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Weekly Art Lens by Beth Shook

Photo by PoPville flickr user sciascia

This week, I take a break from museum and gallery highlights to round up some recent D.C. art headlines. For this week’s exhibition openings and closings, scroll to the bottom.

> The latest addition to the Senator William A. Clark family collection at the Corcoran Gallery of Art will be an oil painting by Claude Monet that has not been displayed in public since 1925. The work, referred to as Nympheas 1907, was bequeathed by Clark’s daughter Huguette M. Clark, who passed away last month at the age of 104. The painting is part of Monet’s famed “Water Lilies” series and is estimated to be worth at least $25 million. Corcoran chairman Harry Hopper called the work “spectacular” and promised to find it a “happy home” in the museum. It’s not clear if and when Nympheas will be on view. The New York Times obituary refers to the enigmatic heiress as “the last link to New York’s Gilded Age” and is definitely worth a read.

> For the past couple of months, “Missing Person” flyers for the detained Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei have become ubiquitous in some areas of the city, notably in Columbia Heights and near the Chinese Embassy in Glover Park. Now that Weiwei has been released on bail, we can be somewhat confident that his next appearance in Washington will be a happier occasion. A year from now, the Hirshhorn Museum plans to host a large retrospective titled Ai Weiwei: According to What?, which will be on tour from the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. The exhibition will include around 25 works in different mediums executed by the artist over the past decade.

> As of yesterday, the National Building Museum has begun charging an admissions fee. Citing the negative impact of the recession on arts institutions, particularly non-profit museums, the NBD director Chase W. Rynd justified the decision as a last resort in a changing landscape. He wrote in a press release, “Those who wait too long to realize this truth or dismiss it entirely are likely to become casualties of the era.” Entrance will now cost $8 for adults and $5 for children, students and seniors. It will continue to be free for members and — during the summer — for active-duty military personnel and their families.

> The current director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art will be leaving Washington to take over as director of the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design. According to the Associated Press, John W. Smith, who has served as AAA director for five years, led a project that involved digitizing 1.5 million objects from the Archives collection. The move to RISD will take place this September.

> Speaking of departures, this news has been out for nearly a month, but it’s still worth mentioning. After five years in their space on 14th Street NW (just south of P), Irvine Contemporary is moving out at the end of the summer to an as yet unspecified new location due to “unmanageable increases in rent.” The gallery has been a dynamic force in the Logan Circle contemporary art scene, offering new exhibitions almost monthly, and it’s a shame to see them go. According to owner and director Martin Irvine, although a new space hasn’t yet been announced, future shows are being planned for temporary spaces around the U Street area. Irvine now has on view the first of two Artist Tribute Exhibitions, which also celebrate the gallery’s 10th anniversary. The shows will close on Aug. 27.

Opening: Mexico Through the Lens of National Geographic at the Mexican Cultural Institute; Mads Gamdrup: Renunciation at the Corcoran Gallery of Art; Art Deck-O: DC Playing Card Originals at Touchstone Gallery. Closing: Drawing at Marsha Mateyka Gallery.

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