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Italy’s Marche region hit by four major earthquakes in one day

Plus: ISIS allegedly moving explosives to Palmyra | National Library of Israel acquires extraordinary collection of Hebrew manuscripts | Artists raise more than $1 million to create protest art for Inauguration Day | and moths damage Joseph Beuys suit in Kassel

19 January 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Further earthquakes hit embattled Marche region | Fresh earthquakes have struck Italy’s Marche, Lazio and Abruzzo regions, just months after tremors last wreaked havoc on the province’s infrastructure and cultural heritage. According to the BBC, four quakes above magnitude 5 struck the region yesterday (Wednesday), with wintry conditions causing landslides and widespread power-cuts. One man has been reported dead and another missing in the Abruzzo region, says Italy’s Ansa news agency. An unconfirmed number of people are also believed to have died after an avalanche caused by the earthquake destroyed a hotel in the Gran Sasso. ‘It’s a catastrophe’, said Marche president Luca Ceriscioli. ‘Today’s tremors and the snow of the last days add huge problems, especially on the roads, to the dramatic situation caused by the [August] earthquake.’ At the time of writing, the full extent of damage to cultural heritage is not known; the Renaissance bell tower of the church of Sant’Agostino, severely damaged in last year’s earthquakes, has now collapsed.

ISIS allegedly moving explosives to Palmyra | Russian general Sergei Rudskoi has claimed that ISIS is transporting explosives to the ancient city of Palmyra, which he warns may be used to destroy more historical monuments. ‘We’ve received evidence confirmed by several sources [that] a large amount of explosives is being moved to Palmyra. Islamic State terrorists are plotting to wipe out the world’s historical heritage in that city,’ Rudskoi told reporters on Wednesday. Palmyra, which was recaptured by ISIS late last year, is the focus of a fresh Syrian offensive, supported by Russian airpower.

National Library of Israel acquires extraordinary collection of Hebrew manuscripts | The National Library of Israel yesterday announced the acquisition of what it describes as ‘the finest’ private collection of Hebrew books and manuscripts in the world. The Valmadonna Trust Library, which was jointly acquired with Archaeology, Books and Judaica collectors David and Jemima Jeselsohn, was bought in a private sale through Sotheby’s. The library, which includes treasures such as one of only two surviving copies of a Passover Haggadah printed in Prague in 1556, is to go on show in the National Library of Israel’s new Herzog and De Meuron-designed building in Jerusalem, which is set to open in 2020.

Artists raise more than $1 million to create protest art for Inauguration Day | A Kickstarter appeal aimed at launching a poster campaign to be distributed as double-page adverts in the Washington Post has raised more than $1 million since its launch on Tuesday. According to Artforum, the appeal, which was launched by artists Shepard Fairey, Ernesto Yerena, and Jessica Sabogal in collaboration with the Amplifier Foundation, aims to ‘capture the shared humanity of our diverse America’. The images are intended to become something of a symbol for the thousands of people expected to demonstrate in Washington DC this weekend.

Moths damage Joseph Beuys suit in Kassel | A 1976 installation by Joseph Beuys at Kassel’s Neue Galerie has become infested by moths, damaging a felt suit that is an integral component of the work. In a statement issued on Wednesday, the museum said that the insects were discovered in December, whereupon the suit was placed in a nitrogen chamber for treatment. However, it also seems as though damage may be negligable. ‘Presumably the moths already have made several tiny holes in the felt’, said a spokeswoman. ‘If that’s the case, because of their small size, the holes shouldn’t be visible to visitors and won’t compromise the material of this treasured suit.’

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