Michelangelo Pieta to Show in Jail, Asian Cash Fuels London Auctions, and More

Michelangelo Pieta to Show in Jail, Asian Cash Fuels London Auctions, and More
Michelangelo's "La Pietá Rondanini"
(Courtesy Latente via Flickr)


 Michelangelo Pietá to Be Displayed in Milanese Panopticon: The unfinished sculpture "La Pietá Rondanini," which Michelangelo was working on at the time of his death in 1564, is heading to jail: the Carcere di San Vittore jail in Milan, to be specific. The 19th-century building was designed as a panopticon, and the statue will be set up at its central point where it can be viewed by all inmates at all times. Supporters of the initiative believe that the work's themes of suffering and forgiveness might have a salutory effect on inmates, and the scheme has drawn the admiration of "foreign prison officials" (as well as the ire of art historians). The Castello Sforzesco, the customary home of the "Pietá Rondanini" since 1954, is currently under renovation. [TAN]


– Asian Buyers Jump Back Into Western Art Market: Despite fears that the Chinese economy's slowdown would affect Asian buyers' appetite for art, last night's sale of Impressionist and modern art at Sotheby's London suggested otherwise. A phone bidder from Asia took the top lot, Picasso's 1932 portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter, "Woman Sitting Near a Window," for $45 million, and a Chinese buyer won the $12.4-million Egon Shiele "Lovers — Self-Portrait with Wally." Collectors from Asia, most of them bidding by phone, also took home works by René MagritteGiorgio Morandi, and Alfred Sisley. [WSJ]

– Domino Lends a Hand to Brooklyn Gallery: The Brooklyn-based Domino Sugar company did a sweet favor for DUMBO gallery Smack Mellon, which was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. The corporation donated two tons of refined pure white sugar so that the organization could recreate a confectionary artwork that was destroyed in the storm. Aude Moreau's "Sugar Carpet" — made of evenly spread sugar transformed into a giant carpet through the application of floral motifs — is now fully restored and on view through February 24. [DNAinfo]

– New Art and Science Center in ChicagoNorthwestern University is teaming up with the Art Institute of Chicago to launch the Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts. The institution, funded in part by a $2.5-million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will focus on art-related conservation issues such as restoration and the study of materials used in ancient artwork. The center also hopes to attract conservators from museums across the country that lack their own laboratories. [Daily Northwestern]

– Italy's Venice Pavilion Unveiled: Italy has announced the details of its pavilion at this year's Venice Biennale. Curated by Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, the pavilion is titled "vice versa" and will feature 14 artists including Fabio MauriPiero Golia, and Francesca Grilli. The exhibition will take place in seven rooms, each of which will host two artists in dialogue with one another. After Vittorio Sgarbi's sprawling, polarizing, and sexed-up presentation at the Italian pavilion in 2011, the rigid format may be a welcome change. [Press Release]

– Pompeii Restorer Accused of Fraud: Restorer Annamaria Caccavo, whose firm Caccavo undertook projects at the Pompeii archaeological site after it was declared in a state of emergency in 2008, has been placed under house arrest. She is facing charges of fraud and corruption for allegedly being paid inflated prices for her firm's work, which totaled some €8 million ($10.8 million). Five other officials, including the ruins' former special commissioner, Marcello Fiori, and the director of restoration at the site, Luigi D'Amora, are being investigated for awarding suspect contracts to Caccavo's firm. [BBC]

– London Gallery Focuses on Palestine: A new not-for-profit gallery in London, P21, is devoted exclusively to the art and artists of Palestine. "We have been painted and categorized," said Palestinian architect Antoine Raffoul, who is on the gallery's advisory board. "We want to say, we are not this or that. It’s a global language, a language the West prefers not to hear." The space, directed by Yahya Zaloom, launches with a group exhibition including Mohammad Al-Hawajri and Tayseer Barakat. [Electronic Intifada]

 Japanese Parents Would Put Pants on "David": Last summer a local businessman donated several 16-feet-tall replicas of Michelangelo's "David" to the small Japanese city of Okuizumo. The city, in turn, installed the anatomically faithful copies in a public park — much to the dismay of concerned parents, who are now calling for the statues to be covered. "Residents have told their elected officials that their children are scared of the statues, which are enormous and appeared without warning this summer," says municipal official Yoji Morinaga. "These statues represent nudes, an artistic style that is very rare in this region. Some people think this is not good for their kids." Nevertheless, officials are hoping that residents grow accustomed to the shameless statues. [AFP]

– Kangaroo Painting May Hop Out of the U.K.: England's culture minister Ed Vaizey has placed an export bar on two paintings by George Stubbs — one of a kangaroo and another of a dingo. The U.K. has until August to raise the £5.5 million needed to keep the paintings in the country. "It would be a terrible shame if the UK were to lose these extraordinary paintings to an overseas buyer," said Lord Inglewood, chairman of the committee that reviews art for export. "They were the British public's first introduction to these exotic animals from the Australasian new world which was opening up at that time." [Guardian]

– First Fashion Shoot Photos Headed to Auction: A series of 37 photo portraits of Victorian women from the 1860s taken by one of the U.K.'s first female photographers, Lady Clementina Hawarden, is believed to have been the first-ever fashion shoot. Now, the images will be sold at Bonhams, where they're expected to fetch £150,000 ($234,900). Bonhams photography specialist Francesco Spickernall said, "Most photography [at the time] was very masculine and mostly architectural so these elegant, feminine shots really stood out at that time." [Telegraph]


Report on the conditions in Carcere di San Vittore, where Michelangelo's "Pietá Rondanini" will be on view


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