Pinault Yields Zodiac Animals to China, Museum Opens Minecraft Annex, and More

Pinault Yields Zodiac Animals to China, Museum Opens Minecraft Annex, and More
François-Henri Pinault
(Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images)

– Pinaults Pony Up Looted Chinese Rodent Sculptures: The French collector François-Henri Pinault has announced that his family will donate two historic bronze relics portraying the head of a rabbit and a rat back to the Chinese government. The two sculptures are among 12 zodiac figurines that adorned an 18th-century clepsydra, or water clock, and are a particular point of national pride for China, as they were looted by Western powers from Beijing's Summer Palace in 1860 (when they went on the block for the Christie's sale of Yves-Saint Laurent's collection, a Chinese bidder hijacked the auction in protest). "The rat's head and a rabbit's head will be collected by the National Museum," State Culture Relics Bureau's vice director Song Xinchao. []

– Museum Exhibits Clone of Itself in Minecraft: As part of the Oakland Museum of California's exhibition on customization, the institution hired the nearby Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment to create a replica of the entire city of Oakland (including the OMC) inside the virtual world-building environment Minecraft. The exhibition's curators briefly considered building a digital Oakland inside the massive multiplayer military game Team Fortress 2, but decided it was too violent. [Polygon]


– Chihuly Forger Faces Jail TimeMichael Little was arrested yesterday under suspicion of trafficking fake Dale Chihuly glass sculptures on eBay, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The case began when a collector tried to buy Chihuly works to donate to the Jundt Art Museum, eventually purchasing more than 30 pieces from Little for over $30,000. Now the fake glass art purveyor is facing a five-year jail sentence and $250,000 fine. [KOMO News]

– Greek Nudes Yanked After Qatari Censorship: Greece has removed a pair of ancient statues of male nudes from an exhibition of Olympian art in Doha after the Qatari government insisted on veiling the sculptures so as not to offend female visitors. The two works, from the second and sixth centuries BCE, landed back in Athens last week, after Greece's deputy culture minister Costas Tzavaras visited Doha last month and objected to the exhibition's veiled display. [AP]

– Impromptu "Friends" Reunion at L.A. Exhibition: "Friends" co-stars Lisa Kudrow and Courtney Cox ran into each other at last night's opening of "L.A. Modernism," an exhibition and sale of art and 20th-century modern design at the Santa Monica Air Center. The pair posed for photographers, though the opening's star attractions were the colorfully dressed pair of designer Trina Turk and photographer Jonathan Skow. [Daily Mail]

– Robot Makes Major Archaeological Find: The small Tlaloc II-TC robot has discovered what may be a series of three burial chambers beneath the ancient pre-Hispanic city of Teotihuacan in Mexico, possibly shedding light on the ancient civilization's death rites. The small robot, which is named after the Aztec god of rain, was working on behalf of the National Anthropology and History Institute. [AFP]

– Art Basel Getting Favela Cafe: The Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata has been commissioned by Art Basel to create the massive installation "Favela Café" in Basel's Messeplatz during the mega-fair, during which its 18 crudely constructed huts will offer seating, coffee, drinks, and more. The favela-chic installation is an update of Kawamata's 1992 work from Documenta IX, "People's Garden" (1992). [ArtReview]

– Merrill Lynch Sponsors Street Artists: The American investment banking giant has partnered with Tate and the London-based street art collective Graffiti Life to launch a new public art initiative in southeast London to train some 60 aspiring artists between the ages of 16 and 25 to create a massive mural inspired by Roy Lichtenstein — who is the subject of a major, Merrill Lynch-sponsored retrospective at Tate Modern. "It’s about taking art out of a museum context and into a public space, where it can be shared more widely," said Graffiti Life member Iona Thomas. [TAN]

– Islamic Art Auctions Fudge History, Geography: The major auction houses' increasingly frequent sales of Islamic art all come with differing geographical and historical definitions of what constitutes art from the Muslim world, covering so much territory that no expert can possibly assess them. However, this scattershot approach has its upside: It means that the star lots of many sales may easily be missed by all but the most discerning buyers, as was the case with a 14th-century manuscript that recently went under the hammer at Sotheby's in a sale where over half of the lots being offered went unsold. [Herald Tribune]

– St. Petersburg MFA Gets Contemporary Art Curator: The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida, has hired Katherine Pill as its first curator of contemporary art thanks to the Hazel and William Hough Curatorial Endowment Fund established last year. Pill's first exhibition will be "Color Acting: Abstraction Since 1950," a show drawing primarily from the MFA's permanent collection. "It is a passion of mine to support the work of contemporary artists and to communicate their work to a larger public," Pill said. "Contemporary art can be intimidating, and I feel it is the responsibility of a curator to provide context and multiple points of entry to challenging concepts and artworks." [Press Release]


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