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Venice Biennale Represents Rebalancing in the Art World

A Nigerian art critic and museum director is the first African to curate the Biennale contemporary art fair that opens Saturday for its seven-month run, while female artists are representing more countries than ever in national pavilions — trends seen as an informal rebalancing in the art world.

There's Joan Jonas for the United States, Fiona Hall for Australia, Irina Nakhova for Russia, Sarah Lucas for Great Britain, Chiharu Shiota for Japan, Pamela Rosenkranz for Switzerland and Camille Norment for Norway. And those women are all from the more established Biennale participants in the Giardini, around one-third of the 89 national pavilions.

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Stolen First Edition of '100 Years of Solitude' Found in Colombia

A signed first edition of "100 Years of Solitude" by Nobel-Prize winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez was recovered Friday, a week after it was stolen at a Colombia book festival, officials said.

The novel by the Colombian writer, who died last year, was snatched from a locked glass case last weekend at the International Book Fair of Bogota. 

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Morocco Health Minister Says He Favors Abortion

Health Minister El Hossein Louardi came out in support of lifting Morocco's ban on abortion, saying women should control their own bodies, in an interview published on Friday.

He spoke to the weekly Tel Quel amid a debate sparked by the fact that hundreds of illegal abortions take place in the kingdom every day.

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Chinese Province to Ban Rooftop Christian Crosses

A Chinese province where authorities have removed hundreds of rooftop crosses from Protestant and Catholic churches has proposed a ban on any further placement of the religious symbol atop sanctuaries.

The draft, if approved, would give authorities in the eastern province of Zhejiang solid legal grounds to remove rooftop crosses.

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Russia's Tretyakov Gallery Targeted in Art Scam Probe

Russian investigators are carrying out a probe into art valuations by experts at one of the country's top museums, Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery, a gallery spokeswoman said Wednesday.

"The investigation is continuing outside the gallery's premises,"  spokeswoman Anna Kotlyar told Agence France Presse.

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Rio Museum Opens its Doors to Carnival's Anonymous Artisans

Jeff Koons' "Balloon Dog" and Henry Moore's "Archer" are among some of the world's most iconic sculptures competing for space at a new museum exhibition where one of Alberto Giacometti's signature figurines appears to stride boldly into the room.

It would be a world-class show if the pieces weren't copies made of Styrofoam, using the same techniques for making the floats in Rio's Carnival parades.

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U.S. 'Monuments Men' Group Returns Art Taken after WWII

The family of an American tank commander who won three historic paintings playing poker during World War II returned the stolen art treasures on Tuesday to their rightful owners.

Two more paintings acquired by a librarian while serving for the U.S. army in Germany in late 1945 were also handed over during a ceremony at the State Department in Washington after the families had contacted a U.S. foundation that tracks down missing artwork.

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Van Gogh Painting Fetches $66 mn at New York Auction

A Vincent Van Gogh painting fetched more than $66 million at a New York auction on Tuesday, the most paid for a work by the Dutch post-impressionist artist since 1998.

According to the Sotheby's auction firm, Van Gogh's "Les Alyscamps," which depicts a stand of autumnal trees, had been expected to go for around $40 million but ultimately an Asian collector paid $66.3 million after an intense bidding war between five potential buyers.

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Russia to Roll out Red Square Military Parade on Unprecedented Scale

Russia is pulling out all the stops for celebrations on Saturday marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany with 16,000 troops marching in a Red Square parade, along with hundreds of units of military hardware.

In a defiant show of military strength despite international condemnation over its actions in Ukraine, Russia will roll out new Koalitsiya-SV howitzers as well as cutting-edge Armata T-14 tanks for the first time. 

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Turkey Investigates Reports over Ruined Ancient Mosaics

An official says Turkey's Culture Ministry has launched an inquiry following reports that priceless ancient mosaics had been ruined while being restored and moved to a new museum in southern Turkey.

A newspaper in Hatay province said several mosaics at the Archaeological Museum were badly restored and seriously damaged while being moved to the museum's new premises in the city of Antakya. Hurriyet newspaper published before-and-after pictures of three of the mosaics, in which the restored versions appeared to be distorted.

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