Week in Review: Basquiat Drew on Paintings with Invisible Ink, National Gallery Closes for Gov’t Shutdown

A detail of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (1981) seen under normal light (at left) and under UV light (right), where an arrow appears between the letters “E” and “P.” (photo: ©Longevity Art Preservation)

Week in Review is a weekly collection of news, developments, and stirrings in the art world. Subscribe to receive these posts as a weekly newsletter.

While performing a routine authentication of a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, while using a UV flashlight, a New York art conservator discovered a series of unseen drawings in invisible ink, likely made in a black-light crayon. The arrow-shaped markings were identical to immediately visible shaped incorporated in the painting, with red and black oil sticks. The conservator, Emily Macdonald-Korth tells Artnet that while these invisible markings and Basquiat’s definitive intentions remain a mystery, they parallel his habit of painting over an image but leaving its underbelly partially visible. “He basically did a totally secret part of this painting,” Macdonald-Korth tells Artnet“So there’s a history there, having something secret there. He must have been playing with a UV flashlight and thought, ‘this is cool.’ It really relates to his use of erasure.” [Artnet]

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has closed its investigation into the Mattress Factory, a Pittsburgh museum. This follows last week’s announcement that the museum had reached a settlement with five women employees of the Mattress Factory who accused a former coworker of sexual misconduct. The NLRB has co-signed this agreement. [via email announcement]

Music video for “All The Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and SZA (screenshot via Youtube)

Artist Lina Iris Viktor has reached a settlement with rapper Kendrick Lamar and singer SZA after an ongoing legal dispute. Viktor sued Lamar and SZA for plagiarizing her series Constellations in their music video for ““All The Stars,” which they created for the Black Panther film soundtrack. Viktor was approached by representatives of the film twice about using her artwork for the project, but the artist declined. After noticing the stark similarities between the music video and her artwork, Viktor pursued compensation via profits from the sale of the single and the film’s soundtrack. The final settlement agreement remains undisclosed. [Pitchfork]

An Italian Supreme Court has accused the Getty Museum in Los Angeles of “unjustifiable carelessness” for its purchase of an ancient Greek statue discovered on the Italian cost that the court rules should be returned to Italy. The court says the museum failed to perform due diligence, utilizing consultants referred by the statue’s seller. The Getty will appeal the ruling. [ANSA]

Guards in a gallery in the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (photo by Lipton sale, via Wikimedia Commons)
Guards in a gallery in the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (photo by Lipton sale, via Wikimedia Commons)

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC has shuttered as a result of the partial shutdown of the federal government, which began on December 22. The National Gallery’’s employees have been furloughed and its digital store has deactivated. The Gallery is not the first DC Museum to close as a result of the shutdown — recently, the Smithsonian museums also closed their doors after their excess funding ran out. [Artnews]

The Smithsonian has that 2019 will be the Smithsonian Year of Music. The initiative will celebrate the Smithsonian’s vast music-related collections across its institutions. The museums will host music-related events — including performances, exhibitions, lectures, educational programs, and workshops — every day of the year. Across all of its institutions combined, the Smithsonian’s musical holdings make it the largest music museum across the globe. [Artdaily]

Ancient dam at Ma’rib in Yemen, 1988. The dam was hit by an Arab coalition airstrike in 2015. (Photo by H. Grobe via Wikimedia Commons)

Yemen’s ambassador to the United States penned an opinion piece with Deborah Lehr, the founder of the Antiquities Coalition, in the Washington Post to demand the US government, particularly the Treasury Department, “to use its existing sanctions regime to close the U.S. art market to Yemeni blood antiquities.” They urge the department “to issue an emergency executive order adding Yemeni antiquities to the list of sanctioned items prevented from import to the United States.” In the past, Congress has taken action to sanction illicit imports of artifacts from Iraq and Syria. [Washington Post]

After a rainy period in Israel, the earth washed away and revealed two ancient Roman busts to a passerby walking in Beit She’an, an ancient Roman cemetery. After she spotted the top of a stone head, archeologists unearthed a second bust. Both are dated around 1,7000 years old. [Haaretz]

Installation view at the Musée du quai Branly (via Wikimedia Commons)

France’s syndicate of antique dealers is demanding a meeting with the country’s new culture minister Franck Reister, angered they were not consulted in the controversial Savoy-Sarr restitution report, which recommends French institutions repatriate works looted from Africa. In a letter to Reister, the president of the Syndicat National des Antiquaires (SNA) wrote, “This arduous and inefficient arrangement risks putting the European art market at a disadvantage while Brexit is fully under way, restricting Paris’s place and becoming a mechanism that your administration will not be able to support [in terms of export licenses].” [TAN]

Transactions:

Sergio Vega,
Sergio Vega, “Shanty Nucleus After Derrida 2” (2011–13), installation, inkjet vinyl prints mounted on syntra (gift of Nicholas Pardon, image courtesy Nicholas Pardon)

The Phoenix Art Museum has received a gift of 112 artworks from Nicholas Pardon, co-founder of the SPACE Collection, which claims to be the largest collection of post-1990s abstract art from Latin America and the United States. The 112 gifted works are by 49 artists from 14 Latin American countries, increasing the Museum’s holdings of Latin American art by 280%. The works will go on display in an exhibition in 2020, featuring modern and conceptual Latin American art form the 20th century to today.

This and other notable sales and acquisitions are chronicled in our latest Transactions story.

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