Teenage Picasso Sketch Found, NFL Pro Arrested in Gauguin Ponzi Scheme, and More

Teenage Picasso Sketch Found, NFL Pro Arrested in Gauguin Ponzi Scheme, and More
A recently discovered charcoal drawing by Picasso

New Picasso Discovered: While restoring one of Pablo Picasso's oldest works, the staff of Barcelona's Picasso Museum discovered an even earlier portrait hidden on its cardboard backing. Affixed to a portrait of Picasso's mother painted in 1896 — when Picasso was 15 — is a charcoal drawing of a man with a pipe that researchers believe was created even earlier. "His level of knowledge [at a young age] was greater than we thought it was," said the Picasso Museum's chief restorer Reyes Jimenez. [Olive Press

– NFL Player Offers Gauguin in Hail Mary Ponzi Scheme: Former National Football League player Russell Allen Erxleben was arrested last month on charges of luring investors into a $2-million Ponzi scheme that included the opportunity to invest in a Paul Gauguin painting, "The Sorcerer of Hiva Oa," which he claimed could be worth as much as $58 million. Erxleben, who remains in custody and will plead not guilty, allegedly told would-be investors that he needed $75,000 to further the process of authenticating the supposed Post-Impressionist masterpiece, demanding $25,000 up front. [TAN]

National Academy Joins 21st Century: For the first time in its 187-year history, London's National Academy has included photographers, video artists, and performance artists among its annual inductees. Until 2011, only artists categorized as painters, sculptors, printmakers, or architects were eligible to be voted into the Academy. Among the 23 newly elected artists are Joan Jonas (for video and performance), Cindy Sherman (photography), and Bill Viola (video). Each new member will donate an artwork to the Academy. [AiA]

Performa Launches Pavilions Program: Taking a page from the Venice Biennale, New York's Performa biennial will launch a new national pavilions program, called Performa Pavilions, this fall. The organization will collaborate closely with artists and curators from inaugural participants Norway and Poland to commission major new works. Norwegian curator Randi Grov Berger will also join Performa for six months leading up to the biennial. "I wanted to find a way to involve other countries, other cultures, in a profound way," Performa's founder RoseLee Goldberg said. [Gallerist]

– Manifesta 10 to Take Over Hermitage Museum: Next year the tenth edition of the European biennial of contemporary art, Manifesta, will be staged at St. Petersburg's State Hermitage Museum, the most high-profile venue to date for the roving exhibition, which has previously taken place in off-the-radar locations like Slovenia, Cyprus, and, most recently, a former mine in Genk, Belgium. The East-meets-West theme of the biennial's 20th anniversary edition will span exhibitions at Catherine the Great's storied museum — which marks its 250th anniversary next year — and other venues in St. Petersburg that have yet to be announced. [Press Release]

– Early Serra Sculpture Saved: "Shift," a long concrete installation that Richard Serra created in 1972 in King Township north of Toronto that has been recently threatened by real estate development, will be designated a site of "cultural heritage value" by the municipal government. "We would be culturally ignorant idiots," said township councilor Avia Eek, not to preserve the sculpture. "What we need next from the township is a bylaw that will allow building standards to be applied to the piece so that if it needs repair and maintenance the township is in the position to do something about it," said former chair of the township's heritage committee Fiona Cowles. [Globe and Mail]

– New Creative Rights Caucus Promotes Copyright Protection: Artists of all stripes have a new venue to voice their concerns in Washington. Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) have launched the Creative Rights Caucus, which aims to educate both Congress and the public "about the importance of preserving and protecting the rights of the creative community in the U.S.," according to a statement. The group seeks to promote and protect the "copyrights, human rights, First Amendment rights, and property rights" of artists and creators. Maybe this means a renewed interest in the controversial artists' resale rights? [Deadline]

– Museums' Most Fragile Artifacts Brought to Light: For her new book "The Secret Museum," Molly Oldfield visited institutions around the world — from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum to the British Dental Association Museum — to research and photograph artifacts that have been deemed too fragile to exhibit. "[Sir Isaac] Newton’s fabled apple tree once stood in the garden of his childhood home, Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire," Oldfield writes in an entry about a few wooden artifacts at the Royal Society of London. "In 1800 the inspirational tree blew over, but the owner of Woolsthorpe saved some pieces of it. On a shelf in the cool basement of the Society’s London HQ are two fragments, as well as two rulers and a prism made from the wood." [Telegraph]

– Buyers of Purported Lost Da Vinci Make Their Case: In 1998 three thrift store combers picked up a painting on the cheap in Laroque that they claim is a long-lost work by Leonardo da Vinci. They have spent the last 15 years showing the work, affectionately dubbed "The Madonna of Laroque," to experts and scholars in hopes of strengthening their claims of its authenticity. Though many remain skeptical, the work still managed to attract some 460,000 visitors during a recent special exhibition in Japan under the auspices of media giant Fuji, where it was attributed to da Vinci's studio. [Le Figaro]

Michael Connor Joins Rhizome: The New Museum's hub for new media has appointed Michael Connor to the recently created position of editor and curator. Connor's curatorial work focuses on artists' responses to cinema and new technologies. As the head of exhibitions at BFI Southbank in London, he oversaw the development of an interactive moving image archive designed by Adjaye/Associates as well as a gallery dedicated to artists' film, video, and new media. [Rhizome]


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