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Who owns the Benin Bronzes? The answer just got more complicated.

Benin Bronzes on display in the Humboldt Forum, a museum complex in Berlin, Jan. 31, 2023. After years of ignored pleas and stonewalled requests, deals were finally coming together to return some of Africa’s most prized treasures to the continent — but that plan has run aground since Nigeria’s outgoing president announced he had transferred ownership to a direct descendant of the ruler they had been stolen from. (Andreas Meichsner/The New York Times)

by Alex Marshall

LONDON.- After years of ignored pleas and stonewalled requests, deals were finally coming together to return some of Africa’s most prized treasures to the continent. The Smithsonian Institution, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the German government announced they were returning scores of sculptures, plaques and ornaments, known as the Benin Bronzes, that British soldiers had plundered in 1897 from Benin City, in what is now Nigeria but was once the center of a kingdom. Plans were underway for a glittering new museum designed by British Ghanaian architect David Adjaye to showcase and protect the returned treasures. But that plan has run aground since Nigeria’s outgoing president announced he had transferred ownership of the looted items to a direct descendant of the ruler they had been stolen from. At a moment when museums worldwide are trying to come to grips with contested artifacts in their collections, this development underscores how complex restitution efforts can be. ... More

The Best Photos of the Day

Sir Winston Churchill painting of Hever gardens unveiled as part of re-curation of the Castle   How did birds first take off?   'Spring Light' exhibition by Kiki Smith now on view at Pace Gallery

Sir Winston Churchill , View through an Arch at Hever. Copyright: Hever Castle & Gardens.

KENT.- A painting of the gardens at Hever by former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) has come home to the Castle. Dating from the 1930’s the oil painting, View through an Arch at Hever depicts the Italian Garden at Hever Castle at the time it was owned by Churchill’s close friends, John Jacob Astor V (known as JJ) and Lady Violet Astor. The painting was recently purchased by Hever Castle in a Private Sale from Christies and unveiled by Lord and Lady Astor at a celebratory event. Churchill regularly visited Hever Castle from his nearby home, Chartwell, and painted at the historic building due to his friendship with fellow artist John Jacob Astor (1886-1971). Other paintings of the gardens at Hever Castle can be found in the house and studio at the family home of Sir Winston. Although Churchill only painted part-time, he produced over 500 pictures. Although he attempted portraits and interiors, ... More

An illustration provided by Yu Chen shows an artist’s impression of one of the molt cycles of an enantiornithine, a bird that dominated the skies for tens of millions of years, based on fossil evidence from three specimens. (Yu Chen via The New York Times)

by Carl Zimmer

NEW YORK, NY.- In 1993, “Jurassic Park” helped inspire 9-year-old Stephen Brusatte to become a paleontologist. So Brusatte was thrilled to advise the producers of last year’s “Jurassic World: Dominion” on what scientists had learned about dinosaurs since he was a child. He was especially happy to see one of the most important discoveries make it to the screen: dinosaurs that sported feathers. But judging from the emails he has been receiving, some moviegoers did not share his excitement. “A lot of people thought it was made up,” said Brusatte, a professor at the University of Edinburgh. “They thought it was filmmakers trying to do something crazy.” Far from crazy, feathered dinosaurs have ... More

Evening Star, 2023. Aqueous archival inkjet, acrylic archival inkjet, white gold leaf on Hahnemühle rag paper. 152.4 × 109.2 cm. © Kiki Smith, courtesy Pace Gallery.

NEW YORK, NY.- Pace has opened an exhibition of work by Kiki Smith at its arts complex in Seoul. On view since May 17 to June 24, the presentation, titled Spring Light, will bring together new and recent sculptures, drawings, and prints that explore the phenomenological qualities of water, the sky, and the cosmos. This exhibition—which follows Smith’s recent solo exhibition at the Seoul Museum of Art and marks her first solo show at Pace’s Seoul gallery—will reflect the artist’s longstanding artistic exploration of the relationships between humans and the natural world. Since the 1980s, Smith has nurtured a multidisciplinary practice spanning sculpture, printmaking, photography, drawing, and textile work. As part of her experimentations across mediums and materials, the artist has drawn inspiration from a wide range of histories, visual cultures, and mythologies ... More

Italy presents pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia 2023   'Self Watering Flowers' to be opening at Almine Rech   Architects Lina Ghotmeh and Asif Khan appointed for two major museums in AlUla, Saudi Arabia

Installation view Spaziale. Everyone belongs to everyone else, 2023, Italian Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia. Ph. DslStudio. Courtesy Fosbury Architecture.

VENICE.-Spaziale. Everyone belongs to everyone else” is the title of the Italian Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, promoted by the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity of the Ministry of culture and curated by Fosbury Architecture (Giacomo Ardesio, Alessandro Bonizzoni, Nicola Campri, Veronica Caprino, and Claudia Mainardi). For the first time, a curatorial group made up of architects born between 1987 and 1989 brings with them to Venice the demands of a new generation of designers under 40 (nine groups of designers and as many advisors, professionals from different fields in the creative industries, for a total of about 50 people with an average age of 33) who grew up and were trained against a backdrop of permanent crisis – the cultural crisis of the West triggered ... More

Portrait of Timothy Curtis, 2023. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech Photo: Timothy Curtis Studio.

PARIS.- Almine Rech will be opening Timothy Curtis' first solo exhibition with the gallery, on view from June 9 to 24, 2023. Timothy Curtis [b. 1982] is a self-taught artist from Philadelphia, where he was first introduced to the arts via graffiti writing as a young child. Following his release from a lengthy prison sentence, Curtis moved to New York City where he established a focused studio practice in 2015. While incarcerated he threw himself into studying art history, drawing, and painting and was able to use his studies to form a mural painting crew consisting of artists sentenced to life in prison, painting educational murals around the prison campus to teach, motivate and add color to the otherwise drab environment. Despite remaining on parole since his release in late 2015, Curtis has gone on to have solo presentations in Tokyo, New York City, Berlin and was included in the group exhibition The Pencil is a Key: Drawings by Incarcerate ... More

Lina Ghotmeh and Asif Khan, newly appointed architects for two upcoming museums in the constellation of cultural assets for the Royal Commission for AlUla.

ALULA.- The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) announces Lina Ghotmeh and Asif Khan as architects for two upcoming museums in its constellation of cultural assets. Ghotmeh will design the contemporary art museum and Khan will design the museum of the Incense Road. Both museums are situated in AlUla, a destination in northwest Arabia with 7,000 years of continuous human history. Khan, who was awarded a MBE for his services to architecture and is currently working on the renewal of the Barbican Centre and the new London Museum, is known for his radical approach to architecture, which merges history with the future, grounding projects in material experimentation and social context.­ Award winning Ghotmeh, who is designing the 2023 Serpentine Pavilion, creates work that sits at the intersection of art, architecture and design. Her practice is developed through a process ... More

How to use AI to edit and generate stunning photos   Karin Sander and Philip Ursprung represent Switzerland at La Biennale di Venezia   Luxembourg Pavilion: Down to Earth - a project by Francelle Cane and Marija Marić

An A.I.-powered version of Photoshop and the image generator Midjourney live up to the hype. (Charles Desmarais/The New York Times)

by Brian X. Chen

NEW YORK, NY.- In last week’s newsletter, I shared golden prompts for getting the most helpful answers from chatbots such as ChatGPT, Bing and Bard. Now that you’re familiar with the general principle of building a relationship with artificial intelligence — the more specific and detailed instructions you give, the better results you’ll get — let’s move on to a slightly different realm. Much of the hype and fears around generative AI has been about text. But there have also been rapid and dramatic developments in systems that can generate images. In many cases, these share a similar structure to text-based generative AI, but they can also be much weirder — and lend themselves to some fun creative pursuits. Image generators are trained on billions of images, which enable them to produce ... More

Neighbours, Karin Sander, Philip Ursprung, Swiss Pavilion, 18th International Architecture Biennale – La Biennale di Venezia, Photo © Samuele Cherubini.

VENICE.- Two national pavilions and a wall that connects as well as separates, are the focus of Karin Sander’s and Philip Ursprung’s project Neighbours for the Biennale Architettura 2023. By turning the architecture itself into the exhibit, the artist and the architecture historian introduce the audience to new perspectives on the territorial relations within the Giardini of La Biennale. Following an open call, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia chose to entrust the exhibition of the Swiss Pavilion for the Biennale Architettura 2023 to the artist Karin Sander and the architecture historian Philip Ursprung, both professors at ETH Zurich. Their project Neighbours highlights both the spatial and structural proximity of the Swiss Pavilion to its Vene- zuelan neighbour and the professional bond of the two architects: the Swiss Bruno fiiacometti (1907 – 2012) and the Ital- ian Carlo Scarpa (1906 - 1978). The ... More

Installation view. © Antoine Espinasseau, 2023.

VENICE.- From the development of human settlements on the Moon to the asteroid mining of rare mineral and metals—the wild imaginaries of extraction-driven growth have, quite literally, transcended the boundaries of the Earth. This displacement of resource exploitation from the exhausted Earth to its ‘invisible’ backstages— celestial bodies, planets, and ultimately, the Moon itself—calls for an urgent debate on the impact this shift will have on our understanding of land, resources and the commons. Down to Earth critically unpacks the project of space mining through the perspective of resources. It starts from the following questions: How does this new iteration of the space race, wrapped in the false promises of endlessly available resources, depart from the existing extractivist logic of capitalism and its destructive environmental and social effects on the ground? How will the ongoing privatisation of space, characterised by a sharp turn towards private companies as m ... More

Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County hosts beam signing event for its new wing   Monika Sosnowska exhibition opens at Zentrum Paul Klee   Solo exhibition of new works by Jacqueline Humphries opens at Modern Art

Southwest side of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County campus in Exposition Park. Renderings by Frederick Fisher and Partners, Studio MLA, and Studio Joseph. Courtesy of NHMLAC.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County hosted a beam signing event on last month, for NHM Commons, the new wing and community hub slated to open in 2024 on the southwest side of the Natural History Museum (NHM) campus in Exposition Park. NHMLAC President and Director, Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga hosted the event and was joined by L.A, County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, CEO of Los Angeles County Fesia Davenport, Exposition Park General Manager Andrea Ambriz, members of the NHMLAC Board of Trustees, donors to the capital campaign, special friends of the museum, and community partners. Guests in attendance were invited to add ... More

Monika Sosnowska, Model for Market, 2013. Paper, lacquer. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Eva Herzog. © Monika Sosnowska.

BERN.- Between 3 June and 10 September 2023, the Zentrum Paul Klee is devoting a solo exhibition to the Polish sculptor and artist Monika Sosnowska (b.1972 in Ryki). This is the first comprehensive exhibition to focus not only on the display of representative works but also on the artist’s working pro- cess. For the first time, the accompanying publication documents the mod- els for completed and uncompleted works, filling a gap in the documenta- tion of the artist’s oeuvre. Sculptural alienation and poetic distortions. Monika Sosnowska is one of the best-known artists working today, and one of the most important living artists from Eastern Europe. Since the early 2000s she has developed a characteristic body of sculptural work. Her sculptures and ... More

Jacqueline Humphries, JH6491, 2022. Oil on linen, 243.8 x 228.6 cm 96 x 90 in. Photo: Michael Brzezinski. Courtesy: the artist, Modern Art, London and Greene Naftali, New York.

LONDON.- Modern Art is presenting a solo exhibition of new works by Jacqueline Humphries. This is Humphries’ fifth solo exhibition with the gallery. Over the past four decades, Jacqueline Humphries has been working through the question of what contemporary abstract painting can mean in a society mediated online. Excavating the limits of her medium, Humphries generates a density of languages, forms and gestures native not only to the history of painting but also the codes and aesthetic registers that belong to the endless scroll of data and commerce on the flat cold surfaces of screens. Using stencils, fluorescent paint and black light, to name a few of her materials, Humphries’ work ... More

More News
Latvian National Museum of Art opens an exhibition of works by Hanele Zane Putnina
RIGA.- From 25 May to 13 August 2023, Hanele Zane Putniņa’s solo exhibition Exhibit According to Description is presented in the Cupola Hall of the main building of the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga. “Lilac” On a table, violet and white lilac branches in a white-variegated vase. One branch on the table. In the foreground, on the left, a glass on a stem. The source of Hanele Zane Putniņa’s new series of linocuts is the work descriptions in the inventory cards of the collection of painting of the 2nd half of the 20th century – 21st century at the Latvian National Museum of Art (LNMA). When an artwork is accessioned to the museum’s collection, the curator makes a short and succinct description of the new acquisition. Wishing to be as concise as possible, the writer may, at the time of formulating the idea, fail to notice other associations arising from the text. In its essence, the inventory card t ... More

Nengi Omuku joins Kasmin and will have first solo in September 2024
NEW YORK, NY.- Kasmin has welcomed Nengi Omuku (b. 1987, Warri, Nigeria) to the gallery. The artist’s first New York solo exhibition will go on view at our 509 West 27th Street location in September 2024. Using the subject of the body to translate interior experience, Omuku’s expressive paintings portray abstracted figures among spectacular, celestial landscapes that draw evocatively from the natural world, horticulture, and creationism. "Omuku creates the impression of beautiful figuration distilled from some ethereal miasma of dreams." –John Vincler, The New York Times. Using the subject of the body to translate interior experience, Nengi Omuku’s expressive paintings portray abstracted figures among spectacular, celestial landscapes that draw evocatively from the natural world, horticulture, and creationism. Born in Warri, Nigeria, Omuku ... More

Nicholson conversation piece stars at Bonhams modern British and Irish art sale
LONDON.- Mrs Reginald McKenna, and Her Sons Michael and David, a conversation piece by Sir William Nicholson, is among the star lots in Bonhams 69-lot strong Modern British and Irish Art sale in London on Wednesday 21 June 2023. It is estimated at £100,000-150,000. Pamela McKenna was the wife of Reginald Mckenna, Chairman of the Midland Bank (1919-1943) and Chancellor of the Exchequer in Asquith’s wartime administration from 1914-1915. At the time of the painting – 1927 – her sons Michael and his younger brother David were pupils at Eton College where both boys were to become Captain of Boats. They both later attended Trinity College, Cambridge. In the painting David is depicted sitting in the wooden boat he had built himself while Michael balances on the stepping stones over the waterfall followed by the family’s pet ... More

Everybody Talks About the Weather, research exhibition now on view at Fondazione Prada
VENICE.- “Everybody Talks About the Weather” is a research exhibition conceived by curator Dieter Roelstraete on view at the historic palazzo of Ca’ Corner della Regina, Fondazione Prada’s Venetian venue, until 26 November 2023. “Everybody Talks About the Weather” explores the semantics of “weather” in visual art, taking atmospheric conditions as a point of departure to investigate the emergency of climate crisis. More than fifty works by contemporary artists and a complementary selection of historical artworks trace the various ways in which climate and weather have shaped our histories and how humanity has dealt with our everyday exposure to meteorological events. The exhibition design created by New York-based studio 2x4 entwines the artistic dimension of the project with a series of in-depth scientific spotlights developed in collaboration with The New Institute Centre For Environmental Humaniti ... More

Elzie Williams III's 'Politics As Usual' opens at M 2 3
NEW YORK, NY.- M 2 3 is now presenting Politics As Usual, an exhibition of new work by Elzie Williams III. An Opening Reception was held Thursday, 01 June 2023 and the exhibit will be on view through 16 July 2023. Is your face profiled on the cover of a magazine? No? Then you ain’t shit! This is Amerikkka. In Politics as Usual, Elzie Williams III’s first solo exhibition, the artist works through layers of visual projection to sound out the technological hold on us/ by us/for us, through the shadowy presence of products. Here productivity means bobbing and weaving in-and-out like a sewing needle between Black entertainment and what entertains the possibility of representing Blackness as such. Uncapturable in its totality, the unalienated joy of performance is celebrated, despite the hollow fungibility of a coded animation still tracking the disaster of branded ... More

96-year-old Thaddeus Mosley shows five recent works chiseled from felled trees at Nasher Sculpture Center
DALLAS, TX.- The Nasher Sculpture Center announces Thaddeus Mosley: Forest, an exhibition featuring five large-scale wooden sculptures, all made after 2015 by the still-practicing 96-year-old artist. The show, which originated at the Baltimore Museum of Art and was organized by Curator and Department Head of Contemporary Art Jessica Bell Brown, will be on view until August 20, 2023. Born in 1926 in western Pennsylvania, Thaddeus Mosley has been making carved and joined wood sculptures since the 1950s. Largely self-taught, the artist works with arborists and local sawmills in the Pittsburgh area to find felled trees which he sculpts using mallets and chisels. Rather than meticulously planning his sculptures in advance, Mosley roughly chalks out lines on the surface of logs and then begins hand-chiseling and carving. This improvisational ... More

Frederick Holmes And Company opens an exhibition of works by Marybeth Rothman
SEATTLE, WA.- Frederick Holmes And Company - Gallery of Modern & Contemporary Art, which opened on Occidental Mall in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square on June 6, 2013 is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary in Seattle throughout June 2023. Owner Frederick Holmes - a forty year veteran of the art business - has been the Director of galleries in California, Hawaii, and Hong Kong; a national artist representative for several fine art publishers; a public speaker on the visual arts; and an art consultant with San Francisco’s prestigious Weinstein Gallery before relocating to Seattle in 2012 and opening his gallery a year later. The Gallery’s programming and artists have evolved and changed since then. Along with its representation of regionally and nationally based emerging contemporary artists, it’s ongoing presentation of historic 20th ... More

The man reimagining Disney classics for today's world
NEW YORK, NY.- For more than a decade, Sean Bailey has run The Walt Disney Co.’s animated film “reimagining” factory with quiet efficiency and superhero-sized results. His live-action “Aladdin” collected $1.1 billion at the box office, while a photorealistic “The Lion King” took in $1.7 billion. A live-action “Beauty and the Beast” delivered $1.3 billion. Disney likes the cash. The company also views Bailey’s remake operation as crucial to remaining relevant. Disney’s animated classics are treasured by fans, but most showcase ideas from another era, especially when it comes to gender roles: Be pretty, girls, and things might work out. The reimaginings, as Bailey refers to his remakes, find ways to make Disney stories less retrograde. His heroines are empowered, and his casting emphasizes diversity. A live-action “Snow White,” set ... More

The album art studio that made Pink Floyd's pig fly
NEW YORK, NY.- In early 1980, Aubrey Powell, the then-33-year-old co-founder of the pioneering British design company Hipgnosis, flew to Hawaii to photograph the cover for the British rock band 10cc’s album “Look Hear?” The shoot involved a specific sheep (only one was available on Oahu, at a university farm) seated on an old-timey psychiatrist’s couch (which had to be constructed by a Honolulu props company) on the island’s North Shore. The sheep, out of its element and skittish from the crashing waves, ruined the first day of the session, so a veterinarian was called in to tranquilize the animal for Day Two. Success. The final cost of the cover design, including airfare and a sheep wrangler, came to 5,043 pounds — about $26,000 in today’s money and a big sum for the time. (But then again, as Powell, known as Po, said in an interview, back then ... More

New York Public Library acquires George C. Wolfe's archives
NEW YORK, NY.- When playwright and director George C. Wolfe moved to New York City in his 20s, he got a job at an archive for Black cultural history, where his work saving newspaper articles and maintaining records fueled a habit of preserving his own ephemera. “It activated this sort of curiosity-slash-obsession about who gets remembered, what gets saved, what gets valued and what doesn’t,” Wolfe said recently. On Thursday, the New York Public Library announced that it had acquired more than 50 boxes of material from throughout Wolfe’s career, during which he became one of the most sought-after theater directors in the country. His productions, including “Angels in America” and “Bring in ’Da Noise, Bring in ’Da Funk,” garnered multiple Tony Awards, and he’s credited with revolutionizing the Public Theater over a decade as its producer. ... More

Grada Kilomba in Conversation with Tina Campt

On a day like today, French painter Yves Klein died
June 06, 1962. Yves Klein (28 April 1928 - 6 June 1962) was a French artist considered an important figure in post-war European art. He was a leading member of the French artistic movement of Nouveau réalisme founded in 1960 by art critic Pierre Restany. Klein was a pioneer in the development of performance art, and is seen as an inspiration to and as a forerunner of minimal art, as well as pop art. In this image: Yves Klein, “Untitled Fire-Color Painting (FC 1),” 1961. Private Collection. © 2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Image courtesy Yves Klein Archives.

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