Morocco Cancels Venice Biennale Pavilion—And More


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THE HEADLINES

MOROCCO PAVILION CANCELED. After the surprise, last-minute replacement of Morocco’s exhibitors at what would have been the country’s first Venice Biennale pavilion, Morocco has now fully canceled their participation in the exhibition set to open in April, and it’s unclear why, according to The Art Newspaper . In January, the artists Safaa Erruas, Majida Khattari, and Fatiha Zemmouri, as well as curator Mahi Binebine, learned in what they called a “nightmare” situation, that the artworks they had spent months completing for Venice would no longer be exhibited, and that a new program would replace theirs, helmed by Paris-based Moroccan curator Mouna Mekouar. Erruas has reportedly said the Moroccan government promised to reimburse them for their production costs, and that their works would be exhibited some time in the future.

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A man looks at a big crazy painting that's at least 10 times his size.

LAVA TREASURE CONVICTION. A French court in Marseille has convicted two men of smuggling sunken gold treasure found off the west coast of Corsica, from the Golf de Lava. The so-called “Lava treasure saga” began in 1985, when three men discovered a mysterious hoard of rare Roman gold coins from the third century, while fishing. One of them, Félix Biancamaria , was found guilty of trying to sell a golden plate worth several millions, which the court said was from the same stash, and now faces a 12-month suspended prison sentence. His friend Jean-Michel Richaud was handed an eight-month suspended sentence, and both face a 100,000-euro fine. Their lawyers said they were appealing the decision.

THE DIGEST

An Andy Warhol screen print of Chinese leader Mao Zedong has gone missing from the Orange Coast College (OCC) in California, where it was stored in the vault of the Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion. The 1972-signed print, measuring 36 by 36 inches is worth an estimated $50,000, and has not been publicly displayed since it was gifted to the school in 2020. The Costa Mesa Police Department is investigating the case. [Hyperallergic]

In preparation for the building of a fine arts museum, archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a medieval castle under an 18th century mansion in Vannes, northwest France. Researchers for the National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap) have discovered two stories of the castle’s defensive wall and a moat located beneath street level on the property of a private mansion. [Heritage Daily]

Xue Tan, curator and founder of Hong Kong’s Tai Kwun Contemporary art center, will lead the Haus der Kunst museum in Munich beginning this summer. She succeeds Emma Enderby. [Art Review]

The NFT Factory, considered the first international art gallery dedicated to NFT’s, which opened in October, 2022 near the Pompidou Centre in Paris, has had to close shop, because it can’t make rent. [Le Quotidien de l’Art]

Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi has a rare retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, featuring 120 sculptures, on view until July 1. [The Times]

Robert Moskowitz, a painter of the New York City skyline, has died at 88. [The New York Times]

THE KICKER

PROTECTING DAVID’S DERRIERE. It may become harder to bring home certain, cheeky souvenirs from Italy, like the colorful magnets shaped in the chiseled buttocks of Michelangelo’s DavidThe Accademia Gallery, which houses the Renaissance masterpiece, has been successfully waging a legal battle against souvenir shops and other commercial brands and even media, which have reproduced “debasing” depictions of the sculpture, according to the institution’s director, Cecilie Hollberg. She sees these renditions, which zoom in on David ’s genitalia and are found on everything from T-shirts to keychains, as a form of disparaging and unauthorized commercial use, which she has been working to stop. The institution’s legal success has even influenced other museums, who are increasingly seeking to protect the images of Leonardo’s Vetruvian Man, and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. “I am sorry that there is so much ignorance and so little respect in the use of a work that for centuries has been praised for its beauty, for its purity, for its meanings, it’s symbols, to make products in bad taste, out of plastic,” Hollberg told The Associated Press. Would Michelangelo’s sense of humor have allowed it? Alas, we’ll never know.

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