This week’s rolling news roundup

22–28 April 2019

Donations towards the restoration of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, devastated by fire on 15 April, had by end of the Easter weekend passed $1bn. Major donations from French businesspeople – notably art collectors François Pinault and Bernard Arnault, who pledged a combined €300m (backed by President Macron's assurances that such donations would be tax-deductible) – sparked debate in the artworld around the ethics of spectacular philanthropy. Adding fuel to that particular fire – so to speak – was the announcement that the Paris branch of Gagosian Gallery would host an exhibition to benefit the reconstruction. It was reported, meanwhile, that the Belgian artist Wim Delvoye planned to enter the design competition for a new spire to replace that which collapsed during the blaze. 

Hito Steyerl, meanwhile, used the opening of her own exhibition at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery to protest the institution's reliance on donations from the Sackler family, controllers of the pharmaceutical company responsible for the production of Oxycontin, an addictive opioid. Included in the show is an app that effaces the word 'Sackler' from the inscription over the museum's entrance. After months of controversy, Olu Oguibe's Monument to Strangers and Refugees (2017) was reinstalled in Kassel, albeit in a different location to the main square, where it had drawn ire from rightwing groups for its pro-refugee message after its installation as part of Documenta 14. The entirely uncontroversial Guggenheim Abu Dhabi development, meanwhile, was reported by the Art Newspaper to be confident of opening, after significant delays, 'around 2022'. The museum will be housed in the same complex, on Saadiyat island, as the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opened in 2017, and the future Zayed National Museum.

The death of Monir Farmanfarmain on 20 April brought tributes from around the world. The Iranian artist, who only gained widespread recognition after returning to her native country in 2004, when she was in her early eighties, was heralded for having combined Islamic geometric patterns with a strain of minimalism generally attributed to her having lived so much of her life in New York. It was also noted that she was the first female artist to have a museum dedicated to her work in Iran.

Eisa Jocson, fresh from a recent and presumably jury-swaying appearance in a panel discussion on art from the Philippines at the ArtReview Bar, was named among the finalists for this year's Hugo Boss Asia Art Award, which awards £35,000 to an artist from Greater China and Southeast Asia. She was joined on the shortlist by Hao Jingban (China), Hsu Che-Yu (Taiwan) and Phan Thảo Nguyên (Vietnam). On Thursday the Mark Tanner Sculpture Award announced a shortlist of Josephine Baker, Jolanta Basova, Olivia Bax, Marie Aimée Fattouche, Byzantia Harlow, Harley Kuyck-Cohen, Jocelyn McGregor and Lindsey Mendick for the 2019/20 edition of the £8,000 award, which offers the winner financial support towards the production of new work, a solo exhibition at Standpoint Gallery, London, and a National Touring Programme.

The British curator Michelle Cotton will leave Bonner Kunstverein to take up a new role of head of programmes at MUDAM, Luxembourg. In more salacious news, the self-invented socialite Anna Sorokin (aka Delvey) was found guilty of charges including grand larceny in a New York courtroom. Her crimes related to a series of scams perpetrated after she moved to the city from Germany, posing as a millionaire heiress. Among the schemes for which she sought loans worth millions of dollars was an arts foundation in Manhattan.