Leonardo da Vinci’s recently rediscovered painting Salvator Mundi (ca. 1500) may very well eclipse the Mona Lisa in fame, though the reasons why have to do less with its art-historical significance than its market value—the painting sold for $450 million at a Christie’s auction in 2017. This paradox guides Andreas Koefoed’s masterfully told documentary The Lost Leonardo, which debuted this weekend at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. In just 95 minutes, Koefoed charts how the painting became the most expensive artwork of all time and how it mysteriously disappeared, in the process managing to offer new insights into a story that has been explored ad nauseam in the press.

The film opens dramatically, with reenacted footage of a man rifling through an art storage unit at night. With a flashlight in hand, he explains what a “sleeper” painting is: “a painting that’s being offered … which is … Read the rest

All images © Agnes Hansella, shared with permission

Back in February, Agnes Hansella completed a staggering trio of macramé installations. The monumental works are a facet of the Jakarta-based artist’s practice, which spans large-scale pieces and smaller wall hangings extending a few feet wide. “I would like to not cage myself to a certain style, so in every piece, I really let my instinct do most,” she tells Colossal. “I always think of art as something that keeps evolving. It’s like a relay race where I’m one part that connects the past and future.”

No matter the size, each of Hansella’s works demonstrates an extensive repertoire as she blends dyed and natural threads into wildly varied combinations of twists, knots, and ties. The elaboratey woven pieces range from geometric shapes and abstracted rainbow glitches to a vast mountain landscape, which are direct products of the sights and sounds she’s encountered … Read the rest

More than two dozen looted artifacts were returned to Cambodia by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr., on Friday, in a move that officials said was intended to restore cultural heritage to the country. The 27 repatriated artifacts are estimated to be worth $3.8 million.

Among the objects returned were statues of Shiva and Buddha, as well as artifacts dating back to Cambodia’s Angkor era, which lasted from the 9th to the 15th century.

In a statement, Vance said, “The repatriation of these 27 stunning relics to the people of Cambodia restores an important link between the nation’s classical Angkor era and its modern customs and beliefs that, for far too long, was disrupted by the greed of stolen antiquities traffickers.”

Twenty-four of the artifacts were obtained in connection with an investigation into disgraced dealer Subhash Kapoor and his network. Kapoor, who operated the New York gallery Art of the … Read the rest

Corrie Francis Parks’s absorbing stop-motion short “Foreign Exchange” is all about perspective. Through a continuously evolving landscape of minuscule stones and banknotes, mini-universes emerge that meld the two materials into culturally significant tableaus. “Between the dazzling layers of currency and sand lie connections that can be mined in infinite ways. Each person who views this film will unearth different associations filtered through their worldly experience and national background,” Parks says.

Although the sand shown is small in quantity—Parks can hold all of it in her two hands—it’s sourced from more than 50 countries just like the paper currency, and both materials converge in a perpetual juxtaposition of culture, economics, and nature. The rocks flow across the screen like water and animals, while the colorful collages of ripped money contrast distinct national figures and heritage against a universal economic backdrop. “Canada’s interstellar pride meshes with the gothic arches of Prague’s St. … Read the rest

A stamped seal in the ancient village of Tel Tsaf dating to the 5th millennium B.C.E. has been unearthed, according to a study in the journal Levant by archaeologists Michael Freikman and David Ben-Shlomo, of the University of Ariel and Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, respectively.

Of the nearly 150 seals that have been uncovered at the Tel Tsaf site, this one is the only stamped one. Additionally, it is the oldest stamped seal ever recovered in Israel.

In the 5th millennium B.C.E., Tel Tsaf wealthy inhabitants had the means to purchase goods from Mesopotamia, Turkey, Egypt, and the Caucasus. The study suggests that the stamped seal could be a sign of the region’s rich trade system, and that it was related to administrative practices. A seal would have been used to identify an individual, so it may have been used to authenticate documents.

The stamped seal’s … Read the rest

“Losing the last rights” (2021), oil on canvas, 200 x 120 centimeters. All images © Stamatis Laskos, shared with permission

Fantastically tall figures with elongated limbs and torsos inhabit the distorted, mysterious realities painted by artist Stamatis Laskos (previously). The highly stylized artworks, which extend upwards of six feet, imagine a universe marred by unknown destruction: an elderly man wades through waist-high water while fire burns in the background, a woman retrieves a human skeleton from a flood, and a self-portrait shows the artist shielding his eyes with detached hands. Working with Earth tones and an implied dim light, Laskos shrouds each scene with shadow, which obscures the figures’ faces and casts an eerie tension over the degraded environments.

At once distant and deeply personal, each painting draws on ideas of collective unconscious and Jungian archetypes, whether portrayed through wise figures, an apocalypse, or the unification of opposing forces. … Read the rest

Daniel Sallick is board chair of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., and a founding partner of Subject Matter, a creative advocacy firm based in the city. The views expressed here are his own.

The art world has been invigorated in the past year by the notion that equity and inclusion should be mandates rather than mere abstract concepts. But while we’re good at hashtags, putting on fundraisers, and lifting up what we believe should be ideals, it’s time to walk the walk and lobby Washington to usher in a much more ambitious and nimble approach to the federal government’s role in the arts. We can’t continue to wait and see which way the political winds blow. We must summon the art world’s collective power to set a new and bold agenda for making access to the arts a fundamental component of education in America.

There are … Read the rest

All images © Robyn Rich, shared with permission

The Georgian era saw the rise in a jewelry trend that’s equally sentimental and peculiar: to remember spouses who had died or to honor clandestine affairs without revealing anyone’s identity, people would commission tiny renderings of a person’s eye to be painted on broaches, rings, and other accessories they could carry with them. Similar to a lock of hair or portrait hidden in a locket, the abstracted feature was anonymous and indiscernible to most but deeply personal to the wearer.

Robyn Rich evokes this centuries-old fad with a substantial body of work that nestles minuscule oil paintings into cutlery, tins, and other antique vessels. “With a love of reusing and recycling, the found objects I use give a simple and often nostalgic canvas, which offers little distraction, allowing the beauty of the eye to be the focus,” she says. “These objects that … Read the rest

A priceless set of Raphael tapestries is in peril after pigeons and their droppings made an appearance at a Spanish exhibition. The nine tapestries currently on display in the main gallery of Madrid’s royal palace have survived the last 500 years in near-pristine condition. But gallery staff are now scrambling to keep the winged pests from inflicting damage, the Guardian reports.

The tapestries, titled Acts of the Apostles, were commissioned by Pope Leo X in 1515 as decoration for the Sistine Chapel. After Raphael completed the sketches, which detail scenes from the lives of St. Peter and Paul, they were sent to a workshop in Brussels, which translated the designs into life-size hangings spun from gold and silver silk and wool threads. Acts of the Apostles are the artist’s only known tapestry designs and the last major project he completed before his death in 1520. Impressed with the work, European

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All images © Jörg Gläscher, shared with permission

As the fear of a second wave of COVID-19 swept through Germany in the fall of 2020, photographer and artist Jörg Gläscher decided to channel his own worry into a project that felt similarly vast and domineering. “I was working (with the idea of) the pure power of nature, the all-destroying force, which brings one of the richest countries in the world to a completely still stand,” he tells Colossal. “A wave is a periodic oscillation or a unique disturbance the state of a system.”

Between November 2020 and March 2021, Gläscher spent his days in a secluded location near Hamburg, where he gathered deadwood and constructed nine massive crests—the largest of which spans four meters high and nine meters wide—that overwhelm the forest floor in undulating layers of branches and twigs. Each iteration, which he photographed and then promptly destroyed in … Read the rest