Art Movements

This week in art news: the V&A offered Ethiopia a long-term loan of treasures looted by British troops, Martin Kemp accused London’s National Gallery of altering the attribution of a work for its 2011 Leonardo exhibition, and Christo’s latest public art project began to take shape in central London.

Christo, “The Mastaba (Project for London, Hyde Park, Serpentine Lake)” (2018), collage, pencil, wax crayon, enamel paint, color photograph by Wolfgang Volz, technical data, map, mylar, and tape, 8 1/2 x 11 in (photo by André Grossmann, © 2018 Christo)

Art Movements is a weekly collection of news, developments, and stirrings in the art world. Subscribe to receive these posts as a weekly newsletter.

The Victoria & Albert Museum offered to organize a “long-term loan” of Ethiopian treasures looted by British troops at the Battle of Magdala (1868) to Ethiopia.

Renowned Leonardo scholar Martin Kemp accused London’s National Gallery of altering the attribution of a work it borrowed for its 2011 blockbuster exhibition, Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan. According to Kemp, the State Hermitage Museum insisted that the “Madonna Litta” — a work many specialists contend was executed by Leonardo’s pupil Boltraffio — should be categorized as a work by Leonardo. “The conditions for getting it,” Kemp stated, “were that Tatiana Kustodieva [the Hermitage curator] would catalogue it.”

Construction began on Christo’s monumental sculpture “The Mastaba (Project for London, Hyde Park, Serpentine Lake)” (2018). The temporary sculpture, which consists of 7,506 horizontally stacked barrels, will float on the Serpentine through September 23.

Denmark unveiled, “I Am Queen Mary,” the country’s first public monument of a black woman. The work, a hybrid self-portrait designed by artists La Vaughn Belle and Jeannette Ehlers, was inspired by Mary Thomas, the 19th-century freedom fighter who led a major uprising on St. Croix.

French police launched an investigation after an annual audit revealed that four artworks — paintings by Hervé Télémaque and Richard Texier, a sculpture by Takis, and an engraving by an unknown artist — are missing from the Assemblée Nationale in Paris.

Italy’s far-right Lega party pledged to convert the Casa del Fascio, a former Fascist party headquarters in Como, into a museum.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art will soon embark on a $150-million replacement of the skylights above its European Paintings collection.

Julia Kristeva dismissed the claim that she worked as a spy for Bulgaria’s Communist-era security apparatus as “untrue and grotesque.” A Bulgarian commission announced last week that it had identified the philosopher and psychoanalyst as a former operative who worked under the codename “Sabina.” According to the New York Times, Kristeva plans to take legal action against any publication “that spread[s] the allegation.”

Vincent van Gogh, “Snow-Covered Field with a Harrow (after Millet)” (1890), oil on canvas, loan from the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (photo courtesy Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam / Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

The Harvard Art Museums will display van Gogh’s “Snow-Covered Field with a Harrow (after Millet)” (1890) through early July. The work is part of a loan exchange with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

The German state of Hesse will finance the appointment of three scholars to research the history of the Documenta quinquennial exhibitions as part of the new Documenta Institute planned for the city of Kassel.

Otto van Veen’s “Apollo and Venus” (ca 1595–1600) will go back on display at the Hoyt Sherman Place Art Gallery in Des Moines, Iowa, in July. The painting was rediscovered by the museum’s executive director, Robert Warren, two years ago during a search for Civil War flags in a storage closet. The painting was restored for free by conservation expert Barry Bauman.

Moretto da Brescia’s “The Entombment” (1554) will shortly go back on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art following a year-long restoration.

The Delaware Art Museum announced the launch of, a Civil Rights resource reflecting on the protests and riots that broke out in Wilmington, Delaware, in the wake of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination on April 4, 1968. The deployment of the National Guard and the Delaware State Police through to January 1969 is widely considered the longest occupation of a US city by state forces in the country’s history.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture inaugurated “Walk-Up Wednesdays,” a pilot program to test no-pass entry.

Barry Joule, a friend of Francis Bacon, published unheard audio recordings of the British artist in which he lambasts the work of Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol. According to the Guardian, Bacon asked Joule to withhold the recordings until at least 12 years after his death.

The Biennale de Montréal filed for bankruptcy.

Google Arts & Culture published a summary of some its recent projects, including its online archive of Life magazine photographs.

John Baldessari made a cameo appearance on The Simpsons.


Liu Dan, “Untitled” (2012), Ink on paper, 86 5/8 x 47 1/4 in, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, promised gift of Gérard and Dora Cognié (© Liu Dan; photo by Maurice Aeschimann)

Gérard and Dora Cognié pledged a gift of just over 400 works to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The collection, which is largely comprised of Chinese ink paintings, includes works by Liu Dan, Lin Tianmiao, Qiu Zhijie, Shi Guorui, Wang Dongling, Liu Guosong, Sugimoto Hiroshi, and Idris Khan.

The Speed Art Museum acquired Bob Thompson’s “Self Portrait in the Studio” (1960).

Art collectors Daniel and Brett Sundheim donated $3 to the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania. Andrea B. Laporte donated $1.5 million to endow the ICA’s associate curator position.

The J. Sanford Miller family donated $2 million to the Fralin Museum of Art.

The Terra Foundation for American Art awarded a $2 million grant to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The funds will support the new Terra-Art Bridges program, an art loan partnership with four museums across the Northeast.

The Graham Foundation awarded $534,850 in new grants to 74 projects “engaging original ideas that advance our understanding of the designed environment.”

A cabinet card with a photograph of Frederick Douglass was sold at Swann Auction Galleries for $30,000, an auction record for a signed photograph of Douglass.

Cabinet card signed by Frederick Douglass with photographic portrait by George Kendall Warren (ca 1879) (courtesy Swann Auction Galleries)


Pope.L, Jennifer Russell, and Rachel G. Wilf were appointed to the NYU Institute of Fine Arts’ board of trustees.

The French government extended Jean-Luc Martinez’s contract as director of the Louvre through 2021.

Theaster Gates was appointed the first distinguished visiting artist and director of artist initiatives at the Lunder Institute for American Art.

Tony Zeiss stepped down as director of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC.

Tom Dunn was appointed executive director of the Southampton Arts Center.

Laura Sillars was appointed director of Teesside University’s Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art.

Fahmida Suleman was appointed curator of Islamic art and culture at the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada.

Bonhams appointed Jennifer Jacobsen as director of American art and Caitlyn Pickens as head of sale, Impressionist & modern art.

Sonel Breslav was appointed director of fairs and editions at Printed Matter.

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts changed its name to the Frist Art Museum.

The Bugada & Cargnel gallery in Paris has “ceased its activities.”

Beefaus, an art space in Expo Park, Dallas, will permanently close in May.

356 Mission Gallery, the artist-run space founded by Laura Owens and Wendy Yao, will permanently close in May.

The Frick Collection published the design renderings for its latest expansion project, the fourth such effort since 2001.

The Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room, two of London’s most iconic Brutalist venues, will reopen on Monday following a two-year redesign and refurbishment. The project was led by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBStudios).

Interior of the refurbished Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London (photo by Morley Von Sternberg)


The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announced its 2018 fellows.

Curtis Ames received the Forward Art Foundation’s 2018–19 Emerging Artist Award.

Nick Hannes received the 2018 Zeiss Photography Award.

The Racine Art Museum announced the recipients of its Artist Fellowships awards: Alex Mandli, Crystal Neubauer, Marilyn Propp, and Amy Misurelli Sorensen [via email announcement].

Glenn Ligon, Hilton Als, Camilo José Vergara, Nancy Lublin, and Michael Gellert will receive honorary degrees at the New School next month.

Two Trees Management Co. announced the 2018 recipients of its Cultural Space Subsidy Program.

Francis Alÿs was awarded the 2018 EYE Art & Film Prize.


José Antonio Abreu (1939–2018), music educator and director of youth orchestras.

Alfred W. Crosby (1931–2018), scholar and father of environmental history.

Elizabeth Ebert (1925–2018), poet.

Russell Freedman (1929–2018), author of biographies and history for pre-adult readers.

Drue Heinz (1915–2018), actress, philanthropist, and socialite.

Barbara Lewalski (1931–2018), Renaissance scholar and expert on John Milton.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (1936–2018), anti-apartheid activist and politician. Ex-wife of Nelson Mandela.

Frank Meisler (1929–2018), architect and sculptor.

Janka Nabay (1964–2018), singer, songwriter, and bandleader.

William Prochnau (1937–2018), journalist and author.

Anne Forer Pyne (1945–2018), feminist activist and writer.

Anita Shreve (1946–2018), author. Best known for The Weight of Water (1997)

Barbara Stone (1934–2018), film producer and distributor.

Michael Tree (1934–2018), co-founder of the Guarneri Quartet.

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