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Rare French Coins Unearthed in Poland, Op Artist Jeffrey Steele Dies, and More: Morning Links for July 13, 2021

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The Headlines

TWO TREASURE HUNTERS IN POLAND have unearthed a number of silver coins—and a great mystery. As Andrew Higgins asks in the New York Times, “How did a cornfield in northeastern Poland come to hold silver coins minted more than 1,100 years ago and nearly 1,000 miles away by the medieval rulers of what is now France?” One archaeologist in the country has floated the tantalizing theory that the coins were part of a ransom of more than two tons of silver paid to Vikings in the 9th century in order to prevent the ransacking of Paris. Others are not so sure about that.

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THE PIONEERING OP ARTIST JEFFREY STEELE has died, ArtReview reports. Steele was a founder of the Systems group, and his work was included in the Op show “The Responsive Eye” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1965. The New York Times has also published an obituary for artist Jane Kaufman, a linchpin of the Pattern and Decoration movement, who died last month at 83. She was a revered teacher at Bard College (currently home to a major P&D show) and an activist, as part of the feminist Guerrilla Girls. As Karen Michel wrote in ARTnews in June, Kaufman was one of the few members of the group to use her own name instead of a pseudonym.

The Digest

Anti-government protests are now sweeping Cuba, with many artists playing a role in the action. One of country’s most famous artist-activists, Tania Bruguera, has reportedly had police stationed outside her home, and said, “People just got tired of being afraid.” [The Art Newspaper]

The Anthony van Dyck market has been hot in recent years, with rarely seen works by the 17th-century Flemish portraitist coming up for auction, and museums bidding. Last week, a van Dyck painting of the artist Cornelis de Vos with his family sold at Sotheby’s in London for $3.4 million, the sixth-highest price ever paid on the block for one of the Old Master’s works. [Art Market Monitor]

The city of Norilsk in Siberia is getting a museum of modern art thanks to the largess of Norilsk Nickel, a Russian mining firm with a checkered environmental record. The Arctic Museum of Modern Art is scheduled to open in 2025 in a former mall with some 91,500 square feet of space. [The Art Newspaper]

Meet Jonathan Travis, the New York real-estate broker who has been making the Tribeca art district happen. “Over the past six years, Travis has placed 18 of the 20 galleries currently located in Tribeca’s rows of ornate, cast iron–clad buildings,” Osman Can Yerebakan writes. [Artsy]

Archaeologists believe that an ancient pool discovered in 2004 in northern Italy was built some 3,400 years ago to host religious rituals. [Smithsonian Magazine]

Because of South Korea’s shrinking birthrate, many schools in rural areas are sitting empty, and being converted into libraries, art galleries, and craft centers. [The Korea Times]

The Kicker

SOME ARTISTS HAVE UNIQUE RESPONSES TO SUCCESS. When the British artist Michael Landy finally made some money in the 1990s, he bought a nice suit and car, but quickly questioned those purchases. “The idea popped into my head that I should destroy all my worldly belongings,” he told the New York Times. Landy did just that in his legendary Break Down (2001) performance, and documentation from that piece is included in a show of his work at Firstsite in Colchester, England. “It was a very strange thing he did,” a nine-year-old visitor told the Times. “Maybe he was saying he didn’t need all this stuff.” [The New York Times]

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

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