Art News Headlines: August 22, 2011

Damien Hirst

Gagosian Gallery presents an exhibit spanning the globe with “The Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011” by Damien Hirst. The exhibition will take place simultaneously across each of Gagosian Gallery’s eleven locations in New York, London, Paris, Los Angeles, Rome, Athens, Geneva, and Hong Kong. It will include loans from public institutions and private collections as well as from the artist himself. The exhibition will open in all respective cities on January 12th of next year and continue through February 18th. This is the first time the gallery has dedicated all locations at once to a body of work by one artist. Hirst’s spot paintings are considered to be truly distinct among contemporary art today. The Gagosian exhibit precedes the artist’s first major museum retrospective, which will take place at Tate Modern in London in April 2012.

Sunday marked the 100-year anniversary of the theft of the world’s most famous painting from the world’s most famous museum. An Italian handyman named Vincenzo Peruggia was convicted of snatching the Mona Lisa two years after he took it. This was during a time that signs were posted around the Louvre instructing visitors to wake up sleeping guards during the museum’s slower hours. Peruggia was not the sleek mastermind that many imagined him to be—he envisioned the theft a way to return what he believed was rightful Italian property back to his homeland. Peruggia was given a short sentence after his arrest, and the masterpiece was displayed in Italy to sellout crowds before it was returned to Paris. The anniversary of the crime is welcomed by a documentary of the theft, as written by Joe Medeiros, called “The Missing Piece: The Truth about the Man Who Stole the Mona Lisa”. It is a culmination of Medeiros’ 35-year quest to find the truth about Peruggia, and includes interviews with the thief’s now 84-year-old daughter Celestina.

Hercules statue via Israel Antiquities Authority

In other art news, a rare statue of the Roman god Hercules has been discovered in an ongoing excavation in the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel. The white marble figure stands 0.5 meters tall, and is thought to have originally decorated an alcove in a Roman bathhouse. It has been dated to the second century AD and is said to be of exceptional quality. The discovery is unusual because of the statue’s size—typically, depictions of Roman gods were life-size, and this particular piece is much smaller. The statue was discovered in Horvat Tarbenet during work on the new Valley Rail line, which will run through the Jezreel Valley connecting the northern port of Haifa with Bet She’an on the Jordan border. Excavations have only recently begun on this site and archeologists hope this is the first of many discoveries to come.

In commemoration of the upcoming 10th anniversary of 9/11, Miami Art Museum presents “Focus Gallery: Joel Meyerowitz—Aftermath”, an exhibition of 24 photographs taken by the only photographer granted right of entry into Ground Zero after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. For nine months both day and night, Meyerowitz photographed “the pile,” as the World Trade Center came to be known, and the over 800 people a day that were working in it. After September 11, 2001, the Ground Zero site in New York City was classified as a crime scene and only those directly involved in the recovery efforts were allowed inside. The press was prohibited from the site. Meyerowitz, long recognized as one of the pioneers of color photography, was convinced that if a photographic record of the unprecedented recovery efforts was not made, “there would be no history.” With the help of sympathetic officials, he managed to become the only photographer granted right of entry into Ground Zero.

Pixar Animation Studios announced two new films in the making over the weekend at D23 Expo, a biannual event in Anaheim celebrating all things Disney. The announcement comes at a time when the company is receiving backlash for dishing out sequels such as “Cars 2” which is currently in theaters. The details and names of both films were not released, although we know the first one is slated for Christmas 2013 and will revolve around dinosaurs, while the second will be released in 2014 and will take place inside the human mind. Hey, “Up” sounded strange at first too. The Pixar news was greeted with rapture at D23, but the reaction was lackadaisical after exclusive footage from “John Carter” was shown, an expensive fantasy set for March release about a Civil War veteran mistakenly transported to Mars.

Laura Lawson paints when writer’s block strikes and writes when painter’s block strikes. She has studied fine art at LCAD and is pursuing a degree in journalism. Recently diagnosed with the degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, she strives to bring hope to those without vision through her blog. She is currently working on her first book about coping with vision loss.

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