NASA Fires Mona Lisa at the Moon, Artists Converge for Inauguration, and More

NASA Fires Mona Lisa at the Moon, Artists Converge for Inauguration, and More
The Mona Lisa in space
(Illustration by ARTINFO)

Art History Goes to Space: The Mona Lisa has now traveled further than any other artwork in history, without ever leaving the Louvre. Leonardo da Vinci's epic portrait was transmitted, via lasers, to the Moon — or more specifically, to NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which orbits the moon some 30 miles out in space. In order to test the laser as a communication device with far-away satellites, NASA sent the well-known artwork, pixel by pixel, to the spacecraft, where it was then reconstructed into the familiar, maybe-smiling lady. [The Atlantic]

Artists Descend on D.C. for Inauguration Artmaking Extravaganza: Andrew Purchin, one of the few artists to brave the cold and paint Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009, is bringing some friends this time around to participate in "A Thousand Artists: Inauguration 2013," a massive participatory artmaking installation on the National Mall that he has organized for Monday. He plans to supply white jumpsuits and orange beanies for up to 250 participants, though he hopes more will attend. "I was inspired by President Obama and I loved his 'Audacity of Hope' message," Purchin said. "I thought, 'What's audacious for me? I paint in public. I paint events. I'm going to paint the inauguration.'" [San Francisco Chronicle]


U.S. Judge Slams Russia's Art Loan Ban: The Russian government's ban on art loans to U.S. museums, which began two years ago as a result of a dispute between Russia and Chabad, a Chassidic Jewish organization — led U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth to rule this week that Russia was in contempt of court for ignoring a 2010 order to return a set of historic books and manuscripts known as the Schneerson Collection to the New York-based group. The Russian government is incurring a $50,000-per-day fine, to be paid to Chabad, for not returning the artifacts. A spokesperson from the Russian embassy in the U.S. responded that "there is no change in the position" and that the collection is "part of Russia's national heritage and cannot be [returned]." [LAT]

Menil Collection Uproots Matrimonial Art Tree: A small oak tree on the grounds of Houston's Menil Collection that was the only remaining trace of a 2009 performance by The Art Guys — local artists Michael Galbreth and Jack Massing — titled "The Art Guys Marry a Plant," in which the duo married an oak sappling, was recently removed from the museum's premises and collection, marking the latest chapter in an art saga surround the tree, which had become an important symbol for Houston's LGBT community. "The Menil has engaged in numerous discussions with parties who have felt injured or offended because the work was being displayed, and parties who have felt injured or offended because the work has been vandalized and might not be displayed," the museum explained in a statement. "The Menil has preferred to conduct these conversations in private." [TM Daily Post]

An Inaugural Celebration of Free Speech and Great Marketing: Washington D.C.'s Newseum and the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum will celebrate Inauguration weekend by projecting images from three well-known works by Chinese pro-democracy activist and artist Ai Weiwei on the 74-foot-tall marble First Amendment tablet attached to the Newseum's facade. The free speech celebration during one of D.C.'s busiest weekends will also serve as marketing for the Hirshhorn's survey of Ai's work, which will open on February 24. [Art Daily]

Art For Free, Everyday, in Dallas: On Monday morning, the Dallas Art Museum will become the first institution in the country to offer both free admission and free membership. For the DMA, which sees much less tourist revenue than museums in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, it is a move that makes economic sense. Admissions make up only 4 percent of the museum's annual budget — a gap they think will be fairly easy to close through philanthropy. "If memberships mean belonging, and we think everybody belongs here, then everybody should be a member," said director Maxwell Anderson. [Dallas News]

Manet's Secret Son Revealed?: The parentage of Léon-Edouard Koëlla Leenhoff, the son of Edouard Manet's Dutch wife Suzanne, has long puzzled art historians, and though he appears in 17 of the French artist's paintings — including five pieces that will be included in a forthcoming exhibition at the Royal Academy in London — nobody has determined definitively whether he was the also the son of Manet, or possibly of the artist's father Auguste Manet, or the son of neither, an issue the RA exhibition catalogue doesn't address. "Perhaps, as [Manet biographer Beth Archer] Brombert suggests, Manet waited for his father to die before marrying Suzanne not because she was also his father’s lover but because he had finally inherited the financial means to do so," Serena Davies hypothesizes. "And Manet, in making that marriage, was honouring a long-term commitment to give security to the mother of his child, born out of wedlock at a time when Manet was naive, but still decent enough to face the consequences of his actions." [Telegraph]

Glass Arts Donation a Boon for Boston MFA: New England collector Daphne Farago will donate 161 contemporary glass and craft works to the Boston Museum of Fine Art’s textile and fashion arts department, a once-neglected area of the institution's collection. This is the third major gift to the museum by Farago, who reportedly placed no restrictions on the museum in donating the works, and it will go on display in the museums Farago Gallery in August. [Boston Globe]

Denver Art Museum Banks on the French to Keep Crowds Coming: The Denver Art Museum has announced a "French Fall" trio of shows featuring superstar artists like Monet, Cezanne, and Degas on the heels of its sold-out van Gogh show, which closes January 20. The group of shows will trace French art history from the 17th to the 20th centuries and, like the van Gogh exhibition, will require museumgoers to purchase a separate ticket. [Denver Post]

D'Amelio Joins Zwirner Ahead of 20th Street Megagallery Space Opening: Chelsea dealer Chris D'Amelio, who broke ties with his partner Lucien Terras in late 2011 to go solo, will close up shop in order to join the art-world megalith that is now David Zwirner gallery. D'Amelio will bring a wealth of knowledge on Minimalism to Zwirner, where a show of work by Donald Judd and Dan Flavin will inaugurate a new gallery space on West 20th Street next month. D'Amelio represents a number of mid-career American and European artists including Polly Apfulbaum, Roland Flexner, and Karin Sander. [Gallerist]


Andrew Purchin announces his "A Thousand Artists: Inauguration 2013" initiative through Google Hangout


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