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Egypt questions National Museum of Scotland’s right to Giza pyramid stone

Plus: Robert Kret steps down as director of Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro disbands ministry of culture | French state rejects option to buy work attributed to Caravaggio | and VIA Art Fund announces 2018 grant recipients

10 January 2019

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Egypt questions National Museum of Scotland’s right to Giza pyramid stone | The Egyptian government has questioned the ownership rights of the National Museum of Scotland to a casing stone from the Great Pyramid of Giza, which the museum plans to display in a new permanent gallery opening next month. The stone left Egypt in 1872, when it was removed by an engineer on behalf of Scotland’s astronomer royal. Egyptian authorities have requested access to the stone’s ownership and export documents in order to assess whether it was illegally smuggled out of the country. A National Museum of Scotland spokesperson stated that ‘we are confident that we have legal title to the stone and the appropriate permissions and documentation […] in line with common practice at the time’. 

Robert Kret steps down as director of Georgia O’Keeffe Museum | Robert Kret has announced his decision to step down as director of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Kret has led the museum for ten years, and was previously director of the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro disbands ministry of culture | The newly inaugurated Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has disbanded the country’s ministry of culture, merging it with sports and social development into the new ministry of citizenship, led by Osmar Terra. An attempt to dissolve the culture ministry, which was created in 1985, was previously made in 2016 but it was abandoned after protests from cultural leaders in Brazil.

French state rejects option to buy work attributed to Caravaggio | The French state has rejected the option to buy a controversially attributed Caravaggio that was recovered from an attic in Toulouse in 2014 (French-language article). The work, depicting Judith beheading Holofernes, is believed by some specialists to be a second version of Caravaggio’s well-known portrayal of the scene. An export ban was placed on the work in 2016 so that experts could analyse the work. Now that this has expired the work is free to circulate internationally.

VIA Art Fund announces 2018 grant recipients | The VIA Art Fund has announced the recipients of its 2018 grants, which range from $15,000 to $100,000. Among the 17 grantees are the ICA LA curator Jamillah James, who is the 2019 Curatorial Fellow, and Tavares Strachan, who received the Frontier Art Prize 2018. A full list can be found via ARTnews.  

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