What We're Reading: 3/8/22
With the recent invasion of Ukraine, we’re reminded that more often than not, human lives aren’t the only casualties of war. Priceless works of art also tend to pay the price of fighting. Especially in a highly ideological war, art and culture are at the center of things and can’t always make it out. During the Second World War, art theft and looting unfolded on a massive scale that left pieces by the likes of Raphael, Gustav Klimt, and Vincent van Gogh, scattered, without homes, throughout the world. And now, with the war over Ukraine in full swing, art once again finds itself in danger. This time, however, with the invasion of Ukraine, artists and curators are stepping up to protect precious works of art that have no business being collateral damage in the middle of so much violence.
How many women artists can you name? If you’re reading Artnet News, hopefully quite a few—but the results of a recent survey of 2,000 British adults suggests the general public remains woefully ill-informed about the subject.
Only 30 percent of those queried could name three female artists, according to Katy Hessel, the art historian behind the popular Instagram account @thegreatwomenartists.
Image credit: Nickolas Muray, Frida on a White Bench (1939). Photo courtesy of the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th Century Mexican Art and the Vergel Foundation, ©Nickolas Muray Photo Archives.
In the late afternoon of Saturday, March 5, visitors to the Guggenheim Museum in New York unexpectedly witnessed hundreds of paper planes gliding down from the top of the museum’s rotunda. Those paper planes — 350 of them — were not part of the museum’s programming. Rather, they were flyers calling for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, launched surreptitiously by a group of 15 artists and activists from Ukraine and elsewhere.
The guerilla action took place at4:30pm, a typically busy time for the museum.
The Smithsonian Institution, one of the world’s largest cultural organizations, said on Tuesday that it planned to return most of its collection of Benin Bronzes to Nigeria, a sweeping move that would punctuate a monthslong institutional review of its collection practices and the ethics behind them.
The Smithsonian has a collection of 39 Benin Bronzes, a name that is used to cover a variety of artifacts ranging from brass plaques, carved elephant tusks, ivory leopard statues and wooden heads. Many were stolen from what is now Nigeria during the British Army’s 1897 raid on the ancient Kingdom of Benin.