Art Industry News: Archaeologists Are Now Fighting a Battle Royale Over the Colosseum’s New Restoration Plan + Other Stories

Plus, the British Museum helps return a looted statue of a goddess to Libya and NFT investors Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss visit Frieze.

The Colosseum, in Rome. Photo: Thierry Monasse/dpa. Photo by Thierry Monasse/picture alliance via Getty Images.
The Colosseum in Rome. Photo by Thierry Monasse/picture alliance via 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 on this Tuesday, May 11.

NEED-TO-READ

What Happened With That Whole Burnt Banksy – The New Yorker catches up with the artist who bought a Banksy drawing with $95,000 from investors, turned it into an NFT, and burned the original. “I’m trying to stay anonymous,” he said. “Dude, we’ve received so much hate. Some people are very, very angry.” (New Yorker

British Museum Helps Return Looted Statue – A 2,000-year-old marble statue of a Greek goddess believed to be Persephone has been returned to Libya years after officials intercepted it at the U.K. border. With the assistance of the British Museum’s experts, who helped identify and store it, the rare and well-preserved marble was repatriated to the Libyan embassy in London on Monday. (Guardian)

Experts Are Up in Arms About the Colosseum Restoration Plan – A plan to build a retractable floor at the center of the Colosseum in Italy is under fire from historians. The new floor would make it possible for visitors to stand where gladiators once stood, but would hide the barracks underneath where fighters would wait before going into mortal combat. Critics like historian Tomaso Montanari said the €15 million ($18.2 million) project demonstrates the government’s willingness to spend on tourist hubs while ancient churches and frescos fall into disrepair. “The Colosseum is the last thing I would think about spending money on,” he said. (The Art Newspaper)

Archaeologists Work to Preserve Rio Grande Art – Experts are racing against the clock to document Indigenous pictographs and narrative murals on the Texas-Mexico border, which are in danger of disappearing due to increased flooding as well as drug cartel activity. To date, the Alexandria Project, a $3 million initiative to salvage this endangered history, has recorded more than 230 examples. (TAN)

ART MARKET

Winklevoss Twins Scope Out Non-NFT Art at Frieze – Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss were spotted at Frieze New York checking out a $48,000 work of art by Elliott Hundley at Kasmin Gallery. The early-adopter crypto execs, who toured the fair with MOCA director Klaus Biesenbach, are investors in Nifty, a startup for NFTs—but apparently, they still like art IRL. (Page Six)

Zwirner Plans AIDS Memorial Exhibitions – David Zwirner will host a series of exhibitions in the coming months to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the AIDS pandemic. Called “More Life,” the show marks the year when the U.S. Center for Disease Control first officially acknowledged the virus. Several exhibitions across its New York and London locations will spotlight artists who died of AIDS-related causes. (ARTnews)

COMINGS & GOINGS

Rediscovered Works Are Designated National Treasures – The French Ministry of Culture has banned the export of recently rediscovered artworks by the group the Incoherents, a satirical art movement from the late 19th century. The 17 artworks, which were discovered in a trunk in a private home in 2018, have been designated national treasures. They include a work by Alphonse Allais and also a ready-made that dates to long before the time of Marcel Duchamp. (Le Monde)

Berlin Museums Won’t Open Very Soon – Despite the fact that nearly 34 percent of Germans have now received one dose of a vaccine, the infection rate in the culture-rich capital is still high enough that it is likely that museums will not be allowed to open as early as next weekend, as some had hoped. (Monopol)

FOR ART’S SAKE

Uffizi Restores Vasari Corridor – The Uffizi Gallery in Florence is renovating a Renaissance passageway that was damaged in a Mafia bombing in 1993, leaving five people dead. As part of the ongoing renovation, the 760-meter-long corridor will incorporate two memorials for local acts of terror. (TAN)

Baltimore Museum Buys More Art With Deaccessioned Funds – The Baltimore Museum of Art is presenting a selection of new acquisitions it bought with funds from its 2018 sell-off of three paintings by white male artists in “Now Is the Time: Recent Acquisitions to the Contemporary Collection.” The show includes 26 works by women and artists of color that director Chris Bedford said will be the “unquestioned masterpieces” of tomorrow. It’s on view through July 18. (Baltimore Sun

Installation view, "Now Is The Time: Recent Acquisitions to the Contemporary Collection at the Baltimore Museum of Art, April 2021" Photo by Mitro Hood.

Installation view, “Now Is The Time: Recent Acquisitions to the Contemporary Collection
at the Baltimore Museum of Art, April 2021″ Photo by Mitro Hood.

Ficre Ghebreyesus, Red Room (ca. 2002-07). © The Estate of Ficre Ghebreyesus. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., New York.

Ficre Ghebreyesus, Red Room (ca. 2002-07). © The Estate of Ficre Ghebreyesus. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., New York.

Installation view, "Now Is The Time: Recent Acquisitions to the Contemporary Collection at the Baltimore Museum of Art, April 2021" Photo by Mitro Hood.

Installation view, “Now Is The Time: Recent Acquisitions to the Contemporary Collection
at the Baltimore Museum of Art, April 2021″ Photo by Mitro Hood.

Mickalene Thomas, Resist #2 (2021). © Mickalene Thomas. Courtesy of the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Mickalene Thomas, Resist #2 (2021). © Mickalene Thomas. Courtesy of the Baltimore Museum of Art.


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