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Ulay (1943–2020)

Plus: Louvre closes amid concerns over coronavirus | Cooper-Hewitt donor rescinds $5m bequest over removal of director | and Bonhams appoints Patrick Masson as managing director for UK and Europe 

2 March 2020

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Ulay (1943–2020) | The German photographer and performance artist Ulay, best known for his artistic collaboration with former partner Marina Abramoviċ, has died at the age of 76. Born Frank Uwe Laysiepen in 1943 in Solingen, Germany, Ulay moved to Amsterdam in the early 1970s and became a photographer for Polaroid; he would continue to experiment with the technical possibilities of Polaroid cameras for the duration of his career. In 1976, he entered a relationship with Abramoviċ that would last 12 years until 1988, when their separation was documented as The Lovers, a performance in which the couple walked towards each other from opposite ends of the Great Wall of China to silently say goodbye in the middle. In later life, Ulay lived in Ljubljana, Slovenia and continued to produce photographs and performance pieces that invited audience participation. A retrospective of his works opens at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in November. 

Louvre closes amid concerns over coronavirus | The Louvre closed to visitors on Sunday after a vote of its staff, who expressed concern over high visitor numbers and the potential spread of Covid-19, at a union meeting; it remains shut today. The French government banned public gatherings in a confined space that exceeds 5,000 people on Saturday (29 February), but managing director Maxence Langlois-Berthelot says that no gallery at the museum comes close to this limit and the French ministry of health has not advised that the museum should close. Meanwhile, in northern Italy, cultural institutions not located in government-designated ‘red zones’ are reopening today after having closed last week, while MCH, the parent company of Art Basel, is postponing the watch fair Baselworld, scheduled to open on 30 April, until January 2021, after the Swiss Federal Council banned events of over 1,000 people on Friday.

Cooper-Hewitt donor rescinds $5m bequest over removal of director | The philanthropist Judy Francis Zankel, who resigned from the board of the Cooper-Hewitt museum over the removal of director Caroline Baumann, has stated that she is also cancelling a bequest of $5m to the museum in New York. Last Thursday (28 February), Zankel sent an email to Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to inform him of her decision to remove the museum from her will.

Bonhams appoints Patrick Masson as managing director for UK and Europe | Bonhams has appointed Patrick Masson as its new managing director for the UK and Europe. Masson has been general manager of Sotheby’s Europe since 2017, having joined the auction house in 2006 as a sales director. He was previously a business manager at Christie’s. Masson takes up the new position at Bonham’s today (2 March).