Wadsworth CEO Quits, Oakland Museum of California Cuts Staff, and More: Morning Links from April 5, 2021

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The Headlines

DAYS AFTER THE ITALIAN GOVERNMENT issued a decree to keep gargantuan cruise ships away from the historical section of Venice, activists are calling for further action, according to the Associated Press. Under the newly adopted plan, big ships would be sent away from the city center to the Marghera Port. Environmentalists say that is still too close for comfort, since the port is still part of the Venetian lagoon. Jane da Mosto, of the We Are Here Venice group, told the AP , “This new route will still damage its fragile ecosystem, with inevitable negative knock-on effects.” In 2019, the MSC Opera suffered an engine failure in Venice, as the Guardian reported, and plowed into a wharf and a smaller boat, injuring five. The action was captured in an unforgettable video that showed people running for their lives.

MORE THAN HALF A CENTURY after John Neal had his portrait painted by Alice Neel, as a boy of 8 or 9, he finally got to see the finished work in the artist’s retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Times reports. “I always thought it was going to come back to me,” Neal said told the paper. “I would dream about it.” Neel held onto the piece after Neal posed with his brother (who died about a decade ago), and reworked it later. It eventually found its way into a private collection. The Times’ co-chief art critic, Roberta Smith, has come out swinging for the Met show, writing that it establishes Neel “as equal if not superior to artists like Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon and destined for icon status on the order of Vincent van Gogh and David Hockney .” The show’s up until August 1.

The Digest

After five years as CEO of the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, Thomas Loughman is stepping down. Loughman, co-chair of the United States National Committee of the International Council of Museums, said in a statement that he sees “the urgent need to foster international partnerships, and I feel called to that important work which has defined my career.” [Hartford Courant]

The Oakland Museum of California has cut 15 percent of its staff, eliminating 20 full-time positions as part of a restructuring. It lost $2.5 million in revenue during the pandemic, and has been closed since March of 2020. [Datebook/San Francisco Chronicle]

The artist Winfred Rembert, whose paintings depict from the Jim Crow South, died on Wednesday. He was 75. [The New York Times]

The Belarusian activist artist Alexei Kuzmich was arrested last week “trying to scale the gate of the Elysee Palace—the residence of French President Emmanuel Macron—with a bottle resembling a Molotov cocktail,” Sophia Kishkovsky writes. Kuzmich has accused France of moving toward fascism. [The Art Newspaper]

Double trouble: a Boston man has pleaded guilty to both stealing two Andy Warhol “Shadow” paintings and then selling fake versions of them to a Los Angeles art dealer. (If you want to see authentic “Shadow” works, a boatload of them are on view at Dia:Beacon in New York.) [The Independent]

Sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley has reportedly gotten the go-ahead from princes William and Harry to cast a statue of their late mother, Princess Diana, which will be unveiled this summer, on what would have been her 60th birthday. [The Sun]

An unopened copy of Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System, dating to 1986, sold at Heritage Auctions for $660,000. That’s a record for a video game on the block—by a wide margin. [The Verge]

Alex Da Corte will unveil a new installation atop New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art later this month that focuses on Big Bird, the Sesame Street character played for decades by the late Carrol Spinney. “When I think of” Spinney, Da Corte said. “I think what a selfless labor of love—how beautiful. To do that all of your life.” [The New York Times]

In not entirely surprising news, only 27 percent of Americans said that they are “very or somewhat familiar with NFTs.” The median price they would spend on one is $10. Folks, you’re not going to be able to get a Beeple for that. [Bloomberg]

The Kicker

LAST MONTH, SECURITY CAMERAS CAUGHT A COUPLE VANDALIZING a graffiti-style painting by JonOne at the Lotte World Mall in Seoul, Reuters reports. It seems that the pair marked up the work with brushes and paint that the artist had left near the painting, after using them to create it in a live performance. The two were arrested. Their defense? “They thought they were allowed to do that as participatory art and made a mistake,” the exhibition’s organizer said. The police decided to let them go without charges, the wire service says. The gallery has added a “Do not touch” sign.

Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.