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UNEXPECTED GUESTS. On Friday, FBI agents visited the Orlando Museum of Art in Florida and confiscated 25 works that have been billed in a show there as little-known creations by Jean-Michel Basquiat, the New York Times and the Associated Press report. Some experts have questioned the authenticity of the pieces. Their owners say they were discovered in a storage unit rented by the late screenwriter Thad Mumford. An FBI affidavit states that Mumford talked with investigators in 2017 and told them that he never owned Basquiats. “It is important to note that we still have not been led to believe the museum has been or is the subject of any investigation,” a museum official said in a statement. “We continue to see our involvement purely as a fact witness.”
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KEN KNOWLTON, a computer scientist–turned–artist who was instrumental in developing computer graphics, died earlier this month at the age of 91, the New York Times reports. Working at Bell Labs in the 1960s, Knowlton developed a method of using letters, numbers, and other symbols to render images. Artist Robert Rauschenberg saw one of his experimental creations—a 12-foot-wide depiction of a naked woman (made with a colleague, Leon Harmon )—and hung it in his loft. At Bell Labs, Knowlton helped the likes of filmmaker Stan VanDerBeek, artist Lillian Schwartz, and composer Laurie Spiegel on projects, and eventually began making his own art by “building traditional analog images with dominoes, dice, seashells and other materials,” Cade Metz writes.
Cuba sentenced two dissident artists, Maikel Castillo and Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, to nine years and five years in prison, respectively, on charges related to disrespecting the country during protests. International groups have slammed the cases as examples of political persecution. [The Associated Press]
In a new interview, the director of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, Mikhail Piotrovsky, who is a Putin ally, compared Russian cultural exports to the war in Ukraine. “Our recent exhibitions abroad are just a powerful cultural offensive,” he said. “If you want, a kind of ‘special operation,’ which a lot of people don’t like.” [The Art Newspaper]
The latest find in the ruins of Pompeii: the remains of a pregnant tortoise. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in the year 79, burying the town, the animal appears to have been hiding in a home that was leveled by an earthquake 17 years earlier. [The Guardian]
Dior’s latest show in Paris was inspired by the British painter Duncan Grant, with “19,000 real poppies, wildflowers and flora planted on hills beside two reconstructed English country houses,” a scene referencing the Bloomsbury great’s landscape works, Thomas Adamson writes. [The Associated Press]
SUMMER TRAVEL. Afroditi Panagiotakou, the Onassis Foundation’s cultural director, offered a guide to beautiful, bustling Athens, for the Financial Times, and writer Anna Mazurek filed a tour of art-filled Marfa, Texas, for the Washington Post.
SUMMER READING. Many art notables shared what they are currently reading with Penta, including Kate D. Levin, director of the arts program at Bloomberg Philanthropies; the California African American Museum’s director, Cameron Shaw; and the Orange County Museum of Art’s director, Heidi Zuckerman, who revealed that she wants “to write a book that will be available in airport bookstores about art as a way to cope with life.” [Penta/Barron’s]
RELATIONAL AESTHETICS. Thanks to an absolutely heroic effort by a team of culture buffs and cinephiles, a short film of Mardi Gras in New Orleans from 1898 that was long missing has been located at the Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, the New York Times reports. The two-minute production shows a lively parade, replete with traditions that have variously endured or vanished in the past 120-plus years. “It’s certainly grown and changed a bit, but at its core, Mardi Gras is the same,” Arthur Hardy, a Mardi Gras expert who was involved in the hunt for the film, told the paper. “We parade; we celebrate. This is who we are.” [The New York Times]