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Cuban artist arrested again after the death of Fidel Castro

Plus: Berlin forced to postpone exhibition of Tehran’s modern masters | Greek archaeologists rediscover ‘lost Elgin marbles’ | Salem University shuts down politically themed exhibition | and recommended reading

28 November 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Cuban artist El Sexto arrested again | Danilo Maldonado Machado, known as ‘El Sexto’, has been detained by the Cuban authorities in what the i newspaper describes as a ‘crackdown against human rights activists’ after the announcement of Fidel Castro’s death. Maldonado’s mother told the Miami New Times that the artist was arrested on Saturday morning after chanting slogans critical of Castro and his brother Raul. Maldonado, who had previously been detained for 10 months after creating art satirising the island’s regime, was awarded the Human Rights Foundation’s Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent in 2015.

Berlin exhibition of Tehran’s modern masters postponed | A planned exhibition at Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie featuring works from the collection of Tehran’s Museum of Contemporary Art has been postponed, reports the Guardian. The exhibition, due to open in December, was to feature 60 paintings by artists including Francis Bacon, Picasso, and Kandinsky that have not been seen in the West since 1979. The works have yet to be allowed to leave Tehran, though a spokesman from the Prussian Cultural Foundation says that ‘current signals’ suggest they will be allowed to travel ‘soon’.

Greek archaeologists rediscover ‘lost Elgin marbles’ | Marine archaeologists near the wreck of the HMS Mentor in the Aegean have begun to bring up what the Sunday Times (£) describes as a ‘treasure trove of coins, statues and jewellery’. The Mentor, which sunk near Kythera in 1802, is thought to have been lost while carrying artefacts salvaged from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin. However Elgin, then the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, described the ship’s cargo as ‘stones of no value’. Funds are in place for a larger excavation next year.

Salem University shuts down politically themed exhibition | An exhibition at Salem State University’s Winfisky Gallery mounted in response to this year’s US Presidential election has been temporarily closed after being criticised for the inclusion of works showcasing ‘hate’. According to the Salem News, the University received several complaints about works including a painting by artist Garry Harley depicting Ku Klux Klan members and Jewish people being rounded up by concentration camp guards. Curator Ken Reker admitted that there was a ‘lack of context’ around the exhibits, which might have misled some visitors.

Recommended reading | Last week, The Art Newspaper reported that fluctuations in sterling since Britain’s vote to leave the EU have posed problems for the National Gallery in its attempts to acquire Jacopo Pontormo’s Young Man in a Red Cap (1530), although the museum has raised the funds to purchase the work. Further to this story, the Sunday Times (£) speculates that should he refuse to sell to the National Gallery, J. Tomlinson Hill, the collector who purchased the work, might be prepared to allow it to stay on display in London. Meanwhile in the FT, John Sunyer investigates the moral and financial implications of oil corporations’ investment in the arts. He concludes:‘If [anti-oil] protests continue at this rate and at this scale, the oil corporations might pull their sponsorship, or institutions might be forced to turn away their money. Neither option looks like progress.’

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