International News Digest

SEPTEMBER 26

The fabled postdoctorial thesis of the eminent art historian Erwin Panofsky, on Michelangelo and iconography—which supposedly won him the chair professorship at the University of Hamburg—has been found, reports the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Its disappearance contains all the elements of a bookish Indiana Jones film––Nazis, betrayal, and a history professorship––as it was lost during Panofsky’s flight from Hamburg under the Third Reich. He immigrated to the United States, where he became a professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton and published many canonical texts until his death in 1968. His thesis was found not in Hamburg but in Munich, in the safe of art historian Ludwig Heinrich Heydenreich, a scholar of Leonardo da Vinci and star pupil of Panofsky. An astonished Germany has continued to hold its breath as historians try to figure out how this text came to be in Heydenreich’s possession. The complicated relationship between a professor and a student—or between a Jewish emigrant and a scholar in service of the Nazi party—has spurred a slew of speculation. What is known is that, after Panofsky fled Germany, Heydenreich became director of Hamburg’s art-historical seminar, and then became the founding director of the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in Munich, where the text was found in his safe. After World War II, Panofsky and Heydenreich had professional contact and reportedly much respect for one another, so why did Heydenreich not share his recovery of Panofsky’s manuscript? Or did he? The Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Willibald Sauerländer shed some light on the matter. Panofsky has historically distanced himself from his early writings on Michelangelo, as he tired of the subject, and (according to Sauerländer) developed a professional conflict with Austro-Hungarian art historian Johannes Wilde, who accused Panofsky of not crediting him with ideas gleaned from a conversation they had about Michelangelo drawings. Perhaps Panofsky didn’t care about the whereabouts of his lost work and Heydenreich was not malicious in keeping it a secret . . . but questions still remain.

It is the end of an era, perhaps, according to Le Monde’s report that the artists’ collective squatting in the iconic Kunsthaus Tacheles in Berlin has been evicted by police. The building between Friedrichstrasse and Oranienburger Strasse was originally claimed by art punks on February 13, 1990, but has been forced out of their hands much to the chagrin of Austrian Martin Reiter, the unofficial patriarch of the building. For two generations Tacheles, which is Yiddish for “straight talking,” was peacefully occupied by the downwardly mobile. Originally constructed as a shopping mall in the early twentieth century, the building has had many owners including AEG (the electric company), the Nazis, and Anno August Jagdfeld, a businessman who authorized the squatters by charging the collective a symbolic rent of one Deutsche Mark. However, HSH Nordbank became the building's owner in 2007 and is now emptying the building in order to spruce it up—to actualize its estimated $45 million value. Le Monde wistfully floats the question: Is this a sign of the times?

Meanwhile, the Fonds régionaux d’art contemporain, or FRAC, has inaugurated a new Odile Decq–designed building in Bretagne. which will house part of its impressive collection of regional French art, and will be the first in a wave of new constructions. according to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. After the FRAC Bretagne, the institution will expand into no less than five customized architectural buildings by 2015, making six totally new art-exhibition spaces in France.

Speaking of the new and renewed, the Swiss building Löwenbräu-Areal—which contains the Migros Museum and the Kunsthalle Zürich—has seen a major renaissance as a result of its redesign. The new site was redone by Gigon/Guyer and Atelier WW, and now houses several major galleries¬––Hauser & Wirth and Galerie Bob van Orsouw among them––as well. Die Zeit profiled Hedy Graber, cultural and social director of the Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund, who took charge of the revitalization of the retired-brewery-cum-art space. For the last eight years, Graber has acted as the cultural ambassador of the Migros Museum, which has also just recently reopened after a two-year hiatus.