British Museum Hot For Japan's Erotica, Vatican Goes Virtual, and More

British Museum Hot For Japan's Erotica, Vatican Goes Virtual, and More
A "Shunga" print from the Meiji period

British Museum Banks on Japanese Erotica: In spite of the imminent £2 million in cuts to its government funding, the British Museum registered its best month of May ever in terms of attendance, up 42 percent from May 2012, and bringing its total for the last three months to 1.7 million, thanks in large part to a pair of blockbuster shows: "Ice Age Art" and "Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum." The latter show drew some attention — and a parental warning — with its statue of a man having intimate relations with a goat. To repeat the magic, the British Museum is looking to another adults-only exhibition, this one devoted to erotic art from Japan. "Sex in Japan is on one level like sex everywhere but on another very different," said British Museum director Neil MacGregor. [FT, Telegraph]

Virtual Reality at the Vatican: The Vatican continues to embrace technological art experiences with a new virtual reality project, called Etruscanning 3D, which recreates the experience of wandering through a 2,600-year-old Etruscan tomb known as the Regolini-Galassi. The actual tomb, located north of Rome, is not open to the public, but the virtual replication allows visitors to explore the site and select artifacts to examine. [ArtNews]


L.A. Debates Mural Ban: The Los Angeles city council is considering passing an ordinance that would lift the decade-old ban on putting murals on private property in the city. L.A. city councilman José Huizar, one of the sponsors of the proposed ordinance, said, "It's been a long time coming. Long overdue." Others, like Judy Baca, a muralist and founder of the Social and Public Art Resource Center, express worry that a new ordinance would allow for an increased amount of advertising. "Do we allow our city to become a kind of place of visual blight, like a Hong Kong kind of visualization of ads in every inch of eyespace?" Baca asks. "Or are there places in which.... public art can have its diverse expression?" [LAT]

Anthony Caro Cannibalizes Public Art at Gagosian: The 10 large steel sculptures featured in Sir Anthony Caro's current exhibition at Gagosian in London are the leftovers of an enormous public art project that never materialized. The artist had planned to install a giant, three-block-long steel construction on Park Avenue in New York, but abandoned that scheme when he discovered that he would need to raise more than $1.5 million to bring it to fruition. "I had this quarter-sized model sitting across the studio, and I walked out of my tearoom and I suddenly saw parts of it had the beginnings of a sculpture," Caro said. "I said, 'Let’s cannibalize what we’ve made already.'" [Bloomberg]

Scottish Independence Threatens U.K. Museum: If the citizens of Scotland vote for independence from Britain in next year's referendum, the impact on the collections of the United Kingdom's major art institutions could be enormous. "Let's jump off that bridge when we get to it," said Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum. "The British Museum is the first cultural evidence of the union. It was part of the response to the events of 1745 – the first British thing created after that threat to the union – and it sent out a big statement. It was marrying Scottish Enlightenment ideas to the London's global contact, and it was a real expression of what that new country [Britain] was." [Guardian]

Jenny Moore Moves to Marfa: Donald Judd’s Marfa museum, the Chinati Foundation, has announced that Jenny Moore will take over the role of executive director. Moore was previously an associate curator at the New Museum and co-curated "NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash, and No Star." "She brings proven leadership skills, extensive institutional experience and a strong familiarity with the work of our artists," said Andrew Cogan, chair of the foundation’s board. "Jenny is the right person along with our dedicated team in Marfa to lead Chinati as we continue to build on the extraordinary platform that Donald Judd created." [Press Release]

Duck Stamp Sends Wildlife Artist to Stardom: Every year the Fish and Wildlife Service selects an image of a duck by a wildlife artist as the winner of its Duck Stamp Contest, with the United States Postal Service issuing a new stamp featuring the winning artwork and setting the victorious artist on an express track to stardom. This year's duck stamp, featuring a painting by Robert Steiner, will be made available to the public on Friday. "Overnight you become a superstar in the wildlife art world," Mark S. Anderson, the Duck Stamp Contest winner from 2004, said. "In music you have the Grammys. If you’re an actor, it’s the Oscars. If you’re a wildlife artist, it’s winning the Federal Duck Stamp Contest." [NYT]

Recording Artist Pulls a Banksy at Grammy Museum: The L.A.-based music artist Paz Dylan recently pranked the Grammy Museum in a manner reminiscent of a vintage stunt by the street artist Banksy, inserting images of himself — with accompanying wall text matching the museum's perfectly — into the institution's display of famous, Grammy-winning musicians, where they remained unnoticed for a month. Paz explained on Facebook that the prank was an act of protest against the lack of independent artists nominated for Grammys this year. "The Grammys say they nominate independent artists, but their definition of 'independent' includes Taylor Swift and Paul McCartney. The system is broken. Its time for the Grammys to recognize artists for the art they make, not the deals they sign," he wrote. "Somehow the following pieces made their way into the Los Angeles Grammy Museum. They’ve gone unnoticed for about a month. Enjoy." [PetaPixel]

New Director for Speed Art Museum: The Speed Art Museum in Louisville has selected Ghislain d’Humières as its new director. D’Humières, who comes from a directorship at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma, will oversee the Speed’s three-year expansion project. [Media Bistro]

Harris Lieberman Gallery Closes: New York gallery Harris Lieberman, opened by couple Jessie Washburne-Harris and Michael Lieberman, will shut its doors in Chelsea after a seven-year stint in the West Village and on West 26th street. "We had a great seven years, but we decided it was time to make a change," said Washburne-Harris. [Gallerist]


The Vatican's 3-D tomb

Etruscanning3D: the Regolini Galassi tomb in 3D from Eva Pietroni on Vimeo.


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