News Recap: June 7, 2019

A weekly update of art world news.

The sample of the painting  Village Scene with Horse and Honn & Company Factory  analyzed by researchers. Courtesy of James Hamm (Buffalo State College, The State University of New York, Buffalo, NY).

The sample of the painting Village Scene with Horse and Honn & Company Factory analyzed by researchers. Courtesy of James Hamm (Buffalo State College, The State University of New York, Buffalo, NY).

New Discoveries in Art Authentication Methods
In a paper published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers revealed that it is possible to determine if a work of art was made before or after the nuclear bomb tests of the 1940s. By testing a tiny paint sample or a single canvas fiber for the number of carbon 14 isotopes, historians can determine the authenticity of paintings stated to have been made prior to 1940. Since the era’s nuclear tests, carbon 14 isotopes have increased in all organic matter. Although an increase in the number of carbon 14 isotopes is not good for the planet, this chemical signature is very useful in the dating of works of art and authentication efforts.
Read the full story (ArtNet News)

Art Employees Share Their Salaries and Income Discrepancies
In an effort to highlight the economic inequality in the art world, Michelle Millar Fisher and her colleagues at the Philadelphia Museum of Art have created a database and spreadsheet entitled “Art/Museum Salary Transparency” that allows museums, galleries, and others employed in the arts to contribute their salary and demographic information. This sobering information highlights the disparities in salaries throughout the industry. Since the spreadsheet went live a week ago, over 2100 entries have been added. One hope Fisher has for the public spreadsheet is that it may lead to some kind of reform in salaries across the field and aid in the further diversification across socioeconomic backgrounds in the hiring process.
Read the full story (Hyperallergic)

Visual Artist and Documentarian Camille Billops Dies at 85
This week, influential artist and filmmaker Camille Billops passed away at 85 years old. Her most prominent films include Suzanne Suzanne (1982), a documentary about her niece’s recovery from heroin addiction, and Finding Christa (1991), a largely autobiographical film about Billops’ decision to leave her four-year-old daughter at an orphanage in 1960 and their reunion 30 years later. The latter won the 1992 Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival. Billops was also involved in women’s rights collectives and taught at Rutgers University and City University of New York. She co-founded the Hatch-Billops Collection in 1968 which consists of thousands of photographs, books and more that document the lives and careers of black American artists, as well as published the journal Artist and Influence: The Journal of Black American Cultural History since 1981.
Read the full story (Artforum)