News Recap: October 20, 2017

A weekly update of art world news.

Young Girl with Portrait of George Washington. Photo by Josiah Johnson Hawes, via Wikimedia Commons

Young Girl with Portrait of George Washington. Photo by Josiah Johnson Hawes, via Wikimedia Commons

Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald to Paint the Obama’s Smithsonian Portraits
The Obama’s have chosen Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald to paint their official portraits for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. They are the first black artists to ever be commissioned for a presidential couple. Kim Sajet, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, said, “Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century.”
Read the full story (ArtNet News)

The Met Makes a Statement Against the US’s Decision to Leave UNESCO
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s President and CEO, Daniel H. Weiss, has officially spoken out against the US State Department’s recent decision to pull out of UNESCO. UNESCO is an international cultural organization and, “’an important leader and steadfast partner in the ongoing struggle to conserve cultural monuments.” Weiss’s statement reads:

“One of our most important responsibilities as museum leaders is to protect cultural heritage and promote international education. For more than half a century The Met and countless other museums have successfully partnered with UNESCO, an organization that has earned the respect of nations and communities worldwide for bringing together curators, conservators, and a range of other scholars to educate, preserve, protect, and support the intellectual and artistic traditions of our shared cultural heritage. President Trump’s decision to withdraw from UNESCO undermines the historic role of the United States as a leader in this effort and weakens our position as a strong advocate for cultural preservation. Although UNESCO may be an imperfect organization, it has been an important leader and steadfast partner in this crucial work. The Met remains deeply committed to productive engagement with UNESCO and our colleagues around the world who share this important objective.”
Read the full story (Art News)

Museum in China Pulls African Exhibition After Backlash
The Hebei Provincial Museum in China is in hot water this week after exhibiting photographs comparing black people to wild animals. The exhibit was a part of “This is Africa” an ongoing celebration of African heritage at the museum. The photographer, Yu Huiping, has attributed the offensive display to the exhibit’s curator, Wang Yuejun, who mentioned that Chinese proverbs compare humans to animals in admiration. Yuejun issued an apology, “putting the photos of African tribespeople and animals together hurt the feelings of the African tribespeople,” and the photographs have been removed from the exhibition.
Read the full story (The New York Times)

World Monuments Fund Releases 2018 Watch List
The World Monuments Fund comes out with a yearly list of heritage sites threatened by conflict, natural disasters, climate change, urban development, and neglect. The 2018 list was just released and features sites in Aleppo, England, Alabama, Amtrice, and sites from the US Gulf Coast, Caribbean, and Mexico were recently added after an onslaught of natural disasters affected the areas. Joshua David, Director of the World Monuments Fund, stated, “Just as we were concluding our review process, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and the earthquakes in Mexico, hit one after another. In response, we call attention to the conservation needs of Disaster Sites of the Caribbean, the Gulf, and Mexico by including them in the 2018 Watch.”
Read the full story (The Art Newspaper)