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ROBINSON ROBBED. A Jackie Robinson statue in Wichita, Kansas was stolen and later found burned. On January 24 the statue of the first Black player in Major League Baseball and a civil rights activist, was cut off its pedestal, just above the ankles, and removed from McAdams Park by two people, according to police, who have surveillance footage of the crime. Days later, firefighters responding to a fire in a “small residential-style trash can,” discovered some of the statue remnants among the burnt items. A GoFundMe campaign launched to replace the artwork has reached over $168,500. “Nobody can understand why this would happen,” said Bob Lutz, the executive director of the nonprofit League 42, which installed the sculpture, according to the New York Times.
TOO SEXY JESUS. Spanish conservatives are denouncing as “effeminate,” “sexualized,” and “offensive” a painting depicting Jesus Christ, which was meant to be the poster for Easter Week in Seville, sparking a national controversy. The painting by local artist Salustiano Garcia shows Jesus after his resurrection, almost entirely in the nude, per much of art historical tradition. However, critics calling the artwork a “shameful … aberration,” are demanding the poster be scrapped in a petition signed by more than 10,000 people. The artist told the local ABC newspaper the portrait was based on an image of his son, done with “deep respect.” In response, opposition Socialist party member Juan Espadas denounced “expressions of homophobia and hatred.” [AFP]
The Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan will close in October and lay off about 40 percent of staff. After two decades, the institution dedicated to art of the Himalayas said they would continue to loan works and operate as a spaceless, research-facilitating organization. The museum has recently repatriated parts of its collection, believed looted, but museum director Jorrit Britschgi told ARTnews the closure was unrelated. [ARTnews]
The Venice Biennale has named 331 artists for its 2024 edition, titled “Foreigners Everywhere.” Held from April 20 to November 24. The show’s curator, Adriano Pedrosa, said the theme, “has several meanings. First of all, that wherever you go, and wherever you are, you will always encounter foreigners. They – we – are everywhere. Secondly, that no matter where you find yourself, you are always truly and in deep down inside of foreigner.” [ARTnews]
The Peruvian government has dropped plans to outsource tickets to Machu Picchu after a week of protests, which blocked access to the site, and included reports of police firing tear gas at picketers. Up to 4,500 people visit Machu Picchu, a World Heritage Site, per day. Damage from the protests is estimated to cost about $4.7 million. [AP]
The National Library of France [Bibliothèque nationale de France] said an unspecified number of rare Russian books were stolen from its collection after similar thefts in France and Europe were committed by swapping original Russian literature editions for fakes. One man was arrested on Monday in Estonia for steeling eight rare books, including works by Alexander Pushkin and Nikolai Gogol, from the University of Tartu Library in 2022. [Le Figaro]
Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama will wrap the façade of the Barbican Centre in London with a 21,527 square-foot (2,000 square-meter) fabric art installation called Purple Hibiscus (2023-24). The pink and purple cloth has been handwoven in a large-scale collaboration with people from northern Ghana. [The Art Newspaper]
Artist Lisa Hunt has died at 55, in New Jersey. The printmaker and designer was known for her intricate gold leaf graphic collages and screen-prints inspired by West African and African American textiles, as well as the Art Deco movement. [Hyperallergic]
The New York auction house Guernsey said it has cancelled a planned Feb. 22 sale of Nelson Mandela’s personal belongings, due to a South African government agency’s opposition. In an ongoing case, the South African Heritage Resources Agency went to court to seek the return of the objects, due to their perceived heritage value. [The New York Times]
WANTED! NEW COLLECTORS. In his new book How to Collect Art, author and art economist Magnus Resch contends galleries are still privately grappling with financial challenges as revenues stagnate and new buyers remain limited. The book, which surveyed nearly 200 collectors and gallerists, follows similar conclusions Resch made nearly a decade ago. “The art market has long faced a shortage of new buyers,” Resch told ARTnews Reporter Angelica Villa. “Despite the global number of millionaires doubling in the last decade and record attendance at art events, the value of the art market has remained only stable. This discrepancy points to a conversion problem, wherein the newly affluent aren’t seamlessly transitioning into art buyers,” he said.