Art news / 24 – 30 September

As September draws to a close, we bring you five news items you may have missed this week, from Van Gogh to Warhol, David Shrigley and Antony Gormley.

1. Two works by Van Gogh, the world’s most beloved Post-Impressionist master, have been recovered by Italian Police. The two works – Sea at Scheveningen, Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen – were stolen in Amsterdam in 2002 and the FBI had considered it one of the ‘top 10 ‘ art crimes, valuing the works at over $30 million.

The works were recovered in a sting operation by Italian police, in a drug trafficker’s house in Castellammare di Stabia, near Naples. Dario Franceschini, the Italian culture minister, said “the result of this investigation confirms how interested criminal organisations are in art works which they use both as a form of investment and as a source of funds.” (via The Guardian)

2. Antony Gormley unveiled his new exhibition at the White Cube, Bermondsey on Friday. The exhibition, Fit, sees Gormley divert form his typically soft, round sculptures, to more angular renditions – some appearing like 8-bit computer game figures cast in iron (see Sleeping Fields). The exhibition winds its way around 15 labyrinthine chambers, containing 24 sculptures – most of which have never been seen before. Gormley says, “The show is an invitation but also an interrogation: who are we now?”

The themes explored in the work are: corporate power, inclusion and exclusion, migrancy and our ‘collective inertia at the prospect of the end of mankind’ – which as Gormely stated in a press conference, “There’s no doubt we will be extinct at some point, but we have a choice about when that might be.”

Politics are still central to Gormley’s work, but as he says, “Where once I would have gone on protest marches, the best thing I can do is attend to the work at hand, which is to make reflexive instruments. Whether they are of any use is up to you lot.” The exhibition will run until 6 November.

3. The dynamic art-activist group The Guerilla Girls – who hail from New York and are most famous for their ‘Do Women Have To Be Naked To Get Into The Met Museum?’ poster – which highlighted the vast disparity between male and women artists in the Met Museum, and women as the oft-naked subjects of male artists; are continuing their tour of Europe, arriving in Whitechapel this week with something to say – their new exhibition “Is it Even Worse in Europe?” (– revisiting their 1986 poster). The exhibition chronicles the inequality and lack of diversity in European museums (as a poster on the façade of the gallery advertises, only a quarter of European museum contacted by the Guerrilla Girls regarding diversity deigned to respond.)

“We did find that some institutions think they’re doing a much better job than they really are,” Frida Khalo – a newly initiated Guerilla Girl noted, referencing the Ateneum in Helsinki, which reported that it had been religiously acquiring works by female artists since 1861. “Well, the fact of the matter was that when they told us what percentage of their collection was work by women it was only 12 percent!” she scoffed.

The exhibition will run from 1 October 1 through 5 March 2017. As an added extra, The Guerrilla Girls will be hosting a “complaints department” at Tate Exchange, a new venture by Tate Modern, that allows members of the public and organizations to debate issues of the day with the artists – this will run from the From 4 – 9 October. (via Art News)

4. There are a long list of stars who have played the world-famous Pop Artist Andy Warhol on screen: David Bowie (in Basquiat) who famously wore Warhol’s actual white wig, Jared Harris (I Shot Andy Warhol), Guy Pearce (Factory Girl), and Crispin Glover (The Doors) – and Art Net news has revealed that Jared Leto has been cast as the next in line to play Andy Warhol in a film chronicling his time in New York as one of the great influencers; and of course his role as the ultimate party host at The Factory in an adaption of Victor Bockris’s book Warhol: The Biography, a 2003 reissue of his 1989 book The Life and Death of Andy Warhol. Terrence Winter, who has written films and television series such as Wolf of Wall Street, The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire will write the script, and Leto will produce the film along with Michael De Luca (who is producing Fifty Shades Darker). It’s not been revealed when production will begin, but we look forward to its release!

5. Having recently launched his poster with London mayor Sadiq Khan for #LondonIsOpen campaign – with two globes replacing the ‘O’s in London, and text beneath saying, ‘Everyone Welcome’ – Shrigley has unveiled his new positive London piece on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth, a hand with an elongated ‘thumbs-up’ called Really Good. The sculpture is the tallest ever installed on the Fourth Plinth at almost 23 feet tall. According to The Telegraph, Shrigley told those gathered for the occasion, that the sculpture is “about making the world a better place…which obviously is a ridiculous proposition, but I think it’s a good proposition.”

Sadiq Khan said,“ What it represents is so important—optimism, positivity, the best of us. This sculpture is so important showing Londoners, tourists, that London is open.” An important message to the world after the potentially isolating Brexit vote.