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ARCHAEOLOGY AFICIONADOS, TODAY IS YOUR DAY. A diver in Israel recently came across a number of objects, including a sizable sword likely used by a knight in the Crusades, NPR reports. “It is exciting to encounter such a personal object, taking you 900 years back in time to a different era,” an official with the nation’s Antiquities Authority said. (He’s got that right!) Meanwhile, in the Bavarian area of Germany, a grave has been found with an ornate ivory comb that dates back some 1,500 years, Smithsonian Magazine reports. The grooming tool may have been used for hair and beard maintenance, and some headline writers have declared the deceased a “hipster.” OK! Smithsonian also has a deep dive—pun intended—on a 500-year-old shipwreck in the Baltic Sea that is in unusually good condition.
LOST AND FOUND. More than 30 years after two marble angels from the 1600s were stolen from a church in Naples, they have been recovered, the Associated Press reports. It seems that a collector purchased them in an antique shop in that city around 20 years ago, and when he recently went to sell them in Avignon, France, a shopkeeper alerted police that they may have been purloined. The unnamed collector said he was unaware that the angels were hot and gave them up voluntarily. [AP]
On Tuesday, protestors who survived a notorious 1981 food poisoning in Spain temporarily occupied the gallery at the Prado that houses Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas (1656). They demanded that the government cover the medical expenses of those affected by the incident. [Reuters]
A ceramic bowl on loan to the British Museum in London has been identified as an exceedingly rare Chinese piece that dates back almost a millennium. It had previously been catalogued as a Korean work; meticulous research by the scholar Regina Krahl changed that. [The Art Newspaper]
The Believer, the well-loved literary magazine founded in 2003, will cease publication with its February issue. It had been put out by the University of Nevada Las Vegas’s Black Mountain Institute. The school’s dean said that it “consumed a significant amount of BMI’s resources.” [Pitchfork]
Text artist Kay Rosen wrote about her peer Barbara Kruger’s current exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. Kruger, Rosen argues, “doesn’t scale up gratuitously for the sake of spectacle.” [Art in America]
Robert Haas, a leveraged-buyout expert who became an aerial photographer and a founder of the Haas Moto Museum & Sculpture Gallery in Dallas, died late last month at the age of 74. Among his most famous images was a flamboyance of flamingos gathered in the shape of a flamingo.[The New York Times]
Williams College trustees voted to move forward with the design phase for a new home for the Massachusetts school’s vaunted art museum. [iBerkshires]
THE NEXT BIG PLAYER IN THE CRYPTO SPACE? It is none other than Martha Stewart, who will soon be offering a bevy of Halloween-themed NFTs, the Wall Street Journal reports. “I have been cool for a long time but I’m even more cool now,” she told the paper. Some of the tokens that Stewart is selling are tied to images of pumpkins that have been carved with Halloween costumes she has worn. One notable piece: a jack-o’-lantern tribute to Richard Prince’s “Nurse” series. That sounds like a good thing. [WSJ via Fox Business]
Post-Conquest Aztec Altar Found in Mexico on 500th Anniversary of Spain’s Invasion
When Hernan Cortes invaded Mexico in 1521, it heralded the end of an era for the Aztec people. But that empire was not finished all at once, and according to the BBC, a new archaeological find shows that some Aztecs managed to continue living after the Spanish arrived. Earlier this week, Mexican officials announced that…
When Hernan Cortes invaded Mexico in 1521, it heralded the end of an era for the Aztec people. But that empire was not finished all at once, and according to the BBC, a new archaeological find shows that some Aztecs managed to continue living after the Spanish arrived.
Earlier this week, Mexican officials announced that they found an altar formed by a family that survived the initial Spanish invasion. The altar was discovered quite deep underground. Archaeologist Mara Becerra told the BBC that she believes the altar was purposefully buried to hide it from the Spanish. Becerra also believes that the family who made this altar were Mexica, the Indigenous people who ruled the Aztec empire.
Archaeologists spent three months studying an old Indigenous house, particularly the courtyard where the ritual offerings were made. There, the archaeologists found 13 incense burners, five bowls, a cup, a plate and a pot with cremated skeletal remains.
A statement by Mexico’s culture ministry said that the altar was made “to bear witness to the ending of a cycle of their lives and of their civilization.” The announcement of these findings comes on the 500th anniversary of Spain’s invasion.
Mexico is a treasure trove of potential archaeological sites that have not yet been excavated. Even Teotihuacán, one of the most famous Mexican archaeological sites, is only 5 percent excavated. Late this past October, 500 potential archaeological sites were discovered in Mexico using Light Detection and Ranging technology.
However, in recent years there have been exciting discoveries all around the country. In 2020, a newly discovered Aztec tower of skulls, found in Mexico city, drew substantial media attention. But, due to the pandemic, progress made in the archaeological field in Mexico has faced some setbacks.
Simone Leigh, Who Departed Hauser & Wirth After Less Than Two Years, Joins Matthew Marks Gallery
Simone Leigh, who departed the mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth last October after just 21 months, has joined Matthew Marks gallery. The artist, who is preparing to represent the United States at the 2022 Venice Biennale, joins a roster that includes Alex Da Corte, Martin Puryear, and Jasper Johns. She made her debut with Matthew Marks…
Simone Leigh, who departed the mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth last October after just 21 months, has joined Matthew Marks gallery. The artist, who is preparing to represent the United States at the 2022 Venice Biennale, joins a roster that includes Alex Da Corte, Martin Puryear, and Jasper Johns. She made her debut with Matthew Marks at Art Basel Miami Beach, which opened this week.
The sought-after sculptor’s departure from Hauser & Wirth spurred speculation over whether she had found new representation. Leigh joined the gallery, which has 15 locations worldwide, in 2020 after leaving New York’s Luhring Augustine and Los Angeles’s David Kordansky Gallery, the latter of which had represented her for half a year.
In mid-October, Hauser & Wirth had prominently featured Leigh’s sculptures in Frieze London. A major exhibition at the gallery’s location in Zurich, her first presentation in Switzerland, was ongoing amid the split. The details surrounding her departure have remained under wraps, and both parties issued gracious statements at the time.
“I love and respect the people I worked with at Hauser and Wirth,” Leigh said. “But I do not feel the gallery is the right fit for me in the wider sense. I’m still figuring out what I want from a primary gallery relationship.” The decision came amid a career-high for the New York-based artist, who will be the first Black woman to represent the U.S. in Venice.
In 2017 she was awarded the Studio Museum in Harlem’s $50,000 Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize, and the following year she won the Hugo Boss Prize, which comes with $100,000 and a solo exhibition at New York’s Guggenheim Museum. Her work was chosen by the prize’s jury for its “longstanding and unwavering commitment to addressing black women as both the subject of and audience for her work, a focus which imagines a recalibration of the outmoded power structures that shape contemporary society.”
Leigh was included in the critically acclaimed 2021 survey “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America” at the New Museum in New York; she was also featured in the Prospect New Orleans triennial. Her work is currently on view in the group show “Black American Portraits” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Met Museum Receives Landmark $125 M. from Longtime Trustee Oscar Tang
New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced its largest capital gift in its 151-year history: $125 million pledged by the museum’s long-time trustee Oscar Tang and his wife, Agnes Hsu-Tang. The funds will go towards a renovation project centered around the museum’s presentation of modern and contemporary art, to include 80,000 square-feet of galleries…
New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced its largest capital gift in its 151-year history: $125 million pledged by the museum’s long-time trustee Oscar Tang and his wife, Agnes Hsu-Tang. The funds will go towards a renovation project centered around the museum’s presentation of modern and contemporary art, to include 80,000 square-feet of galleries and public space to be named the Oscar L. Tang and H.M. Agnes Hsu-Tang Wing.
The long-postponed “re-envisioning” of the Met’s modern and contemporary galleries, first proposed more than a decade ago, has been delayed due to a lack of funding. The project is currently estimated to cost a total of $500 million.
Oscar Tang, the octogenarian retired financier, founded the investment management firm Reich & Tang. Having served on the Met’s board for three decades, it is not the first transformative gift he’s bestowed on the New York institution. In 1997, he gave $14 million to fund the Met’s purchase of rare Chinese paintings, and in 2015 gave $15 million to establish new curatorial positions and to support programming for the centennial of the museum’s department of Asian art.
Tang is the son of Tang Ping-yuan, a Chinese textile mogul who founded a successful manufacturing company in Hong Kong in the post-Communist era. In the Met’s press release, he attributed his philanthropic activities in part to having been displaced by conflict in his home region and being subsequently educated in the U.S. Tang’s previous philanthropic gifts also include money given to the New York Philharmonic, Yale University, and the Gordon Parks Foundation. Agnes Hsu-Tang, an archaeologist and researcher at Columbia University, has served as a cultural heritage advisor at UNESCO and for the Obama administration.
“Their generosity—while breathtaking in its scope and vision—is no surprise, as it is an extension of their decades-long support of our Museum,” Daniel H. Weiss, the Met’s president and CEO, said in a statement. Max Hollein, the museum’s director, added, “The reimagining of these galleries will allow the Museum to approach 20th- and 21st-century art from a global, encyclopedic, bold, and surprising perspective—all values that reflect the legacy of Oscar and Agnes.”
The couple, whom the Met called “activist collectors” in its press release, described the museum as “an exemplary guardian and presenter of artistic heritages across cultures and time.” They alluded to their longtime support of transcultural and anti-racism initiatives as a driving factor in backing the Modern wing project, saying, “Contemporary art transcends entrenched notions of borders and identities.”