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Leonardo expert declines to support attribution of Salvator Mundi

Plus: Lithuanian Pavilion faces financial shortfalls | Museum workers share salaries on anonymous spreadsheet | Tony DeLap (1927–2019) | and recommended reading

3 June 2019

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Leonardo expert declines to support attribution of Salvator Mundi | Carmen Bambach, a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a leading Leonardo scholar, has rebutted the claim in a 2017 Christie’s catalogue that she supports the attribution of Salvator Mundi to Leonardo da Vinci. Last year, the auction house included her name in a list of scholars who were part of ‘a broad consensus that the Salvator Mundi was painted by Leonardo’. Bambach has told the Guardian, ‘That is not representative of my opinion.’ In her upcoming four-volume study, Bambach argues that the portrait was instead painted by an assistant, with minor alterations by Leonardo himself. In her Apollo review of the National Gallery exhibition in which Salvator Mundi was exhibited in 2011/12, Bambach wrote, ‘In the present reviewer’s opinion, having studied and followed the picture during its conservation treatment, and seeing it in context in the exhibition, much of the original painting surface may be by Boltraffio, but with passages done by Leonardo himself, namely Christ’s proper right blessing hand, portions of the sleeve, his left hand and the crystal orb he holds.’

Lithuanian Pavilion faces financial shortfalls | The Lithuanian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale – the winner of this year’s Golden Lion prize for its climate change opera, Sun & Sea (Marina) – is struggling to afford the cost of performances. The hour-long opera was performed daily during vernissage week; now, live performances occur only on Sundays, and a crowdfunding campaign by the pavilion reports that it costs approximately $3 per minute to stage. ‘A Wednesday performance is our maximum ambition,’ said Lucia Pietroiusti, the pavilion’s curator.

Museum workers share salaries on anonymous spreadsheet | Museum workers began sharing their salaries on a Google Spreadsheet titled ‘Art/Museum Salary Transparency 2019’, which began circulating last Friday morning. The spreadsheet currently contains more than six hundred entries from museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, Tate Galleries, Rijksmuseum, and LACMA. The document was created by Michelle Millar Fisher, an assistant curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with help from unidentified colleagues. ‘I hope it encourages a conversation between coworkers,’ she told ArtNews. ‘Solidarity is the only way to affect great change.’

Tony DeLap, (1927–2019) | American artist Tony DeLap died on Wednesday at the age of 91. The painter and sculptor was a pioneer of West Coast minimalism and abstraction and the first professor of art at the University of California, Irvine. His work is held in the collections of the Tate, LACMA, and the Whitney, among other institutions. DeLap also had a lifelong fascination with magic tricks, which influenced his work: ‘The paintings of mine that I am particularly fond of are those that have a sense of magic to them,’ he said.

Recommended reading | Artist Paula Rego writes on abortion in The Art Newspaper. At Artnet, Tim Schneider examines Facebook’s art patronage.

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