Art World Roundup: updates on Stonehenge, the Turner Prize, Christie’s auction of Igbo statues, a Parisian Banksy, and how the new Louvre experience

Art World Roundup: updates on Stonehenge, the Turner Prize, Christie’s auction of Igbo statues, a Parisian Banksy, and how the new Louvre experience
Stonehenge, where researchers have found new prehistoric evidence. Courtesy Flickr Commons.

This week’s Art World Roundup offers updates. Recipients of the 2020 edition of an alternative Turner Prize have been announced, a recovered Banksy stolen from Paris, and the sale of Igbo statues at Christie’s. We also cover how visitor experience will be different (perhaps better?) at the Louvre and new discoveries near Stonehenge. 


Tate Britain announces winners of 2020 Turner Prize Bursaries

A few weeks ago, Tate Britain announced that in lieu of the Turner Prize, this year, 10 artists would be awarded a one-time £10,000 bursaries. The 2020 Turner Prize Bursaries were created with the intention to help more artists leading the way in the UK as the pandemic has wreaked havoc on creatives. “Following a lively and rigorous virtual debate, the jury has settled on a list of ten fantastic artists who reflect the exceptional talent found in contemporary British art,” said Tate Britain director Alex Farquharson. Those ten artists are: Arika; Liz Johnson Artur; Oreet Ashery; Shawanda Corbett; Jamie Crewe; Sean Edwards; Sidsel Meineche Hansen; Ima-Abasi Okon; Imran Perretta; and Alberta Whittle. Tate Britain does anticipate returning to its traditional format Turner Prize next year.


Arrests made regarding the theft of Paris Banksy memorialising 2015 terrorist attacks

Six people have been arrested by French authorities concerning the theft of a Banksy painting that paid tribute to the victims of terrorist attacks that riddled Paris in 2015. In June, the mural, which is a white stenciled image of a female figure mourning, was recovered in Abruzzo, Italy after it was stolen last year. The Banksy was painted in 2018 on a door to the Bataclan concert hall, where 90 people were killed by terrorists during a string of attacks, later claimed by the Islamic State, that killed a total of 130 people across the city. Thieves were caught on video using an angle cutter to remove the panel from the door in early 2019.

The Banksy commemorating lives lost at the Bataclan concert hall in situ before it was stolen in 2019. Courtesy Flickr Commons.


Researchers find large prehistoric site near Stonehenge

Thanks to the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, archaeologists at the University of Bradford in West Yorkshire have discovered a larger prehistoric ring that consists of massive shafts. Just two miles from the ever-mysterious Stonehenge, a series of at least 20 shafts that are five-meter deep and 10-meter wide have been discovered and dubbed “Holehenge.”  The holes were found using non-invasive geophysical prospection and remote sensing in a series of surveys. Regularly spaced out, which has ruled out natural phenomena, the holes form a partial circle centering on the prehistoric Durrington Walls henge. Researchers think there could be as many as 30 of the holes and they have been radiocarbon dated using precision coring to around 2500 BC. “The area around Stonehenge is amongst the most studied archaeological landscapes on earth and it is remarkable that the application of new technology can still lead to the discovery of such a massive prehistoric structure which, currently, is significantly larger than any comparative prehistoric monument that we know of in Britain, at least,” said Vince Gaffney, chair of the School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences in the Faculty of Live Sciences for the University of Bradford. The full findings of the project have been published in Internet Archaeology, an independent, nonprofit journal.


Social distancing will mean a unique experience at the Louvre

The Louvre, for anyone who has ever visited, is notorious for its crowds, the need to elbow your way through to see popular paintings, and the ever-present camera phone creeping into every vantage point. So, when the museum reopens next week, things will be different from the start, but the most noticeable difference will be for those interested in seeing the Mona Lisa. To accommodate social distancing, viewing the famous work will be limited to two people at a time, who will have a 10 to 15-minute slot to see the work. Effectively, those braving public places will have a near once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in being almost one-on-one with the painting. When the Louvre does reopen, on July 6th, roughly 70 percent of the museum will be open for visitors. Guests will be required to book tickets online for a specified time and face masks will be mandatory. The museum will not offer a cloak room and visitors will follow a one-way route around the museum’s galleries. While some might find the new measures too much to deal with, for those willing to follow the rules and venture out, their Louvre experience will certainly be one for the books.

The once crowded halls of the Louvre will temporarily be gone when the museum reopens next week. Courtesy Flickr Commons.


Christie’s follows through with sale of Igbo statues

When a pair of Igbo sculptures were set to be sold at Christie’s in an “Arts d’Afrique, d’Océanie et d’Amérique du nord” auction, art historian and professor Chika Okeke-Agulu called out the auction house for issues of due diligence and called for repatriation. Okeke-Agulu argued that the statues, known as alusi, were obtained by Jacques Kerchache, a French collector, in the 1960s during a civil war that affected the Igbo people in Nigeria. The auction house stated that the statues were “acquired in situ” and they responded stating that the sale would fall “within [their] compliance and due diligence process.” Ultimately, Christie’s went through with the sale at the end of June when the set of statues sold for €212,500 (£191,675).

Set of Igbo statues that sold for €212,500 (£191,675) at Christie’s. Courtesy the auction house.