“A small square tile with the profile image of a beautiful angel has been claimed not only as the earliest surviving work by Leonardo da Vinci, but as his own self-portrait as the Archangel Gabriel. If genuine the tile has survived miraculously unbroken for more than 500 years, since the 18-year-old artist made it in 1471. The claim – dismissed out of hand by the world renowned Leonardo expert Martin Kemp – is certain to spark academic debate.”
“Surveillance video recorded last week at the Tomahawk Ridge Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas, shows two young boys running around and playing with each other while a group of adults sat and chatted nearby. It was all fun and games until one 5-year-old decided to stop and admire the art.”
“The Pasadena Museum of California Art, that Modernist beacon that has swooped above East Union Street since 2002, will close its doors at the end of the current exhibition,” according to a slightly odd vote by the institution’s directors. Columnist Larry Wilson looks at the PMCA’s unusual situation and wonders if some individuals or institution might step in.
From major encyclopedic museums to university-run institutions, curators who are schooled in the art of ancient Mesopotamia, South Asia, Renaissance Italy, and many other eras and cultures across the globe are expanding and enriching how audiences experience art history. They’re also innovating the way that art is seen, understood, and disseminated.
Dr. Tedi Asher of the Peabody Essex Museum of Salem, Mass.: “When I first got to PEM,” says Asher, “we knew what the objective was, which was to create more compelling exhibitions for our visitors, by drawing on findings from the neuroscience literature, but we didn’t know exactly how to do that. … I see myself as very much like the mechanic. Like, how do we take all of these parts and work with them in a way that we’re facilitating engagement?”
“A panel of the 15th century painting Adoration of the Mystic Lamb disappeared from Ghent in 1934, and only a few clues were left behind. But on Friday, an engineer claimed that he had solved the riddle left behind after the disappearance. Gino Marchal, co-author of The Fourteenth Letter, claimed that the panel is hidden under a square in the Kalandeberg area of the city centre — where the mayor is now urging treasure hunters not to dig.”
“Anish Kapoor is going after the National Rifle Association (NRA), filing a copyright infringement lawsuit in the US in response to a 2017 NRA ad featuring Cloud Gate, his famed public sculpture [known popularly as ‘The Bean’] in Chicago’s Millennium Park. … The NRA advertisement, titled ‘The Clenched Fist of Truth’ or ‘The Violence of Lies,’ denounced the US media and its “liberal agenda” in an effort to recruit new members and solicit donations.”
“The European Union is considering stringent new import licence regulations on cultural goods over 250 years old in order to help fight the funding of terrorism through illicit trade. The proposal as it stands is being fiercely opposed by international dealer associations, whose lobbyists argue that it is ill thought out and will damage the market.”
“Last month, the Carabinieri, Italy’s military police, unveiled a cache of antiquities seized from a Roman property developer. The objects, which include two Greek vases as well as a bull’s and a horse’s head, both in terracotta, are worth €900,000, the Carabinieri’s cultural protection squad says. … But when we sent this picture to five independent experts, all of them questioned the objects’ authenticity. Although the specialists said they could not offer a definitive opinion based on a photograph, all of them expressed grave doubts.”
Dispelling the notion of the autonomous realm of art means acknowledging that cultural institutions function within the system of inequality in the U.S. and that there has undoubtedly been inherent bias in what museums acquire and how they display it. Aruna D’Souza thinks mid-size institutions, like the Worcester Art Museum, are in a position to lead this kind of re-framing, as opposed to larger, legacy institutions with more corporate structures.
Rapid-response collecting was pioneered by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. In 2014, it opened a gallery dedicated to objects acquired after they stirred public debate or looked likely to have historical impact. The museum says it hopes they provoke discussion about how objects are changing the way we live.
The sculpture’s footprint covers 1% of the artificial lake’s surface and rises 20 metres above the water. The sides of the barrels are painted red, with a white stripe circling their circumference, giving the side-view of the sculpture the appearance of relentless cartoon brickwork. The circular barrels’ ends are variously blue, a different red or a dusky mauve. Their arrangement seems a kind of random pixilation, though the order is meticulously copied from the artist’s working drawings.
When a Kerry James Marshall piece sells at auction for almost $19 million, but the artist sees none of that money, the stark reality sets in: Artists have no direct stake in secondary sales of their works. And artists are getting poorer – they earn an average of $10,000 in the U.S. How can this be fixed?
“Why did Beyoncé and Jay-Z decide to stage their reconciliation track at the world’s most visited museum? Swagger, for one thing: That first tracking shot of the couple in front of the Mona Lisa, wearing silk suits of complementary sea-foam green (him) and orchid pink (her), is a first-order power move that echoes their selfie from 2014 in the same gallery. It also relies on Paris’s romance and glamour. … This video would make no sense at Madrid’s imposing Museo del Prado or Vienna’s lush Kunsthistorisches Museum.”
Spencer Tunick specializes in mass nude photography, but the supermarket giant in inner Melbourne wasn’t, at first, keen on letting the artist do his proposed shoot, which already had more than 10,000 people signed up. The company said it would disrupt weekend shoppers. So, “the organisers proposed to reschedule the shoot for a Monday morning and Woolworths agreed. The shoot will now … be completed in one hour and participants will be urged to take public transport to ensure that some carparks would be available for customers.”
Nell Irvin Painter (yes, that’s her real name) changed her hair as well as her understanding when she got her MFA: “I could just feel that in art school, in that world, my natural hair seemed kind of 20th century. It was akin to my great handicap, which was my 20th century eyes. I really had to bring my eyes into the 21th century, which was a long-running process that is still going on. So I changed and the way I look changed.”
As some experts believe the Mackintosh building could be reconstructed – but at a huge cost, “Muriel Gray, who is the chair of the art school’s board of governors, acknowledged later on Sunday that there would now be ‘a difficult waiting game’ before discovering more about the cause of the fire and its consequences.”
For instance, the text by a portrait of Russell Sturgis has changed: “A conventional sign next to the piece informs us that Gilbert Stuart, mostly known for painting George Washington’s portrait, painted Sturgis in 1822. A new sign above that, informs us that Sturgis’ relatives established a business in present-day Haiti that trafficked in flour, horses and enslaved persons.”
This has been 25 years – and two centuries – in the making. “The ‘Life of Sally Hemings’ exhibit is perhaps the most striking example of the sea change that has taken place at Monticello, as the foundation has increasingly focused on highlighting the stories of Monticello’s slaves. … It rebuilt a slave cabin and workshops where slaves labored, and has hosted reunions there for the descendants of the enslaved population, including sleepovers. It removed a public bathroom installed in 1940s atop slave quarters.”
Every part of the building was affected, and there was a partial roof collapse – and the fire spread to nearby buildings as well. “It was the second time in four years that a blaze has hit the world-famous building, which was under restoration and was set to reopen after a fire badly damaged it in May 2014.”
If some of the deals seem too good to be true, well—they may just be. Among other offerings with an uncanny resemblance to midcentury design icons (like Hans Wegner’s Wishbone chair, or the Eames Office molded plastic chair), the Poly and Bark Sculpture Coffee Table for $309.99 has raised a few discerning eyebrows.
Trim and mercurial, Ann Philbin, who once clashed with billionaire Eli Broad over funding and turned away potential board members who didn’t share her progressive inclinations, runs on self-assurance and charm. She looks right at you, as if perhaps you’re a painting or video installation to be politely scrutinized, and then, if all goes well, conspired with.
“The work in question is called Trolley Hunters, a satirical image of Neanderthal-ish men hunting a shopping cart. It’s said to be the artist’s critique on corporate food production. Its value is estimated at $45,000. … Later Thursday, police released video appearing to show the theft, while the exhibition was still being set up.”
“The National Trust is now opening a permanent commemoration of the charter, in the form of a new work by Mark Wallinger. Writ in Water, as it is called, is an entire building. The artist – who won the 2007 Turner prize and whose statue of Christ, Ecce Homo, was the first contemporary sculpture on Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth – teamed up with architect James Lowe to produce what is his largest-scale single work to date.” Charlotte Higgins pays a visit.
“The Russian government has urged museums to offer discounts to visitors with a World Cup Fan-ID, the special document that allows ticket-holders to enter the country without a visa.” The Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow will offer free admission to its 20th- and 21-century art wing for the next six weeks. But the director of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg has curtly declined to make any such offer – and the way he explained his reasoning will not please Russian nationalists.