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Vatican and China announce diplomatic exchange of artworks

22 November 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Vatican and China announce diplomatic exchange of artworks | The Vatican museums and the Chinese government-sponsored China Culture Industrial Investment Fund (CCIF) yesterday announced plans for the first-ever exchange of artworks for public display between China and the Vatican, as part of a cultural exchange initiative designed to improve diplomatic relations between the two states. Since 1951, the People’s Republic of China has been estranged from the Holy See due to disagreements over the communist state’s sovereignty, and negotiations between the two powers continue to falter. The new exchange initiative will see 40 works from the Vatican’s collection of Chinese objects go on display at the Beijing Forbidden City, at the same time as an exhibition at the Vatican’s Anima Mundi ethnological museum of 40 pieces from China. Vatican Museums director Barbara Jatta described art at yesterday’s conference in Rome as an ‘extraordinary vehicle for dialogue’, while CCIF head Zhu Jiancheng expressed his hope that the exchange would ‘contribute to the normalisation of diplomatic relations’.

Jarman Award goes to Oreet Ashery | Artist Oreet Ashery has been named as the winner of the 2017 Film London Jarman Award, an annual prize for UK-based moving image artists. Following previous winners including Heather Phillipson, Ursula Mayer, and John Smith, Ashery receives £10,000 prize money and the opportunity — along with the other five artists shortlisted for the award this year — to create a new film for Channel 4’s Random Acts.

Photographer sues Christo and the Smithsonian over installation images | Gianfranco Gorgoni, an Italian-born photographer known for his depictions of the 1970s New York art world, is suing the Smithsonian Institution and artist Christo over the copyright for his photos of the 1976 Christo installation Running Fence. Gorgoni, who filed his complaint yesterday in Manhattan’s District Court, says that Christo sold the images – originally used in a 1978 monograph which named the photographer as the copyright owner – to the Smithsonian in 2007 without crediting him or seeking his permission. According to Reuters, the plaintiff is seeking unspecified damages as well as a declaration that he is copyright owner of the photographs.

De Chirico self-portrait is stolen from Béziers art museum | A 1926 oil painting by Giorgio de Chirico has been stolen from the Musée des beaux-arts de Béziers in the south of France (French-language article). The theft, in which the work was cut and taken from its frame, was discovered by museum guards closing the galleries last Tuesday. The painting had been on display as part of an exhibition of modern masterpieces from the private collection of French Resistance hero and Béziers native Jean Moulin. According to French media reports, the police inquiry into the incident is complicated by the absence of any CCTV cameras in or outside the museum.

Zanele Muholi receives France’s Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres | Zanele Muholi, a co-founder of South Africa’s Forum for the Empowerment of Women and a photographic artist known for her ongoing documentation of her home country’s LGBT+ community, is receiving a recognition for her contributions to culture with one of France’s highest honours: a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. The decoration is being conferred by the French government at a ceremony in Pretoria today.