Headlines: Rothko Chapel, Indiana, LOVE
1) Rothko Chapel Vandalized With White Suprematist Messages
The Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, was vandalized last Friday in an apparent hate crime. According to reports, at some time late Friday evening an unknown vandal splashed white paint at multiple locations across the grounds, and left leaflets reading “it’s okay to be white.” The paint was poured into the Chapel’s reflecting pool -- close to The Broken Obelisk, a public artwork created by Barnett Newman and dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. -- as well as near the entrance to the Chapel. The Rothko Chapel was founded by art patrons John and Dominique de Menil, who conceived it as a quiet space for reflection and meditation. David Leslie, current executive director of the Menil Foundation, has confirmed that Houston police are investigating the incident, though at the moment there is little to go on as to the identity or motivation of the vandals.
2) Germany Returns Ancient Objects to Alaskan People
Germany has returned several ancient indigenous artefacts to their rightful owners in Alaska. The Berlin State Museums determined that several items in their collection, including masks and an idol made from carved wood, were taken without proper legal consent. The artefacts were discovered at a burial site in Alaska in the late 1800s by Norwegian ethnographer Johan Adrian Jacobsen, who took them at the request of the Berlin museum. According to Artforum, the objects had never been publicly displayed. Hermann Parzinger of the Prussian Cultural Foundation, which oversees the operation of the State Museums, met with representative John F. C. Johnson, of Alaska’s Chugach people, on May 16th. Once returned, the artefacts will be displayed in local Alaskan museums.
3) Robert Indiana Dies at 89
Robert Indiana -- perhaps best known for his 1964 typographic artwork LOVE, which even today can be found on t-shirts, stationery, household trinkets, and as a large-scale public sculpture in Manhattan -- passed away on Saturday at the age of 89. While Indiana’s best-known work may have transcended its author, he was also an important part of the American pop-art movement, along with contemporaries that included Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, and Andy Warhol. Indiana’s work was heavily influenced by a childhood in depression-era America, expressed through typography that referenced diners, stencil-painted signs, and advertising. The artist passed away in his home on a remote island off the coast of Maine.
4) Copyright Suit Filed Against Recent LOVE iterations
LOVE, however, lives on: one day before Indiana’s death, a company filed an lawsuit related to the piece. Morgan Art Foundation Limited filed a suit on Friday, May 18th, against the artist. According to the company, Indiana and several of his associates were guilty of copyright infringement. Recent works by Indiana that used the design for LOVE, as well as several similar works, were said to illegally appropriate copyrighted designs that Morgan Art Foundation had owned since the 1990s. Indiana himself failed to file a copyright claim for LOVE when he initially designed it in 1964, and it wasn’t until the mid-70’s -- after the design had appeared on a run of postage stamps -- that he was able to file for some protection, but by this time the design had grown largely out of Indiana’s control. Since then, the actual ownership of the typographic design has been hotly debated.