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Pioneering Romanian Artist Geta Brătescu Has Died at 92

In further news: Steve McQueen to show thousands of school portraits at Tate; Robert Venturi (1925–2018)

Geta Brătescu, 2015. Courtesy: Ivan Gallery and Hauser & Wirth; photograph: Stefan Sava

Geta Brătescu, 2015. Courtesy: Ivan Gallery and Hauser & Wirth; photograph: Stefan Sava

Geta Brătescu, 2015. Courtesy: Ivan Gallery and Hauser & Wirth; photograph: Stefan Sava

Romanian conceptual artist Geta Brătescu has died, aged 92. Known for her commitment to working in her studio every day, Brătescu’s artmaking spanned an array of mediums, including drawing, animation and installation, and often bore the influence of figures from classical mythology. Her gallery Hauser & Wirth confirmed the news of her passing. ‘Geta Brătescu was a true artist who even in the darkest times maintained her sense of playfulness and freedom,’ cofounder Iwan Wirth said in a statement. Brătescu was born in the city of Ploiești in 1926. She later took up her studies at Bucharest’s Academy of Fine Arts, but was thrown out in 1950 by the ruling Communist party in a series of state-led purges, because of her bourgeois background. Brătescu worked as a children’s illustrator, and returned to university education in 1969. She gained international recognition in her later years, with a solo show at Tate Liverpool in 2015. She represented Romania at the Venice Biennale last year. In 2012, she wrote for frieze about the images, travels and artworks that inspired her: ‘art requires awareness, rigour – it demands a sense of space. Visual art is a dialogue with space, whatever you do.’

Pritzker Prize-winning architect and pioneering postmodernist Robert Venturi has died at 93. Venturi and his wife and partner Denise Scott Brown founded the Philadelphia-based Venturi Scott Brown Architects, with projects including the Seattle Art Museum and an extension to London’s National Gallery. Key texts written by Venturi include, with Scott Brown, Learning from Las Vegas (1972), as well as his ‘gentle manifesto’ Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966), in which he outlined his rejection of modernism – responding to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s famous insistence that ‘less is more’, Venturi wrote: ‘Less is a bore.’

Artist and Oscar-winning film director Steve McQueen has revealed details of a new project which will shoot portraits of tens of thousands of Year 3 schoolchildren in London, for an exhibition at Tate Britain next autumn. 2,410 primary schools across the city have been invited to participate. ‘The school photo is very formal. Kids are standing or sitting crossed legged with the teacher on the side,’ McQueen told the BBC. ‘I used to love that format – and it’s a photo that reflects on that class, the school and also reflects on society.’ Tate director Maria Balshaw commented: ‘In bringing together so many of these class photos from a single year, the work will embody the diversity of the city in which the artist grew up, as well as the potential of the next generation who will shape London’s future.’

David Adjaye is to design Princeton University’s new art museum. According to a statement issued by the university, the new building will replace Princeton’s current art museum, and will feature ‘dramatically enlarged space for the exhibition and study of the museum’s encyclopaedic collections, special exhibitions and art conservation, as well as object-study classrooms and office space for the 100-person museum staff.’ It’s the latest high-profile commission for the London-based architect, whose Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., was met with acclaim in 2016. Princeton’s current museum is set to close in 2020 for a period of three years.

After much speculation, Chinese-made art and antiquities have been spared from the escalating US-China trade war. US president Donald Trump declared a 10% tariff on USD$200 billion of Chinese products – but at the beginning of the week, the Office of the United States Trade Representative released a revised list of goods excluding Chinese artworks, according to The Art Newspaper. The previous list dating to July included Chinese paintings, drawings, sculptures and antiquities.

Museum Day, this Saturday 22 September, will see nearly 1,500 museums across the US offer free admission – visitors just need to download a Museum Day ticket (one per email address). Museum Day, now in its 14th edition, is an annual event sponsored by the Smithsonian magazine – this year’s theme is ‘Women Making History’.

As part of its series of obituaries, ‘Overlooked’, for those it ignored in the past, the New York Times has belatedly published an obituary for the Cuban artist Ana Mendieta. Mendieta was married to sculptor Carl Andre, who some still blame for her death (Mendieta fell from a window to her death in 1985), although he was cleared of murder. ‘Ana Mendieta’s art was sometimes violent, often unapologetically feminist and usually raw,’ writes Monica Castillo.

Ai Weiwei is heading to upstate New York. The dissident Chinese artist, currently living in Berlin, told an audience in Athens on Tuesday that he was moving to the US so his son can receive his schooling in English. Ai explained why he had chosen the rural life: ‘New York City is quite exciting, but not for the old men like me.’

And finally, Danish-Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour has been chosen to represent Denmark at the 2019 Venice Biennale. The pavilion will be curated by Nat Muller. ‘It is a huge honour for me to represent Denmark at the Venice Biennial. It has always been a big dream of mine to exhibit at the Giardini, and it’s a very special feeling to get to develop a new series of works for the Danish Pavilion,’ Sansour said.

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