Italy Bars Loans to Minneapolis Museum, Elusive Star Trek Prop Resurfaces, Yoko Ono Wins Award for Lifetime Achievement, and More: Morning Links for April 22, 2024

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MUSEUM EMBARGO. Italy’s culture ministry has barred any further art loans to the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA), because it claims the institution refuses to return a Roman marble statue of Doryphoros, which Italy believes was looted near Pompeii in the 1970’s. The MIA feels differently, and has argued the first or second-century sculpture was found off the Italian coast, in international waters. However, the Italians have dug in, to no avail. In 2022 a regional magistrate ordered the return of the sculpture to the permanent collection of the Castellammare di Stabia museum, but the prosecutor in the case reportedly said they’ve had no response from the MIA. Massimo Osanna the director of museums for Italy’s culture ministry said the dispute over the Doryphoros statue “prevents further collaboration between Italian state museums and the Minneapolis museum,” according to La Repubblica

BAROQUE RECOVERY. A stolen 17th-century painting from the University of Oxford was recovered in Romania. Salvator Rosa’s Baroque landscape A Rocky Coast, with Soldiers Studying a Plan was stolen from the Christ Church Picture Gallery March 14, 2020, along with two other works still missing: one by Anthony van Dyck made ca. 1617, and another by Annibale Carracci painted ca. 1580. Together, all three are worth nearly $12.4 million.


The Smithsonian National Museum of American History (NMAH) in Washington, D.C., was evacuated last week following a bomb threat received Thursday evening. Police are investigating the threat, and by Friday morning, the museum was back open to the public. [Hyperallergic]

The US has returned 38 mostly Tibetan Buddhist looted artifacts to China from the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties in a ceremony at the Chinese consulate general in New York last week. The objects were seized by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in New York in March, following a recently renewed memorandum of understanding outlining US efforts to crack down on illegal imports of Chinese cultural goods. [South China Morning Post]

In more news of recovered cultural goods, the original spaceship model used for the opening credits of the “Star Trek” television series, has been returned to the son of the series’ creator, Eugene Roddenberry Jr., after disappearing for decades. The U.S.S. Enterprise starship popped up on eBay last fall, but fans quickly spotted it, and notified the seller, who said they found it in a storage unit, and later had it authenticated and returned. [The New York Times]

Yoko Ono has won the Edward MacDowell Medal for lifetime achievement, putting her in the company of Stephen Sondheim and Toni Morrison. [The Associated Press]

A group of art handlers and museum staff protested outside the Guggenheim Museum in New York on April 19, to demand a second union contract, following the expiration of the previous one. A sign by the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 30 read: “Supporting the arts means supporting cultural works; Guggenheim Workers Deserve Good Jobs!” [Hyperallergic]


DRAWING THE LINE. Julian Bell beautifully reviews for the New York Review of Books Nicole Eisenman’s traveling exhibit, now at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago until September 22. Seder (2010), chosen as the cover image, is given special attention, featuring the painter’s family gathered for Passover. “This wry group portrait exemplifies what’s technically strong about Eisenman’s practice. She’s not an artist to look for especially subtle or surprising mark making … But where she does – literally — draw the line, it holds firm,” writes Bell. He nevertheless critiques how art discourse “has scrambled to keep in step,” with addressing “queerness,” noting critics tend to say “anything in Eisenman’s art, from its ‘sensuous tactility’ to its ‘treatment of mundane details outside the painting’s focal point,’ is claimed to be queer,” per the show’s catalog. This effectively drains the term of tangible meaning, he argues. As for Eisenman, in 2019 she said: “I might use that word to describe myself but not my work.”


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