International News Digest

FEBRUARY 9

Nicolaus Schafhausen has fallen out with Bucharest Biennial organizers, and will no longer be curating this year’s festival, Martin Bailey reports in the Art Newspaper. Schafhausen—who’s Kunsthalle Wien’s director—was replaced by two curators in their twenties, Gergő Horváth and Ștefan Voicu, who now have less than two months to curate the sixth edition of the biennial.

According to the Art Newspaper, Schafhausen, who’d announced his resignation on January 29, chalked tension up to the fact that he wanted to focus on Romanian artists while festival organizers insisted on featuring international stars. A counter-statement released by the festival, however, takes a different—and more inscrutable—angle, saying that Schafhausen’s “conceptual approach . . . could generate a reputational risk” and that the biennial must be implemented in “an ethical manner.”

The Kunsthal in Rotterdam opened its doors to the public this month after extensive renovations overseen by OMA, which designed the original building in 1992. The building now features energy-efficient lighting, glass facades insulated with high-performance materials, and an updated climate system, all of which will reduce energy consumption significantly. The opening drew around 3,600 visitors, reported the Blik op Nieuws, which raved, “The results are there. The Kunsthal shines forth in all its simplicity and beauty.” The Belga News Agency, meanwhile, called the opening “a hit,” saying there was a long line at the entrance well before doors opened.

After Christie’s pulled eighty-five Joan Miró works earlier from auction, Portuguese officials are now blaming the auction house, reports Patricia Kowsmann in the Wall Street Journal. In a controversial move, the government had decided to consign the works—estimated at a total of $49 million—raising an outcry over the loss of what was considered the country’s cultural heritage. While a court denied a prosecutor’s demand that the consignment be canceled, it nonetheless ruled that the works had headed to London without authorization—leading Christie’s to call off the sale only hours before it was scheduled to begin this past Tuesday. “The auction house was responsible for dealing with everything,” prime minister Passos Coelho said, saying the Mirós should head back to Portugal to be exported with the proper paperwork. Coelho affirmed that the government intends to proceed with the sale.

A Balthus show has been canceled at the Folkwang Museum in Essen, after the museum said that the show’s 2,000 photos taken by Balthus of a model named Anna—many of them explicit—“could lead to unwanted legal consequences and the closure of the exhibition.” Julia Michalska reports for the Art Newspaper that Die Zeit had earlier lambasted the show’s contents as “documents of pedophilic greed.” The photographs were shown at a Gagosian Gallery show that closed last month; it was the first time Anna, as well as Balthus’s widow and daughter, had given their permission for the images to be exhibited.