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Met Gala Roundup, Philadelphia Museum Repatriates Shield, and Winston Churchill Painting to Auction

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The Headlines
THE MET GALA WAS LAST NIGHT IN NEW YORK,  as you may have heard, alighting in September instead of its usual May slot because of the pandemic. The  New York Times  has a  robust look  at the scene and the outfits. (The theme: “American independence,” in a nod to the Met’s new show, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.”) Actor  Dan Levy ’s outfit from  Loewe  was  a tribute to the late, great  artist  David Wojnarowicz ,  Vanity Fair  reports. And right before the festivities commenced, the  Art Newspaper  notes, actor  Timothée Chalamet , a a gala co-chair, presented  a performance and installation  with the street artist  JR  at the Breuer building (once a Met branch and now the temporary home of the  Frick  ). It involved Chalamet ripping open a paper banner to wander the museum. JR said of the work, “We enter in an American flag, to find a place, an identity, a position, a future, between the stripes and the stars. . . .” You get the idea.) The next edition of the gala has been penciled in for May.
THE BRITISH BULLDOG HEADS TO THE BLOCK.  A never-before-auctioned  Winston Churchill  painting  will be offered  at  Christie’s London  next month with a top estimate of about $3.46 million,  Penta  reports. The work depicts a bridge in Aix en Provence, France, that—fun fact—also figures in two  Cézanne  watercolors. Earlier this year, actor  Angelina Jolie  sold a Churchill she had been given by her ex-husband,  Brad Pitt , for some   $11.6 million at Christie’s . The prime minister gave that one to  President Franklin D. Roosevelt  as a gift. The October lot was a present to a Swiss man named  Willy Sax , a paint maker who supplied the painter-politician. A thoughtful gesture (though not quite as juicy a provenance).
The Digest
Jasper Johns  biographer  Deborah Solomon  delved into the behind-the-scenes drama behind the upcoming Johns retrospective at the  Philadelphia Museum of Art  and the  Whitney Museum . One collecting couple told the PMA that they would prefer their prized Johns painting hang “in the bathroom at the Whitney” rather than the PMA, to which they had loaned it for 20 years.  [The New York Times]
Speaking of the  Philadelphia Museum of Art : It announced that it will return a 16th-century Italian shield to the Czech Republic after research indicated that it had been seized by the Nazis following their invasion of Czechoslovakia. The infamously assassinated  Archduke Franz Ferdinand  once owned the piece, which has been attributed to artist  Girolamo di Tommaso da Treviso .  [The New York Times]
A statue in Bordeaux, France, of  Modeste Testas  (1765–1870), an enslaved African woman, was splashed with white paint. Officials said the vandalism was “probably racist” and that a criminal complaint will be filed. The work was installed in 2019 to commemorate Testas, who was freed in the late 1700s, and lived to 105 in what is now Haiti.  [BBC News]
The  Pace Gallery  has hired  Halie Klein , a former corporate associate at  Willkie Farr & Gallagher , to be its general counsel. At Wilkie, Klein was part of the team that worked with Pace on the sale of works from the collection of the late  Donald Marron  in a partnership with  Gagosian  and  Acquavella .  [Bloomberg Law]
The director of the  Berkshire Museum  in Pittsfield, Massachusetts,  Jeff Rodgers , has stepped down unexpectedly after two-and-a-half years on the job. Rodgers succeeded  Van Shields , who oversaw  the contentious sale of works  from the institution’s collection.  [The Berkshire Eagle]
The new  Museo Nacional del Perú , a $125 million government project, has officially been inaugurated south of Lima. Holding a collection of almost 50,000 pre-Columbian items, the building is set to be fully operational in 2024.  [The Art Newspaper]
The Kicker
WHAT WILL THE AVANT-GARDE THINK OF NEXT?  Artist  Gavin Turk  has  launched a Kickstarter  to package his  urine into cans  for a project called  Piscio d’Artista   (Artist’s Piss) ,  FAD  magazine reports. As you perhaps guessed, this is a tribute, of sorts, to  Piero Manzoni ’s 1961  Merda d’Artista  . More than 80 people have already backed the initiative, pushing it well past its roughly $27,700 goal. The cans, released in a limited edition of 1,000, will be sold according to the value of their weight in silver—£333 (about $460) right now. “You might think I am taking the piss, in fact I am giving a piss,” Turk explained. Well said, sir. Thank you for that.  [FAD]

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