BY Frieze News Desk in News | 17 MAY 19

Celebrated Architect I.M. Pei Dies Aged 102

In further news: Met rejects Sackler gifts; Indigenous Womxn’s Collective protests Warren B. Kanders at Whitney Biennial opening

BY Frieze News Desk in News | 17 MAY 19

I. M. Pei at the Louvre’s Pyramid. Courtesy: Getty Images; photograph: Bernard Bisson

I. M. Pei, the architect whose notable creations include the glass pyramid at the Louvre, Paris, has passed away at the age of 102. Pei’s modernist designs stressed the importance of natural light and precise lines and surfaces, with an emphasis on the use of glass and steel. Born in Guangzhou in 1917, he later studied in the US. His controversial glass pyramid at the Louvre was completed in 1989. Other significant projects include the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha and Hong Kong’s Bank of China Tower. He was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1983, recognized by the jury for how he has ‘given this century some of its most beautiful interior spaces and exterior forms.’

Art world professionals and colleagues of a British Council worker jailed in Tehran this week on charges of spying, have spoken out against her 10-year sentence. Aras Amiri was detained last March while visiting her grandmother. A spokesperson for Iran’s judiciary reportedly said that an Iranian woman ‘in charge of the Iran desk at the British Council’ had been convicted on spying charges. ‘She is being held in a prison on very serious charges,’ art historian Hamed Yousefi told The Art Newspaper. ‘The Iranian government is paranoid about all forms of international contact.’

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has confirmed that it will decline gifts from the Sackler family, whose members have profited from the production of the addictive painkiller Oxycontin – linked to the US opioid crisis – through their ownership of the company Purdue Pharma. Met president Daniel H Weiss commented on the decision, which puts an end to a decades-long relationship with the family: ‘The museum takes a position of gratitude and respect to those who support us, but on occasion, we feel it’s necessary to step away from gifts that are not in the public interest, or in our institution’s interest.’ The museum will not be renaming its Sackler Wing. The Met’s announcement follows similar moves from the Tate and the National Portrait Gallery in the UK, and New York’s Guggenheim Museum, to shun Sackler funding. Read our interview with the artist and activist Nan Goldin on the art world’s responsiblity to reject Sackler Money, and why the age of using culture for ‘reputation laundering’ is over.

The Indigenous Womxn’s Collective staged a brief protest at the opening reception for the Whitney Biennial on Wednesday. According to ArtNews, members of the activist group spoke out against the Whitney Museum board’s vice chair Warren B. Kanders, who has been criticized for his ownership of Safariland, a producer of tear gas used against asylum seekers on the US-Mexico border. The group called for Kanders to be removed, saying in a statement: ‘You, the Whitney, is harboring a terrorist who profits from violence against brown bodies. You want our art, but not our people.’ Read more on the Whitney’s choice here: can a museum for ‘progressive artists’ have an arms manufacturer vice-chairman?