Climate Change Threatens African American Heritage Sites, Stolen Van Gogh Displayed After Ikea-bag Return, and More: Morning Links for February 8, 2024

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The Headlines

BLACK HISTORICAL SITES AT RISK. A group of African American museums and heritage sites say they face particularly high risks of damage and loss due to global climate change. The Association of African American Museums (AAAM) said in a statement that Black cultural centers with older infrastructures, such as those built to preserve historical sites, often located along coastlines, lack necessary resources and funding. Risks involve harm done to collections in connection to natural disasters, and the group’s director pointed to “several incidents of climate-related damage.” [The Art Newspaper]

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IKEA VAN GOGH DISPLAYED. A stolen Vincent Van Gogh painting famously returned in a blue Ikea bag to a Dutch art sleuth, was displayed in Rotterdam yesterday, with damage from the theft still visible. The painting was handed to detective Arthur Brand in the Ikea bag over three years after its 2020 theft. It will be exhibited to the public from March 29 at the Groninger Museum, following restoration. A white scratch caused by the theft can be seen at the bottom of the 1884-painted canvas, titled Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring. [The Guardian]

The Digest

Courtney J. Martin will head the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation beginning this spring. She is currently the director Yale Center for British Art. The Rauschenberg Foundation is one of the largest art foundations of its kind, with $667 million in assets reported in 2022. [ARTnews]

Observers have expressed outrage following a social media post by the director of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), showing a video of Israeli soldiers in a Gaza storeroom of what appear to be antiquities, and including a description of the artworks as a “discovery.” “There is very little information about their motivations aside from their clarification to us that the site is protected now. We still don’t even know why the army was there,” said Alon Arad, executive director of Emek Shaveh, a Jerusalem-based NGO, speaking to Hyperallergic.

The billionaire art collector Ronald Perelman is in a legal battle with a group of insurers over five blue-chip artworks he says were damaged in a 2018 fire in his Hamptons estate. He is demanding $410 million in payouts, but the insurers allege Perelman attempted to sell the works, and already sold two others he claimed were damaged in the fire. [Artnet News]

Poland’s new centrist government led by Prime MinisterDonald Tusk has been enacting changes to cultural institutions, and undoing appointments by former right-wing rulers. However, the related cancellation of a project selected for the Venice Biennale is being criticized as censorship by the artist, Ignacy Czwartos, while others in the arts community support the changes. [The Art Newspaper]

Cuban artist Tania Bruguera is doing a 100-hour collective performance reading of Hannah Arendt’s 1951 work, The Origins of Totalitarianism at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. The 1000-page book will be read and discussed around the clock until Sunday at 11pm. In 2015 Bruguera organized a reading of Arendt’s magnum opus while under house arrest. [Monopol Magazine]

A tentative agreement has been struck between unionized faculty at the University of the Arts (UArts) in Philadelphia and the school administration, averting a strike. The union has been holding strikes and multiple actions since March 2021 over job security, wages, and healthcare. [The Art Newspaper]

The largest “museum boat” will set sail in March for Malta. The 154-foot-long catamaran by the Art Explora foundation can hold 2,000 visitors while it is docked. The museum-boat is scheduled to sail around the Mediterranean as part of a three-year-long cultural festival in several coastal towns, including Marseille, Venice, and Beirut. [Beaux Arts Magazine]

Art Basel in Switzerland has announced its participating galleries and program for June, a few days after Frieze New York named its galleries for their May edition. The Swiss fair’s 2024 edition will host 287 galleries and will be the first time Maike Cruse fully directs the event. [ARTnews]

The Kicker

ICE-CREAM SCOOPED BUILDING. A newly unveiled, “gouged” building in London has been drawing crowds of curious bystanders. The Guardian’s Oliver Wainwright reports that the recently expanded, white brick building south of the River Thames appears to have “been attacked with a gigantic ice cream scoop,” in a “true architectural WTF moment.” It turns out the façade’s unusual gouge was specifically designed to frame the rose window of the church next door. “We wanted to respect our neighbor,” said architect Jonny Plant. “The church had always been overlooked, tucked down the side street … so we wanted to celebrate it.”

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