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French archaeologist and husband charged over Mideast antique trafficking

In this file photo taken on February 24, 2009 A Christie's auctioneer proceeds at the Grand Palais in Paris with the auctions of hundreds of art treasures amassed by late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his companion Pierre Berge over half a century. Five people suspected of participating in an antiques smuggling ring exploiting conflict and unrest in Middle Eastern countries to spirit out works for sale in France have been detained for questioning in Paris, a judicial source said on June 23, 2020. Antiques worth tens of millions of euros are thought to have been taken from countries including Libya, Syria, Egypt and Yemen, often through the renowned Pierre Berge auction house based in Paris, a source close to the inquiry told AFP. PIERRE VERDY / AFP.

PARIS (AFP).- A prominent French archaeologist and his husband were charged on Friday as part of an investigation into an antique smuggling ring exploiting unrest in Middle Eastern countries to spirit out works to sell in France, sources said. Christophe Kunicki and his husband Richard Semper were charged in Paris with a range of crimes including fraud, money laundering and forgery, a judicial source and a source close to the inquiry told AFP. The pair were presented to a judge and released under judicial supervision. The two men were arrested along with three other suspects on Monday and Tuesday during searches of prestigious Parisian art markets and antique dealers. Antiques worth tens of millions of euros are thought to have been taken from countries including Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen, often through the renowned Pierre Berge auction house based in Paris. The three other suspects -- Pierre Berge's director, a former curator at the Louvre museum, and an eminent Parisian gallery owner -- were r ... More

The Best Photos of the Day

David Shrigley transforms Copenhagen Contemporary's largest gallery space into a seething snake pit   UK teen who threw French boy off gallery balcony jailed for life   Eccentric Hippopotamus bathroom suite by François-Xavier Lalanne sells for $2.4 million at Sotheby's

David Shrigley, DO NOT TOUCH THE WORMS (2020). Installation view at Copenhagen
Contemporary, 2020. Photo: David Stjernholm.

COPENHAGEN.- On 25 June, Copenhagen Contemporary opened its doors to the largest exhibition to date by the British artist David Shrigley. In familiar Shrigley fashion, twenty pink earth worms, inflated to abnormal size, transform CC's largest gallery space into a seething snake pit where flabby creatures glide across the floor in chaotic confusion. As always, Shrigley's works are open to interpretation. One moment, the worms seem to signal some latent peril flaring up about to forcefully overpower us. The next, a pleasurable interlude featuring twenty utility animals whose childish apperance makes us smile. Shrigley hits us somewhere between despondency and cheerfulness, gravity and subtle humour, briefly turning our gaze on ourselves. The British artist tackles serious issues effortlessly; a much-needed gesture just now amid racism, climate challenges, and a pandemic. The exhibition is ... More

Metropolitan police press officer Melanie Pressley gives a statement outside the Old Bailey on behalf of the family of the victim. Tolga AKMEN / AFP.

by Sylvain Peuchmaurd / Phil Hazlewood

LONDON (AFP).- A troubled British teenager who threw a six-year-old French boy from a viewing platform at London's Tate Modern art gallery was on Friday jailed for life. Judge Maura McGowan told Jonty Bravery, 18, he would spend at least 15 years in custody for attempting to murder the boy in front of horrified crowds on August 4 last year. But she also said: "You may never be released." The young victim, who cannot be identified because of his age, was hurled head first off the 10th floor gantry at the gallery and plunged 30 metres (100 feet) on to a fifth-floor roof below. He broke his spine, legs and arms and suffered a head injury. His condition has since improved but he still requires round-the-clock care and may never fully recover. McGowan said what Bravery had done was "callous" and "beyond imagination". She told him he ... More

François-Xavier Lalanne, Unique Famille Hippopotames, 1992. Patinated bronze, copper, gilt metal, wood and glazed ceramic. Lot sold: 2,112,500 EUR. Courtesy Sotheby's.

PARIS.- Sotheby’s sale of ‘Important Design’ was led by a one-of-a-kind hippopotamus themed bathroom suite, which sold for €2.1 million / $2.4 million (lot 115, est. €2-2.5 million). Designed by François-Xavier Lalanne, an artist renowned for his ability to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, the three bronze life-size hippopotamuses - a mother and children – feature moveable parts that reveal a bathroom set like no other, comprising a bathtub, working sink and vanity, toilet and bidet. Commissioned in the nineties by the present owner, the sale marked the first time the spectacular piece has been offered at auction. A further five works by the designer were offered in the ‘Important Design’ sale, which totalled €11.2 million / $12.6 million, soaring above its pre-sale estimate of €7.1-10 million. 82% of the lots offered were sold, with 70% of those exceeding their ... More

Christie's announces new 20th & 21st Centuries Department   'Hamilton' is coming to the small screen. This is how it got there.   Norway starts digging up first Viking ship in a century

Alex Rotter. © Christie's Images Ltd 2020.

LONDON.- As public viewing opens across digital and select physical locations today for Christie’s innovative new auction format: ONE: a Global Sale of the 20th Century, the company announces the Impressionist & Modern and Post-War & Contemporary Art departments will unite to form one global 20th & 21st Centuries team led by Alex Rotter and Giovanna Bertazzoni. “Reflecting evolving market demand and the collecting habits of our clients, I am pleased to also announce that our largest fine art specialist teams, Impressionist & Modern and Post-War & Contemporary Art group, have been reimagined and combined to create a newly formed 20th and 21st Century group that will present the best of 20th and 21st century art across live, digital and private sale platforms,” said Guillaume Cerutti, CEO, Christie’s International. The new group will be led by Chairman, Alex Rotter, based in Americas and Giovanna ... More

Lin-Manuel Miranda, center, as Alexander Hamilton in the musical "Hamilton" in New York, July 11, 2015. Sara Krulwich/The New York Times.

by Michael Paulson

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- In the spring of 2017, a production executive withdrew an encrypted hard drive from a midtown Manhattan vault and boarded a flight to London. A year before, a film crew had shot two of the final “Hamilton” performances featuring most of the original cast, and the plan was to lock the footage away for five or six years, until the time felt right to share it with the public. But a cut was ready to show the person whose opinion mattered most: Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show’s laureled creator and star. Miranda was in Britain, filming “Mary Poppins Returns.” (He played the lamplighter.) So the “Hamilton” movie’s brain trust flew over, renting a private screening room in a hotel basement that the star could readily access ... More

Norway's Minister of Climate and Environment Sveinung Rotevatn cleans the content of the first shovel after officially starting the excavation of Gjellestadskipet, a viking ship discovered in the ground near Halden, some 100 km south of Oslo, on June 26, 2020. Fredrik Hagen / NTB Scanpix / AFP.

OSLO (AFP).- Norway began work on Friday to excavate the first Viking ship to be unearthed in the country in more than a century, with experts hoping it will shed light on the era of the Nordic seafarers. Ground-penetrating radar detected the ancient vessel, buried about 50cm below ground in a mound covering a burial site, in 2018 in the south east near the Swedish border. Initial observations suggested the remains were in very bad shape, forcing the authorities to launch excavations quickly before the ship was completely degraded. Only three well-preserved Viking ships have been found in Norway, the last excavation dating back to 1904. All three are now on display in a museum near ... More

Wynton Marsalis finds solace in the optimism of the blues   Russian court finds director Serebrennikov guilty of fraud   K. H. Hödicke retrospective presents the artist's core creative phases from the early 1960s on

Wynton Marsalis in the green room of the David Geffen Hall at the Lincoln Center in New York, Dec. 29, 2016. Cole Wilson/The New York Times.

by Kathryn Shattuck

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- In early March, Wynton Marsalis, the trumpeter and composer, went into pandemic lockdown with a preconceived notion of all he might accomplish. “I thought that I would be able to practice a lot, exercise a lot and eat less, write a lot of music,” he said. But as the managing and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Marsalis had an arts organization to keep afloat. Then on April 1, his father and “North Star,” jazz pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis Jr., died of complications from COVID-19. So Marsalis shifted into overdrive — helping to develop Jazz at Lincoln Center’s online content, like the weekly conversation “Skain’s Domain,” orchestral collaborations like “Quarantine Blues” and even a virtual edition of its high school jazz band competition, ... More

Russian theatre and film director Kirill Serebrennikov speaks to journalists outside a court building in Moscow on June 26, 2020. A Moscow judge on June 26, 2020 handed outspoken Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov a three-year suspended sentence following a fraud conviction denounced by his supporters as politically motivated. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP.

MOSCOW (AFP).- A Moscow judge on Friday handed outspoken Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov a three-year suspended sentence following a fraud conviction that was denounced by his supporters as politically motivated. "Serebrennikov's rehabilitation is possible without a real prison term," judge Olesya Mendeleyeva said, adding that the acclaimed theatre and film director would have to pay a fine and be banned from overseeing a cultural organisation. "No comment," Serebrennikov said after the sentence was delivered, his face covered in a black mask as he followed the proceedings. Several hundred supporters who had gathered ... More

K. H. Hödicke in his studio, Dessauer Straße, 1982. Photo: Elvira Hödicke.

MUNICH.- In the early 1960s, the painter K. H. Hödicke (born in Nuremberg in 1938) was one of the spokespeople for a small group of impetuous young lateral thinkers who wanted to revolutionise painting. No sooner had German post-war modernism rejoined the international artistic trend towards the abstract than they revolted against this new doctrine with a revival of figurative painting, which had been declared obsolete. The retrospective K. H. Hödicke at the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München provides an insight into an almost inexhaustible artistic oeuvre. The combination of drawing, painting and sculpture demonstrates that K. H. Hödicke is undoubtedly a modern classic, albeit with a decades-long career that has retained its freshness and relevance. The young Hödicke arrived in Berlin with his family in 1957. Prior to that, the formative years of his childhood and youth were spent in Munich after ... More

Li Zhensheng, photographer of China's Cultural Revolution, dies at 79   'Through art, I hope that we can make one Tulsa'   Philanthropy rises in pandemic as donors heed the call for help

Zhensheng's "Red-Color News Soldier."

by Amy Qin

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- Li Zhensheng, a Chinese photographer who took great personal risk to document the dark side of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution and produced a powerful compilation of black-and-white images that remains a rare visual testament to the brutal excesses of that tumultuous episode in history, has died. He was 79. His death was confirmed Tuesday by Robert Pledge, a founder of Contact Press Images and editor of Li’s photo book “Red-Color News Soldier,” who said that Li had been hospitalized in New York City. He lived in Queens. Further details, including the date of his death, were not released. Li was a young photographer at a local newspaper in northeastern China when Mao started the Revolution in May 1966. Wearing a red arm band that said, “Red-Color News Soldier,” Li was given extraordinary access to official events. “I was excited like everyone else,” he recalled in a 2003 interview with The New York Times. “The happiness was real. ... More

Jerica Wortham, project manager of the Greenwood Art Project, a public art initiative, in Tulsa, Okla., on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. Chris Creese/The New York Times.

by Zachary Small

TULSA (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- The empty storefronts and abandoned buildings that once lined the streets of the Greenwood district in Tulsa, Oklahoma, are becoming canvases for a suppressed history of Black excellence. Decades of segregation and disenfranchisement have plagued the neighborhood on the city’s north side, where Black Wall Street — one of the country’s most prosperous African American communities of the early 20th century — was burned to rubble by a white mob during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which left more than 300 people dead and an estimated 8,000 others homeless. For generations, local officials worked to destroy evidence of the mass killing, cleansing history books and urging survivors to stay silent. And despite a call for “racial reconciliation” becoming the city’s unofficial motto in recent years, Tulsa remains ... More

Debra Mailman, a philanthropist who has spent the two years since she retired as an executive at Microsoft volunteering in disaster zones, in Bellevue, Wash., on Wednesday, June 24, 2020. Ruth Fremson/The New York Times.

by Paul Sullivan

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- When the coronavirus prompted states to order residents to stay at home in March, unemployment surged around the country as huge parts of the economy slowed or stopped. Soon after, there were calls for philanthropists, charitably inclined people and even occasional donors to accelerate any giving they were planning to do. They stepped up, it turns out, giving more and giving faster then they typically do. The needs were urgent. Virus-related charities and social service agencies, like food banks, were thrust into an immediate role whose size and scope they were not prepared for. At the same time, arts organizations and other nonprofit groups that depend on sales of tickets to their shows and productions suddenly had no audience. To encourage donations, the coronavirus relief bill expanded ... More

More News
Elsa Joubert, 97, dies; Afrikaans writer explored black reality
NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- Elsa Joubert, one of South Africa’s best-known writers in the Afrikaans language, whose apartheid-era novel “The Long Journey of Poppie Nongena” opened the eyes of many white South Africans to the harsh treatment that the black majority had been enduring largely out of their sight, died June 14 in Cape Town. She was 97. She had received a diagnosis of COVID-19, her son, Nico Steytler, told South African news media. Joubert belonged to a group of dissident writers in Afrikaans — a language derived from the 17th-century Dutch spoken by South Africa’s first white settlers — who called themselves “Die Sestigers” (the Sixtyers, or writers of the 1960s). Her work ranged from novels to autobiography to travelogues, but among her books it was “Poppie Nongena” that struck the most resounding chord in South Africa. ... More

'Gone With the Wind' returns to HBO Max with a few additions
NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- When HBO Max removed the Oscar-winning 1939 adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind” from its streaming catalog this month, the service promised that the film would return, albeit with “a discussion of its historical context.” On Wednesday, the film quietly resumed its place in that library, and the streamer made good on its promise with two noteworthy additions. The HBO Max stream now begins with a 4 1/2-minute introduction by the Turner Classic Movies cable TV host, film scholar and University of Chicago professor Jacqueline Stewart. As is the custom for TCM intros, Stewart provides background on the picture’s production, reception and awards, before moving on to the controversies, noting that “the film paints the picture of the antebellum South as a romantic, idyllic setting that’s tragically ... More

Books are a great fit for quarantine. The book business, not so much.
NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- During a normal week, Jordan Pavlin, the editorial director at Knopf, seldom ate at her desk. Depending on the day, she might be meeting with literary agents over lunch, catching up with an author over an after-work drink or having a quick bite before a cocktail party for a newly released title. She still doesn’t eat at her desk. Since her office closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, lunch is at her kitchen table, with her three teenagers, every day. “I’m driving them crazy,” she said. You can read alone, you can write alone, but publishing is a very social business. Heavily concentrated in New York City, a lot of the work was traditionally done face to face — before the outbreak forced most offices to close. So while books are a good match for this moment when people are spending so much time at home, book publishing, ... More

Galeria Jaqueline Martins explores the virtual possibilities wrought by the urgency of social distancing
SAO PAULO.- Galeria Jaqueline Martins announces an online show using the gallery’s facilities, which are currently closed, as a springboard for virtual speculation. The rules that normally apply to exhibition facilities have been suspended in this digital environment. A bonfire burns in the middle of the exhibition room as a bored ghost, captured by security cameras, strolls around the empty gallery. QUE VÃO QUE VEM is a selection of recent work by artist pedro frança (Rio de Janeiro, 1984) – featuring paintings, installations, videos and collages from the past two years – interfacing with gouache paintings, collages, photographs and videos created by Victor Gerhard (Santa Cruz do Sul, 1936) between 1965 and 1982. Gerhard is one of the objects of research by the gallery, whose mapping of 70s and 80s artists overlooked by audiences and critics ... More

Conan Doyle estate sues Netflix over 'emotional' Sherlock Holmes
WASHINGTON (AFP).- Netflix is being sued by the estate of Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle for alleged breach of copyright after a new film portrayed the famous detective as having feelings and respecting women. The movie, "Enola Holmes" -- starring "Stranger Things" actor Millie Bobby Brown -- is a Netflix adaptation of a series of Nancy Springer novels that imagines the detective has a teenage sister. Although a separate court case established early Holmes novels are in the public domain, the lawsuit alleges the detective only developed feelings in the last 10 books, which remain under the control of Arthur Conan Doyle estate. "Holmes became warmer. He became capable of friendship. He could express emotion. He began to respect women," the suit, filed in New Mexico federal court on Tuesday, claimed. The suit alleges Holmes ... More

Madagascar's 'Colosseum' sparks outrage
ANTANANARIVO (AFP).- On the highest hill overlooking Madagascar's capital Antananarivo, on the site of a sacred pool and within the grounds of a royal palace, an uncanny piece of architecture is rising -- a concrete Roman-style amphitheatre. The scheme is a pet project of President Andry Rajoelina, who claims it will showcase the Indian Ocean island's history and culture. But the scheme is sowing discord across the country, with critics deriding it as Rajoelina's "Colosseum" and destructive of the country's heritage. Few paid attention when the plans for the edifice were revealed over a year ago, with the goal of inaugurating it in time for Madagascar's 60th anniversary of independence from France in 2020. Back then, Culture Minister Lalatiana Rakotondrazafy described the amphitheatre as a venue to "re-enact the history of our country in an ... More

The First Shoes handmade by Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman to appear at auction achieve $162,500
NEW YORK, NY.- A pair of Waffle Spike Shoes handmade in the early-1970s by Bill Bowerman, the co-founder of Nike and legendary University of Oregon track coach, sold for $162,500 to an anonymous buyer in their 40s, in a dedicated online auction that concluded today at Sotheby’s – surpassing their pre-sale high estimate of $150,000. Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s Director of eCommerce Development, commented: “Today’s great result speaks to both the legacy of Nike co-founder, Bill Bowerman, and the continued strong market for historical Nike items. The shoes themselves are an incredible example of an item made prior to and during the infancy of Nike, and we believe their importance will only continue to grow over time. It’s been such a pleasure to have been entrusted with these historical shoes by John Mays, ... More

Swann Galleries announces Deborah Rogal as Director of Photographs & Photobooks
NEW YORK, NY.- Swann Galleries announces Deborah Rogal as the new Director of the Photographs & Photobooks department, as longtime Swann Vice President and Photo Director Daile Kaplan steps down after 30 years with the house. Deborah Rogal joined the Swann Galleries’ Photographs & Photobooks department in 2006, and has served as its Associate Director since 2014. She has presided over numerous sales of private collections of photobooks and rare photographs, including the 2012 sale of Edward S. Curtis' North American Indian, the first million-dollar lot at Swann ($1,440,000 in October of 2012). Rogal has contributed to the burgeoning vernacular photography market, which was spearheaded by Kaplan, and has introduced and contextualized never-before-seen imagery uniquely offered at Swann. “I have had the pleasure ... More

Colorado State University selects artists for $1.3M campus public art program
DENVER, CO.- The Colorado State University System today announced that it has selected eight artists, including four from Colorado, to activate the CSU System Spur campus in north Denver with one-of-a-kind, large-format art installations. Located within the future National Western Center, the three-building Spur campus will open in 2022, acting as a front door to the world-class research and education provided by the CSU System. More than 445 local, national, and international artists submitted concepts celebrating Spur’s commitment to culture, education, innovation, and research. Installations will take place between August 2021 and June 2022. “The artists selected each have a brilliant and unique approach that will add to the Denver landscape — their works are meaningful, sustainable, and inspiring. Within each of these works is diversity ... More

'We can't do our craft': Conductors contend with the pandemic
NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- On March 12, Roderick Cox, an American conductor based in Berlin, was just days away from his New York Philharmonic debut when he woke up to a message from the orchestra asking him to get on the next possible plane out of Germany. The United States was closing its borders to Europe because of the coronavirus pandemic, and Cox scrambled to leave that day. But while he was still in the air, he got the news that Carnegie Hall was canceling performances until April. So was the Metropolitan Opera. And the New York Philharmonic. “It was like the stock market was crashing,” Cox recalled in an interview. Once he got to his hotel in New York, he found himself asking a question rare for conductors, whose schedules are typically planned years in advance: What now? As the pandemic ravages the classical ... More

A Kashmir sapphire and the art of Hans Hofmann top Michaan's Summer Fine Sale Auction results
ALAMEDA, CA.- Auction buyers responded with enthusiasm to Michaan’s special auction event held on June 19, 2020. The Summer Fine Sale showcased the high quality and excellent value for which Michaan’s is known in the San Francisco Bay Area and around the world. Abstract Expressionism is fiercely desired by fine art buyers, an enduring trend affirmed by the results of Michaan’s June 19 sale. The auction’s highest price for fine art was realized by “Circles,” the 1951 oil by Hans Hofmann (lot 5048, $60,000). Collectors invested in big names, with works by M.C. Escher and Margaret Bourke-White selling well. American paintings in the sale included the impressionistic “City Storm” by Guy C. Wiggins (lot 5034, $9,000) and the Western scene, “Wading Through the Water” by Carl Oscar Borg (lot 5038, $11,400). Michaan’s Fine Art Department ... More

The Fayum Portraits: Funerary Painting of Roman Egypt, 1988

On a day like today, American painter Philip Guston was born
July 27, 1913. Philip Guston (born Phillip Goldstein (June 27, 1913 - June 7, 1980), was a painter and printmaker in the New York School, an art movement that included many abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. In this image: Philip Guston, "Untitled", (book, ball and shoe), 1971. Oil on paper, 50.2 x 70.5 cm., 19 3/4 x 27 3/4 inches. (T004167) ©The Estate of Philip Guston. Courtesy: Timothy Taylor Gallery, London.

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