Your Weekly Art News: From the Margins to the Headlines (March 19-26)

Your Weekly Art News is a digest of the most important developments coming out of the art world from markets, finance, upcoming shows, exhibitions and scandals. Here’s what you need to know this Monday, March 19.

  • A French Court rules that Facebook was wrong to censor a Gustave Courbet painting, as per artnet

After a seven-year tug of war, a French court has ruled that Facebook was wrong to close the social media account of educator Frédéric Durand without warning after he posted an image of Gustave Courbet’s 1866 painting The Origin of the World.

While the court agreed that Facebook was at fault, the social media giant is not being made to pay the $25,000 penalty suggested by Durand’s lawyer to cover damages to his client.

Gustave Courbet’s The Origin of the World (1866). Photo: Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images.

  • An Italian art dealer has turned his palazzo into a contemporary art museum in his hometown Florence, as per artnet:

Roberto Casamonti’s privately-funded institution opens next week, featuring works from his personal collection.

The Italian art dealer and collector Roberto Casamonti is giving his home city of Florence what it has been missing for a few centuries—a museum of Modern and contemporary art. The 78-year-old founder of Tornabuoni Art unveils parts of his personal collection in a Renaissance-era palace on March 24, which he says will be the first institution in the city to be dedicated solely to modern and contemporary art.

Casamonti has selected 250 works from his personal collection of more than 5,000 works by Italian and international arists, which include pieces by Warhol and Picasso, and Basquiat. They will hang in the ornate rooms of the 16th century Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni, under 20-foot-high ceilings decorated in gold leaf.

Façade of Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni. Courtesy The Roberto Casamonti Collection.

  • “Why in the Age of Trump, I Believe the Art World Must Become a Sanctuary.” Ousted director of the Queens Museum, Laura Raicovich, defends the museum as a place of sanctuary, as per frieze:

Just over a year ago, as director of the Queens Museum in New York, my colleagues and I were seeing the impact of new federal policies up close. The museum is embedded in the city’s borough of Queens, among the most ethnically and linguistically diverse geographies on the planet, with high concentrations of recent immigrant communities. As a cultural institution, we had a deep and long-term history of engagement with these neighbours through community organizing and educational programming, and our own reality was therefore directly affected by the election of Donald Trump and the enactment of his new policies. Weekend arts workshops geared towards families visiting the museum had always been popular with immigrants living nearby, and immediately following the election we saw a dramatic drop off; many people, whether documented or not, stayed at home out of fear. Amongst the staff of the museum, there was rising trepidation about the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy – which offered some protection for those who had entered the US as minors – and a great desire to support those directly and indirectly affiliated with the museum and beyond, who depended on this status.

Simultaneously, a group of active and concerned artists and art workers, including me, began to meet under the moniker Sense of Emergency. A working group emerged to look at the possibility of developing a concept of ‘cultural sanctuary’, drawing inspiration from the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s and the New Sanctuary Movement of recent years. If art could provide alternate imaginaries, could institutions not also offer allyship for those in precarious positions and even imagine a way towards a more caring society together?

  • Climate change activists from stage action in front of in front of Theodore Gericault’s painting “The Raft of the Medusa” at the Louvre, via AFP:

The Louvre briefly evacuated one its busiest rooms on Monday after black-clad environmental activists staged a protest against oil giant Total’s patronage of the Paris museum.

About a dozen protesters lay down on the floor in front of “The Raft of the Medusa”, an iconic 19th-century painting by Theodore Gericault showing the shipwreck of a French navy frigate.

The demonstrators entered inconspicuously before lying down in front of the painting chanting slogans against Total, an AFP reporter said.


  • The Art Newspaper reports how conservation of Iraq’s and Syria’s monuments are being taken up by refugees themselves:

The problems: how to conserve extraordinary monumental heritage in Iraq and Syria, such as the ancient souk of Aleppo or al-Hadba’ minaret in Mosul, damaged by Islamic State or caught in the crossfire of opposing armies. The issue is exacerbated by the depletion of skilled craftspeople; once the dust of conflict settles, there will be few able to carry out restoration. At the same time, thousands sit in refugee camps, lives on hold, seeking a future.

The solution: train refugees to become the craftspeople and conservators of the future. Give them a skill to help restore their nation’s heritage.

Over the coming year, the centre will train more than 35 people, with the support of the British Council, which co-ordinates the protection fund, and a local partner, the Petra National Trust. Two hundred and eighty schoolchildren will also benefit from opportunities to explore their heritage—learning that spreads and blooms, influencing families and inspiring friends. Soft power.

  • 79 artists, curators, and arts workers sign open letter in Libération denouncing the dismissal of Maria Inés Rodriguez as director of Bordeaux’s Contemporary Art Museum (CAPC). 


  • Russia passes new law ensuring making it easier to establish private museums. The new law no longer requires contemporary art (created within the last 50 years) to be subject to the 30% import dues on “luxury goods.”

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