Art Industry News: Yet Another Creepy Painting Owned by Jeffrey Epstein Has Been Discovered, This Time at His New Mexico Ranch + Other Stories
Plus, decoding David Koch's legacy as an arts funder and Brazil's culture secretary resigns over government censorship of LGTBQ-themed art.
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 Monday, August 26.
Greece Asks France to Loan Part of the Parthenon Marbles – The Greek government has asked France to loan a fragment of a Parthenon marble frieze from the Louvre Museum to mark the country’s 200th independence anniversary in 2021. In return, Greece has agreed to loan the Louvre a collection of ancient bronzes. Although Greece has long advocated for the permanent return of the Parthenon marbles, a Greek official noted this would be a temporary exchange. (AFP)
Decoding David Koch’s Legacy as an Arts Patron – The New York Times considers the legacy of David Koch, whose death was announced on Friday. While many considered him a polarizing figure because of his far-right political advocacy, institutions including the American Museum of Natural History, Lincoln Center, and the Met readily embraced his multimillion-dollar donations. Koch once said he liked to put his name on arts buildings because “it sends a message to the political groups in this country that don’t like the conservative Republican businessman.” (New York Times)
Another Creepy Painting Is Found at Jeffrey Epstein’s Ranch – The art and home decor of Jeffrey Epstein, the financier and convicted sex offender who died by suicide in jail last month awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, just keeps getting creepier. After a painting of Bill Clinton wearing a dress on view in his New York City townhouse went viral, reports have surfaced of another unnerving painting at his New Mexico ranch. This one depicts a young girl wearing a wedding band and snuggling with a lion. A snapshot of the painting was sent to Fox News by a contractor who worked on the property in 2013. “We would talk about how creepy it was, this strange painting with nothing else around it,” the contractor said. (Fox News)
A War Is Raging Through Arts and Culture in Germany – The Eurosceptic, far-right party AfD is trying to remove what one party member has called “totalitarian neo-leftist tyrants who dominate the cultural scene.” Recently, the party requested a list of the nationalities of opera and ballet employees in the Stuttgart area. Such parliamentary requests cannot be ignored, but the theaters managed to return only a generalized list without names. Amid this tense political climate, Germany’s state-funded arts organizations say they are deeply concerned by the parallels between AfD’s behavior and the National Socialist party’s rise to power in the 1930s. However, theaters are finding ways to fight back: a cinema in Hachenburg recently offered political party members free entry to a screening of the wartime epic Schindler’s List. (Financial Times)
The Financier Lord Rothschild Is Unveiling His Family Trove – Banker, collector, and philanthropist Jacob Rothschild is opening up his family’s Waddesdon Manor as a permanent gallery that will house over 300 treasures from the Rothschild’s massive collection of art and antiques. The opulent 19th-century manor, which is located Buckinghamshire in England, is stacked with paintings by Gainsborough, Reynolds, and Hockney, and curios that will now be accessible as a permanent exhibition to the public. (The Times)
Collector and Patron Wynn Kramarsky Has Died – The Netherlands-born, New York-based arts philanthropist and public servant has died at age 93 from pneumonia. Kramarsky was an avid collector of drawings and amassed one of the most highly regarded collections of postwar works on paper, which he showed at a private space in New York from 1991 to 2006. (ARTnews)
COMINGS & GOINGS
A Leonardo Feature Film Is Coming to the Big Screen – The art film producer Exhibition on Screen is turning its lens on Leonardo da Vinci. A new film to be released on October 29, “Leonardo: The Works,” will take a deep dive into his work timed to the 500th anniversary of his death. (Press release)
Algeria’s Culture Minister Resigns After Concert Tragedy – The country’s culture minister Meriem Merdaci resigned over the weekend following the tragic deaths of five young people in a stampede at a rap concert in Algiers. On Friday, Algeria’s prime minister also fired the head of the public authority in charge of organizing the concert. (AFP)
And Brazil’s Culture Minister Resigns Over Censorship – In other culture ministry news, Henrique Pires, the culture secretary of Brazil, has stepped down from his post to protest what he describes as the conservative government’s censorship of art that deals with LGBTQ+ themes. Pires says that Osmar Terra, the minister of citizenship—which replaced the culture ministry—is “no longer a democratic man and is now aligned with censorship.” (The Art Newspaper)
The Dallas Museum of Art Reopens Its European Galleries – After a sweeping reinstallation, the European art galleries at the Dallas Museum of Art have reopened to the public. The new displays highlight recent gifts to the collection from J.E.R. “Bob” Chilton and Margaret and Eugene McDermott. (Glasstire)
FOR ART’S SAKE
Aichi Triennale Director Responds to Protests – After closing the exhibition “After ‘Freedom of Expression?'” because of threats of violence, a number of participating artists released an open letter describing the decision as “an unacceptable act of censorship.” Now, the triennale’s director Daisuke Tsuda has responded to the backlash. “The closure of the exhibition was a decision to prioritize the lives of visitors and staff who were in a position of imminent danger,” he said. “Our greatest respect for freedom of expression, however, has remained constant throughout.” (Hyperallergic)
Jeff Koons’s Tulips Are Blossoming in Paris – The installation Bouquet of Tulips (2016–19) is expected to begin in Paris today, just behind the Petit Palais. The flamboyant work, which has divided opinions among officials in the French city, cost around $3.9 million. Each tulip—made of either stone, bronze, aluminum, or steel—will be installed using an 80-ton crane. The public work is set to be unveiled close to the Champs-Elysées during the night-long art event Nuit Blanche on October 5. (The Art Newspaper)
Visiting LACMA Right Now Is Kind of a Drag – Should a museum undergoing a renovation still charge full price admission? Not according to Mary McNamara. The art critic was dismayed to find on a recent visit to LACMA that almost all of the permanent collection galleries were closed—and will remain that way for the next five years. “There should be a little more transparency for the permanent-collection-loving public,” McNamara writes. To refresh your memory about what’s to come, check out renderings of the LACMA of the future below. (Los Angeles Times)
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