July 11, 2018

The Palette is available to all interested with an e-Subscription


In this issue:

Rumored New Banksy Murals Appear Around Paris
The Political Uses of a Figure of Male Beauty from Antiquity
The Pros and Cons of Stealing Fine Art
Kids Don’t Just See Art at This Show. They Work With the Artists, Too.
A View from the Easel
US Postal Service Ordered to Pay Artist $3.5M For Copyright Infringement
Peruvian restoration centre rescues art from ruin
Artist of the Month: Liz Darby

  

 

Rumored New Banksy Murals Appear Around Paris
The six new murals include images referring to the migrant crisis and France’s attempts to ban hijabs.

Has the shadowy street artist Banksy hit the City of Light? A new series of six works that appeared around Paris last week has been widely attributed to the British artist, though they have not been confirmed as genuine through his own website or Instagram account.

According to one article, “experts told AFP that they look genuine,” though another story claiming the murals as Banksy originals has since been taken down. Meanwhile, street art blog and magazine Street Art News unequivocally attributed them to Banksy in a tweet and accompanying article.

The rumored Banksy murals that have appeared in Paris thus far include three large works and three interventions featuring his trademark rats. Two of the large murals address France’s general climate of intolerance toward migrants and Muslims: one features a young girl spray-painting a pink decorative wallpaper pattern over a swastika with a sleeping bag and teddy bear at her feet; the other replicates the equestrian figure in Jacques-Louis David’s famous portrait of Napoleon crossing the Alps, but the rider in the mural is wearing a long, red headscarf, a reference to France’s attempts to ban hijabs. The mural depicting the girl painting over the swastika is on a wall in north Paris near an official refugee shelter that was shut down in March amid much controversy, as the AFP pointed out. The third large piece shows a man offering a dog a bone that he seems to have just cut from the dog’s leg with a large saw.

The three rat murals include a reference to the May 1968 uprisings, a rat riding the flying cork of a freshly popped champagne bottle, and a mischievous-looking rodent on the back of a large sign.

Banksy previously commented on the migrant crisis in late 2015, when he created a large mural of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs at the infamous Jungle refugee camp in northern France and another based on Theodore Gericault’s “Raft of the Medusa.” It was also one of the recurring subjects at his Dismaland “bemusement park.”

Most recently, the British street artist briefly visited New York City, painting a few murals in Brooklyn and Manhattan. He also donated a Brexit-themed work to the Royal Academy’s annual summer exhibition — though it was allegedly initially rejected. Hyperallergic

 

The Political Uses of a Figure of Male Beauty from Antiquity
One of the most celebrated statues from antiquity, the “Discobolus” remains a cautionary tale about the ways in which we speak about ideal bodies through the art we curate and display.

One of the most celebrated statues from antiquity remains the “Discobolus of Myron,” praised as the personification of equilibrium, strength, and athletic beauty. Although only Roman, white marble copies of Myron’s bronze, Greek original survive today (except for a miniature bronze statuette in the Munich Glyptothek), the statue has been a metric for beauty since antiquity. From Hadrian to Hitler, its display was often manipulated to project the ideals of the men who exhibited the discus thrower.

To understand the original “Discobolos” or “Discobolus of Myron,” we must first understand why it was likely created. Many of the statues of athletes that survive from antiquity were originally understood as markers of a victory. Triumphant athletes who competed in Greek agones (athletic competitions) like the Olympics were often awarded the right to erect a bronze statue of themselves at both the place where they competed and also in their hometown — if they had the funds to pay for it. Few of these life-sized bronze sculptures exist today, but a likely example is the Hellenistic “Statue of a Victorious Youth” that now resides, clad as he was during the competition (i.e. in the buff save for a now mostly missing olive wreath), in the Getty Villa in Malibu.

Myron was a celebrated sculptor born in the early fifth century BCE, in the Greek city of Eleusis, on the border of Attica. He was extraordinarily good at casting bronze for his sculptures and preferred to sculpt gods, animals, and athletes as his subjects. We may know him best for the equilibrium and beauty with which he created his “Discobolus,” but many in Athens knew him best for his life-like bronze cow sculpture on display in the polis. (Sadly, this cow does not survive today.) His athletic statues in particular were seen as balanced, with an impressive symmetry that pointed to a honed body containing a sharp mind.

Tales of Myron’s naturalistic work were told well into Roman antiquity — along with stories of famed Greek artists like Phidias, Polykleitos, and Praxiteles. The Eleusian is casually referred to by the likes of Lucian and Quintilian, and became shorthand for the artistic rendering of life through art. In the Neronian-era satire the Satyricon written by Petronius, it is noted that Myron “almost caught the very soul of men and beasts in bronze.”

Dropping the name of famed artists in rhetorical and literary treatises was a sign of refinement then as now, but so was displaying copies of their work in your villa. Domestic display of art intended to nod at the intellectual and social stature of the owner has been an aspiration since antiquity. It is likely why Hadrian chose to display copies of the “Discobolus” in his villa at Tivoli, outside of the city of Rome. These statues emphasized to visitors his appreciation for Greek culture and advertised his conviction in the innate beauty of the male form.

The “Discobolus’s” basic shape appears to have been aesthetically familiar to most Romans in the same manner that the Statue of Liberty or Rodin’s “The Thinker” (1904) is to us. This is evidenced by the fact that it could be found in both private homes like Hadrian’s and in public baths, like the Baths of Caracalla in Rome. Ancient art historian Lea M. Stirling noted recently in a volume on Roman Artists, Patrons, and Public Consumption that only 20 life-sized versions and seven statuettes survive. Most of these copies date to the second century CE, near to or during the time of the emperor Hadrian.

Despite its celebration in Classical Antiquity, the naked form fell out of favor in the early Christian period, and many appear to have been removed from display during Late Antiquity. Although literary knowledge of the work remained, it would be centuries before the birthday suited Roman copies of Myron’s masterpiece would resurface and be put on display following the increase in funded archaeological excavations that seized Rome and other parts of Italy (such as Pompeii) during the 18th century.

In 1781, a marble discus-thrower 1.55 meters in height was excavated from Rome’s Esquiline Hill at the Villa Palombara. This would be dubbed the “Lancellotti Discobolus,” which is today displayed beside another copy of the statue, the “Discobolus of Castelporziano,” whose head and several parts of limbs are missing from the athlete’s body. The aristocratic Massimo family would place the “Lancellotti Discobolus” in its own room in their Roman Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne. Later it was moved to the Palazzo Lancellotti ai Coronari in Rome.

Not long after the discovery of the “Lancellotti Discobolus,” excavations at Hadrian’s Villa in 1791 turned up a first, and then second “Discobolus” statue. The first would be dubbed the “Townley Discobolus” and can be seen today at the British Museum in London. After being acquired by art dealer Thomas Jenkins, it was sold, after a rather misguided restoration, to Charles Townley. It was billed to Townley as a statue comparable to the prized one held by the Massimo family — word of which had spread throughout Europe among both art dealers and wealthy elites. However, this one had been restored incorrectly, with his head facing downward instead of looking back at the discus as in the Massimo statue’s example.

Although he had died by the time the variant examples of the “Discobolus” were unearthed, the famed “father of art history” Johann Joachim Winckelmann would still have an impact on the “Discobolus’s” interpretation. Carlo Fea, the renowned archaeologist attributed with discovery of the “Discobolus” on the Esquiline, did an edition of Winckelmann’s book in Italian, Storia Delle Arti del Disegno Volume II that referenced the statue and tied it to the literary references for Myron. In Fea’s updated edition, he underscored the Greek beauty conveyed in the marble Roman copy of the discus thrower. This “high beauty” was something that had similarly been pointed to by Winckelmann in regard to the “Apollo of the Belvedere”; a statue that had only come back into the light during the 15th-century Renaissance. Although the Apollo may have been the ideal of masculine beauty at rest, the “Discobolus” became the peak example of athletic beauty in action.

Art that illustrated Greek male beauty and athletic prowess were coveted and indeed worshipped in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In 1885, when the “Boxer at Rest” was excavated on the Quirinal Hill in Rome, the archaeologist Rodolfo Lanciani noted the he had never beheld such a sight, remarking that it was a “magnificent specimen of a semi-barbaric athlete, coming slowly out of the ground, as if awakening from a long repose after his gallant fights.” The early modern European museum was coming into being at this time, in the process showcasing the aesthetic and athletic ideals to aspire to.

In 1937, the “Lancellotti Discobolus” would catch the eye of none other than Adolph Hitler. Hitler had long been obsessed with ancient Greece, particularly in respect to their athletic prowess and Spartan ideas of “racial” purity. This was evident in his institution of the torch relay for the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. As the stamps issued for the 10th Olympiad in Los Angeles four years earlier illustrate, the “Discobolus” was already being used as a symbol of the games. But Hitler didn’t want just a copy or a drawing, he wanted to own the real thing.

Hitler’s obsession with the art of the classical Mediterranean and his belief in taking statues “from stone to flesh” by using Greek art as a model for modern German men are recounted in a new book by Johann Chapoutot, Greeks, Romans, Germans: How the Nazis Usurped Europe’s Classical Past. In the Nazi film Olympia, the umbilical cord between ancient Greece and Nazi Germany is constructed. Chapoutot notes that renowned Greek statues, like the “Venus de Milo” and then the “Discobolus,” come to life in the film: “tracing a path to Berlin via the relay of the torch that brings the Olympic flame to the Reich’s capital.”

By the time of the film’s release on the führer’s birthday on April 20, 1938, Hitler had finally acquired the “Lancellotti Discobolus” for the sum of five million lire. The statue actually arrived in Germany in June of 1938, where it was then exhibited in the Glyptothek museum in Munich. Hitler noted the necessity of seeing the statue in person: “you will see how splendid man used to be in the beauty of his body … and you will realize that we can speak of progress only when we have not only attained such beauty, but even, if possible, when we have surpassed it.” As Chapoutot notes, “It was thus also important to incarnate the Nordic physical archetype for posterity; the Germans of the Third Reich would live on for all eternity just like the Greeks, who had bequeathed them a vision of perfection.” The “Discobolus” was not only an object of beauty within Nazi eugenics and mythology: it was the metric.

Following the conclusion of World War II and the death of Hitler in 1945, the “Lancellotti Discobolus” would be repatriated. On November 16, 1948, the statue became Italy’s once again and was later displayed in Rome at the Museo Nazionale in 1953. It can still be seen in Rome today, at the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, the palace-turned-museum that sits on a corner near the Baths of Diocletian and Termini Station. I have stood before this statue many times with my camera raised in awe and admiration, but without ever really knowing how or why it was used by powerful predecessors who had owned the piece.

Even today, the “Discobolus” is a familiar form to Americans. In the United States, plaster casts of the statue(s) largely created and sold during the neoclassical plaster craze in the late-19th and early-20th centuries allowed local museum audiences in America to take in the athletic beauty of the “Discobolus” and marvel at his poised muscles. Myron’s dark bronze original has been duplicated in white marble, in plaster, in 3D models, and even in Lego. It has been remarked on by hundreds of authors who have tried to create a facsimile with words rather than with stone.

Yet like the “Apollo of the Belvedere,” the “Discobolus” remains a cautionary tale about the ways in which we speak about ideal bodies through the art we curate and display. To Hadrian, the “Discobolus” likely advertised his love of men, Hellenism, and athletic competition; to Hitler, the “Discobolus” advertised both racial superiority and legitimacy through appropriation of ancient culture.

Whether it is the “Apollo of the Belvedere” or the “Discobolus,” understanding the history of an artwork’s re-contextualization is just as important as understanding the object. Few ancient sculptures retain their original color, context, or meaning, but working to reconstruct how these elements changed over time can perhaps allow modern audiences to understand how people like Hitler manipulated the classical world in order to pursue his own political agenda. Understanding the manipulation of the Discobolus can perhaps help to steel us against the ideological reuse of classical art today. Hyperallergic

 

The Pros and Cons of Stealing Fine Art
Easy to steal, impossible to sell

Ten days ago, a Banksy print valued at about $40,000 was stolen from a Canadian exhibit of the artist’s work. It was a seemingly effortless crime—a man walked in, took the work off the wall, and walked out—but then, most art crimes are. The heavy lifting comes later.

“The main rule is that it’s not that hard to steal art, even from museums, but it’s almost impossible to translate that art into cash,” says Noah Charney, a scholar and author who’s published multiple books on art theft. Paintings can be quickly cut out of frames, and small sculptures can be tucked into bags—even jewelry can be secreted away—but finding a buyer for your art or diamonds is often impossible.

“Criminals don’t understand that, because their knowledge of art crime is based on fiction and films,” Charney says.

There are exceptions, of course, including a much-reported theft from March 2017 when four men from an Arabic-Kurdish crime family in Germany broke into Berlin’s Bode Museum and stole a 221-pound gold coin made by the Canadian Mint. Using DNA testing, the German police managed to hunt down and arrest the men in less than four months (one of them had worked as a security guard in the museum), but the coin was long gone.

The theft was notable, not just because the perpetrators were caught—a rarity in itself—but because they’d allegedly managed to sell what they stole for a significant sum of money.

If art thieves knew how hard it really was to sell the art they’d stolen, Charney says, there would almost certainly be far fewer art thefts.

The Good News (If You’re a Thief)
“We’re very bad at catching art thieves,” says Charney. “We have a very low recovery and prosecution rate: Something like 1.5 percent of cases of art theft see the art recovered and the criminal prosecuted.”

So, should a thief have a buyer waiting in the wings, or simply want a painting or art object for himself, there’s a very good chance he’ll get away with it. Add to that the cachet of being an art thief (“Art’s always been associated with the social elite, so it’s an aspirational thing” to take, Charney explains), and stealing art seems like a pretty good deal.

The Bad News
If you don’t have a buyer before you steal the work, you’re in trouble.

“People assume that they’ll find criminal art collectors,” Charney says, “when in fact, we have very few historical examples—maybe a dozen to 20 who fit the bill.” Keep in mind that many hundreds of art objects are stolen every year. Those, needless to say, are bad odds.

The Worse News
“When people don’t find those criminal buyers, they end up offering stolen stuff to people who look like the criminals they’re expecting to find,” Charney says. “And those people always end up being undercover police.”

In other words, people often steal art thinking they can sell it, realize that it’s not so easy (if it were, everyone who wanted to be a legitimate art dealer would be rich), end up doing a low-key but obviously indiscreet marketing effort to attempt to sell the art, and get caught.

Even if criminals aren’t desperate enough to start hawking their wares to strangers, once they discover that there isn’t a large group of shady businessmen willing to spend “whatever it takes” for a mediocre landscape painting, they fall back on a Plan B: “The backup plan is to ransom it back to the victim, or the insurance company,” Charney explains.

But given that this tactic is a clear sign of desperation, the victim/insurance company is in an almost unassailable negotiating position, which results, at least historically, in the ransom being reported to the police and the criminal getting caught.

“There really is no Plan B,” Charney says. “Unless it’s gold.”

And that leads us to the only real solution for thieves: steal something you can turn into something else, like the gold coin in Berlin. Charney cites the 2004 theft of a bronze sculpture by Henry Moore, valued at about 3 million pounds ($3.98 million).

The sculpture weighed about two tons, “and it was almost certainly chopped up and melted down, then converted to ball bearings,” Charney says. Hertfordshire police determined it was cut up on the night of the heist, moved through various scrap dealers, and shipped abroad. The raw material was worth just about 1,500 pounds.

This might seem like a raw deal to most, but Charney says you should look at it from the thieves’ perspective: “They’re going to say, I worked for three hours in one night and got 1,500 pounds.”

In the case of the Berlin coin theft, the thieves were in a similar position with a much more valuable commodity than bronze. Police suspect that the group melted the coin down and sold the gold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Of course, that’s a fraction of its intact cultural value,” Charney says. “There’s almost never been a criminal who knew about, or cared about, art.” Bloomberg

 

Kids Don’t Just See Art at This Show. They Work With the Artists, Too.

A young girl with waist-length golden hair entered a small room where a woman sat at a spinning wheel. Fascinated, the girl approached the device swiftly. Although the scene was in a modern museum, it had the feel of a fairy tale. A powerful spell had indeed been cast, and it was working: Amelia Salenger, the 4-year-old visitor, was becoming enchanted by contemporary art.

“Have you ever heard the story of Rumpelstiltskin?” the weaver, Deborah L. Morris, asked the child. “Do you want to see how this works?”

Ms. Morris, 58, a fiber artist, may not spin straw into gold, but she achieves her own intriguing alchemy: spinning strips of plastic bags into yarn. On a table were miniature looms for children, and a small drop spindle. A wall displayed other materials and fabric Ms. Morris had created with young visitors: She does the warp; they weave the weft. Soon Amelia was busy, too.

The two had met at “Art, Artists & You,” a groundbreaking new show at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan that is part gallery, part studio, part laboratory. The museum selected four professional artists — Ms. Morris; Sara Jimenez, 33, who works with found objects; Ezra Wube, 37, who explores technology and new media; and Yeon Ji Yoo, 40, whose medium is paper — and built them rooms within the exhibition. The museum requires the artists to occupy these studios a minimum of two days a week, for six hours at a time; at least one is present each day. About 40 finished pieces by these artists and their contemporaries fill the gallery, and a materials-stocked family studio, led by museum staff, accompanies each artist’s studio, so that children can work independently.

“We wanted kids to be inspired by great art around them, and while they’re making art, to be inspired by the artists,” said Andrew S. Ackerman, the museum’s executive director.

Choosing the artists, who receive stipends and will be replaced by a new group this fall, was a painstaking process: The museum wanted professionals who were not only comfortable with children but who also reflected the city’s cultural diversity. (Mr. Wube was born in Ethiopia; Ms. Yoo emigrated from Korea; Ms. Jimenez is Filipina-Canadian.)

“We wanted to have the materials drive the process and focus on things that are very familiar to children,” added David Rios, the museum’s director of public programs and the show’s curator. At the same time, young people might never have thought of turning these items — string, balloons, castoff clothing, old cassette tapes — into art. “The kid who’s not comfortable drawing or painting learns that you can manipulate wire to solve a problem or create a design,” Mr. Rios said.

Ms. Yoo recalled a little boy who was shocked to see her tearing paper. “He was like, ‘What are you doing?’” she said. “Well, you can make artwork by ripping things up, too.”

This doesn’t mean that what’s on view lacks thematic sophistication. Ms. Yoo’s paper sculptures and Mr. Wube’s video art frequently deal with migration, while Ms. Jimenez’s assemblages often comment on colonialism. One of the artists’ challenges is how to communicate to children that their work is more than conglomeration.

Ms. Jimenez said she could explain her art by referring to storytelling, and that she might ask children to try repurposing found photographs: “If you were to put your own inspiration and fiction into that, what would you want to do and why?”

The artists also gain from the residency. Both Ms. Yoo and Mr. Wube said they found it freeing. “I lose control of what I do, incorporating kids in my work,” Mr. Wube said. “That’s important. That’s how you can grow. Instead of staying circular, you grow in a spiral.”

More Art Residencies
Grown-up art is now a trend in children’s museums. Here are others featuring adult artists as models or mentors:

BROOKLYN CHILDREN’S MUSEUM recently opened ColorLab, a permanent art-making space that introduces visitors to the methods and ideas of African, African-American and Afro-Caribbean artists, including Chakaia Booker, Wangechi Mutu and Jack Whitten. Presenting public programs on Thursdays and weekends, ColorLab will offer a 45-minute workshop on the science of color on Saturday and one inspired by Afro-futurism on Sunday.

CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF THE ARTS features both contemporary-art exhibitions and programs. Its current show, “Scale: Possibilities of Perspective,” has work by 10 artists, including Shahzia Sikander, Dustin Yellin, Sally Curcio and Patrick Jacobs. This Friday through Sunday, a drop-in workshop, “3-D Globes,” will invite visitors to create spherical dioramas inspired by Mr. Jacobs’s art.

SUGAR HILL CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF ART & STORYTELLING offers an artist a residency each year. On Saturday at 1 p.m., it will host an opening celebration, with art activities, for the show “Leslie Jiménez: Catch the Light!” Beginning in mid-July, Ms. Jiménez, who uses materials like glass and thread to make work reflecting her Washington Heights neighborhood, will be on-site for programs that help children catch the light, too. The New York Times

 

A View from the Easel
This week, artist studios in Maine, Nova Scotia, Wisconsin, Portugal, and Serbia.

The 107th installment of a series in which artists send in a photo and a description of their workspace. Want to take part? Submit your studio — just check out the submission guidelines.

Ted Lind, Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia

From April to November, my studio is located in the loft of a barn that was hand-built around 1860 in Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia. In the winter I move into a sun room located in my house just a few feet away. A skylight was installed in the roof of the barn and a large open window with a sliding door that was once used to bring in hay allows plenty of northern light to stream in. There is plenty of room to store paintings and in a room below I have tools I use to build stretcher bars for my canvases and framing. The south side looks out over the Annapolis River and in the summer I get marvelous breezes blowing through. I even have a cot there, in case I need to nap.

Occasionally, I have gathered in the space with other artists in the community to discuss our work and to view slide shows of modern and contemporary art. It’s an inspiring and contemplative place to be and I spend hours there, listening to the sounds of nature coming from the mountains and fields around me.

Micaela de Vivero, Covilhã, Portugal

I spent one month as the first artist-in-residence for the “Projeto Entre Serras” at the Wool Museum in Covilhã, Portugal. The “Projeto Entre Serras” is an initiative aimed at creating awareness about the importance of the natural environment in the creation of culture. The Wool Museum focuses on the importance of Covilhã’s industrial past within the local, national, and international contexts. The Wool Museum operates in association with the Universidade da Beira Interior. Through these institutions I was given a studio-apartment in the faculty residence building. The purpose of my residency was to develop artwork based on the study of color while using wool as a medium. I came out of this experience with increased knowledge of the historical and contemporary textile industry.

The faculty residence building is on a steep mountain slope and from the studio-apartment I could see the red roofs scattered around the town. The apartment is the ideal size for the comfortable accommodation of one person, allowing enough tabletop and floor space for making art. This is not a space that allows you to be particularly messy, since it’s more thought of as an apartment than a studio, but using plastic tarps to cover the tabletops and the floor came in handy when engaging with wet processes. The large shelf proved itself ideal to organize colors and materials as well as experiments with fibers. The two tabletops were optimal surfaces for working on paper. My bed was located on the back side of the shelf, and on the left side of the table was the kitchenette. I was able to dissolve the boundaries between my working and living space, allowing for constant reflection on the art I was producing.

Once the artwork was ready to leave the studio, there were plenty of locations inside the museum where I could mount installations. This was an ideal life/work location in which I spend a very productive time having nothing else but to focus on making art.

Alonzo Pantoja, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

My studio is one of many housed in an old factory-like structure. With three floors of design spaces and studios, mine is on the third floor in one of the corners of the building. The third floor is the artist studios where they are mostly painters, but there are a few sculptors, a printmaker, and a fiber artist. We all share a sink and a common area. I am in my studio three days a week and, as you can see, the walls in the studios don’t go up to the ceiling and so we have to be mindful of noise as it travels.

Sometimes I can hear Mozart from down the hall and other times I hear swearing. The elevator in the building is a heart attack, but reliable. It’s probably as old as the building, its only broken down twice this year.

I have been in this studio for about two years and in the fall I will be moving out and into a new studio.

Sara Stites, Thomaston, Maine

I live part of the year in Miami and part in Maine. This is a photo of my space in Maine, a spare bedroom of the old house we bought in Thomaston, down the road from Rockland, Maine.

Each year when I arrive, I draw the plants I find on walks around the neighborhood. This year, I fell for dandelions. They are hated on lawns but their strong stems hold their yellow heads high and they persist. Afterward, I hang the specimens on one wall that you can see at left, along with tools of the drawing trade. Taped to the straight ahead wall is a long work on Yupo paper and, to the right, some sculpture I’ve been making using found glass from Good Will. My pal, Jack, has a bed in the corner. I have been surprised and thrilled at my somewhat child-like sense of freedom here!

Branislav Miokovic, Mandjelos, Serbia

This is my Summer studio in a small village of Mandjelos in Serbia. It is a converted cattle sty of approximately 350 sq. ft. The window is facing west so I have an even and sufficient light in the morning until early afternoon. The size of the studio is sufficient to work no a couple of large paintings simultaneously. Hyperallergic

 

US Postal Service Ordered to Pay Artist $3.5M For Copyright Infringement
A case of mistaken artwork has cost the US Postal Service millions of dollars.

Sculptor Robert Davidson was awarded $3,554,946.95 in royalties plus interest by US Court of Federal Claims over the US Postal Service’s illegal use of an image of his work. The copyright infringement lawsuit focuses on the image of Lady Liberty that the USPS believed was of the original monument in New York harbor but it was in reality an image of sculptor Robert Davidson’s kitschy Statue of Liberty replica at Las Vegas’s New York New York hotel.

USPS attorneys argued the artist’s design was too similar to the original for him to claim copyright, but the court filing explains that Davidson feels his version of the famous statue is “more contemporary.”

Explaining in the court documents his process for sculpting the Vegas sculpture, Davidson said:

Well, I felt since this was going to be for a new hotel in Las Vegas, I felt it just needed to be a little more appropriate for the hotel. I knew that the facade of the hotel would look similar to the skyline of New York, but it wouldn’t duplicate it. Everything is out of proportion. … It was just a feel. And I just thought that this needed a little more modern, a little more contemporary face, definitely more feminine, just something that I thought was more appropriate for Las Vegas.

Davidson is also responsible for the “Joan of Arc at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas and a Mount Rushmore-styled sculpture featuring Dudley Do-Right characters at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida,” according to the court document.

The USPS sold 4.9 billion of the Lady Liberty stamps, amounting to just over $2.1 billion in sales, and $70,969,419 million in profit. The USPS had paid Getty Image $1,500 to license the image. Hyperallergic

 

Peruvian restoration centre rescues art from ruin

CUZCO, PERU: The old colonial palace high in the Andes and crowded with treasures from Peru’s bygone golden age feels more like an emergency room than a workshop for recovering damaged artwork.

But sculptures of decapitated Roman Catholic saints, dismembered angels and charred paintings from remote churches across the spine of the Andes all find their way here, where a team of dedicated specialists works to restore them after catastrophic fires and centuries of neglect.

“They are like patients suffering terminal cancer who we are bringing back to life,” said Erwin Castilla, head of canvas conservation at the Ministry of Culture’s Restoration Center in Cuzco.

The facility, which opened in 2003, claims to be the only one of its kind operating in Peru and has already made major contributions to the country’s cultural heritage: Between 2015 and 2017 it rescued more than 500 paintings, sculptures, and ceramic pieces.

The centre’s teams of more than 50 conservationists wear surgical masks and use modern technology — like X-ray and ultraviolet machines — to uncover images that over time have faded away on canvases that average 300 years old.

Cuzco was the capital of the ancient Inca Empire, and from the 16th to 18th centuries it became an epicenter for Catholic-themed art under Spanish colonizers.

Paintings from the “Cuzco School” reflect a rich blend of European influences with indigenous imagery and homegrown artistic techniques that later spread throughout South America.

In the meticulous workshop, conservationists keep detailed records of each piece, as if they were a patient’s medical chart. A board of experts then pores over the records to determine how to bring the works back to life.

The centre receives calls for help from small churches in remote Andean villages that have existed for centuries, and many of the paintings have endured punishing rain, sun, mould, nibbling moths and even flawed repairs by untrained hands.

“We have to advance bit by bit,” Castilla said. “Sometimes it takes us years.”

One restored painting by the indigenous artist Diego Quispe Tito was scorched in a 2016 fire at a Cuzco church along with more than 30 other works. Authorities estimate losses from that fire at nearly $2 million.

The team also restores delicate sculptures depicting Catholic martyrs made from wood and cloth that are often missing heads or arms.

The workshop struggles to run on a shoestring budget of $700,000 a year, said Nidia Perez, an art historian who heads the workshop. But the team never loses sight of its mission.

“We are keeping alive the memory of Andean art,” she said. “We must fight every day to keep it from disappearing.” NEWS1130

 

Artist of the Month: Liz Darby

ZANESVILLE, OHIO: This Artist of the Month not only creates art-work but also helps supply local artist.

Liz Darby is the owner of “Studio Me”, an art supply store and gallery located in the Masonic Temple downtown. Darby said she is the only locally owned and operated art supply store in the area and does her best to provide artists with everything they may need.

“I have a lot of painting materials for people like the acrylics, oils, watercolors, and then when people want special items, like calligraphy or other things, they have me get it for them,” said Darby. “And I do my best to get it at a really good price, because I don’t want everyone to be a starving artist.”

Darby also operates a DIY art studio right next to the shop where anyone is welcome to come and spend some time working on their art. Darby said she herself is a sculptor by trade and likes to create 3-D art.

“I like to just make things different,” said Darby. “I don’t like anything to be the same. I don’t print anything. I know people like me to sometimes make another item that looks similar, but I put a lot of details and pieces in it that are part of things that I’ve done, or like my grandmother’s old jewelry.”

“Studio Me” along with the DIY art studio is open every Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and every Saturday from 10 until 2. The DIY art studio is also available for use by appointment outside of normal hours, just call the voice mail at 740-586-0711 to set up a time. WHIZ NEWS