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Week in Review is a weekly collection of news, developments, and stirrings in the art world. Subscribe to receive these posts as a weekly newsletter.
Bruce Berg, the US-based grandson of a Dutch art dealer during the Third Reich, is suing the Dutch government. He hopes to recover 144 of his grandfather’s paintings, which he was forced to sell to Nazis to pay to send his family abroad to safety. Berg said his uncle and grandfather were offered a deal: exchange Rembrandt’s “Portrait of Dirck Jansz. Pesser” to the Nazis, who would allow 25 members of the Katz family to leave the country (though 65 others were left behind and sent to concentration camps). They traded another work for the life of another family member who had been confined in a deportation camp. The Rembrandt was returned to the family after the war and given to the Los Angeles County Museum, according to Berg. Berg initially launched a suit 10 years ago but has filed a new suit in the US disputing the Dutch government’s claim that the works were not relinquished involuntarily or under duress. [Post and Courier]
The Eastern Orthodox Church has filed a lawsuit against Princeton University for the restitution of Byzantine-era manuscripts that are more than 1,000 years old but have been included in Princeton’s collection since 1942. The church leaders say the manuscripts were stolen during World War I from a monastery in northern Greece. Princeton asserts that it has carried out provenance research establishing that the manuscripts were not looted. The Church is also in talks with Duke University and the Morgan Library & Museum in New York to request the return of additional manuscripts they say were taken during the 1917 raid. [NYT]
Scholars and art enthusiasts now have access to a digital database of the late Austrian artist Egon Schiele’s work. The database now focuses on the Expressionist artist’s oils, prints, and sculpture (while drawings and watercolors will be added to the website next year). Jane Kallir, an expert author on Schiele and the co-director of Galerie St. Etienne, which specializes in Austrian and German Expressionism, is leading the project. “Several hundred works have been authenticated since the publication of the last print edition of Egon Schiele: The Complete Works in 1998,” says Kallir. “So an update was long overdue. It no longer makes sense to release such a publication in print form: books are very expensive, and out of date even before they hit bookstores.” You can access these newly catalogued works on egonschieleonline.org. [The Art Newspaper]
The halls of the National Museum in Brazil are now available for digital tours, thanks to a collaboration between the museum and Google Arts & Culture. Google, using the same technology interface as Google Street View, has digitally rendered exhibitions from the museum, which tragically burned down in September. Digital tourists can once again see (through their computer screens) some of the museum’s most treasured artifacts, including the oldest human skeleton in the Americas and the Bendegó meteorite. Google had been working with the museum in 2016 to complete the project. The Museum View was created using a combination of “high-resolution photography, photogrammetry, 3D laser scanning, and virtual and augmented reality.” [Quartz/Google]
Judy Chicago’s planned museum dedicated to her work in Belen, New Mexico has been met with stark opposition from local residents who find her feminist artwork distasteful. However, the mayor of Belen has promised to donate his 2019 salary — around $10,000 — to the museum, though it will not be city government-supported. The New Mexico Economic Development Department says if Belen had paid for a part-time employee and shared the profits from the museum, the city could have garnered $300,000 in direct revenue from the museum and $600,000 in tax benefits. “It seems like a smart investment,” the mayor said. “We’re going to be able to grow the local economy, support locals with an overall quality of life because we’ll have more tax money to invest in big projects for the city.” Chicago has lived in the town for three decades.
Renzo Piano’s design proposal to replace a Genoese bridge that collapsed in August, killing 43 people, has been officially selected by city administrators in Genoa. The Genoese architect promises his steel bridge, which he has offered for free, “will last for 1,000 years.” The construction is estimated at €202 million (~$229 million). [Art Daily]
Artist Subodh Gupta has stepped down as guest curator of the Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa, India following allegations of sexual harassment. The anonymous Instagram account Scene and Herd, a platform dedicated to calling out sexual assault in the Indian art world, first published the accusations that Gupta has inappropriately touched multiple co-workers. [Artnet/Scene and Herd]
The University of North Carolina (UNC) board of governors has struck down a controversial proposal to build a $5.3 million building on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus to protect the bronze statue of a Confederate soldier called “Silent Sam.” After protesters toppled the statue from its podium on campus in August, the university has been seeking a new home for the memorial to UNC students who left the university to fight for the Confederacy. According to The Art Newspaper, the UNC board chair cited concerns for public safety and objections to using state funds to preserve Silent Sam. The trustees are now considering additional options, including looking at off-campus locations. [The Art Newspaper]
New York-based photographer Lu Guang, who is renowned for his depictions of poverty and pollution, has been arrested by Chinese police while visiting Xinjiang, a region where hundreds of thousands of Muslim minorities have been detained. Guang has been missing since early November, but just recently his wife and family were given confirmation that he is in police custody. His wife, Xu Xiaoli, tells the New York Times that the police called Mr. Lu’s family in China and said that he had been arrested in Kashgar — an ancient city in southern Xinjiang. [NYT]
Another autonomous action at the @whitneymuseum in solidarity with the staff and against #safariland and for the removal of #warrenkanders from the board. Images via @dabejar pic.twitter.com/Zd6VHXr3sp
— DecolonizeThisPlace (@decolonize_this) December 13, 2018
A group of activists showed up at the Whitney Museum wearing shirts that read “Less Lethal Solutions” — the motto of Defense Technology, the company manufacturing teargas used on protesters at the US–Mexico border in November, and in Standing Rock in 2016. Defense Technology is a subsidiary of Safariland, the company owned by Whitney vice chair Warren Kanders. [Twitter]
For the staging of her ongoing performance, 12 Shouts to the Ten Forgotten Heavens at the Whitney, Sibyl Kempson offered printouts of activist group Decolonize This Place’s protest art opposing Warren Kanders. Kempson and the performers say they stand “in solidarity” with Decolonize This Place and their protests against Kanders and the Whitney administration. [ARTnews]
The National Galleries of Scotland have acquired Salvador Dalí’s “Lobster Telephone” (1938), which went on display this week at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. Dalí made a total of 11 plaster lobster receivers to fit telephones in the homes of Edward James, his main patron in the 1930s. Currently, a red version sits in the Tate in London, and the others are spread across museums around the world. The white version acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland remained with the Edward James Foundation in West Sussex and was recently sold at auction. It was set to leave Britain, but because of its artistic and historical importance was subject to “an export license deferral,” allowing UK museums the chance to match the auction price. Through the Henry and Sula Walton Fund and the Art Fund, the National Galleries of Scotland were able to acquire the piece for £853,000 (~$1,077,000).
This and other notable sales and acquisitions are chronicled in our latest Transactions story.
More News from This Week:
- Ontario’s Indigenous Culture Fund and Arts Council Budgets Are Slashed by Millions
- Why China’s Infamous “Copycat” Town Now Invests in Original Artworks
- Artwork Interrogating the Ethics of Technology Pulled from China’s Guangzhou Triennial
- After Release from Cuban Jail, Tania Bruguera Files Defamation Case Against Government
- After Shepard Fairey Halts Whitewashing of “Offensive” LA Mural, Art Community Responds
- Can an Outsider Artist Win His $100 Million Lawsuit Against NYC’s Five Major Museums?
- A Kiss in a 1898 Silent Film Is the Earliest Cinematic Depiction of Black Love
- Mexican Anti-Migrant Video Goes Viral, Before Artists Reveal It as Satire
- #MeToo Protesters Call Out Sexual Assault Allegations at India’s Kochi-Muziris Biennale
- Prada Accused of Blackface, Pulls Controversial Animal Charms from Retailers