Tombraiders Hunt Mona Lisa's Bones, London Museum Guards to Strike During Olympics, and More Must-Read Art News

Tombraiders Hunt Mona Lisa's Bones, London Museum Guards to Strike During Olympics, and More Must-Read Art News
Leonardo da Vinci, "Mona Lisa," c. 1504 (detail)
(Courtesy Wikipaintings)

– National Gallery Guards Plan Olympics Strike: A long-smoldering labor dispute between the administration of the U.K.'s National Gallery and its guards — or "gallery assistants" — is set to ignite during the upcoming London Olympics: The security staff has announced a series of strikes to begin on the first day of the Games. The planned action, in response to the museum's proposal to cut staff, could result in the institution's partial closure during the crush of visitors expected from the all-important international event. [Guardian, ARTINFO UK]

– Italians Looking for Mona Lisa's Bones: Yesterday a team of Italian archaeologists  unearthed bones near Florence's Sant'Orsola convent that they believe may have belonged to Lisa Gherardini (1479-1542), the woman who is thought to have modeled for Leonardo da Vinci when he painted "La Gioconda," aka "Mona Lisa," aka "the world's most famous painting." Remains from three recently-discovered tombs have been sent to the Ministry for Cultural Activities and Artifacts for analysis, with the hope being that scientists can finally crack the code of Leonardo's inscrutable sitter. [AFP]

– Saatchi Online Launches Massive Online Curatorial Showcase: The digital gallery founded by collector Charles Saatchi is launching its first exhibition under its new CEO, Margo Spiritus, called "100 Curators 100 Days." For the show, 100 curators from around the world — including experts from the Hirshhorn Museum and the Palais de Tokyo — will select 10 artists to showcase on the site for a day. The artists have uploaded their work and priced it themselves; they will earn 70 percent of the sale prices. [NYT]

– Collectors Can't Offload Prized Antiquities: Across the United States, measures taken to curb the trade in looted artifacts are making it more difficult for collectors of antiquities to donate or sell their holdings. "They just won't take them — can't take them," said Chinese antiquities collector David Dewey, who has largely stopped donating his treasures to museums and Middlebury College, his alma mater. One study found that as many as 100,000 privately owned Classical objects would be unable to pass muster with most museums today. [NYT]

Teylers Museum Hits Raphael Jackpot: Three drawings in the Netherlands-based Teylers Museum collection previously attributed to Raphael's pupils are now believed to be the work of the great Renaissance master himself. While preparing for a major Raphael exhibition this fall — the first ever devoted to the artist in the Netherlands — curators discovered "distinct features that clearly reveal Raphael's signature" in the three works, increasing the museum's holdings of Raphael from nine to 12. [TAN]

– CERN Residency Brings Choreographer to Collider: The latest artist to participate in Collide@Cern, the Large Hadron Collider's artist-in-residence program, is Geneva-based choreographer Gilles Jobin. His first piece, "Strangels," had dancers dramatizing the slow movement of time in the organization's library. "Some of the world's greatest minds are here, theorists who think beyond the paradigm all the time, think beyond what you see," said Collide@Cern director Ariane Koek. "That's exactly what artists do — they think of new things. I thought, 'If you bring those types of people together, what you get will be really exciting.'" [Guardian]

– U.K.'s Bell-Ringers Change Their Tune: Though originally dismissive of Martin Creed's London Olympics-launching happening "Work No. 1197. All the bells in a country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes," Britain's campanologists and criers have come around. "This is not the usual type of ringing that we normally do," said steeple keeper Alan Regin, "but at Christ Church Spitalfields, we say 'why not?!'" [TAN]

– Pace Plans Major Kienholz Show: This November, New York's Pace Gallery will host an exhibition of ten large-scale "Concept Tableaux" by the late American artist Ed Kienholz alongside an enormous installation he created with his wife Nancy Reddin Kienholz in 1985. Each of the tableaux consists of a plaque and instructions for an unmade artwork to be created if and when the artist was commissioned to make it — which he rarely was. [TAN]

– Controversial Sculptor's Apartment Becomes Art: The apartment of the late artist Barton Lidice Benes — who collected mountains of curios to create his sculptures — will be packed up and recreated at the North Dakota Museum of Art. The exhibition, planned before the artist's death from AIDS complications in May, will display his art alongside some of the stranger items in his apartment, such as a stuffed giraffe and a blackened toe found on the Williamsburg bridge. [NYT]

Andreas Blühm to Lead Groninger Museum: The Berlin-born scholar, who has been director of the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum and Foundation Corboud in Cologne since 2005, has been hired to lead the 120-year-old Groninger Museum in the Netherlands. He will succeed Kees van Twist, who resigned earlier this year amid rumors of financial difficulties at the institution. [AiA


Lecture by Gilles Jobin, the first winner of collide@CERN Genva Award for Dance and Performance



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