Bill Cosby exhibition to continue at the Smithsonian

According to an interview done by the Root beginning of August 2015, the Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington D.C., Johnnetta B. Cole, has explained why the exhibition which presents the personal art collection of Bill Cosby will be held, despite the controversy it has caused. Bill Cosby is suspected of having raped 46 women. In this context, the theme of the exhibition “Conversations: African and American Artworks in Dialogue” has been sharply criticised since it includes many works from Bill and Camille Cosby’s collection. Johnnetta B. Cole has justified her decision, as Director of the museum, to allow the exhibition to continue. She explains, “first and foremost, this is an art exhibit. So it’s not about the life and career of Bill Cosby. It’s about the artists. It is also my responsibility to defend the rights of the public to see these works of art, which have the power to inspire through the compelling stories they tell of the struggles and the triumphs of African-American people.” While she condemns Bill Cosby’s actions, she believes that exposing these works of art is a way to pay tribute to the artists that created them. The exhibition was the object of scrutiny this past July when one of the museum staff disclosed that Bill Cosby had given a donation of $716,000 to the museum. This sum covered the costs to exhibit the works....

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Sculpture on Display in Sydney Gallery Spurs Controversy in Indian Community

Members of the Hindu community have condemned a sculpture exhibited at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. According to them, this is an inappropriate representation of the god Krishna. Everyone no 38 is a work presented as part of the “Conversations” exhibition organized by the Australian gallery. It depictsthe deities Radha and Krishna, face to face, covered with lotus petals. These sculptures are not without modern elements: Krishna wears earrings, sneakers and a T-shirt under his flower petals. The artists who created the work wanted to interlace the myth of Krishna and Radha with contemporary elements to show the continuities and uncertainties of feeling in love. Rajan Zed, president of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged the gallery to remove this work because it believes that this is a controversial depiction of a sacred deity. Everyone no 83 is part of the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. It is the result of the work of Indonesian and Australian artists (Rodney Glick, Made Leno, Wayan Darmadi, Dewa Tirtayasa and Christopher...

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Christie’s to sell Chris Ofili’s controversial Virgin Mary painting

On 30 June 2015, Christie’s is to sell Chris Ofili’s controversial painting, The Holy Virgin Mary (1996), in its Post-War and Contemporary Art sale in London. Ofili’s painting depicts a black Virgin Mary, incorporating elephant dung and a collage of bottoms from pornographic magazines. It caused controversy when it was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum in 1999, as part of Charles Saatchi‘s touring exhibition “Sensation”. Alongside religious leaders, those who were opposed to the painting included then-mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, who attempted, unsuccessfully, to close down the exhibition by withholding public funds. The painting was then acquired by Australian collector David Walsh, founder of the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), in Tasmania. Walsh is now putting the work up for auction to help fund the construction of a new wing for MONA. It is estimated to fetch around $2.3 million, approaching the artist’s highest auction record of $2.8 million, which he obtained for his painting Orgena (1998). Chris Ofili, born in 1968 in Manchester, United Kingdom, came to prominence in the early 1990s, and has now established himself as a mid-career artist, with recent solo exhibitions at Tate BritainLondon, the New Museum, New York, and The Arts Club of Chicago. He creates richly textured paintings, incorporating other materials such as collage, dung, glitter, and pins, and to explores subjects such as black culture, history, sexuality, and biblical...

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Tate reveals between £150,000 and £330,000 sponsorship per year from BP

Over a period of 17 years, until 2006, Tate received yearly sponsorship from the oil company BP amounting to between £150,000 and £330,000 per year. In total, Tate received £3.8 million from the company. The revelation of Tate’s deal with BP generated huge controversy, particularly from groups such as Liberate Tate, due to the environmental damage caused by oil companies. Tate was forced to release the statistics by an information tribunal after pressure from campaigners. The figures were given to the ‘Platform’ group, who said the following about them: “The figures are embarrassingly small for Tate to go on justifying its BP relationship. BP desperately needs the ‘social licence’ provided by cultural sponsorship in order to continue trashing our climate. But Tate can clearly do without BP. A growing wave of universities, faith and government institutions are choosing to divest and break ties with the fossil fuel industry – it’s time for Tate to join them.”...

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Helge Achenbach trial begins

The trial of Helge Achenbach, the German art dealer, began on Tuesday in the German city of Essen. The dealer is accused of defrauding Berthed Albrecht, whose family owns the Aldi chain of supermarkets, of millions of euros in the sale of paintings and vintage cars which he bought on his behalf. Allegedly, Achenbach fabricated receipts which showed the purchase price of the pieces to be higher than they actually were, as he gained a 5% commission on the purchases. He claims that he bought the pieces at a price lower than their market value, and that the prices he relayed to Albrecht were therefore reflective of their real value. Paintings by Picasso, Lichtenstein and Richter were all involved in the scandal. Achenbach has been in pre-trial detention for the past six months, after being arrested and accused of 20 counts of fraud in addition to charges of forgery and breach of trust. In addition, Albrecht’s family (he passed away in 2012) is suing him for €20 million in damages. The trial is expected to finish, after eight hearings, on 21 January. If he is found guilty, Achenbach will face 10 years in...

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