November 26, 2004

Museum to Give Up Looted Painting Attributed to Chardin

The government of the UK ruled yesterday that an 18th-century painting which ended up in a British museum after being looted by the Nazis almost seventy years ago should be returned to the family of its rightful owner, Paul Kelbie reports in The Independent. The still-life, Le Pate de Jambon, which has been attributed to the French artist Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, has been part of the Burrell Collection in Glasgow since 1936. Last year, Glasgow City Council's repatriation group recognized the work as “Nazi loot” and referred the request for its return to the Government for possible repatriation or reparation. It is understood that six relatives of the original owners, who wish to remain anonymous, provided legal documents proving the work was sold by their ancestors—who ran a gallery in Germany—in 1936 to raise money for a bogus tax bill imposed by the Nazis.

November 25, 2004

UK Launches “Own Art” Loan Program

The Scottish Arts Council and its English counterpart launched the Own Art scheme across the UK yesterday to offer interest-free loans of up to Ł2,000 ($3,800) to prospective art collectors, Tim Cornwell reports in The Scotsman. Nine galleries in Scotland, selling works by many of the country’s leading artists, are among the first to sign up. The arts council says it has put “substantial” funds behind the scheme, where customers would pick an artwork, then fill in a form and hopefully qualify for credit while still in the shop. Loans are repayable in installments over ten months.

November 24, 2004

The Problems of Selling Digitally Reproducible Art

When it comes to the handling of resales and loans to public exhibitions, electronic editions—that is, digitally reproducible artworks—pose a new set of complexities, Marc Spiegler writes in Slate. For example, while collectors can produce unlimited versions of Assume Vivid Astro Focus's digitally-printed wallpaper for museum loans, they may create only one version for private use. And if they sell it, the collector is legally obligated to destroy his personal copy. Short of installing a Webcam in every room of all the collectors' homes, of course, these are hard provisions to enforce—and on the secondary market, the problems multiply.

November 24, 2004

Liverpool Makes Room for Ten Thousand Artworks

A huge arts and heritage center in Liverpool is a step closer to reality, Nick Coligan reports in the Liverpool Echo. With the appropriation of Ł31.5 million ($59 million) to pay for construction, the scheme to transform the city's central library into an arts and heritage complex is on schedule for Liverpool's Capital of Culture celebrations in 2008. The Liverpool council yesterday confirmed its plans to link the library with the Walker art gallery and Liverpool museum, creating space to display ten thousand works of art.

November 23, 2004

Central Park Gets Ready for The Gates

For two weeks in February, walkways in Central Park will be festooned with twenty-three miles of saffron-colored fabric gates, a public art project that Christo and Jeanne-Claude have been trying to realize for twenty-five years. The artists had unsuccessfully been trying since the late '70s to win city approval for the piece, The Gates, Central Park, New York, 1979 to 2005, until Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is a patron of the arts, agreed to it. Beginning next month, Newsday reports, 7,500 sixteen-foot vinyl frames designed to hold the fabric will be erected throughout the park at twelve-foot intervals. The fabric will be installed on February 12, 2005, the artists said, and will remain until February 27.

November 23, 2004

New Digital Technique May Help Reveal Art Forgeries

A new digital technique has been developed that can identify whether two works of art are by the same artist, the New Scientist reports. It can help to reveal fakes, and even discern if an artist used students to help with the painting process. While most forensic work requires a paint sample, the new technique is based on digital analysis of photographs. "Art historians can do things that we can’t. . . . But we can look at patterns in fine detail that our brains wouldn’t see,” says Hany Farid of Dartmouth College, who developed the method.

November 23, 2004

Director of Indianapolis Museum of Art to Step Down

The director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art resigned Friday because, he said, “my work here no longer offered the best fit for the museum,” S.L. Berry reports in the Indianapolis Star. Anthony Hirschel, who has been the IMA's director since November 2001, said his decision to leave was personal. Lawrence A. O'Connor Jr., retired CEO of Bank One Indiana, became the interim director of the IMA on Monday.

November 22, 2004

High Costs Threaten Restoration of Berlin's Museum Island

A proposal by the British architect David Chipperfield to regenerate Berlin's Museum Island, the city's historical heart, which boasts five museums in the former communist east, could be derailed because of the project's cost, Luke Harding reports in The Guardian. German federal auditors have criticized the scheme for a new entrance building which would lead to the neo-classical museums—including the Pergamon and its renowned collection of antiquities—by a series of tunnels. The building, with restaurants, lavatories, and cloakroom, is intended to stand beside the Neues Museum, designed by Friedrich August Stüler, which has been in poor shape since World War II, and is to re-open in 2008.

November 22, 2004

California Town Up in Arms over Art Galleries

In a Californian coastal idyll known for harboring creative types like Ansel Adams, Jack London, and onetime mayor Clint Eastwood, Terry McCarthy writes in Time, the latest public nuisance is also the city's very soul—art. With 120 art galleries in a town of 4,058 people, or one gallery for every thirty-four residents, the city council of Carmel-by-the-Sea voted last month to limit the number of new galleries moving into town. Carmel's leaders decided that the city, which earns no sales-tax revenue when out-of-state tourists snap up a watercolor, has reached aesthetic overkill—and Carmel's arts community is canvas-shredding mad.