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Australia’s arts sector launches national day of action against cuts

Plus: Romania seeks funds to buy €11 million Brâncuşi sculpture | Damien Hirst sued for plagiarism by jewellery designer | ‘Lost’ Gauguin still-life discovered in Connecticut | Smuggled artworks seized in Istanbul | Olivier Meslay named director of Clark Art Institute

16 June 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Australians launch national day of action against ‘ritual sacrifice of the arts’ | This Friday, prominent figures from Australia’s arts community will launch what they describe as a ‘National Day of Action’ to protest repeated cuts to the country’s arts sector. The move is intended to highlight the importance of the arts, which according to the National Association for the Visual Arts bring in some $50 billion to Australia’s economy every year. As part of the day of action, Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art will ask visitors for their thoughts on the arts, kicking off a two-week political campaign.

Romania seeks funds to buy €11 million Brâncuşi sculpture | Wisdom of the Earth, one of the few works by Constantin Brâncuşi remaining in his native Romania, is to go on display at the country’s National Bank as part of the government’s effort to buy it from a private owner. The work, created between 1907–08, is valued at €15–20 million, but the government has negotiated a price of €11 million, €5 million of which it has already pledged. It is hoped that a nationwide campaign to raise the rest of the money will secure the sculpture for the nation.

Damien Hirst sued for plagiarism by jewellery designer | Canadian jewellery designer Colleen Wolstenholme has sued Damien Hirst for allegedly copying her work. Wolstenholme’s complaint, filed at a federal court in Manhattan last week, accused Hirst of ‘wilfully and wrongfully copying, creating, manufacturing, distributing, and/or selling [works that infringe Wolstenholme’s] on an ongoing and continuous basis.’ The works in contention are a series of charm bracelets sold by Hirst through his Other Criteria website, which Wolstenholme believes bear a likeness to her own creations.

‘Lost’ Gauguin still-life discovered in Connecticut | A still-life by Paul Gauguin that was listed in the artist’s catalogue raisonné but long believed lost has surfaced at an auction house in Connecticut. According to The Art Newspaper, the work was acquired in the mid 1980s by a Manhattan antiques dealer unaware of its identity, and was hung in his home for 30 years. The painting was identified and authenticated by the Paris based Wildenstein Institute, who date it to c. 1885 on stylistic grounds. It is to be auctioned on 29 June with an estimate of $800,000–$1.2 million.

Smuggled artworks seized in Istanbul | Turkish police say they have recovered a trove of more than 50 paintings, calligraphic works and lecterns, all of which they believe to have been stolen with intent to sell. According to Hurriyet, a commission of archaeologists have appraised most of the works as genuine.

Olivier Meslay named director of Clark Art Institute | The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute has appointed Moroccan-born curator Olivier Meslay as its next director. Meslay, who is currently associate director of curatorial affairs and senior curator of European and American art at the Dallas Museum of Art, will replace Michael Conforti, who is retiring after 20 years at the head of the institution.

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