Interpol Debuts Stolen Artworks App, UT Austin Gets Robert Polidori Archive, and More: Morning Links from June 16, 2021

Interpol Debuts Stolen Artworks App, UT Austin Gets Robert Polidori Archive, and More: Morning Links from June 16, 2021

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The Headlines

PHILANTHROPIST MACKENZIE SCOTT, THE EX OF JEFF BEZOS, just cut checks totaling $2.74 billion to nearly 300 universities, arts groups, and other nonprofits, including the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, the National Museum of Mexican Art, and Recess in Brooklyn, Artnet News reports. The full list of grantees is available in a Medium from Scott  (who has pledged to give away her entire Amazon-derived fortune), though the announcement does not itemize the individual grants. Funny thing: While she has given away more than $8 billion (that’s 8 and nine zeroes) over the past 11 months, her wealth is greater than it has ever been, thanks to the climb of the internet giant’s stock price, the New York Times reports.

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IN THE NORTHERN ITALIAN CITY OF VERONA, excavations of a onetime movie theater have unearthed a 2nd-century Roman building with colorful frescoes and evidence of fire damage, the Guardian reports. Citing those facts, Verona’s archaeological superintendent proposed in a report that the site “evokes a miniature Pompeii”—a genius PR move. On the full-size Pompeii front, a show about that doomed city will open next month at the freshly renovated Vani Archaeological Museum in the nation of Georgia, according to, and another that focuses on the food and drink once enjoyed there is currently running at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. Last month, Italian officials returned frescoes that had been stolen from the 1st-century ruin.

The Digest

South Korean authorities have charged 11 people—seven of them foreigners—with attempting to smuggle cultural assets like centuries-old porcelain out of the country. A total of 92 items have been confiscated. [Yonhap]

Maximos Mansion, the office of the Greek prime minister (Kyriakos Mitsotakis, currently), has been refurbished and outfitted with work by famed artists from the country, including Apostolos Georgiou and Takis. The nation’s first lady, Mareva Grabowski-Mitsotakis, spearheaded the project. [Architectural Digest]

The Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio received a gift of 27 works by emerging artists, including Julie CurtissLauren Halsey, and Aaron Gilbert—from the Scatland Family, who also gave $2 million to endow the position of executive deputy director of learning, experience, and engagement. [Press Release/Art Daily]

More family donation news: The University of Texas at Austin said that its Dolph Briscoe Center for American History has acquired the archives of photographer Robert Polidori via an unnamed Chicago family. The trove includes 85,000 prints and is said to be valued at $30 million. [Press Release/UT News]

That phone app that Interpol launched last month to allow users to catalogue their work and compare pieces they photograph with a database of looted material has already led to arrests: Spanish police said that it was used by a numismatist in London to tip them off to two people allegedly attempting to sell stolen Roman coins. [The Art Newspaper]

Mickalene Thomas‘s four-venue, four-city exhibition with Lévy Gorvy gallery comes amid growing interest in her work on the secondary market—and new milestones for it at auction. [Art Market Monitor]

An exhibition at Ortuzar Projects in New York revisits—and expands on—the legendary 1970 “Sapphire Show” at Gallery 32 in Los Angeles, one of the first (and perhaps the very first) exhibition to focus on Black women artists, including Betye SaarSuzanne Jackson, and Senga Nengudi[The New York Times]

The Kicker

ARCHITECTURE CRITIC AARON BETSKY IS NOT A FAN of Japanese architect Tadao Ando’s recent redesign of Paris’s Bourse de Commerce to display the art of ARTnews Top 200 Collector François Pinault. In a scathing review for Dezeen, Betsky writes that the project is the “equivalent of what a dog does to a lamppost” and “as an example of contemporary architecture, it is a complete disaster.” Ando’s “work always photographs much better than it is,” he argues. There is one bright spot, though. He writes, “As a display space for a pretty good collection of contemporary art, it more or less succeeds.” OK! [Dezeen]

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