Roundup: Antiquities seized, Facebook sued, lost Henri Matisse interviews

Roundup: Antiquities seized, Facebook sued, lost Henri Matisse interviews
Looted antiquities recovered by Italian authorities are displayed in Rome during a news conference last week. The record haul was found in a Swiss warehouse belonging to a Sicilian art dealer accused of being part of a trafficking network. (Claudio Peri / Associated Press)

There's lots of interesting stuff going on in the culture industries: Looted antiquities seized. Facebook sued by a user who posted an image of a nude by a 19th century French painter. A Belgian artist found guilty of copyright infringement. Plus: a letter from a survivor of the Charlie Hebdo attack, the state of diversity in architecture and film, and lost interviews with Henri Matisse.

— "The only difference between us … was a couple of inches' variation in the paths of the bullets and our respective locations when the black-legged men came in," Antony Shugaar, a journalist for the magazine Libération, and a columnist for Charlie Hebdo, writes about surviving the attack.


— A Belgian court has found painter Luc Tuymans guilty of copyright infringement for using a photograph as inspiration for a painted work. But is it possible for a one-off painting to violate the copyright of a photograph? As Guardian critic Adrian Searle points out, "paintings and photographs are different kinds of objects, that we read in different ways."

— Another battle in Facebook's continuing war against nudity: The social media giant has been taken to court by a French schoolteacher whose account was shut down after he posted an image of Gustave Courbet's famous 19th century canvas "L'Origine du Monde," which is a close-up painting of some lady's very private parts.

— Authorities turn up a record haul of looted antiquities in Switzerland in the warehouse belonging to antiquities dealer Gianfranco Becchina, the same guy who sold the Getty its questionable Kouros sculpture. (@KnightLAT)

— Speaking of looting, the superintendent of Pompeii is organizing an exhibition of items that have been looted from the site and then subsequently returned by people who felt guilty about the thefts.

— Mexican master painter Francisco Toledo has donated his museum to the National Institute of Fine Arts in Mexico City.

— The Southwest Museum in L.A.'s Mount Washington neighborhood has been named a "national treasure" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. But money for needed renovations remains a problem.

— In the summer of 1946, a young American G.I. stationed in France interviewed Henri Matisse. Design Observer has the never-before-published transcript in one, two and three parts.

— With both the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York about to launch high-profile expansions, Vanity Fair deconstructs the competition between these two high-status institutions.

— Whether Marcel Duchamp was the true or only author of the history-making urinal sculpture "Fountain" is being hotly debated in academic circles -- with some saying that the notorious bohemian Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven deserves at least some, or all, of the credit. Blogger Greg Allen dives into the debate by combing through an oral history with a West Coast abstractionist who knew the baroness.

— The album covers of Bauhaus master Josef Albers.

— "It is the definition of the African American experience in the latter half of the 20th century." The publishers of Ebony magazine are selling their photographic archive. I'm hoping this archive isn't scattered to the winds.

— Who are the 1% and how do they live? Curbed has started a series called "What Do They Own?" It tells the story in pictures of wretched real estate excess. This includes the multiple digs of billionaire Jeff Greene, who recently told Bloomberg that "America's lifestyle expectations are far too high and need to be adjusted so we have less things and a smaller, better existence." Because one has a small, better existence with five mansions, one of which contains a rotating dance floor.

— The French daily Le Monde will have its fancy new headquarters designed by the Norwegian firm Snohetta. This makes me think that there is hope for newspapers.

— Important architecture on the market: A Richard Neutra house in L.A. ($3.5 million) and a Louis Kahn house in Cherry Hill, N.J. (for only $290,000 — a bargain!).


— The Downey building that housed the first ever Taco Bell is in danger of being demolished.

— Sort of related: L.A. may no longer have the Brown Derby, but we've managed to hold on to a barrel-shaped building from the 1940s, which is set to come back to life in North Hollywood in February.


— Is the awarding of the 2015 American Institute of Architects medal to Moshe Safdie (who did the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas) more of the same-old, same-old? Probably, says Alexandra Lange in a good analysis on the state of diversity in architecture.

— Speaking of equity, New York Times film critic (and L.A. resident) Manola Darghis has had an interesting series on the paucity of women film directors in Hollywood, in one, two and three parts. Very good reading.

— Last but not least, a compendium of SkyMall art. Upon the news that the catalog retailer has filed for bankruptcy, Sarah Cascone at Artnet has combed the vendor of the weird and the useless for its finest aesthetic wonders. Sign me up for that Bigfoot Garden Yeti.

Find me on Twitter @cmonstah.