Legendary Tattoo Artist Spider Webb Dies at 78—and More Art News – ARTnews.com

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The Headlines

THE STORIED TATTOOIST SPIDER WEBB, who fought laws that restricted his medium while pushing it into the realm of high art, has died at 78, Neil Genzlinger reports in the New York Times. In 1976, Spider (as he was generally known) gave a tattoo in front of the Museum of Modern Art so that he would be arrested and could test a city restriction on the practice. He lost the legal battle, but New York formally rescinded the ban in 1997. Spider created complex designs but also embarked on conceptual projects like one that involved tattooing a small X on 1,000 people and 1,000 Xs on one person. “Tattooing was just one part of what he did,” sexologist and artist Annie Sprinkle told the Times. “He did sculpture, painting, drawing, performance art, comic books, video. His life was art.”

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JOB POSTINGS. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles has hired Amanda Sroka to be its senior curator, the Los Angeles Times reports. Sroka is currently associate curator of contemporary art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and will be taking the place of Jamillah James, who was tapped last year to become senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Meanwhile, the Baltimore Museum of Art’s board has elected James D. Thornton to be its chair. Thornton, who has been managing director of Thorwood Real Estate Group LLC and senior executive vice president and director of diversity at MBNA Bank, has been a BMA trustee since 2004, and will be the first person of color to serve in the position. And Eileen Jeng Lynch has been appointed the Bronx Museum of the Arts’s new director of curatorial programs. She was formerly senior curator of visual arts at Wave Hill.

The Digest

Matt Wolf, who cofounded the arts collective Meow Wolf, which has created immersive, interactive exhibitions around the American West, has died at 37. No cause has been released. [The Associated Press]

Three men, including New York rare book dealer Glenn Horowitz, have been charged with allegedly attempting to sell notes that prosecutors say they knew were stolen from Eagles frontman Don Henley. The three have denied the allegations. [Rolling Stone, The New York Times]

NASA released a bounty of dazzling images of the universe taken by the James Webb Space Telescope, showing distant galaxies, star clusters, and a great deal more. [CNN]

Discussing the Cuban government’s harsh suppression of recent protests, artist and writer Coco Fusco argues that “a clearly discernible reticence with regard to criticizing Cuba’s domestic affairs persists in the arts, academia, and progressive media.” [e-flux]

Artist Cecilia Vicuña met with the recently inaugurated 36-year-old president of her native Chile, Gabriel Boric. [@ceciliavicuna/Instagram]

The Kicker

THE RENAISSANCE MAN. An album out this week, Earl’s Closet: The Lost Archive of Earl McGrath, 1970-1980, collects rare recordings—by Hall & OatsDavid JohansenWarhol “superstar” Ultra Violet, and others—that were found in the apartment of the eponymous record label chief, art dealer, and all-around gadabout after he died in 2016. The New York Times has a richly reported article on the obscure but influential McGrath, with stories from Mick JaggerEd Ruscha, and Lili Anolik, the biographer of author Eve Babitz. In the early 1970s, Anolik relays, Babitz was focused on making visual art, but when McGrath casually questioned a color she had used, she was shaken, and “switched her focus to writing,” she said. “So, we, the culture, owe Earl big in a way.” [NYT]

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