Coetzee Curates Pavilion in Venice, Smithsonian Seeks Obama Artifacts, and More

Coetzee Curates Pavilion in Venice, Smithsonian Seeks Obama Artifacts, and More
Lisa Hogue wears pins as she and others gather on the National Mall for the Inauguration ceremony
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

J.M. Coetzee to Curate Belgian Pavilion: The Belgian pavilion at this year's Venice Biennale will be curated by Nobel Prize-winning novelist J.M. Coetzee. It's an interesting choice considering the author is South African and notoriously avoids publicity. (He declined to collect both of his two Booker Prizes in person.) The pavilion will be devoted to the art of Ghent-based sculptor Berlinde De Bruyckere. [Utopia Parkway, Flanders News]

– African American Museum Curators Seek Obama Artifacts: During Monday's inauguration celebrations in Washington, D.C., curators from the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture parsed the crowds looking for the most unusual handmade artifacts to add to the museum's collection of objects pertaining to Barack Obama's presidency. Turns out it's not always easy getting people to donate their Obamamorabilia. "The more personal the object, the more attached it is to a special event, the harder it is for the person to give it up," said the museum's founding director, Lonnie G. Bunch. [Washington Post]

– Court to Hear Lawsuit Over Looted Art Worth $100 Million: The last great Holocaust-era art restitution case may be upon us. David de Csepel, great-grandson of Jewish banker and devoted art collector Baron Mór Lipót Herzog, has filed suit in federal court against the government of Hungary, three of its museums, and a university. He is seeking the return of more than 40 artworks valued at $100 million. In addition to deciding the fate of the Herzog collection, the case could help set precedent for suing a foreign government in U.S. courts. [LAT]

Murakami Takes on the Berlin Gallery Scene: The first exhibition of the year at Takashi Murakami's new gallery in Berlin gathers 500 works from eight Japanese ceramic artists (all of whom are represented by his sister gallery, Oz Zingaro, in Tokyo). "There is now a new genre of ceramic art that has grown from a more left-wing mindset and where the artists deliberately seek to prevent their prices from going up," Murakami explains. But why open a gallery in Berlin in the first place? The art star says his friend, fellow artist Anselm Reyle, convinced him it was a good idea. [DW]

Virgin Atlantic to Sell Street Art In Flight: Virgin Atlantic is getting into the art business. Beginning next month, first-class passengers traveling between New York and London will be able to buy paintings by British street artist Ben-19076">Ben Eine in midair. "An airplane cabin isn't the first place people think of when they choose an exhibition space, but I'm all for doing things differently," the artist said. His works are priced between $4,000 and $24,000 and will be exhibited in the airline's clubhouses on the ground and through a virtual gallery onboard. [USA Today]

Portland Gets Grants for Small Arts Organizations: The Portland Institute of Contemporary Art is launching the Precipice Fund, a new grant-giving initiative for Portland-based visual art collectives, alternative spaces, and artist-run collaborative projects. It will distribute small grants of $500 to $5,000 to up to 20 recipients annually. The fund itself is financed by a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation. [Artforum]

 Sistine Chapel's Past Restorations Put it at Risk: The Vatican's efforts to restore the Sistine Chapel cieling in the 1980s and '90s — which involved removing layers of protective coating that kept Michelangelo's masterpiece shielded from atmospheric pollutants — may have done more to damage it the than the thronging masses now passing Ben-19076">Beneath it every day. Since a plan to re-coat the frescoes with synthetic resin was abandoned, they remain unprotected and at the mercy of dirt, dust, and other damaging substances in the air. [Artwatch]

Columbus Museum Plans Major Expansion: Ohio's Columbus Museum of Art is preparing for the last phase of its $63-million renovation plan: a new $37.6-million, 50,000-square-foot wing. Expected to be complete in two years, the addition will include a full-service restaurant, new permanent collection galleries, and an events complex. "We need a larger special event space," said museum spokesperson Nancy Colvin. "That’s a major revenue stream for us." [Business First]

– Alleged Picasso Nabbed in Turkish Sting: A painting titled "Harlequin Family" and said to be a lost work by Pablo Picasso was recovered by Turkish police in Elaz?? province after a suspect attempting to sell the work for $10 million was stopped and the artwork was found in his car. The mysterious painting has been sent to the local Elaz?? Archaeology and Ethnography Museum to be examined. [Anatolia News Agency]

Trenton Doyle Hancock Wins Greenfield Prize: Painter Trenton Doyle Hancock is the winner of the annual $30,000 Greenfield Prize, beating out shortlisted hopefuls including Nicole Eisenman and Byron Kim. Hancock will attend the Hermitage Artist Retreat in Englewood, Florida and produce an original work of art there under the auspices of the Greenfield Foundation. [Press release]


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