Art Industry News: Scientists May Have Finally Found Leonardo da Vinci’s Thumbprint + Other Stories

Plus, the Guggenheim will sell a Zao Wou-ki painting at Sotheby's and filmmakers discover previously unknown footage of David Bowie.

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, January 29.


London’s RCA Gets a Major Gift – The Sigrid Rausing Trust, one of the UK’s largest philanthropic foundations, has made a £15 million ($20 million) donation to London’s Royal College of Art. The major gift will be distributed over the next three years to help the school launch its revamp campaign, GenerationRCA, and to support the institution’s planned Herzog & de Meuron building that will house studios, workshops, labs, and research centers. (Press release)

European Museums Team Up to Aid the Egyptian Museum – The British Museum, the Museo Egizio in Turin, the Louvre, the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung in Berlin, and the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden are joining forces to help revamp the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Funded entirely by the EU, the initiative aims to boost collection management and audience engagement at the museum. Notably, however, the Rosetta Stone will not return from the British Museum to Egypt as part of the project. (The Art Newspaper)

Have Scientists Found Leonardo da Vinci’s Thumbprint? – Researchers have identified the most convincing example of what could be a real thumbprint from the legendary artist on an anatomical drawing in the UK’s Royal Collection, which has around 550 Leonardo works. The drawing will be on view at the National Museum Cardiff from February 1 to May 6 before it heads to the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace from May 24 to October 13. Maybe now we can finally unlock Leonardo’s iPhone! (TAN)

“Holy Grail” of David Bowie Footage Recovered – The 1972 performance in which Bowie first debuted his Ziggy Stardust persona on ITV was thought to be lost to history. But footage of the performance, previously assumed to have been erased, has been unearthed and could appear in a new BBC documentary. The filmmakers are currently working to see if the tape—made by a fan on a home video recorder—can be restored in time to be included in the film. (BBC)


Sotheby’s to Sell the Guggenheim’s Zao Wou-ki – The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is selling a 1958 painting by the Chinese-French market darling from its collection to benefit its art fund. The painting, which will lead Sotheby’s evening sale in Hong Kong on March 31, carries an estimate of HK$60 million–80 million ($7.7 million–10 million.) Sotheby’s set an auction record for Zao Wou-ki last year with the $65 million sale of a massive triptych. (Art Market Monitor)

Richard Saltoun Gallery Devotes a Year to Female Artists – Beginning in March, the London gallery is launching an entire year of programming devoted to female artists to make a statement about gender inequality in the art world. Called “100% Women,” the 12-month exhibition program begins with a solo exhibition of work by British artist Rose English. (Press release)

Dallas Art Fair Unveils Exhibitor List – The Texas art fair, which takes place from April 11 to 14, has announced its list of more than 100 exhibitors for this year’s edition. New additions include three significant European galleries: Sadie Coles HQ (London), Lisson Gallery (London), and Blain|Southern (London and Berlin). (ARTnews)


Stedelijk Museum Begins Search for Artistic Director – Candidates have until February 22 to apply to fill the position controversially vacated by the German art curator Beatrix Ruf in 2017. Those applying for the job in Amsterdam must speak Dutch and English and have “a vision on the changing role of the museum in the 21st century.” (Stedelijk)

Starchitect Annabelle Selldorf Chosen for Forbidden City Project – Selldorf Architects is designing a visitor center at the Qianlong Gardens in Beijing’s Forbidden City. The World Monuments Fund and the Palace Museum are working to restore the site, which was originally a retirement retreat for the Qianlong Emperor in the late 18th century. (NYT)

DMA Acquires Wanda Koop Work – The Dallas Museum of Art has scooped up the Canadian artist’s monumental painting In Absentia (Deep Blue-White) (2017). The spare work depicting a New York cityscape was first shown at Night Gallery in fall 2017. (Press release)


William and Kate to Open Dundee’s V&A Museum – The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will officially inaugurate the Victoria & Albert Museum’s new outpost in Dundee, Scotland, today. The V&A Dundee opened four months ago; the royal visit coincides with the close of its first exhibition. (The Scotsman)

Three New Cave Paintings Discovered in Altamira – Researchers have discovered three 20,000-year-old paintings of hands in Spain. They were identified by chance during documentation of six previously known hands in the Altamira Cave. Due to their poor state of conservation, they went unnoticed until recently. (El País)

Seafood, Freshly Sequined: Textile Artist’s Knitted Foodstuffs – The British textile artist Kate Jenkins knits, crochets, and sequins various food items for her peculiar still lifes. Although she’s next exhibiting at the Handmade Festival in Barcelona in May, Jenkins posts a lot of her work to her Instagram. See it here. (Colossal)

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