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The Guardian

Apr 07 2021
This Is a Robbery: a Netflix series examines the world’s biggest art heist

A new series takes a deep dive into one of the most confounding mysteries in the art world: $500m of art stolen from a Boston museum in 1990

In 81 minutes during the early hours of 18 March 1990, two thieves posing as Boston police officers absconded with $500m in art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. It was the most expensive art heist in history, one of the art world’s most enduring unsolved mysteries made all the more confounding by its three decades of publicity. In the years since, leads for the missing works by such masters as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas and Manet dead-ended or disappeared in a quicksand of hearsay, suspects died and detectives retired, faint trails ranging from sensational (IRA weapons deals) to more mundane (local mobsters) went ice cold. Despite a reward offering of $5m, none of the works have been recovered, and no arrests were ever made.

Related: Driven to Abstraction: the inside story of a $60m art forgery hoax

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The Guardian

Apr 06 2021
Summer in a pandemic: How Londoners were drawn to a river

When Sophia Evans visited the River Lea near Hackney Marshes she was astonished by the scenes of apparently blissful enjoyment she saw there, away from the horror of Covid and the news - but others have warned of a different risk to health posed by the river

Sophia Evans’ work can be seen at the Format Photography Festival

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The Guardian

Apr 06 2021
The Great British Art Tour: what connects a bleeding fresco with Lady Hamilton?

With public art collections closed we are bringing the art to you, exploring highlights from across the country in partnership with Art UK. Today’s pick: The Festival of the Madonna dell’Arco (1777) by Pietro Fabris at Compton Verney in Warwickshire

It is Pasquetta (Easter Monday) in the Neapolitan countryside. Crowds of revellers gather, enjoying the spring air and each other’s company. Figures recline beneath the trees, smoking and picnicking, while in the sunlit foreground a group of young girls dance the tarantella, accompanied by musicians. One of the musicians plays a triccheballacche, a traditional percussive instrument of southern Italy, with three hammers that produces a sound like a tambourine. The crowds are headed towards the church of the Madonna dell’Arco, on the right, which had been a popular place of pilgrimage since 1450, when a fresco of the virgin and child was accidentally struck by a ball and, as legend has it, began to bleed. The veneration of the shrine intensified after it survived the eruption of Vesuvius in 1631 – this smouldering icon of Naples which features on the far left of the painting.

This 1777 work is one of Pietro Fabris’s largest and most elaborate canvases. It was originally one of a pair of festive scenes, its pendant showing a nocturnal festival in nearby Posillipo. Fabris painted the works for Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803), the British envoy in Naples. Both men shared an interest in Neapolitan costumes and customs. In 1773 Fabris had produced a book of prints depicting costumes of Naples dedicated to Hamilton, and in 1776 they collaborated on the Campi Phlegraei, a book detailing volcanic sites and artefacts.

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The Guardian

Apr 06 2021
The horror safari: why was Francis Bacon so triggered by dead elephants?

When the great painter died, 200 macabre photographs of elephant carcasses were found in his studio. They were by Peter Beard – and they propelled the artist into the heart of darkness

If you look into the eyes of a portrait, especially a self-portrait, by Rembrandt, you seem to see a “soul”. Such religious ideas and readings have shaped the story of art from its very beginnings and continue to seduce us today. But Francis Bacon was the first artist to paint people as animals. His subjects are rendered without souls, as flesh and bone, as blood and brain – in short, as animated meat. This ruthless Darwinian vision of the struggle of life makes him one of the most unnerving of artists. And his radical eye for humankind’s natural history gives a certain resonance to his friendship with one of the most brilliant wildlife photographers of the 20th century.

After the Irish-born British painter died in 1992, more than 200 photographs of dead elephants were found in his London studio. They were given to him by Peter Beard, who took many of them from an aeroplane flying low over the grasslands of Kenya. The two would converse avidly about Beard’s images of these great, grey giants slowly rotting into monuments of white bone and ivory in the African sun. They inspired some of Bacon’s most pungent thoughts about art and life. “I would say the photographs of elephants,” he said, “are naturally suggestive.” What he saw was “a trigger – a release”.

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artforum.com

Apr 06 2021
Getty Joins Forces With City of Los Angeles to Preserve Black Heritage Sites
Getty and the city of Los Angeles are to announce a three-year initiative aimed at identifying and preserving Black heritage landmarks throughout Los Angeles, where only 3 percent of such sites are
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The New York Times

Apr 06 2021
Man Suspected of van Gogh and Hals Painting Thefts Arrested
The paintings were stolen separately in the last year from two different, smaller museums in the Netherlands.
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The Guardian

Apr 06 2021
Dutch police arrest man over £18m theft of Van Gogh and Hals paintings

Search continues for Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring and Two Laughing Boys, stolen last year

Dutch police have arrested a 58-year-old man on suspicion of stealing paintings by Vincent van Gogh and Frans Hals with an estimated value of £18m during night-time raids on museums in the Netherlands last year.

The unnamed man was arrested on Tuesday morning at his home in the central town of Baarn over the thefts of Van Gogh’s The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring and Hals’s Two Laughing Boys.

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artforum.com

Apr 06 2021
Anne Higonnet on the Frick Madison
ON THE FACE OF IT, the reinstallation of selected works of art from the Frick Collection in the Breuer building at 875 Madison Avenue provides a refreshing change. After as much as a century in the
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The New York Times

Apr 06 2021
San Francisco and Other Cities Test Universal Basic Income for Artists
San Francisco and Other Cities Test Universal Basic Income for Artists
Through pilot programs, cities are giving checks to artists in hopes of allowing them to focus on their creative output instead of having a second job.
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The Guardian

Apr 06 2021
New York prayer vigil for rapper DMX – in pictures

Supporters and family of the rapper DMX have held a prayer vigil outside the New York hospital where he remains on life support after being admitted on Friday after a heart attack

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The Guardian

Apr 06 2021
'I'd like to lock myself in a room': an unflinching portrait of motherhood – in pictures

From nappies left on the floor to crayon scrawled across her body, Karolina Ćwik’s images examine the tenderness, exhaustion and sheer mess that come with being a mum. She walks us through some of her photographs

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The Guardian

Apr 05 2021
'They are living maps': how Richard Mosse captured environmental damage in the Amazon

In a new set of photos, environmental degradation in the Amazon is explored to shine light on ‘a hideously complex story’

In his 20s, Irish photographer Richard Mosse made his first foray into photojournalism by capturing postwar Balkan nations. This experience led to a realisation that the medium was inadequately suited to capture complex, layered narratives. “You have to put the thing in front of the camera, and when that thing is an abstraction, far bigger than a human figure, it’s very difficult to do,” he explained in a recent podcast with Monocle.

The subjects he found himself covering over the next two decades were equally abstract and complex as the first, ranging from conflict in DR Congo to the refugee crisis in Europe. However, in his search for ways to subvert the medium and bend it to his will, he eventually managed to create his own unique brand of photography, characterised by the use of infra-red film and other technology rooted in military reconnaissance.

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artforum.com

Apr 05 2021
A conversation on survival and style in American letters
A conversation on survival and style in American letters Recorded on April 1st, 2021 IN THE MARCH/APRIL/MAY 2021 ISSUE OF BOOKFORUM, Christian Lorentzen argues that careerism has become the dominant
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artforum.com

Apr 05 2021
Gallery Weekend Beijing
The 5th edition of Gallery Weekend Beijing (GWBJ) will open to the public in 2021 from 27 April to 2 May with a VIP Preview from 23 to 25 April. Strengthening its commitment to sharing the best of
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The Guardian

Apr 05 2021
War of words: Australian Scrabble Championship 2021 – in pictures

The first internationally recognised face-to-face Scrabble tournament since the start of the pandemic took place in the Grand Ballroom of the Bankstown Sports Club in Sydney over Easter. Around 100 wordsmiths and dictionary devotees ranging in age from seven to 87 battled it out for triple word scores and the elusive S, with the winner qualified to compete on the world stage

• Eight-year-old among contenders hoping for last word at Scrabble championships

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artforum.com

Apr 05 2021
Shanghai Biennale Announces Theme, Artists for 2021 Edition
The Shanghai Biennale, whose thirteenth edition is scheduled to run from April 17 through July 25 at the Power Station of Art and various other locations throughout the titular city, has released a list
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The Guardian

Apr 05 2021
She-Oak and Sunlight: women of Australian Impressionism emerge from the shadows

By drawing out lesser-known works by women who painted alongside now-famous men, NGV’s new exhibition tells a fuller story

About one third of the way into She-Oak and Sunlight, there is a room off to one side filled with images so vibrant, so unexpected, it throws me completely.

All of the pictures in it are small – they’re referred to as the 9 by 5s due to the size, in inches, of the panels they’re painted on – many of them on the lids of cigar boxes. This is as close as any of us will ever come to attending the original 9 by 5 Impression Exhibition in 1889, with over 50 of those 182 works brought back together by NGV Australia and displayed almost as they were when they first were shown to the public.

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artforum.com

Apr 05 2021
Oakland Museum of California Cutting Staff, Restructuring
The Oakland Museum of California is set to slash 15 percent of staff amid a major organizational restructuring, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The museum, which has been closed since March of last
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The New York Times

Apr 05 2021
Warhol a Lame Copier? The Judges Who Said So Are Sadly Mistaken.
Warhol a Lame Copier? The Judges Who Said So Are Sadly Mistaken.
An appeals court ruled that Andy Warhol violated a photographer’s copyright by appropriating her image for a silk-screen he did in 1984. Our critic disagrees.
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artforum.com

Apr 05 2021
Peter J. Karol and Guy A. Rub on resale contract law and the secondary market
THE CONFOUNDING PRICES realized by cyptoart sales recently have overshadowed another extraordinary aspect of these transactions. Many NFT “smart contracts” include an embedded resale royalty—often
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The Guardian

Apr 05 2021
Citizen Lane review – dashed hopes of a visionary art dealer

This drama documentary makes the case for the return to Dublin of dozens of impressionist masterpieces held by London’s National Gallery

This Irish drama documentary feels like a contribution to ongoing efforts to guilt-trip the National Gallery in London into returning to Ireland more than three dozen French impressionist masterpieces bequeathed by the Irish art dealer Hugh Lane. When he wrote his will in 1913, stung by the Dublin authorities’ refusal to grant him planning permission to build a modern art gallery in the city, Lane left the 39 paintings to London. Later, he changed his mind, adding a codicil to his will. His intentions were as clear as day, but the codicil was unwitnessed. So, when he died aged 40 – travelling on the Lusitania, which was sunk by a German U-boat in 1915 – London got the paintings.

The film opens with a bit of context, setting the mood in Ireland at the turn of the 1900s. This was the era of Irish cultural revival, WB Yeats and JM Synge, of Irish trade unionism and nationalism. The dramatised bits work pretty well. Tom Vaughan-Lawlor is terrific as Lane, an Irish Protestant, the self-made son of a clergyman. When he stares transfixed at a Titian, there is a blazing chemistry between man and painting. No other relationship can compete. In fact, Lane’s eye was so good that if he so much as looked at a painting before an auction its value shot up.

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The Guardian

Apr 05 2021
Those That, At a Distance, Resemble Another review – meditation on the art and act of coping

This calm, painstaking visual essay explores how where copies and originals in an experimental film pregnant with ideas

Artist and film-maker Jessica Sarah Rinland has authored a brief essay movie on the universal themes of the copy and the original. A copyist reproduces an original work of art, a museum conservator fabricates a damaged object with replacement materials. But the originals are arguably copies of ideas and genres within the artist’s mind, and the biological act of reproduction is an act of copying, from the DNA template.

Rinland’s camera observes calmly, almost blankly, as the introduction of howler monkeys into the wild is discussed by zoologists – a habitat where they might breed – and this issue is juxtaposed with restoration work at the V&A, the Natural History Museum and the British Museum in London. An elephant tusk is copied as a plaster cast; confiscated tusks are used to restore a 19th-century ivory box, antiquities are painstakingly brought back to a version of their fundamental selves.

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The Guardian

Apr 04 2021
The Great British Art Tour: the post-pandemic protests that echo into today

With public art collections closed we are bringing the art to you, exploring highlights from across the country in partnership with Art UK. Today’s pick: Robert Koenig’s After the Uprising sculpture in Essex

In the past year, people have had their freedoms and liberties curtailed in ways not seen since the second world war. It is not surprising that in this context of repressed emotion there has been an increase in the number of mass protests as people struggle to have their voices heard.

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The Guardian

Apr 04 2021
Rewilding our cities: beauty, biodiversity and the biophilic cities movement

Buildings covered in plants do more than just make the cityscape attractive – they contribute to human wellbeing and action on climate change

Our cities are dominated by glass-faced edifices that overheat like greenhouses then guzzle energy to cool down. Instead, we could have buildings that are intimately connected to the living systems that have evolved with us, that celebrate the human-nature connection that is central to our wellbeing.

As more of us in Australia live in urban areas and our cities grow, bringing nature into our cities is a key part of establishing and rebuilding that connection. As well as bringing beauty into urban environments, we know that people are healthier when they are connected to nature. Research also shows that crime rates decrease in areas with street trees and that property values increase.

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The Guardian

Apr 04 2021
If you like salmon, don't read this: the art duo exposing a booming £1bn market

Farmed salmon can end up deformed, blind, riddled with sea lice and driven to eat each other. Eco art activists Cooking Sections are highlighting their plight – and getting Tate to change its menus

A few months back, a book arrived in the post – tiny, not much larger than a bank card. Though the cover was grey, its pages were a riot of pinks, from deepest persimmon to pale rose. Printed on them were dense, technical essays referencing everything from fish farming to Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations. The title was Salmon: A Red Herring.

Fish is an unexpected topic for an art book – but then the duo who created this little volume, Daniel Fernández Pascual and Alon Schwabe, aren’t really going for the coffee-table market. Operating under the name Cooking Sections, the pair have a thing for food. Their art is about what we eat and its impact on the Earth.

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The Guardian

Apr 04 2021
Back in black: Spanish region summons Goya home to stem decline

Area around Fuendetodos will recreate artists’ Black Paintings venue as it marks his 275th birthday

Two hundred years after he covered the walls of his house near Madrid with febrile visions of Saturn devouring his son, a witches’ sabbath and a slowly drowning dog, Francisco de Goya has been summoned home to help reverse the fortunes of the poor, remote and underpopulated Spanish region where he was born in 1746.

The painter, printmaker and fascinated, appalled chronicler of war, cruelty and reason’s frequent slumbers, studied in Italy and painted for the court in Madrid before dying in Bordeaux in 1828. But he was born on the other side of the Pyrenees in Fuendetodos, a small town 27 miles (44km) south of Zaragoza in the north-eastern Spanish region of Aragon.

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The Guardian

Apr 04 2021
Underwater cables: where the ocean meets the internet – in pictures

The British photographer Andy Sewell’s latest project, Known and Strange Things Pass, recently published by Skinnerboox for £40, looks at what lies beneath our online life. Mixing images of the internet’s underwater infrastructure with daily life, it explores the physical and metaphorical entanglement of the ocean and the internet. It will be exhibited by Robert Morat Gallery in Berlin and the V&A in London, later this year

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The Guardian

Apr 03 2021
The big picture: the end of the Easter eggs

Belgian photographer Nick Hannes spent last year capturing his wife and daughters as they coped with the trials of lockdown

The Belgian photographer Nick Hannes took this picture of his daughter Billie last Easter, when the pandemic had first upended the world. It is one of the early pictures in his visual diary of lockdown, which he calls An Unexpected Lesson in Joy. The images, such as this one, all concentrate on his two daughters and his wife and their house near Ghent and the shed at the bottom of the garden and the hens they keep. They capture all the disconcerting insularity of the last year, the way that the crisis returned many families to older rhythms: working together in the daytime, never apart in the evenings, sitting around fire pits looking at the stars – vaguely craving more excitement, more novelty, more Easter eggs! And smiling at the strangeness. “An invisible virus has managed to slow down everything and everyone,” Hannes writes, “something which humanity, with all its whims and wisdom, failed to do.”

Hannes has not often been so slowed down. His previous photo books include a year-long trip by bus and train through the former Soviet Union, in search of post-communist ironies, and an epic project entitled Mediterranean: The Continuity of Man, which involved assignments to 20 countries that border the sea, exploring the themes, as he says, of “mass tourism, urbanisation, migration, conflict and crises of various kinds”. There are no such conflicts or crises in his lockdown portfolio. The wider world has become a map on the kitchen wall. The farthest his camera travels are the neighbouring woods and fields and yet, the more he looks, there is no shortage of surprise. “Despite our empty diary, the days are full,” Hannes notes. “Time flies… every night before I go to sleep, I watch my daughters sleeping. I wonder what the world will look like when they’re 46.”

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The Guardian

Apr 03 2021
Pixelated pottery: 80s culture recreated in ceramic – in pictures

Toshiya Masuda wanted to make art influenced by the 80s video-game graphics he liked as a kid growing up in Osaka, Japan. But how to turn the low-quality, blocky images into three-dimensional objects?

“Most people think digital and ceramic art are complete opposites, so I thought using pottery as my material would be memorable.” His nostalgic, pixellated ceramics are certainly that. It’s hard to reconcile the idea of these 80s artefacts – a blurry Polaroid camera, out-of-focus roller skates – with the fact they are made of clay.

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The Guardian

Apr 03 2021
The dirty secret of so-called 'fossil-fuel free' buildings

The ‘embodied carbon’ in the building of glass and steel blocks makes them anything but green

Hanging plants smother the walls of a new office block proposed for Salford, giving it the look of something from an abandoned post-Covid city, reclaimed by nature. The ivy-covered tower, designed by Make Architects, has been trumpeted as “fossil-fuel free”, set to run on 100% renewable energy and reach net zero operational carbon, with tenants enjoying the “biophilic” benefits of dangling foliage. But not everyone is convinced.

“It’s strange to see something described as ‘fossil-fuel free’ when it is made of concrete, steel and glass,” says Joe Giddings, coordinator of the Architects Climate Action Network (Acan) campaign group. “The production of these materials entails burning a huge amount of fossil fuel.

“The climate emergency is not a game and we can’t just spin our way through it. We need to think about where our materials come from, how they’re made and interrogate the whole supply chain – from construction to demolition and reuse.”

In the race to reach net zero carbon by 2050, a commitment to which the UK is legally bound, Acan sees the biggest unchallenged obstacle as the energy consumed by construction. Much is made of the proposed energy efficiency of buildings once they are occupied, but so far very little attention has been paid to the carbon emitted in getting them built, and eventually dismantled – from extracting raw materials and manufacturing components, to the toxic byproducts of demolition leaking out in landfill.

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The Guardian

Apr 03 2021
Original Observer photography

The brother of Stephen Lawrence, the mother of James Bulger, David Miliband and the Reverend Richard Coles - the best photography commissioned by the Observer in March 2021

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The New York Times

Apr 02 2021
When Ancient Rome Meets Minimalism
When Ancient Rome Meets Minimalism
Brioni’s Norbert Stumpfl has approached his family’s home with characteristic patience and attention to detail.
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The Guardian

Apr 02 2021
20 photographs of the week

The Derek Chauvin murder trial, the erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano, the continuing protests in Myanmar and the enduring impact of Covid-19: the most striking images from around the world this week

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artforum.com

Apr 02 2021
New York’s Iconic Pyramid Club Closing
Renowned queer cabaret and nightclub the Pyramid Club, which opened in New York’s East Village in 1979, will not reopen following its closure in March 2020 as Covid-19 arrived in the city. The news was
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artforum.com

Apr 02 2021
A playlist by Jace Clayton
For this playlist, I decided to focus on the three fundamentals of music: Pluck, House, and Float. Pluck: A spiky attack followed by a slow decay. Nearly all that we understand as the character of
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The New York Times

Apr 02 2021
It’s Time to Put Alice Neel in Her Rightful Place in the Pantheon
It’s Time to Put Alice Neel in Her Rightful Place in the Pantheon
A large retrospective feels at home in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s grandest galleries and should silence any doubt about the artist’s originality or her importance.
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The Guardian

Apr 02 2021
Eye-popping $2m doodles and genius special effects – the week in art

A taster of Jean Dubuffet’s cartoon-like pictures are online, National Galleries of Scotland gives Ray Harryhausen a ‘virtual experience’ and the British Museum delivers a brief history of the world through objects – all in your weekly dispatch

Jean Dubuffet: 37 People
Many commercial art galleries have started publishing prices in online shows, which has eye-popping results here: a cartoon-like painting best described as LS Lowry meets South Park will set you back $2m. But there are good reasons for Dubuffet to be in vogue. He recognised the power of graffiti, setting the scene for today’s street art … and $2m doodles. This is a nice taster for a big survey of his work opening soon at the Barbican.
Timothy Taylor Gallery online until 22 April.

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artforum.com

Apr 02 2021
New Museum Triennial Announces Artists for 2021 Edition
The New Museum in New York has announced the artists for its fifth triennial, titled “Soft Water Hard Stone” and running from October 27, 2021, to January 23, 2022. Cocurated by Margot Norton and Jamillah
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The New York Times

Apr 02 2021
Up on the Met Roof, an Artist Is Taking Big Bird to New Heights
Up on the Met Roof, an Artist Is Taking Big Bird to New Heights
Alex Da Corte, known for provocative, brightly colored installations, will showcase the beloved “Sesame Street’” character at the top of the Met this spring — but with a twist.
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The Guardian

Apr 01 2021
The Great British Art Tour: one of the most important women in NHS history

With public art collections closed we are bringing the art to you, exploring highlights from across the country in partnership with Art UK. Today’s pick: Queens University Belfast’s portrait of Professor Mollie McGeown by Laurence Coulter

The Victorian gothic Great Hall at Queen’s University Belfast is home to more than 60 portraits, from vice-chancellors and academics to medics and poets – and even a circus impresario. Until 2001, however, the only woman represented in the Great Hall was Queen Victoria, in an 1838 portrait by Sir George Hayter. This was to change after the founding of the Queen’s Gender Initiative in 2000, through which a commissioning project was embarked on in collaboration with the university’s Naughton Gallery to diversify the portrait collection and celebrate key women from the institution’s history.

One of the most significant women in modern medicine, Professor Mary (“Mollie”) McGeown, was an obvious choice for the first commission to celebrate these visionary women, and was painted by Laurence Coulter in 2001.

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artforum.com

Apr 01 2021
Douglas Huebler, Sherrie Levine, Walid Raad
“No More Than Three Other Times” brings together three generations of conceptual artists whose work explores the slippage between image and text, or image and sign, variously using reflexivity, repetition,
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artforum.com

Apr 01 2021
Pace
“Claes & Coosje: A Duet” celebrates the collaborative spirit that animated Claes Oldenburg and the late Coosje van Bruggen’s artistic achievements and romantic partnership. Over the course of three
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The New York Times

Apr 01 2021
5 Things to Do This Weekend
5 Things to Do This Weekend
Our critics and writers have selected noteworthy cultural events to experience virtually.
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The Guardian

Apr 01 2021
All 18 works at show of Spanish artist Maruja Mallo were fakes, say experts

Curator of Galician show honouring surrealist admits ‘we knew there would be a fuss’ over authenticity

A year after an exhibition celebrating the works of the pioneering Spanish surrealist artist Maruja Mallo closed its doors, a letter from experts has emerged claiming that none of the works displayed actually sprang from the hand of the avant garde painter.

Mallo, who died in 1995, was associated with the so-called literary Generation of 27, whose members included Federico García Lorca, Ernestina de Champourcín, Pedro Salinas, Rosa Chacel, María Teresa León and Rafael Alberti. Her striking, stylised works were painted in her home country and in South America, where she lived in exile for a quarter of a century following Franco’s victory in the Spanish civil war.

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The New York Times

Apr 01 2021
5 Art Accounts to Follow on Instagram Now
These comics, memes and photos of old candy wrappers mix imagery and words in funny, funky and, yes, artistic ways.
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artforum.com

Apr 01 2021
Antonio Caro (1950–2021)
Antonio Caro, who was known as the father of Conceptualism in Colombia for his works placing iconic logos in the service of political and social commentary, died of heart failure in Bogotá on March 29
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artforum.com

Apr 01 2021
Danielle A. Jackson Joins Artists Space as Curator
Artists Space, a long-running New York nonprofit gallery dedicated to elevating the work of emerging artists, has announced that Danielle A. Jackson will be joining the institution as curator, moving
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The New York Times

Apr 01 2021
‘The Man Who Sold His Skin’ Review: The Artwork Has Legs
In this Oscar-nominated film, a Syrian refugee agrees to become a piece of art in exchange for passage to Europe.
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The Guardian

Apr 01 2021
Elsa Peretti obituary

Innovative jewellery designer who transformed the use of silver and whose work attracted new customers to Tiffany

Silver was fashionable for Arts and Crafts and art nouveau jewellery around the turn into the 20th century, but then fell back into second-best position, fine for folkwear and cigarette cases, but thought too common for a chic neck, wrist or lapel. That was not the belief of Elsa Peretti, who has died aged 80. She began her long career designing jewellery in 1969 when, in a market, she bought an old silver vase that looked like a classical amphora and worked with a smith in Catalonia to produce a miniature copy. She wore it slung on a thong as a necklace, filled with a single flower.

Like most of her plentiful ideas, it was fresh when new, and did not become stale because of imitations or decades in production. Peretti took time over her designs, more in their simplification than their invention: a “bean” that slid along its chain; a “yard of diamonds” – a concept from the New York designer Halston, for whom she was muse and model – tiny real stones set in mounts irregularly along a fine necklace; a cast “cuff” bracelet, inspired by her memory of smooth knobs of human bone in a Capuchin crypt. They were both modern (the heroine of the film Wonder Woman 1984 is all the stronger for a Peretti “bone cuff”) and ancient; when the British Museum added her work to its collection, it looked at home.

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