Oscar-Nominated "Restrepo" Director Killed in Libya, Warhol's Last Self-Portrait Heads to Auction at Christie's, and More Must-Read Art News

Oscar-Nominated "Restrepo" Director Killed in Libya, Warhol's Last Self-Portrait Heads to Auction at Christie's, and More Must-Read Art News

Director and Getty Photographer Killed: Two photographers were tragically killed and two others wounded on Wednesday while covering the mounting conflict in Misurata, Libya's third-largest city. Tim Hetherington, a photographer and the director of the film "Restrepo," a 2010 documentary on the Afghan War, was killed on the front lines. Getty photographer Chris Hondros died within a few hours of the shooting from severe brain trauma. The other two wounded photographers, Guy Martin and Michael Christopher Brown, appear to be in stable condition. "Restrepo," which chronicles a year in the life of a platoon in the Afghanistan's Korengal valley, won the Grand Jury Prize for best documentary at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and was a 2011 nominee for the Academy Award for best documentary. The news of the deaths was first reported on the Facebook wall of photographer André Liohn, who was writing from the hospital. Hetherington's final tweet read, "In besieged Libyan city of Mistrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO." [Eyeteeth and New York Times]

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Christie's to Offer Warhol's Last Self-Portrait: On May 11 the auction house will present a 1986 fright-wig painting in black and Warhol's signature "Pop red" — the hue of his best-known "Death and Disaster" paintings — that was the last self-portrait the artist ever made. Tagged with an estimate of $30-40 million, the 9-foot-square painting is being sold by an anonymous American collector who bought it in 1996. The auction record for Warhol stands at $71.7 million for "Green Car Crash," sold at Christie's New York in May 2007, and $32.5 million for a self-portrait, achieved last May at Sotheby's New York. [AP]

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Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective Heads to Denver: The Denver Art Museum will present a survey of 40 years worth of garments by the designer, amounting to some 200 haute couture creations. The show was curated by Florence Müller and overseen by Pierre Bergé and will come to Colorado March 2012 from Paris, where it has been shown at the Petit Palais and the Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville. [Press Release]

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Peter Vetsch Resigns From Art Forum Berlin: The director, who was hired away from Art Basel along with Eva-Maria Häusler to co-direct Art Forum Berlin 2009, has said that he is leaving the fair for personal reasons. Häusler will continue to direct Art Forum Berlin, alongside longtime project director Kirsten Günther. [Artinfo24 (No Relation)] 

Chinese Documentary Festival Goes Dark: The 8th Documentary Film Festival of China will not proceed as planned next month as a result of the country's ongoing crackdown on artists and intellectuals. "We canceled it ourselves," said Zhu Rikun, who founded the festival in 2003. "The overall situation was tense, and we had received a lot of pressure. We worried that the films to be shown would meet some problems in this environment and decided to cancel it." [China Digital Times]

Undaunted: Chinese human rights lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan, a friend of Ai Weiwei's who was released Tuesday after being held by the government for five days, says he would still not shy away from defending the dissident artist in court. "If Weiwei's family asks me to represent him, I will say yes," he said. [NYT]

The Hideous Delusions of Qaddafi: An aide to Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi, whose troops murdered the two photographers, sent a desperate letter to New York Times fashion editor Horacio Silva practically begging him to curate a 2013 retrospective of Qaddafi's clothing at the Met's prestigious Costume Institute. In the letter, the aide comes across as insane, suggesting that an exhibition of Qaddafi's "superior dress sense" would somehow transform his legacy and salvage his increasingly precarious position as head of state. Apparently writing as bombs are literally falling around him, he describes the situation as "urgent," saying that the staff is concerned that if a bombing raid hits the palace, "the result might be the destruction of over 3,400 items of breathtaking sartorial magnificence." Silva posted the letter in full, but said that the Times's editorial policy prohibits him from taking the all-expenses-paid trip offered by the Libyan government to play in Qaddafi's closet. [T Magazine]

Crisis in U.K. Art Schools: As a result of the heavily winnowed budget and decreasing prospects of public funding, Britain's leading art schools — the hotbeds responsible for the 1990s boom in the nation's creativity that turned London into an energetic contemporary art capital — are forced to shift the burden onto their students, dramatically expanding class sizes and increasing tuition costs. [Guardian]

And "Phooey" on What Came Before: Guardian critic Jonathan Jones, incidentally, reminds that much of Britain's art preceding the 90s student-driven boom was pretty crappy by and large, especially in the first half of the century. "It has been accurately seen for what it was, a backwater," he writes, apropos of a recent effort to enshrine this history in museum surveys. [Guardian]

Stopwatch Running Out on "Clock" Availability: Of the six editions of Christian Marclay's instaclassic "The Clock," one has been purchased by LACMA for around $500,000, and two others are being pursued by MoMA and the Tate — leaving just three as the subject of an acquisitional race against time. [NYT]

Van Gogh Museum Acquires Two Pissarros: The Amsterdam museum has purchased "The Haying, Éragny" (1887) and "Cowgirl in Morning Sun" (1887) by the 19th-century French painter. "Pissarro's pointillist work is an important and representative addition to our museum's modest collection of pointillist art," explains museum director Alex Rüger. "This work embodies a major and thus far missing link in Van Gogh's experiments with color and technique from his Paris period, which we can now show to the public. Acquiring pointillist pieces like these was a key priority in our collection plan." [Press Release]

Aldon James's Troubled Rise to Power: The controversial National Arts Club president, who is currently on a forced vacation do to alleged weird behavior including finch-killing and junk-hoarding, had a troubled start to his tenure. Former board members seem to think that James edged out the previous president, septuagenarian Adriana Zahn, by threatening to reveal (shock, horror) that the aged leader was taking a car service home. One former member claimed that after James's coup, the NAC "turned from a democracy into a dictatorship." [Observer]

Steven Meisel's Tribute to Alexander McQueen: As the Met gears up for its Costume Institute retrospective of the late, great designer, Vogue has published a stunning spread of photographs of McQueen's designs, along with commentary from the brand's creative director, and McQueen's longtime right-hand woman, Sarah Burton. [Vogue]

River to River Festival Line-Up: The lower Manhattan annual series of free events, held June 19-July 16, will feature performances courtesy of Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, Patti Smith, Rufus Wainwright, Henry V (sort of), and more. [NYT]