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MONA LISA DRENCHED. After cake, why not soup? Two climate protestors threw soup at the Mona Lisa on Sunday amid audible gasps from visitors lined up to see the 16-th century masterpiece, which has notoriously been victim to similar acts of vandalism in the past, writes ARTnews Senior Editor Alex Greenberger. The orange concoction was splashed across the bulletproof glass protecting the famous painting, and there was no damage done to the work. After throwing the soup, two female protestors passed under the protective barrier and stood alongside the piece with hands raised in a salute. “What is more important? Art or the right to have a healthy and sustainable food system?” the activists asked, speaking in French. “Our agricultural system is sick.”
GIVING OVERDUE RESPECT. New York’s American Museum of Natural History announced on Friday it is closing two major halls of Native American objects starting January 27, in response to new federal regulations requiring the consent of Indigenous tribes before exhibiting or researching the cultural items, such as funerary objects. “Actions that may feel sudden to some may seem long overdue to others,” said museum president Sean Decatur. Under the new laws, which went into effect January 12, institutions were given five years to prepare human remains and related funerary objects for repatriation. Other American museums are taking similar steps.
On Friday evening, activists protested reports of sexual violence against women by Hamas at a Tate Modern feminist art event for the Guerrilla Girls collective and the Russian punk rock group Pussy Riot. The Tate event, “showed the silence and complicity of the international feminist community in the face of the mass rape of women and girls by Hamas,” said the protestors. [ARTnews]
Government officials in Iran have raised objections and threatened legal action against the British Museum‘s plans to loan the Cyrus Cylinder to a library in Jerusalem later this year, according to the Tehran Times. The clay drum dates back to 539 B.C. and has been referred to as “the first charter of human rights,” reports The Art Newspaper. [The Art Newspaper]
Princeton University Art Museum (PUAM) has discovered 16 more artifacts in its collection connected to the accused art smuggler and former alumni, Edouardo Almagià. In April 2023, five artworks donated by Almagià were seized by authorities for suspected illicit provenance. [The Daily Princetonian]
Pace Gallery‘sNew York flagship building closed to the public for the day after the space was spray-painted with pro-Palestine messages. [ARTnews]
A bronze breastplate dating 300 B.C. was quietly removed from a January 30th, planned Christie’s auction, amid concerns it was looted, reported Le Monde. The Roman armor is believed to have belonged to the Italian dealer Gianfranco Becchina, who was convicted of art trafficking in 2011. [Le Monde]
SURREALISM COMEBACK? Writer Jackie Wullschläger takes an in-depth look at the Surrealist movement 100 years after its founding manifesto, for the Financial Times , and argues it is flourishing again. From Salvador Dalí’s “Lobster Telephone” (1938), to René Magritte’s “this is not a pipe” inscription beneath his painting of one, Wullschläger writes that “by sweeping away conventions, Surrealism set out to change how we perceive the world.” She asks about the movement’s relevance today, and whether it can “still challenge how we think, or merely offer escapist nostalgia?”