1. UK and Russia Agree to Major Cultural Exchange
London’s National Portrait Gallery and Moscow’s State Tretyakov Galleryhave agreed to an artistic exchange, through which the institutions will loan some of their most renown portraits to one another.
The agreement, honoring the 160th anniversaries of both galleries, will give Moscovites the chance to see such portraits of such iconic British figures as Elizabeth I, William Shakespeare, Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton. In exchange, The National Portrait Gallery will display portraits of such historic Russians as Leo Tolstoy, Modest Mussorgsky and Pytor Tchaikovsky. Zelfira Tregulova, director of the State Tretyakov Gallery, remarked that the exchange of such major historical portraits represented the “start of a bright new chapter in the history of cultural cooperation between our two countries.”
2. Terracotta Daughters Go Underground
In 2013, in a collaboration between French artist Prune Nourry and local Chinese craftsmen, an army of Terracotta Daughters was born. Over the next year they traveled the world, from New York to Paris to Mexico City. And this week, they were buried in China, to remain underground until 2030.
A reflection on women’s place in Chinese society — whose one child policy led to widespread discrimination against female children — the Terracotta Daughters reassert girls’ place in China’s history. The statues began to be buried following an Earth ceremony, which sanctified the site as the “contemporary archeological site” that it will be for the next 15 years. Nourry’s mixed-media works focus on the evolutionary, procreative and biological processes that make us human, and how human will or selection can interact with these greater cycles.
3. The White House Goes Contemporary
Recently, the Obamas have opted to switch out some of the White House’s more antiquated portraiture and landscape pieces for modern and contemporary woks.
As the New York Times reported this past week, over the past year, Mr. and Mrs. Obama have been decorating their living quarters within the White House with with the likes of Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko and twoEdward Hopper paintings, on loan from the Whitney Museum of American Art. While each first family has executive power over the art displayed in the House, most of the sculptures and historical objects on display at any given moment are part of the White House’s more than 500 piece permanent collection. However, the Obama’s recent curatorial decisions have veered the installations toward America’s more recent contemporary art history, as opposed to its more traditional past.
4. UK Steps in to Help Protect Iraqi Artifacts
Over the past few months, lovers of ancient art have watched in horror as ISIS has ransacked and destroyed some of the Middle East’s major ruins. However, this week the UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced a $4.5 million plan to help repair the destruction and protect against future damage.
For the next 5 years The British Museum will oversee the scheme, which includes efforts to reconstruct already damaged artifacts, train personnel at some of the region’s artistic institutions in how to best preserve artifacts and create detailed, useful records of relics that are still intact. As to why the UK is deciding to involve themselves in the conflict, Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood explained, “The humanitarian crisis in the Middle East takes priority and the UK is at the forefront of the international effort to support those affected by the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.”
5. Melik Ohanian Wins Marcel Duchamp Prize
During last week’s FIAC art fair, the French-Armenian artist Melik Ohanianwas awarded the 15th annual Marcel Duchamp Prize, meant to recognize the achievements of a visual artist residing in France.
The award was created in 2000 as a partnership between the Centre Pompidou, the National Museum of Modern Art and, after 2005, the FIACas well. Ohanian creates socially conscious work, pieces engaging with such topics as the Armenian Genocide and the crisis of immigrant workers in the United Arab Emirates. He is represented by Paris’ Galerie Chantal Crouselbut, despite having already exhibited his work at such venues as Paris’Palais de Tokyo and London’s South London Gallery, he was a surprise pick to many who expected the award to go to emerging artist Neïl Beloufa.