Rush to Secure Artwork as Irma Threatens Florida—and the 9 Other Biggest News Stories This Week
Catch up on the latest art news with our rundown of the 10 stories you need to know this week.
01 Miami artists and museums are bracing for Hurricane Irma.
Museums and cultural institutions across Miami have announced widespread closures and are watching the weather in advance of Hurricane Irma, which was downgraded to a Category 4 storm Friday morning as forecasters became increasingly certain that it will strike Florida. Artists, too, are bracing for the storm, protecting their artwork as best possible, even if that means tying it to trees. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez announced a raft of school and governmental closures over the coming days. The Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is following their lead, closing through Sunday but aiming to open on Monday at 10 a.m. “as long as the property is safe and accessible,” wrote Mark Rosenblum, its chief financial officer, in an email to Artsy. Reached early Wednesday afternoon, artist Adler Guerrier was packing up his studio, and moving works away from the windows. With Irma disrupting his preparations for an upcoming show, Guerrier was prioritizing finished pieces that must be removed from the studio, and finding ways to shelter others. “Most artists I’ve been in contact with are taking this very seriously,” he said.
02 German police have recovered a €2.5 million trove of stolen paintings and drawings by artist Georg Baselitz.
Police on Tuesday said they recovered 15 of 19 works stolen between June 2015 and March 2016 by an art courier and a father-and-son team of accomplices. While declining to reveal specifics about the stolen works at the owner’s request, authorities said they recovered the pieces when the accomplices attempted to sell them, raising the suspicions of an insurer who alerted police. All three individuals suspected in the crime have been arrested and charged. The four unaccounted works attributed to Baselitz, one of the most expensive living artists, are worth a combined €130,000, according to Reuters.
03 DNA tests using material from Salvador Dalí’s body, exhumed as part of a high-profile paternity case, proved that a 61-year-old tarot card reader is not the long-lost daughter of the famous painter.
(via The Independent)
The contentious exhuming of artist Salvador Dalí, which occurred nearly three decades after his death in 1989, was mostly for naught. Pilar Abel previously argued that Dalí had a “clandestine love affair” with her mother, Antonia Martínez de Haro, in the 1950s while she was his employee in the artist’s summer home in Port Lligat on the coast of Spain. While Abel grew up in Figueres, the same town as Dalí, she said she never approached him directly. She claimed to have found out about the affair from her mother and grandmother. For her part, Abel claimed she just wanted “the truth to be known.” Yet the DNA test conclusively disproved her claim. “This conclusion comes as no surprise to the Foundation, since at no time has there been any evidence of the veracity of an alleged paternity,” said the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation in a statement. The statement also noted that the artist’s remains will “shortly be returned.”
Planning for the museum, designed by architect Jean Nouvel, kicked off a decade ago with the signing of a €10 billion contract with the Louvre. The Abu Dhabi museum’s collection includes 600 to 700 diverse works, half on long-term loan from 13 French museums and half from the national collection of Abu Dhabi. Hanging of the collection began on Monday, with the first delivery of art including statues on loan from the Louvre, a commission by Louis XIV for Versailles, and Abu Dhabi’s Roman column collection, among others. Museum director Manuel Rabaté has insisted that the arduous preparation will be completed in the allotted two months prior to opening festivities, which begin November 11th and continue through the 15th. Although the museum will not be completely up and running at that time, museum directors and diplomats from around the world are planning to attend - among them French President Emmanuel Macron. The first exhibition: “From One Louvre To Another”—on the history of Paris’s Louvre—is set to open December 22nd.
05 Artist Sam Durant’s controversial sculpture Scaffold will be buried, not burned as previously announced.
(via the New York Times)
On Friday, a Dakota representative announced that the 51,000-pound wooden sculpture will be buried in an undisclosed location in Minnesota at an undecided future date. The decision marks the denouement of a months-long saga that began when Scaffold attracted protests earlier this summer. The piece evokes the gallows where 38 Dakota men were hung in 1862, prompting charges from indigenous groups that it was insensitive. Durant and the Walker Art Center’s leadership quickly turned the fate of the piece over to the Dakota people in response to the outcry. The spiritual elder tasked with deciding the fate of the wood rejected early calls to burn the piece because fire carries spiritual connotations in the Dakota tradition. Others expressed hope that the burial will bring lasting resolution. “What to do since has been a dilemma, but we wanted to do something positive with this negative,” Tom LaBlanc of the Sisseton-Wahpeton band of Dakota, told the Times.
06 The National Endowment for the Humanities has pledged $1 million in emergency grants for preservation and restoration of cultural organizations following Hurricane Harvey.
(via the National Endowment for the Humanities)
Jon Parrish Peede, acting chairman of The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), announced the funds last Friday. The federal agency has partnered with Humanities Texas and Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities in the “coordinated federal-state response.” The NEH has reported that it will provide the first $250,000 to the two state humanities councils to allocate according to local needs assessments. The initial sum will serve libraries, museums, colleges, and universities, among other establishments; however, institutions within the designated disaster zones may also apply for emergency grants of up to $30,000 from September 8th to December 31st. In addition, the NEH has promised to fund the outreach and damage assessment of both the Texas Cultural Emergency Response Alliance and the Heritage Emergency National Task Force.
07 Art Basel in Miami Beach has released the list of exhibitors for its 16th edition.
(via Art Basel in Miami Beach)
The list includes 268 galleries from 32 countries, just a hair under last year’s headcount. They’ll be spread out over a roomier layout, thanks to a renovation of the Miami Beach Convention Center, which, on completion, is set to provide 10 percent more space, for “larger booths, wider aisles and enhanced lounging and dining options,” according to the fair. There are 20 newcomers to the fair, nine from North and South America and 11 from Europe and Asia. The fair will open to VIPs on December 6th and run through December 10th.
08 As the Berkshire Museum moves forward with its controversial deaccessioning plan, Sotheby’s has released a detailed list of estimates for the works that will be auctioned.
Since being announced last month, the sale of works by the Berkshire Museum has provoked continuous criticism. The expected $50 million in proceeds from the sale will go to fund operating expenses, which museum groups have said violates industry guidelines. Sotheby’s released a detailed breakdown of the estimates on Wednesday. Star lots include Norman Rockwell’s Shuffleton’s Barbershop (1950), expected to go for between $20 and $30 million, and the artist’s Blacksmith’s Boy – Heel and Toe (1940), estimated to fetch between $7 and $10 million. Francis Picabia’s Force Comique (1914) might also break the seven-figure mark, with a high estimate of $1,200,000. Two works by Alexander Calder were listed among the sale, but did not include estimates. Despite criticism from museum groups, it remains to be seen if the publicity will have an impact on auction totals.
09 A magazine publisher sued the U.S. Department of Corrections after a prison censor confiscated a recent issue for including an image of Peter Paul Rubens’s Adam and Eve.
(via artnet News)
Prison censors rejected a copy of The Humanist magazine mailed to a prisoner in Virginia, deeming the scantily-clad Adam and Eve in the 17th-century painting a violation of policies around nudity. In response, a Charlottesville attorney sued the DOC on behalf of the magazine publisher. “The right to read and learn is covered by the First Amendment, as is the right to communicate with others,” lawyer Jeffrey E. Fogel told artnet News. The department’s ban on nudity allows exceptions for “medical, educational, or anthropological content,” categories that Fogel argues encompass the Rubens work. He also noted that he has filed six similar suits against the DOC and won in every case.
10 A mural painted by Keith Haring for a Paris hospital, faced with destruction in 2011, has been restored.
(via the New York Times)
The newly refurbished work, Tower (1987), was unveiled Thursday following several years of work by William Shank and Antonio Rava (the duo previously restored a Haring mural in Pisa, Italy). Located on the exterior of an 88.5-foot stairwell, the mural had sustained decades of significant wear and tear. Conservators were initially concerned that they might be unable to save Tower, due the severity of the damage. But a fundraising campaign organized by gallerist Jerome de Noirmont and the Keith Haring Foundation managed to pull together the money necessary to save the artwork. This marks the end of the first phase of renovation at the Necker-Enfants Malades, the city’s primary pediatric hospital. Phase two will see a 97,000-square-foot garden planted around the base of the mural.
Cover Image: Courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)