The Essentials: David Peddles Rifles, NYC Unaffordable for Artists, and Everything You Need to Start Your Week

Michelangelo's David

An ad for ArmaLite Inc.'s new rifle featuring Michelangelo's David.
Courtesy Armalite, via Il Post.

— Italy's culture minister, Dario Franceschini, is not pleased with a new advertisement for American weapon-maker ArmaLite Inc. peddling its newest weapon, the AR-50A1, by showing it cradled in the arms of Michelangelo's David. "The image of David, armed, offends and infringes the law," the minister said in a tweet. "We will take action against the American company so that it immediately withdraws its campaign." He is urging the company to pull the ad promoting the US$3,000 rifle as "a work of art."

— The New York Times takes a long look at the state of studio space in New York City, using the recent pricing out of dozens of artists from the Industry City buildings in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, as a springboard for tracking artists' studio migration patterns around the city. Many of the artists consulted have had to either modify their practices or drastically reduce the size of their works in order to adapt to smaller spaces, move their studios into their homes, or give up art-making altogether. "Everything is so expensive, it's almost like renting another apartment," said Bronx-based artist Michael Paul Britto.

— Speaking of artists and affordable studios, the real estate section of the New York Times did a beautiful photo feature on the former Con Edison substation in the East Village that Walter de Maria bought and turned into a live-work space. The spectacular building is about to hit the market for US$25 million.

— Jonathan Demme, the director of Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, Rachel Getting Married, and more, is a major collector of folk art from Haiti and other parts of the Caribbean, and on March 29 and 30 more than 900 works from his personal collection will be auctioned by the Philadelphia-based Material Culture auction house.

— According to the findings of a study by the Association of Art Museum Directors that was released on Friday, women museum directors in Canada and the US earn roughly one third less than their male colleagues. "Everyone just claps their hands and says that it's getting better," Elizabeth Easton, director at New York's Center for Curatorial Leadership, told the Times. "But with boards full of men and search committees gravitating to men, it's not going to get better."

— In a federal court in Los Angeles, Continuum International Art Holdings is suing the 2012 Scott Ifversen Revocable Trust as well as its trustee Don Lewis and one Harry O'Connor (aka Jerry O'Connor) for duping it into paying a US$1-million down payment on a portfolio of works purported to be by Salvador Dalí, but which in fact only contained a few works by the mustachioed surrealist and was not even close the $55 million at which it was allegedly valued.

—19 Chinese artists, six of their relatives, and four staff are among those missing after Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappeared from radar in the early morning hours of Saturday. The group was returning home after opening an exhibition titled Chinese Dream: Red and Green Painting at Kuala Lumpur's Art Peninsular Enterprise.

— A copy of the Magna Carta, one of only four remaining original copies from 1215, will be coming to the US this year—making stops at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA, and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.—as part of a tour leading up to its 800th anniversary.

— Looking for the ghostwriting gig of a lifetime? Damien Hirst is writing a memoir but claims he can't remember an entire decade of his life because of the various excesses that are part and parcel of the art star lifestyle.

— Following collapses and accusations of corruption at the archaeological site of Pompeii, and faced with a drastically truncated cultural budget, the new prime minister of Italy Matteo Renzi is calling on the private sector to help fund the ongoing restoration of the UNESCO World Heritage site. "The ideological refusal to permit the private sector to intervene, as if only the public sector could guarantee the guardianship of heritage, must end," Renzi said. "If the private sector can keep the wall standing upright, why not allow it to?"

— Though clearly motivated by a love of art and a desire to preserve the sanctity of the encounter between viewer and artwork as a moment of contemplative communion, Rupert Christiansen's call for banning photography in museums comes off as condescending and backwards. "Just stop and look, I want to say, and use the most sophisticated camera of all," he urges, "the eye that links to the mind, the emotions and the memory."