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Week in Review: Conserving Nancy Holt’s Land Art, the Louvre Will Buy a Rembrandt

Also, Olu Oguibe’s “Monument for strangers and refugees” gets a permanent home in Germany, Chicago launches a “mural registry,” and more.

Nancy Holt, “Sun Tunnels” (1973–76). Great Basin Desert, Utah. Dia Art Foundation with support from Holt/Smithson Foundation. © Holt/Smithson Foundation and Dia Art Foundation/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Photo: ZCZ Films/James Fox, courtesy Holt/Smithson Foundation

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

The Dia Art Foundation has promised to conserve Nancy Holt‘s land art installation, “Sun Tunnels.” The 1970s outdoor work in Utah’s Great Basin Desert was acquired by the foundation in 2018. It will launch a 10-day conservation project to address the erosion and cracks the work has weathered over time. [Salt Lake Tribune]

The High Line Network, a group of infrastructure reuse projects started by New York’s High Line, has launched the program “New Monuments for New Cities.” An iteration of the public art project, which asks artists to “imagine a monument for today, for your city, for your community,” is now on view in Houston. The photographic, illustrated, and rendered proposals for modern monuments are presented in Houston’s Buffalo Bayou Park. [ARTnews]

Rembrandt van Rijn, “The Standard Bearer” (1636) (via Wikimedia Commons)

The Louvre plans to raise millions to buy a Rembrandt van Rijn painting, “The Standard Bearer” (1636), owned by the Rothschild family for more than 180 years. France’s culture minister says the painting has been identified as a “national treasure,” deferring the painting’s export license and allowing the museum 30 months to raise an unknown sum to acquire the work. [The Art Newspaper]

Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips auction houses in London, New York, and Hong Kong have all had a drop in sales in the first quarter of 2019, as compared to 2018. [Art Market Monitor]

Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events has launched an official “Mural Registry” to protect street art sanctioned by the city and property owner. Approved murals will receive an emblem to mark the work as city-protected, and will be uploaded into a public database detailing more information about the work. Last year, city sanitation crews whitewashed commissioned murals on at least three instances, as part of the citywide effort to make the city more enticing to Amazon. [artnet]

Olu Oguibe, “Monument to Strangers and Refugees” (image courtesy of the artist)

Olu Oguibe’s 54-foot-tall “Monument for strangers and refugees,” a Documenta 14 commission, has found an official home in the city of Kassel, Germany after a series of controversies. Oguibe describes the work as a “call to action” to stand in solidarity with those forced to flee their homes during political or social crises. After the work was purchased by the city, it was suggested to be moved to a less prominent location. A Hyperallergic report on the controversy in May 2018 explains: “Oguibe believes is motivated by pressure from the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party to rid the city center of the work. According to Kassel City Councilman Thomas Materner, a member of the AfD, the obelisk is ‘ideologically polarizing, disfigured art,’ an apparent evocation of the term ‘degenerate art,’ which was adopted in the 1920s by the Nazi Party in an effort to denounce modern art that did not conform to its toxic ideology.” It was then removed from the public square. Last week, the work was relocated to a square near its original location. [ARTnews]

The art world has rallied to support former directors of Czech museums after the country’s culture minister Antonin Staněk dismissed them, saying he did not believe they were able to lead the institutions in a way that was “economically [responsible],” and that the dismissals resulted in “currently completed and ongoing public administration controls of both institutions.” Jiri Fajt had been the director of the National Gallery, Prague, and Michal Soukup was the head of the Olomouc Museum of Art. Staněk is filing a criminal complaint against Fajt for a dispute surrounding rental contracts and fees. Marion Ackermann, director of the Staatliche Kunstsammlung Dresden; Maria Balshaw, director of the Tate, UK; Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum in London; Sabine Haag, director of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; and Max Hollein, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, have signed an open letter denouncing the firing, which they believe is politically motivated. [Artforum]

Transactions

Yinka Shonibare, "The British Library" (2014), Tate Modern 2019 (© Yinka Shonibare, photo by Oliver Cowling, Tate)
Yinka Shonibare, “The British Library” (2014), Tate Modern 2019 (© Yinka Shonibare, photo by Oliver Cowling, Tate)

Tate has acquired Yinka Shonibare CBE’s “The British Library,” an installation meant as a celebration of diversity in Britain, with 6,328 books bound in “Dutch wax print,” with the names of first- or second-generation British immigrants who have made contributions to British culture and history printed in gold leaf on 2,700 of the books’ spines. The installation was purchased through the assistance of Art Fund, the Tate International Council, the Africa Acquisitions Committee, Wendy Fisher, and THE EKARD COLLECTION, 2019. “The British Library” is a site-specific installation with a digital platform allowing visitors to discuss the work. The work is now open to the public as a part of Tate Modern’s collection displays.

This and other notable sales and acquisitions are chronicled in our latest Transactions story.

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