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Francis Bacon Works Stolen & Venice in Danger

Just the 5 art world updates you should know this week.

European heritage organization Europe Nostra has compiled its list of the 7 most endangered cultural sites in Europe. And Venice, Italy tops the list with the Venice Lagoon as the most endangered site in Europe.

Venice, Italy — just inland from the Lagoon (World Heritage)

The organization based its declaration on the “paramount importance of [the Lagoon] to Europe and the world, as well as the complexity and magnitude of the challenges posed….There could be no Venice and no Venetian civilization without the lagoon. Few historic sites in the world demonstrate so clearly the interdependence of humankind with our environment, of nature with culture.” Joining the Lagoon on Europe Nostra’s list were: Armenia’s Ererouyk site, Estonia’s Patarei Sea Fortress, the Helsinki-Malmi Airport in Finland, France’s Colbert Swing Bridge, Greece’s Kamps of Chios, Turkey’s city of Hasankeyf and the Convent of St. Anthony of Padua in Spain. But in particular, Europe Nostra urged that both Venice and the Lagoon be added to UNESCO’s World Heritage in Danger List.

Five paintings by Francis Bacon have been stolen from a home in Madrid. Combined, the paintings were worth at least €30 million (almost $34 million); and although the theft took place in June, it is only now being reported to the public.

Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud,” 1969 (Creative Commons)

The heist has been called “the biggest theft of contemporary art that has occurred in Spain in the last decades.” Despite the fact that the home is in a heavily guarded district of Madrid, very close to the Senate, the robbers were able to break in undetected and disable the alarm while the homeowner — who was a personal friend of Bacon — was out. The burglars left no evidence behind, but police believe that the works still have not left the country and hope to track them down before they do. It makes sense that thieves would target work from Bacon, whose pieces consistently do well on the secondary market. In November 2013, Bacon even set a record when Chrisite’s sold his Three Studies of Lucian Freud for $142.4 million, at the time the highest price paid for an artwork at auction.

Pakistan’s capital of Lahore will hold its first biennial in November 2017. Rashid Rana, a Lahore native and one of Pakistan’s most well-known artists, will be the artistic director of the fair

Rashid Rana in front of his work on display at his recent London exhibit with Saatchi Gallery: “The Empire Strikes Back.” (Zimbio)

Rana told the New York Times that the fair would include both public art projects and newly commissioned works, emphasizing an engagement with the public; and while the fair’s leadership is still selecting artists and venues for the event, Rana is sure that it will be a “different kind of bienniale, taking place not in a white cube museum space.” The fair will be presented by the Lahore Biennale Foundation, which has enlisted Dia Art Foundation director Jessica Morgan as an adviser. Morgan explained the need for the new fair as such: “I think one very simple reason for the biennale is to bring attention to the fact that Pakistan has a very vibrant artistic scene. It has produced a number of artists that have become very well known internationally but hasn’t yet had an internal event that can celebrate what has been happening there in the last few years.”

“Vantablack” — the darkest black hue ever created — recently made headlines not only for its ability to absorb 99.96% of the light that hits it but also for its exclusive acquisition by British artist Anish Kapoor.

Vantablack absorbs so much light that when applied to wrinkled foil, the human eye can no longer perceive the wrinkled surface, unable to detect the light reflecting off of it (Surrey Nanosystems).

Many artists were angered after Kapoor purchased the exclusive rights to use Vantablack in his work, objecting that an artist should not be able to monopolize a color. To remedy the dispute, the company behind Vantablack — Surrey Nanosystems — has announced that the “blackest black” will be made available in a spray form entitled “Vantablack S-VIS.” The spray can be applied to a wide variety of surfaces and on a large scale while still maintaining the incredible non-reflective surface that characterizes the Vantablack pigment. However, even the spray is not to be tried at home: if one wants to apply this sprayable black to any artwork or device, it will need to be sent to Surrey Nanosystems, which uses a proprietary multistep process to apply the spray.

After funding Britain’s Tate for 26 years, BP is to end is sponsorship next year. The oil giant cited an “extremely challenging business environment,” with gas prices falling and having just recently cut 7,000 jobs.

In September, protesters entered the Tate Modern and used black umbrellas to answer “No” to renewing BP’s sponsorship of Tate (The Guardian).

However, environmental organizations have repeatedly protested the museum’s relationship with the oil company, and think it may be more than just a slowed oil market at play in the termination of sponsorship. Yasmin de Silva, a member of Liberate Tate, told The Guardian: “We’re thrilled with the news Tate is rid of BP…Of course Tate won’t rub it in BP’s face by acknowledging this decision is the result of the increasing public concern about climate change and the huge number of artists, members and gallery-goers speaking out against the controversial deal.” However, BP remains firm on the motives of its decision, with a spokeswoman telling The Independent that; “[activists] are free to express their points of view but our decision wasn’t influenced by that. It was a business decision…We have seen the Tate’s extraordinary growth and success and we are proud to have played a small part in that.”



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