Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Weekly Roundup

La Pont d'Argenteuil by Monet.
Art Round-Up for The Week of October 7, 2007
By Alex Starace

Ever want to live in the mall? In 2003, artist Michael Townsend heard a radio advertisement to that effect. Unlike the rest of us, however, he decided to take it literally. Until recently, he (along with seven other artists in a cooperative) had secretly been living off-and-on at the Providence Place Mall in Providence, Rhode Island.

His unauthorized 750-foot apartment was fully furnished and was located in the mall’s parking garage. It had electricity, but no running water – conveniently enough, the mall itself provided nearby public restrooms.
Two Guests in Townsend's Apartment.
But how did the artists’ cooperative get away with such a scheme for over three years? The apartment was concealed behind a cinderblock wall and a nondescript utility door, so it wasn’t until just this past week that security guards uncovered Mr. Townsend’s clandestine abode. The area had previously been used to store lumber during the mall’s construction, so presumably mall employees assumed the space was vacant. Since being discovered, Mr. Townsend has been banned from the mall and sentenced to probation. [The Washington Post]

The Correr Museum in St. Mark's Square.
Stones falling from the sky? It might be the end of the world. Or it might be trouble in Venice. This early autumn two well-known landmarks have had bits of their facade fall into the street below.

First the Correr Museum in St. Mark’s Square had a piece of marble drop into an unoccupied internal courtyard.

A few days later, a sixty-six pound chunk of white marble fell sixty-five feet from a window frame at Doge’s Palace, terrifying tourists and passersby.

Thankfully, no one was hit directly, but shards caught a German tourist in the leg. City officials blame the crumbling on the heavy rains that hit the city several days before, as well as pigeons, which are known to peck at the facades in search of food. [The Guardian]
The marble facade of the Doge's Palace.
The Madonna with the Yarnwinder by Da Vinci.
Persistence pays off. In August of 2003, The Madonna with the Yarnwinder, painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle in Scotland. The painting was much beloved, so much so that the FBI put it on its list of ten most wanted pieces of stolen artwork.

The case soon receded from the public eye, though a team of Scottish police officers has been working diligently to track down the painting for four years. During a raid in Glasgow last week, they were finally rewarded for their efforts: the painting has been recovered and arrests have been made. Due to the sensitive nature of criminal prosecution, the police are hesitant to release any more details. [BBC News]

The Prado Museum in Madrid has almost completed its first new wing in nearly 200 years. The expansion will be open to the public on October 31st, though a royal ceremony inaugurating its completion will take place a few days earlier. Spanish architect Rafael Moreno designed the new space, which will predominantly display temporary exhibitions. The $211 million expansion includes a restored 17th Century monastery cloister from the Los Jeronimos church. The cloister was disassembled brick by brick, each brick was cleaned, and then moved to the Prado where the cloister was reassembled. The refurbished cloister will house Renaissance sculpture. [The Art Newspaper]
The monastery cloister of Los Jeronimos church before it was moved to the Prado.
The restored cloister of Los Jeronimos, now located inside the Prado.
When people get too drunk, long held grudges come out. Or else, silly things happen. Or maybe a little bit of both. This past weekend at the Orsay Museum in Paris, a group of four or five intruders broke in at around midnight. They were youngish people who appeared to be drunk – not at all the sophisticated thieves you might expect. Inexplicably, one of them punched La Pont d’Argenteuil by Claude Monet. Immediately, the alarm sounded and the group scampered out. The whole incident was caught on security cameras, though no arrests have been made.

The French Culture Minister Christine Albanel seems a bit perplexed by the security breakdown. At a press conference, she openly wondered how the intruders were able to enter the museum so easily, through what she said must have been a “fragile” door. She also wondered how they were able to force their way out through a different door – one that was supposed to be held firmly shut by bolts. The painting itself has a four-inch horizontal tear, though conservators say it is repairable. [The Boston Globe]

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