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News from Around the Art World: October 30, 2017

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Newberry Library's 'Book of Magical Charms' is the 'stuff of nightmares’

The “Book of Magical Charms” is small, a bit larger than a hotel Bible. Each of its 117 pages were written by hand, in a script so dense and dark that, when the book is closed, its edges look splotched. The author used standard European iron gall ink, and probably a quill. The book, which dates to the 1600s, arrived at the Newberry Library in 1988, bundled with old medical texts. It was not signed, and nobody knew who had written it. For years it existed at the Near North institution as a curiosity, a mysterious antique without authorship — one so eerie it would be at home in an “Evil Dead” movie.

The “Book of Magical Charms” is navy blue, with nothing on its cover or spine; it received its name from Newberry librarians, who needed an in-house description to file it away.

“Occult manuscript” — that’s how they filed it. --Via Cristopher Borelli, Chicago Tribune

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Works hoarded by son of Nazi art dealer to go on public display

Hundreds of works of art that were hoarded by the son of a Nazi art dealer will go on public display for the first time in decades in joint exhibitions in Germany and Switzerland opening next week.

Kunstmuseum Bern and the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn will present the works found in the homes of Cornelius Gurlitt in two parallel shows called Gurlitt Status Report that are expected to draw art lovers from around the world.

Around 1,500 works, including pieces by Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Otto Dix and Gustave Courbet, worth hundreds of millions of euros were discovered in Gurlitt’s Munich and Salzburg residences by tax inspectors and revealed in 2013, in what was described as the biggest artistic find of the postwar era. --Via Kate Connolly, The Guardian   

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The Art of Destroying an Artwork

Under pressure from online petitions and on-site protests, the Guggenheim Museum last month withdrew or modified three works of art that involved animals from its survey of Chinese contemporary art, called “Art and China After 1989: Theater of the World.” The titular work in the show, a sculptural vitrine, was originally filled with live insects and reptiles, which the museum removed.

The decision came after intense protests, but it also set off its own debate. Critics called it censorship, and worried that advocacy groups — in this case, animal rights organizations — now had veto power over art and its public display. --Via David Xu Borgonjon, The New York Times 

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Former Burning Man nude sculpture not approved for National Mall

In September 2017, Curbed DC reported that an organization, called Catharsis on the Mall, planned on bringing a 45-foot-tall nude sculpture, called “R-Evolution,” to the National Mall. If approved, the steel, LED-lit sculpture would have stood by the Washington Monument from November 2017 through March 2018. The goal was for the sculpture to “challenge the viewer to see past the sexual charge that has developed around the female body,” according to the Indiegogo campaign.

Recently, the National Park Service (NPS) decided to approve the placement of more than 30 temporary structures for events planned from November 10 through 12, but did not approve the “R-Evolution” sculpture. A planned memorial temple was also not approved. --Via Michelle Goldchain, Curbed

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Art unveiling at new Wilson Station brings architect home

Gaze long enough and it may seem like a portal to another dimension hovering overhead.

It’s the feeling L riders might experience while taking in the just-unveiled artwork gracing the lobby of the Red Line Wilson Street station.

The surreal feeling would be appropriate when considering the unusual career trajectory that boomeranged Ryan Szanyi, the young architect who helped design it, back to Chicago. --Via Mitch Dudek, Chicago Sun-Times

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