Fire Damages Easter Island Statues, Art Writer Grace Glueck Dies at 96, and More: Morning Links for October 10, 2022

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The Headlines

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HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT. In a tough break for fans of Johannes Vermeer, the National Gallery of Art said on Friday that, after high-tech study, it has determined that its painting Girl With a Flute (ca. 1669/1675) is not the work of the 17th-century Dutchman, as it had previously believed, Zachary Small reports in the New York Times . While closed during the pandemic, the Washington, D.C., institution examined the portrait using “microscopic pigment analysis and advanced imaging technology,” per the Times, as part of a Vermeer exhibition (recently previewed by ARTnews) that just opened. The work’s maker may have been someone close to Vermeer, the NGA’s Marjorie E. Wieseman told the Times, but even if their identity is unknown, critic Philip Kennicott argues in the Washington Post, that does not make it a bad painting. There may be “as many great paintings and sculptures with no attribution as there are great works firmly attributed to known artists,” he writes.

GRACE GLUECK, the pioneering art journalist and critic at the New York Times, has died at 96, the paper reports. Glueck began her tenure at the Times in 1951, and in the 1960s began writing a column called “Art People” that reported on at the art world up close, making the fast-growing industry a dedicated beat at the publication for the first time. “She was not afraid to speak her mind or report the truth,” art patron Agnes Gund told the Times. She brought that approach to bear on her employer, when she became part of a class-action lawsuit in 1974 that accused it of gender discrimination. In a 1978 settlement, the organization agreed to hire more women for jobs at a variety of levels. Glueck also had a run as a critic, and wrote New York: The Painted City, a 1992 volume that looks at how artists have depicted the city whose creative scene she spent decades documenting.

The Digest

Billy Al Bengston, “a painter whose unclassifiable semi-abstractions made him a core figure of Los Angeles’s postwar art scene,” died on Saturday of natural causes, Alex Greenberger reports. He was 88. [ARTnews]

Silke Otto-Knapp, who made spare, bewitching landscapes and portraits by applying layers of watercolor to canvas, died at 52, following a battle with ovarian cancer. [ARTnews]

A fire on Easter Island, reportedly sparked by its Rano Raraku volcano, has caused damage to its famed stone-carved Moai statues that is “irreparable,” according to an official who leads the Rapa Nui National Park, which includes the objects. [CNN]

As the labor strike continues at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a museum spokesperson said that it plans to open a highly anticipated Henri Matisse show “on schedule,” on October 20. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

Two climate activists at the National Gallery of Victoria glued themselves to Pablo Picasso’s 1951 painting Massacre in Korea on Sunday. They were arrested. [Sky News]

An 11.15-carat pink diamond sold at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong for the equivalent of about $49.9 million, a per-carat record for a diamond on the block and more than twice its $21 million estimate. The result proves “the resilience of top diamonds in a shaky economy,” diamond expert Tobias Kormind said. [The Associated Press/Bloomberg]

The Kicker

DUE DILIGENCE. In the New York Times, journalist Sam Roberts marked what would have been the 141st birthday, on Saturday, of Vincenzo Peruggia, who stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911, with a rollicking recounting of that strange story. One highlight: The head of France’s national museums, Jean Théophile Homolle , was on vacation at the time and refused to believe the painting had actually been taken, figuring that it must have somehow been misplaced. (Which also seems bad.) “You might as well pretend that one could steal the towers of Notre Dame,” he reportedly said. He was let go, Peruggia was eventually arrested in Italy, and the painting was of course recovered and returned to the Louvre. [NYT]


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