Art Industry News: The Great Pyramid of Giza Looked Completely Different to the Ancient Egyptians + Other Stories

Plus, Mosul Museum in Iraq reopens with a contemporary art show following ISIS destruction and the Nevada Museum is expanding to Vegas.

Egyptians ride their carts past the Great Pyramid of Cheops, aka Pyramid of Khufu, in August 2016 on the Giza Plateau. Photo courtesy Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images.

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 Thursday, January 31.


Brazen Moscow Painting Thief Just Needed to Repay Debts – The Crimean man arrested for stealing a painting by Arkhip Kuindzhi off the wall of Moscow’s New Tretyakov Gallery in broad daylight has backtracked on his earlier claim that he had no memory of the event. Denis Chuprikov now says he needed the money to settle his debts and made the decision to take the painting spontaneously, although police are treating it as a pre-planned heist. (Moscow Times)

Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Wife Comes to His Defense – The Chilean artist’s wife, Pascale Montandon-Jodorowsky, has spoken out in defense of her husband after New York’s El Museo del Barrio axed a 50-year Jodorowsky retrospective in light of his claims, published in a 1972 book, that he raped his female co-star for a scene in the 1970 film El Topo. In a statement, Montandon-Jodorowsky said that “words are not acts” and that her husband “never raped anyone.” She criticized the museum for caving to “fear of scandalous rumors.” El Museo has not responded to the statement. (NYT)

How Did the Great Pyramid of Giza Originally Look? – When the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh reopens its Egyptian gallery on February 8, it will present a rare treasure: a chunk of the original casing of the Great Pyramid of Giza. The only casing stone on public view outside Egypt, it shows that the huge limestone blocks we now see at the pyramids were once encased by a layer of white limestone, giving the appearance of a smooth slope rather than the jagged “stairway” look we are familiar with today. Historic records also indicate that these casing stones once bore inscriptions. (Apollo)

Mosul Museum Reopens After Destruction – On Tuesday, part of the museum complex that was destroyed by Islamic State militants after they captured the city in 2014 finally reopened to the public. The inaugural exhibition, “Return to Mosul,” features the work of 29 contemporary artists and runs until February 3 in the newly renovated royal reception hall. (The rest of the museum—Iraq’s second largest—remains closed.) A visitor to the show said it was “proof that war didn’t kill Mosul and that, on the contrary, it’s living a full-on renaissance.” (The National)


Sotheby’s London Will Offer a Rare Lucian Freud Portrait – The auction house is selling a well-known but rarely seen portrait of the Guinness heir Garech Browne as a teenager in London on March 5. Head of a Boy (1956) has never before come to auction and carries an estimate of £4.5 million to £6.5 million ($5.9 million to $8.5 million). (The Guardian)

Sean Kelly Gallery Now Represents Artist Kris Martin – The Belgium-based conceptual artist, whose work confronts the passage of time and the nature of existence (you know, the simple stuff), has joined the roster of the New York gallery. Martin will have his first solo show at Sean Kelly’s Manhattan space this March. (Press release)


J. Tomlinson Hill’s Pontormo Will Travel to Getty for Exhibition – Works by the 16th-century Italian painter Pontormo, including the newly restored, $40.3 million Visitation altarpiece owned by billionaire J. Tomlinson Hill—which was initially denied an export license from the UK—will be coming to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles next month. The exhibition dedicated to the artist, “Pontormo: Miraculous Encounters,” will be open from February 5 through April 28. (Press release)

Nevada Museum Expands to Vegas – Officials at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno have taken the first steps toward an ambitious $250 million expansion to Las Vegas. The project will be the city’s first standalone art museum, and the newly appointed deputy director Heather Harmon is working to raise $12 million by October. (The Art Newspaper)

Bosnia and Herzegovina Pick a Venice Biennale Artist – Danica Dakić will represent Bosnia and Herzegovina at this year’s Venice Biennale, presenting her film installation Zenica Trilogy. The work is dedicated to the Bosnian city of Zenica, which never recovered from the 1990s Bosnian War and continues to suffer high rates of unemployment and severe pollution. (ARTnews)


Should the Strand’s Building Be Landmarked? Its Owner Doesn’t Think So – The famous indie bookstore in Greenwich Village is one of the last relics of a bygone era in a neighborhood now dominated by luxury high rises and empty storefronts. But while the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission is considering offering its building landmark status, the store’s owner, Nancy Bass Wyden, doesn’t want it. She fears the regulations would be a burden on her business, which only has a slim profit margin as it is. Wyden’s lawyer has asked the city to offer incentives to offset the cost of landmark status if the measure is approved. The commission votes on February 19. (New York Times)

Cecily Brown Gives a Huge Painting to a Danish Museum – The artist has donated her massive painting Where, When, How Often and with Whom? (2017) to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark, where she is currently the subject of an exhibition. The abstract work on three panels is more than 30 feet long. Brown made it in response to a 2016 incident in Nice when a French police officer enforcing the country’s “burkini ban” ordered a Muslim woman to remove some of her clothes on a beach. (ARTnews)

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.