Art Industry News: While the World Watched Notre Dame Burn, Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque Was on Fire Too + Other Stories
Plus, Greece's president renews demand for the Parthenon Marbles and we get a sneak peek inside Kehinde Wiley’s new Senegal art haven.
Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know this Tuesday, April 16.
France Launches Looted Art Task Force – France is stepping up its efforts to locate and return art looted by the Nazis or sold under duress during World War II. The new approach takes some decisions out of the hands of curators and places additional responsibility on a new body within the Culture Ministry that has an annual budget of around $230,000. (For comparison, the German Art Loss Register has a budget of almost $7 million.) “The ministry and museums were, by nature, very reluctant about restitution,” says David Zivie, the official who is expected to lead the new task force. (New York Times)
Peek Inside Kehinde Wiley’s New Senegal Art Haven – The American artist allowed a photographer inside his new compound in Dakar ahead of its official opening in late May. Designed by Senegalese architect Abib Djenne, the Black Rock Senegal complex has two parts: Wiley’s 4,000-square-foot home/studio and a second building with three-story townhouses where visiting artists and curators will stay. They will have access to the artist’s gym, infinity pool, steam room, and sauna during the day. (New York)
Ancient Jerusalem Mosque Damaged by Fire – As the world’s attention was focused on blazing fire at the Notre-Dame in Paris, one of Islam’s holiest sites was also damaged by fire. Like the fire at Notre-Dame, the blaze at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem was also first reported on social media when flames and smoke were spotted from the roof of the compound in the Old City. The Palestinian Authority said that the fire brigade of the Islamic Waqf “handled the matter successfully.” The oldest parts of the much-rebuilt mosque date from the 7th century. (Newsweek)
Greece’s President Still Wants the Parthenon Marbles Back – In a speech on Monday, Prokopis Pavlopoulos called for Britain to free the Parthenon Marbles from the “murky prison” of the British Museum. The statement heats up an escalating 200-year-long campaign for the sculptures’ return to Greece. The works were removed by Britain’s Lord Elgin from the Acropolis temple in Athens during an era when Greece was under Ottoman rule. This January, British Museum director Hartwig Fischer said the works will not be returned and called their initial removal a “creative act.” (Reuters)
Ryan O’Neal Wants $18 Million for Warhol’s Farrah Fawcett Portrait – The actor is shopping around a Warhol portrait of his late ex Farrah Fawcett for $18 million—a discount from his previous asking price of $20 million. An unnamed source told Page Six that O’Neal might even be “willing to let it go for less.” The work was formerly at the center of a legal battle: a jury ruled in 2013 that O’Neal could keep the artwork after the University of Texas claimed the actress had left it to the school in her will. (Page Six)
Cuban Galleries Forge Survival Strategies – Galleries in Havana are classified as mixed “studio-workshops,” so they can sell work on behalf of artists even though running a private enterprise is still difficult in communist Cuba. But dealers and artists are still putting on shows, typically in unconventional spaces, to coincide with the Havana Biennial. (The Art Newspaper)
COMINGS & GOINGS
Crystal Bridges Names Chief Curator – The museum in Bentonville, Arkansas has appointed Austen Barron Bailly as its new chief curator. She joins Crystal Bridges from the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, where she oversaw its American art program, including the first major exhibition of Thomas Hart Benton’s work in more than 25 years. (Artforum)
ICI Names Leo Award Winner – The collector Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo has won the Independent Curators International’s Leo award for arts patrons, named after the esteemed art dealer Leo Castelli. Re Rebaudengo has amassed an extraordinary collection of more than 1,500 works and has opened her own foundation in Turin, Italy. (ARTnews)
LACMA Adds New Works to Its Collection – Some 81 patrons raised more than $2.4 million to donate eight works to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art during its 33rd annual collectors committee weekend. Acquisitions include an untitled painting by 98-year-old artist Luchita Hurtado from 1950 and God of Some Things, a 2011 sculpture by Pakistani-American sculptor Huma Bhabha. (Unframed)
FOR ART’S SAKE
Italy to Help Iran Restore Ancient Persepolis – Italian archaeologists and restorers are planning to help rehabilitate ruined monuments and bas-relief carvings at Persepolis, a historical site in Iran that dates to the Achaemenid Empire from 550–330 BC. The program, part of “Archaeology Without Borders,” is scheduled to take place from April 27 to June 7. (Iranian)
#MeToo Protest at Meeting of American Archeologists – An archaeologist banned from his university’s campus for alleged sexual harassment attended part of the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, where some of his accusers were in attendance. More than 1,500 archaeologists have now signed an open letter denouncing the handling of the situation. The fact that the archeologist was not immediately removed from the meeting brought attention to “blind spots” in the society’s new anti-harassment policy, they say. (ScienceMag)
A Peek at Contemporary Austin’s Recent Art Dinner – From cocktails around the new Moody pavilions to dinner and a lively auction led by Sotheby’s auctioneers Kevin Doyle and Christy Williams Coombs, Contemporary Austin’s annual art dinner raised more than $1 million for the institution’s exhibitions program. The event was also an impromptu send-off for longtime director Louis Grachos, who announced he would be leaving to become director of the Palm Springs Art Museum. From the money raised, $500,000 went toward the acquisition of Jim Hodges’s With Liberty and Justice For All (A Work in Progress), a sculpture that is installed on the museum building exterior. (Instagram)
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