Did China Snuff Taiwan's Democracy Sculpture?, Philly's Rodin Museum Returns, and More Must-Read Art News

Did China Snuff Taiwan's Democracy Sculpture?, Philly's Rodin Museum Returns, and More Must-Read Art News
The Goddess of Democracy
(Courtesy iafos via Flickr)

– Chinese Artist Sues Taiwanese President: Outspoken Chinese expat artist Weiming Chen has sued Taiwanese president Ying-jeou Ma for backing out of a plan to mount his 32-meter high "Statue of Democracy" — a recreation of a sculpture made by protestors in Tiananmen Square in 1989 — on an island facing mainland China. The president, the artist claims, caved to pressure from the Communist nation, which he memorably brands "a thugocratic regime of Satanic totalitarianism." The artist, who has on a number of previous occasions said that political pressure affected showings of the project, is seeking a whopping $22 million in punitive damages, as well as the right to erect his artwork. [Courthouse News]

– Philly's Renovated Rodin Museum Reopening: Following more than three years of renovations during which it remained only partially open, Philadelphia's Rodin Museum will reopen on Friday. Its $9.1-million overhaul aimed to recreate the original vision of architect Paul Crét and his landscape architect Jacques Gréber. "This is what you would have seen when it opened in 1929," says the museum's senior curator Joseph J. Rishel. [Philadelphia Inquirer]

– Astronomical Tax Bill Stalls MONA Expansion: In Australia, quirky art collector and professional gambler David Walsh is in hot water over a backdated tax bill to the tune of over $40 million. While Walsh denies that his personal finances will force the closure of his private museum, Tasmania's Museum of Old and New Art, he acknowledged that a planned expansion, which has already cost him $180 million, will have to be put on hold. [Sydney Morning Herald]

– Diving Instructor Discovers Medusa SarcophagusHakan Gulec, a diving school teacher in southern Turkey, turned up an unusual find during a recent dip underwater: an incredibly well-conserved sarcophagus that had been mostly buried beneath the sand, and which is adorned with Medusa heads, cherubs, and other bas-relief figures. Yasar Yildiz, director of the Alanya Museum — which will house the object — confirmed that the sarcophagus is from the Roman period, but could not explain how it ended up where it was found. [TAN]

– Delaware Museum Launches State-Wide Pop-up Program: Since November, the Delaware Art Museum has been celebrating its centennial, and this summer it's taking the celebrations on the road for a series of pop-up exhibitions in outdoor spaces and along Main Streets all over the second-smallest state. The July 17-October 1 program, dubbed "Art is Everywhere," will feature 15 reproductions of the most treasured pieces from the DAM's permanent collection, including paintings by Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer, and Ford Maddox Brown. [Press Release]

– Yvon Lambert Donates Collection to France (Again): The French gallerist and collector Yvon Lambert has successfully donated his contemporary art collection — estimated to be worth upwards of €90 million, and including everyone from BasquiatTwombly, and Kiefer to LeWittGoldin, and Serrano — to France after an attempt to do so last year failed. "In France, donating a collection is not an easy thing," Lambert said. "Examples of missed rendez-vous between the state and major donors plague our art history." [AFP]

– EU Bans Art Exports to Syria: As part of a new series of sanctions targeted at Syria's first couple, the European Union has placed an embargo on luxury goods exports to the conflict-wracked Middle Eastern country, whose president Bashar Al-Assad and his wife Asma continue to spend large sums on artworks and designer goods. Many see the ban as a deterrent to cultural development. "Sooner or later, Assad will be gone," says the founder of a Cairo-based art advisory group, Fatenn Mostafa. "In the long term, cultural exchange is one thing we really shouldn’t be cutting off." [TAN]

– Met's Voice Pulls Back to Focus on Abe LincolnHarold Holzer, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's senior vice president for external affairs, will dial back some of his duties to focus on his work as a Civil War historian and writer. Though he will remain in charge of the institution's government affairs and audience development, he will cease overseeing external and internal communications. Journalists, say your goodbyes now! [NYT

– Billionaire Needs a Sewer to Show His Art Collection: After 30 years of quiet acquisitions, a reclusive billionaire outside Washington, D.C. wants to open his collection of postwar artworks by the likes of CalderMatisse, and Rothko to the public. But to do that, Mitchell Rales must expand his private gallery — and he can't do it without a hookup to the county's sewer system, currently forbidden by state law. The county council will begin a review of the issue this week. [WaPo]

– Getty Funds Rubens Restoration at the Prado: The Getty Foundation has donated close to $390,000 to the Prado Museum in Madrid to help finance the conservation of "Triumph of the Eucharist," a 17th century masterpiece by Dutch artist Peter Paul Rubens. The gift is part of the Getty's Panel Paintings Initiative, which has also helped fund the conservation of Albrecht Dürer's "Adam and Eve," also located at the Prado. [LAT]


A 2009 Fox News segment about Chinese artist Weiming Chen's "Sculpture of Democracy" project



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