Celebrity Wax Sculptures Are Internet Sensation, Will Documenta Open in 2022?, and More: Morning Links from January 14, 2021

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The Headlines

WAX SCULPTURES BY THE BRAZILIAN ARTIST ARLINDO ARMACOLLO of people like Queen Elizabeth IIPope John Paul II, and Marilyn Monroe have been generating a great deal of attention—much of it not so kind—online recently, five years after he first exhibited them in the town of Rolândia. (It’s a “Brazilian horror story,” said one commentator.) But the artist said he is unfazed by mean comments about his intensely vivid pieces in an interview with the Guardian. “I do the things I do because I enjoy them,” he said. I did this for our town. If people like it, come and visit. If they don’t, don’t.” Good attitude! While wax sculptures are now linked to Madame Tussauds in the popular imagination, they have a rich history in medicine and art, as Christopher Turner details in a story in Apollo. “At the end of the 17th century, working in Bologna’s hospital morgues,” Turner writes, “the Sicilian sculptor Gaetano Giulio Zumbo became the first artist to make anatomical teaching models using colored wax.” That one depicted an executed criminal, with wax covering a real skull. The Marquis de Sade was a Zumbo fan. If you have never seen Jeremy Bentham’s auto-icon, with a wax head atop his preserved skeleton, please enjoy.

WILL DOCUMENTA 15 OPEN AS SCHEDULED IN JUNE OF 2022? Yesterday, the quinquennial in Kassel, Germany, sent out a brief note to press that quotes its general director, Sabine Schormann, saying that preparations for the big show “remain on track,” while “the only responsible approach is to closely monitor the developments of the coronavirus pandemic.” The mailing said that it was a response to a story in Deutschlandfunk Kultur, and picked up by other outlets, in which Schormann discussed the possibility of postponing the festivities by a year if artists are not able to make visits to the city to plan their work. If Documenta goes ahead as planned, it will align with the Venice Biennale, which has been pushed from 2021 to 2022 because of the virus. Before the pandemic completely altered every aspect of daily life, 2027 was slated to see Documenta, Venice, and the once-a-decade Skulptur Projekte Münster all converge. Here’s hoping the majordomos of Europe’s grand art shows find a way to still make that happen. For now, you can at least tune in to the YouTube channel of Ruangrupa, the collective organizing D15, on Friday, for a program titled “Walkie Talkie.”

The Digest

Germany said that it has now returned all 14 works from the notorious Gurlitt Collection that it has been able to confirm were looted by the Nazis. The latest piece returned to the heirs of a rightful owner was a Carl Spitzweg drawing. [Deutsche Welle]

Jason Farago called on the Biden Administration to pursue a New Deal for the arts. [The New York Times]

The High Museum in Atlanta has received a bequest of more than 50 European works by Degas, Gauguin, and more. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

The street artist Futura alleges that North Face stole his trademark style for a clothing line. He has filed suit. [Artnet News]

Greta Thunberg is featured on a new Swedish stamp as part of a series focused on the environment. [The Guardian]

A painting by C.F. Goldie was stolen as part of a heist in Waikato, New Zealand. It may be worth north of $1 million according to one dealer. [NZ Herald]

Kara Walker will display about 600 works from her archives at the Kunstmuseum Basel in Switzerland this summer. [The Art Newspaper]

Here’s a look at the work of Emma Amos, who’s the subject of a new exhibition at the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens. [NPR]

Art critic Ben Davis tried out The Met Unframed, the new augmented-reality app released by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in partnership with Verizon. Davis: “As a glorified ad for Verizon, it’s more serious than you might expect; as an online extension of the United States’s most prestigious museum, it’s undercooked. [Artnet News]

A recently renovated Kukje Gallery space in Seoul took home a Wallpaper* Design Award for “Best Cultural Draw.” [The Korea Herald]

Who’s up? Who’s down? Kelly Crow takes a look at five young artists who did well at auction in 2020—and five that had a rough time. [The Wall Street Journal]

The Kicker

In a highly confusing publicity stunt, Natural Light Beer—known to many American youths as Natty Light—has staged a display at Grand Central Terminal in New York that it is billing as the “most expensive” piece of art in the world, and as an attempt to highlight student debt. It consists of 2,600 real college diplomas. “The art world is filled with absurd price tags that most people find impossible to justify,” Daniel Blake, an Anheuser-Busch vice president, said in a statement. “That’s what made it the perfect medium for this campaign.” Someone, please, get your faithful Breakfast editor a drink. [Travel+Leisure]

Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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