From Salvator Mundi’s Reunion With the Mona Lisa (Maybe) to an Artwork Crashing From the Sky: The Best & Worst of the Art World This Week

Catch up on the week's art news—fast.

Just imagine. Photo of Salvator Mundi by Carl Court/Getty Images; photo of Mona Lisa by Dmitri Kessel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images.

This week, the art world shook off its post-turkey coma and got back to business. Here’s our breakdown of the biggest art news stories to emerge over the past seven days.


Instagram Revealed Its Most Popular Posts – It’s official, the most-hearted image on Instagram, with a staggering 11.2 million “likes,” is artist Awol Erikzu’s photograph of a glowingly pregnant Beyonce. Other winners of the platform’s popularity contest include the Hirshhorn Museum in DC (thanks, Kusama, the Museum of Modern Art, and, of course, the Museum of Ice Cream.

We Examined David Hockney’s Legacy – Sara Roffino spoke to five contemporary artists whose work is indebted to the British artist. From his signature color palette to his perspective-bending canvases, Hockney has influenced artists from Jordan Casteel to Jonas Wood, who are carrying on the legacy. See if you can tell the difference between Hockney’s originals and the works he inspired.

A Step Toward Greater Museum Diversity – Thanks to a combined $6 million gift from the Ford Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation, the effort to diversify museums’ staff gotten a big boost. The Initiative is funding 22 institutions around the country to enact programs that aim to change the largely homogeneous and majority-white composition of their leadership ranks.

Will Salvator Mundi Join the Mona Lisa? – Sacré bleu! Leonardo da Vinci’s Jesus portrait could be en route to the Louvre, according to the museum’s director, Jean-Luc Martinez, who said he’d be happy to host the $450 million painting in the upcoming exhibition celebrating the 30th-anniversary of the Louvre’s renovation and expansion—though plans are still in the works.

Goodbye, Graydon, Old Sport – artnet News paid tribute to the powerbrokering editor Graydon Carter, who retired from Vanity Fair after three decades at the helm, by recalling the stories on nefarious art-world dealings, blockbuster sales, and beguiling personalities that the glossy magazine published under his direction.

Public Art Begets a Public Outcry – To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the Public Art Fund’s new show highlights some of the most beloved—and controversial—pieces to grace New York’s public spaces.

King Tut Is Hitting the Road Again – Almost a century after the boy king Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered, more than 150 artifacts from the famed site are heading on a 10-city tour kicking off at the California Science Center in LA this March. Past exhibitions displaying the treasures have seen record numbers of visitors, and with a staggering number of new artifacts discovered in recent years, we can expect another phenomenon.




The Far Right Attacks Brazil’s Art Scene – artnet News’s Henri Neuendorf reports on the alarming state of the arts in Brazil, where right-wing groups are threatening the artists and institutions that they deem immoral. The country has seen escalating tensions due to death threats, violence, and censorship targeting the arts—all of which has roots at high levels of government.

The Other Shoe Drops at documenta – The CEO of documenta’s parent company, Annette Kulenkampff, will step down from her post a year before her contract expires after the quinquennial exhibition racked up a deficit of more than $6 million this year—a shortfall due in large part to creative director Adam Szymczyk’s vision to stage the show in two cities, instead of just one.

Performance Art Fail Alert! – A Belgian artist who chained himself to a marble block symboling the weight of art history needed rescuing after his high-concept performance-art piece became all too real.

DOD Puts Guantánamo Prisoner Art in the Crosshairs – A show of artworks by the infamous detainment camp’s prisoners may be shut down, or even destroyed. A policy at the Department of Defense is claiming that the art is property of the US government, and should not be available for public viewing; professors and activists at the college are currently protesting the censorship.

Jens Hoffmann Is Out of FRONT – The always-busy curator made news this week when he announced his immediate withdrawal as the co-director of Cleveland’s upcoming FRONT Triennial exhibition.

The Dark Side of Art Buying – Is the dark web a new threat to the art market? An online bitcoin auction had multiple bidders for a stolen painting—even though it’s likely a fake raising questions about the web being used for illegal art transactions.

An Artwork Fell From the Sky – Puerto-Rican artist duo Allora & Calzadilla’s 40,000-pound sculpture made a crash landing, literally, as it was being transported to the ICA Miami’s new location in the Design District. Ironically, the piece, titled Unspecified Promise, is meant to be a commentary on the devastating effects of earthquakes and other natural disasters on art and architecture.

More Brexit Blues for UK Art  – The decision to leave the EU means that UK cities are officially ineligible to be deemed the European Capital of Culture, according to the European Commission.

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