1) U.S. Late in Announcing its Venice Biennale Artist for 2019
As of last weekend, the U.S. state department was still 3 months late in announcing the country’s artist for this year’s Venice Biennale (which, as we reported last week, has taken on the ostentatious title “May You Live in Interesting Times”). Normally, countries can announce their artists more than a year in advance of the exhibition, in order to give the artist themself time to get acquainted with their pavilion space and create a work that will fit both the physical space and the theme of the exhibition. Nearly half the exhibiting countries have already announced their artists for the Biennale, which is scheduled to open in early May of 2019. The state department’s tardiness with the announcement has not gone unnoticed -- the U.S., in fact, has a track record of announcing artists as much as 16 months prior to the exhibition.
2) Cleveland Museum to Open Center for Chinese Painting Conservation
The Cleveland Museum of Art has announced its plans to launch a center for Chinese painting conservation, using the money received from a $1.5 million grant from June and Simon K.C. Li -- a grant which matched an earlier challenge grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. As reasoning for the new Center, the Museum has called attention to the current dearth of expertise and experience with Chinese painting conservation in the United States. Previously, in 2013, the CMA worked with the Freer Sackler museum in Washington, D.C., to run a training program to help teach conservators techniques specific to maintaining and restoring Chinese paintings. Both museums also hired conservators from China who had previous experience at prestigious museums in that country.
3) Winners Announced for Inagural Write on Art Prize
Write on Art, a prize introduced this year in an effort to support continued art history education in U.K., has just announced its first selection of winners. Contest entrants, who hail from public and private schools across the U.K. and range in age from 15 to 18, were required to write a short essay on an artwork of their choosing. This year, the prize received over 200 entries, with 24 of those making the shortlist. The winners were announced in two categories, a 15-16 age group and a 17-18 age group -- the authors of the winning essays will each receive £500. Excerpts from the winning essays, which discuss works by Frank Brangwyn and Titian, respectively, can be found in the linked article.
4) Looted Persian Artefact to be Returned to Iran
An ancient Persian sculpture worth an estimated $1.2 million will be returned to its rightful home in Iran. Following the discover that the work was looted from its country of origin and brought to North America in the 1930s, a U.S. Supreme Court judge ruled that it should be returned. According to reports, the statue, which shows a Persian imperial guard holding a spear, was smuggled out of Iran in 1936 and donated the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1950. The artefact was stolen from the museum in 2011, but later recovered by the museum’s insurance company, from whom it was purchased by antiquities dealers Rupert Wace and Sam Fogg. Police confiscated the object from Wace at The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) in New York last October.