Andrea della Robbia sculpture restituted to Germany | and recommended reading

A tourist in Venice on 24 February 2020, wearing a protective face-mask and a Carnival mask.

A young tourist wearing a protective facemask and a Carnival mask visits the streets of Venice, on February 24, 2020. Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP via Getty Images

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Spread of coronavirus causes museums across northern Italy to close | Museums in seven regions of Italy – Lombardy, Piedmont, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, Liguria, Trentino-Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia – have been forced to close their doors or implement restrictions, owing the spread of the coronavirus across northern Italy. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and the Fondazione Prada in Milan are among the museums affected by this unprecedented action, with the majority of museums across the seven regions being advised to stay closed for at least one week. The Venice Carnival, which was scheduled to end on Tuesday 24 February, has also been cut short. More than 200 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Italy, with six deaths reported at the time of writing (24 February).

Collector files lawsuit for $1m against Princeton University | A New York-based collector has filed a lawsuit against Princeton University. Vincent Fay alleges that the university agreed to buy 17 works from him, worth a total of $945,000, but that it has failed to pay the second of two $472,500 instalments, which was due in 2018. The suit claims that Princeton questioned the origins, authenticity and value of seven of the works offered by Fay and demanded the return of its first payment, but Fay claims that these concerns are not ‘documented or supported by any named experts’. Details of the artworks have not been disclosed.

Yona Friedman (1923–2020) | Yona Friedman, the Hungarian-born French architect, urban planner and designer, has died at the age of 96. Friedman came to prominence during the 1950s with his manifesto Mobile Architecture (1956), in which he articulated a theory of urban planning that advocated a more flexible approach to planning and infrastructure to enable social mobility.

Jack Youngerman (1926–2020) | The American painter Jack Youngerman has died at the age of 93. In the years after the emergence of abstract expressionism, Youngerman produced vivid abstract paintings that eschewed the gestural, textured surfaces favoured by Ab-Ex painters. His paintings and constructions were shown alongside works by Jo Baer, Agnes Martin and Kenneth Noland in the group exhibition ‘Systemic Painting’ in 1966 at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, which hosted a retrospective of Youngerman’s work in 1986.

Sotheby’s moves Hong Kong sales to New York | Prompted by the coronavirus outbreak in China, Sotheby’s has moved its Hong Kong sales of modern and contemporary art to New York. The sale will now be held from 16 April in Sotheby’s headquarters on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Nazi-looted Andrea della Robbia sculpture restituted to Germany | The Italian government has returned a sculpture of Mary Magdalene by Andrea della Robbia to Germany, during a ceremony attended by the culture ministers of the two nations, Dario Franceschini and Monika Grütters, on 21 February. The sculpture had been in the possession of a dealership in Munich, the owner of which was forced to sell his collection in 1936; it was later purchased from an Italian count by Hermann Göring, the commander of the Luftwaffe. After the war, the sculpture was mistakenly sent to Italy in 1954.

Recommended reading | In the Financial Times (£), James Shotter reports on the resignation of Dariusz Stola as director of the Polin museum for the history of Polish Jews; Stola was elected to run the institution for a second term, but the nationalist government in Poland had refused to confirm his appointment for more than eight months. In The Art Newspaper, Philip Dodd calls on the Western art world to step in and assist institutions in China during the coronavirus epidemic.

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