Spitballs Deface Pointilist Masterwork, Syria's Heritage Sites Under Fire, and More Must-Read Art News

Spitballs Deface Pointilist Masterwork, Syria's Heritage Sites Under Fire, and More Must-Read Art News
Paul Signac's "In the Time of Harmony"
(Courtesy Mairie de Montreuil)

– Signac Heir Calls for Painting's Rescue: The great-granddaughter of pointilist great Paul Signac has taken to the French courts to have his painting "In the Time of Harmony" (1893-95) moved from the Montreuil town hall in suburban Paris — where it is a popular target for vandalism, especially in the form of spitballs — to the Musée d'Orsay. Wet pellets of paper have left the canvas, which was donated to Montreuil by Signac's widow Berthe Robles in 1938, with tears and marks on its surface. [TAN]

– Syrian Conflict Endangers Cultural Legacy: A number of ancient historical treasures have become unintended casualties in the violent conflict in Aleppo. Among the significant archaeological sites newly endangered is the Temple of the Storm God, which is considered one of the oldest structures in the world. The recently-discovered temple and its huge carved reliefs are protected only by sandbags and a flimsy corrugated tin roof. [NYT]

9/11 Museum Seeks Dismissal of Atheist Group Suit: The National September 11 Memorial and Museum is fighting back against a group of atheists who filed a lawsuit protesting its decision to display the giant cross-shaped steel beam that became a site of daily prayer during the cleanup of ground zero. The museum is seeking a dismissal of the suit, arguing that the crossbeam is being exhibited as a relic and not as a religious symbol. [NYT]

– Nazi-Looted St. Peter Statue Returned: Today the Desden state art collections returned a 500-year-old sculpture of St. Peter that was stolen from a Jewish collector for display in Adolf Hitler's never-realized "Fuehrermuseum" in Linz. The heirs of its rightful owner wish to remain anonymous and plan to keep the artwork. "The sculpture is late Gothic and may have come from an altar, probably from the Rhineland or somewhere in southwestern Germany,” said head of provenance for public art collections in Dresden, Gilbert Lupfer. [Bloomberg]

– Getty Gives $1.95 Million to Grad School: Los Angeles's Getty Foundation is giving Claremont Graduate University a $1.95 million grant over the next three years to fund its Getty Leadership Institute, a program on the California school's campus that to date has trained more than 1,000 museum leaders working around the globe. The grant guarantees the Institute's continuation through 2015, though its programs will be suspended next year while curricula are redeveloped and overhauled. [Press Release]

– Munch's Kraft Cafeteria Frieze Saved: A 12-painting frieze by Edvard Munch adorning an employee cafeteria in an Oslo building now owned by Kraft Foods Norway (yes, you read that right) will be listed as a protected artwork by next year to ensure it is not changed or removed after the processed foods giant sells the space. "This is a very important work by Munch, and the expected change of ownership made us consider listing the piece to preserve it for the future,” Mathilde Sprovin, the art historian for Oslo's heritage agency, said. [TAN]

– Jennifer West to Host Interactive High Line Performance: On September 13, the California-born artist will unfurl a mile-long filmstrip along the length of Chelsea's High Line Park and invite the public to walk on, touch, dance, and alter it. Then, she'll turn the celluloid strip into a video, and screen it on the High Line on October 17. [Press Release]

– Collectors Sue Belatedly Over Lost Rockwells: Collectors Larry Kritcher and Eve Thyrum are seeking $500,000 in punitive damages from Manhattan gallery Illustration House, which they believe stole four Norman Rockwell paintings they consigned in 1995. Strangely, the collectors didn't seem too bothered by the missing pieces for some time: "They say they received no word about the works for 16 years, until they started calling Illustration House for updates... this year." [Courthouse News

 Ohio Museum Selling Forgotten Picasso Found in Storage: Staff at Ohio's Evansville Museum of Arts, History & Science recently made what will turn out to be a very lucrative discovery when they came across Pablo Picasso's "Seated Woman with Red Hat" (ca. 1954-56), which had been sitting in storage for half a century. When it was gifted to the museum in the '60s no documentation was provided identifying the Cubist portrait, and now the institution's board board of trustees and members have agreed to sell the work through Guernsey's auction house in New York. [Downtown 14 News]

What Do Artists Do on Boards?: When all four artists resigned from L.A. MOCA's board of trustees, the blaring headlines raised a deeper question: What is the purpose of having an artist on the board? Though artists were integrated into MOCA's board from the beginning, most museums rarely invite them because they could benefit unfairly from the inclusion of their work in the collection. Music and theater organizations, however, often profit from artists' star power in fundraising and raising public awareness. [WSJ


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