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CAREER PIVOT. The former director of the Uffizi gallery in Florence, German-born Eike Schmidt, is under fire for announcing he will run for mayor of the city and form a far-right coalition with Brothers of Italy, the League, and Forza Italia. Seen as a blow to the political left, which has long dominated the region’s political scene, Schmidt said he would address problems of security, degradation, and over-tourism. Schmidt left the Uffizi in December to work as director of the Capodimonte Museum in Naples.

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PREVIEWS. The Venice Biennale is fast approaching, opening to the public April 20, and in preparation, in-depth profiles of participating artists are hitting newsstands. El País featured the artist Sandra Gamarra, who tells the paper, “We should apologize for colonialism,” and is the first artist born outside Spain, in Peru, to represent the country at the art exhibition. She is proposing to honor little-known Indigenous figures like Peru’s Micaela Bastidas Puyucahua, who co-led revolts against Spanish forces in 1780. Elsewhere, The National delves into the pavilion plans of performance and video artist Wael Shawky, who is representing Egypt; also in Venice, he has a solo exhibition at the Museo di Palazzo Grimani, and his work will be included in Qatar Museums’s “Your Ghosts Are Mine, Expanded Cinemas, Amplified Voices” exhibition at ACP-Palazzo Franchetti. His featured film will focus on the 1882 nationalist Urabi revolt in Egypt, a moment of symbolic uncertainty for the Arab region. Though not a national pavilion, Le Monde delves into the eclectic practice of storied French artist Pierre Huyghe, ahead of his installation, titled “Liminal,” at the Pinault Collection’s Punta della Dogana in Venice.

Dinh Q. Lê, an acclaimed Vietnamese artist who showed how conflict and the loss of history transformed his nation’s collective consciousness, has died at 56. “His photo installations and video works spoke to a scarred, melancholic Vietnam in which fact and fiction freely mingled, forming a state in which it seems difficult, perhaps even impossible, to access the past as it actually occurred,” writes ARTnews senior editor Alex Greenberger. [ARTnews]

The famous, bright yellow café in Arles, France, which has unwitting tourists believe it is the very same one that Vincent van Gogh depicted in Café Terrace at Night (1888), has shut its doors following accusations of tax fraud. Though the original café from the painting no longer exists, the owners made such a convincing version of it, that tourists from around the world would flock to take pictures and dine there. But locals always knew better. “It’s a scam,” said one neighboring merchant. [Le Monde]


Hauser & Wirth will mount a rare exhibition of five major museum-loaned works by Eva Hesse next month in New York, titled “Eva Hesse: Five Sculptures.” The sculptor died in 1970 at age 34, and is considered a titan of Post-Minimalist art for extremely fragile creations made from latex, fiberglass, and industrial plastics. [ARTnews]

The city of Paris is reexamining what to do with an unpopular Richard Serra sculpture called Clara-Clara, which it purchased in 1983, and considering where to reinstall it in the city. The massive sculpture made of two inward-curving Corten steel walls, had to be put in storage after locals in the town of Choisy repeatedly vandalized and littered the piece with garbage in the 1980s. It remains to be seen whether France’s minister of culture, Rachida Dati, will approve of plans for the Serra piece to be installed “in the heart of historic Paris.” [Le Monde]

Yayoi Kusama was the best-selling contemporary artist of 2023, according to the Hiscox Artist Top 100 report, generating sales totaling $80.9 million. Her 2014 painting A Flower, fetched nearly $10 million at Christie’s Hong Kong. Another woman, Cecily Brown, was the fourth-best-selling contemporary artist, generating $31.7 million, followed by Julie Mehretu, at $21.4 million, in total sales, suggesting a strengthening market for female artists. [The Observer]

A 1,700-year-old early Christian text from North Africa containing some of the world’s oldest stories, is heading to Christie’s in June. It is reportedly the oldest known book in private hands, belonging to the Schøyen Collection, and is among the most important texts in the history of Christianity, valued at £3 million ($3,79 million). [The Times]

This fall, four men will be tried in Pennsylvania on charges of theft and destruction of arts and sports memorabilia in connection with two decades of burglaries by a gang that targeted 12 small museums. Stolen objects include seven of Yogi Berra’s championship rings, his 1954 and 1955 M.V.P. plaques, and his World Series rings from the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center. [The New York Times]

The cost for the building of a new “Espace Riopell” addition to the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec has more than doubled since the plans were first revealed. The budget has risen to C$84 million ($62.15 million) from an initial C$42.4 million ($32.6 million). [Le Devoir]


OUTSIDER ART HOMES. A couple stories this weekend looked at outsider artists who spent their lifetime transforming their homes into elaborate works of art, which will now be preserved for public viewing. There’s the small home in a low-income neighborhood near Niagara Falls, known as Prophet Isaiah’s Second Coming House, which has been restored and will open to the public this summer, The Art Newspaper reports. The Kohler Foundation acquired and conserved the home packed with a mosaic of brilliantly colored wooden cut-out stars and crosses, meant to reference the apocalypse. Following the death of its maker in 2020, and a lengthy refurbishment, the Foundation gifted it to the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area for stewardship. Elsewhere, the British government has opted to grant Grade II listed status to the home of Ron Gittins, reports the BBC. Gittins transformed his home outside Liverpool, but his fantastical labor of love wasn’t discovered until after his death in 2019 by his family. No surface was left untouched in the flat, including murals of historical scenes, set in ancient Egypt, as well as a huge fireplace in the shape of a minotaur head.