Your Weekly Art News (May 21-28)

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, May 21st.

  • Hobby Lobby’s illicit artifacts are returned to their Iraqi homeland, as per The Washington Post:

The priceless artifacts entered the United States seven years ago in packages labeled “tile samples,” addressed to the locations of several Hobby Lobby crafts stores.

On Wednesday, those artifacts — nearly 4,000 in all — were returned to the Republic of Iraq at a celebration at the residence of Iraqi Ambassador Fareed Yasseen.

Calling the repatriation an act of “historic justice,” Yasseen thanked the federal agents responsible for recovering the smuggled antiquities, items he described as “part of our soul.”

“Iraqis have long memories. We have a kinship with these artifacts,” Yasseen said.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will return several thousand ancient artifacts, including cuneiform tablets, cylinder seals, and clay bullae, to the Republic of Iraq. The artifacts were smuggled into the United States in violation of federal law and shipped to Hobby Lobby stores, a nationwide arts-and-crafts retailer. The shipping labels on these packages falsely described the cuneiform tablets as tile samples. (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

  • When collectors buy expensive works, they loan them to the Musée d’Orsay, including Pablo Picasso’s “Fillette à la corbeille fleurie” (1905), purchased at Christie’s last week by the Nahmad family for $115 million, which will now be on loan to the venerable French museum

Christie’s auctioneer Jussi Pylkkänen soliciting bids on Picasso’s “Fillette à la Corbeille Fleurie” at the May 8 Rockefeller collection evening sale (all images courtesy Christie’s)

  • Established, trained tour guides in the Belgian city of Bruges fight off their amateur rivals, as per The Guardian:

Tourists seeking a peaceful and historical city break have long been drawn to the beautiful cobbled streets of Bruges. But recent arrivals to the beautiful Belgian city may have had the tranquility shattered by incongruously ugly clashes between rival groups of tour guides battling for their cash.

The city’s certified guides, who can spend up to three years earning the right to wear their official badges, have become enraged by untrained men and women turning up with umbrellas offering free tours, with a cup on hand to encourage tipping.

In response, the traditional guides, who work for the Gidsenbond, or guide association, are alleged to have deployed an array of dirty tricks to defend their territory.

Tour groups led by the free guides are being infiltrated by wily old hands who pose difficult questions, in the hope of shaming their rivals out of town. It is claimed that the newcomers have been chased around the city, or their customers made to listen to endless heckling.

Birdseye view of Bruges, The iconic Belgian tourist destination

  • Steve Wynn, the ousted casino magnate who has dodged charges of sexual harassment, plans to carry on his career as an art dealer, as per artnet news:

The billionaire has already sold a Warhol and bought a record-setting Monet for his new company—and set up a nontraditional website.

Steve Wynn, the embattled casino mogul who stepped down as chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts in February, is apparently already planning to reinvent himself—as an art dealer.

The billionaire has launched an online art gallery called Sierra Fine Art LLC where he is advertising multimillion-dollar works by Andy WarholPablo Picasso, and Henri Matisse for sale. Wynn’s lawyer Michael Kosnitzky told artnet News that the billionaire has already transferred a “meaningful” amount of his fabled art collection into the business to begin his new chapter.

Wynn resigned from the publicly traded casino company he founded more than 15 years ago after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct and assault. He has denied the allegations.

LAS VEGAS, NV – SEPTEMBER 30: Wynn Resorts Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn speaks at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2014 at The Venetian Las Vegas on September 30, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The American Gaming Association sponsors the annual gaming industry trade show and conference which runs through October 2 and is expected to feature 485 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 27,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • The New York Times has a great article on how nightclubs became museum pieces, analyzing the cutting-edge design and the social shifts between clubbing and culture:

In May 1985, the Palladium nightclub opened its doors to a Who’s Who of the New York art world. Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Larry Rivers were all there to check out the new club billed as a successor to Studio 54, the infamous nightspot that had closed in 1980, known for its wild parties and its unforgiving velvet rope.

The two venues defined New York’s night life in the ’70s and ’80s and had a lasting impact on pop culture: Studio 54 as the disco-fueled hedonist’s playground, and the Palladium as a meeting place for the city’s cutting-edge artists.

The Palladium, designed by the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, features in a new exhibition, “Night Fever,” at the Vitra Design Museum here, not far from Basel, Switzerland. Photographs of the venue’s interior capture Mr. Haring’s giant mural of dancing figures and the banks of television screens suspended from the ceiling.

The interior of the Palladium nightclub in New York in 1985, designed by the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki with a mural by Keith Haring

  • Diddy revealed as the buyer of Kerry James Marshall’s Record-Breaking $21 Million Painting, as per artnet news

Who knew Diddy loved art this much?

Grammy award-winning hip-hop producer and rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs has been revealed to be the buyer of Kerry James Marshall’s monumental painting Past Times (1997), which sold for $21.1 million at Sotheby’s on Tuesday. The result is a world auction record for the artist, and is thought to be the highest price ever paid for an artwork by a living African-American artist.

Kerry James Marshall’s Past Times (1997). Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.

  • Polish art collector and entrepreneur Grażyna Kulczyk, an ARTnews Top 200 collector, will open a contemporary art museum and research institute next year in the remote town of Susch, in the eastern Swiss Alps, near Davos and St. Moritz. The Muzeum Susch, as it will be called, will have over 16,000 square feet of gallery space, and will open on January 2 with an exhibition organized by Kasia Redzisz, a senior curator at Tate Liverpool, presenting work by 30 international artists that question traditional ideals of the feminine and the body.

A rendering of the forthcoming Muzeum Susch.

  • A retrospective spanning Abramović‘s 50-year career is now on view at the Bundeskunsthalle Bonn in Germany. Titled “The Cleaner,” the show highlights many lesser-known facets of her output, including earlier paintings, drawings, and archive material, alongside groundbreaking performances and installations. The show offers an uncompromising look at the rigorously conceptual foundations that gird the performance works that ultimately made Abramović famous.

Ulay/Marina Abramović AAA-AAA (1978) © Ulay/Marina Abramović Courtesy of the Marina Abramović Archives VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018.

  • In an effort to correct its cultural ‘Blind Spot,’ Germany releases a Code of Conduct for colonial-era artifacts, as per artnet news:

The German Association of Museums published the new outline, “Guide to Dealing With Collection Goods From Colonial Contexts,” on Monday. It marks yet another step forward in the government’s ongoing attempt to build and reformat its policy for dealing with its colonial past. On Wednesday, the foundation behind Berlin’s state museums, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, held an official ceremony to return nine artifacts to Indigenous Alaskan communities, which were culled from a burial ground in the late 19th century.

A wooden object from Berlin’s Ethnological Museum is on display during a restitution ceremony in Berlin on May 16, 2018. – Germany has returned nine artefacts belonging to indigenous people in Alaska, after determining that they were plundered from graves. The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which oversees museums in the German capital, said the burial objects were brought to Berlin in 1882-1884 on commission by the then Royal Museum of Ethnology, but “everything showed today that the objects stemmed from a grave robbery and not from an approved archaeological dig”. (Photo by Ralf Hirschberger / dpa / AFP) / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read RALF HIRSCHBERGER/AFP/Getty Images)

  • In Canada, a Liberal MP  from Nova Scotia has tabled a private member’s bill on the repatriation of Indigenous cultural items says he hopes it starts a national conversation, as per CBC:

Bill C-391, titled Aboriginal Cultural Property Repatriation Act, calls on the federal government to create a national strategy that includes a mechanism for Indigenous communities and organizations to repatriate cultural items.

The strategy, developed in co-operation with Indigenous Peoples and the provinces, would also encourage the return of cultural items, according to the bill.

“I want to get it on the table,” said Liberal MP Bill Casey.

“I want to get people talking and I hope the bill will go through to start the process for the government to develop a strategy because there isn’t one that I know of.”

Liberal MP Bill Casey came up with his private members bill after a visit to the Millbrook First Nation cultural centre. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

 

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