The week in art news – United States to rejoin UNESCO in July


On Monday, Audrey Azoulay, director general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), announced that the United States plans to rejoin UNESCO and pay more than $600m in back dues. The decision brings an end to a 12-year dispute sparked by the institution’s move to grant Palestine membership in 2011, after which both the United States and Israel suspended payments; both countries lost their voting right in 2013, and in 2017 the Trump administration decided to withdraw from the agency altogether. The return of the United States, once UNESCO’s biggest funder, is expected to face a vote by its 193 member states next month, according to the Guardian. Read William Carruthers on the decision here.

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On Wednesday, two climate activists smeared red paint and glued their hands to the protective glass surrounding a painting by Claude Monet at the Nationalmuseum in Sweden. The two protestors wore T-shirts bearing the logo of the environmental organisation Återställ Våtmarker (Restore Wetlands), which posted a video of the protest on Twitter and Facebook. The Artist’s Garden at Giverny (1900), on loan from the Musee d’Orsay in Paris as part of the exhibition ‘The Garden – Six Centuries of Art and Nature’, is now being inspected for damage.

A judge in Florida has dismissed a copyright case brought against Maurizio Cattelan. Joe Morford, a Los Angeles-based artist, claimed that Cattelan had copied his idea with the artwork Comedian (2019), comprising a banana duct-taped to a wall, which debuted at Art Basel in Miami Beach. Morford’s own work Banana and Orange (2001) features plastic replicas of the fruits taped to two green panels. Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. ruled that the similarities between the two works were insufficient and that Morford’s claims that Catalan might have seen and been influenced by his work were unconvincing.

A portrait by Gustav Klimt is expected to fetch £65m when comes to auction in London later this month: a record-breaking estimate for a painting in the United Kingdom and in Europe. Dame mit Fächer (Lady with Fan) (1918) is the last portrait the painter completed before dying of a stroke and pneumonia at the age of 55 in 1918. The painting is backed by an irrevocable bid, or outside guarantor, so is certain to sell. It will form the centrepiece of Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary evening sale on 27 June.