International News Digest

AUGUST 1

A Chinese gallery that was to feature an exhibition of works by Sun Mu, an artist who defected from North Korea in 1998, has now cancelled that show—presumably at the command of the Chinese government. South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported that Chinese police blocked entrances to the Yuan Dian gallery, and removed Sun’s paintings, as well as the ad banners around the museum. Speaking to AFP, a staff member for the gallery declined to elaborate, only saying that the show had been “cancelled for internal reasons.” Sun, who creates works parodying North Korean propaganda, operates under a pseudonym, and doesn’t allow himself to be photographed, out of fear that his relatives in North Korea could be targeted.

Meanwhile, a museum in Donetsk has been raided by Ukranian insurgents, who made off with a World War II–era tank and howitzers, according to AFP. “They had written authorization to take them away,” said a confused guard stationed outside the World War II museum. Said one museumgoer present at the time, “Can you believe it? They're even stealing museum exhibits now.”

The French Ministry of Culture is considering keeping the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, and Versailles open seven days a week, in order to turn the flow of tourists into newfound funds for these institutions, which have been weakened after a decrease in subsidies. According to Le Figaro, Officials have drawn inspiration for the plan from cities like London, where all major museums remain open every day of the week, and New York, where the Museum of Modern Art doubled the number of its visitors following its 2011 decision to be open every day.

Versailles was the focus—or target—of another Le Figaro article earlier this month: Critic Christian Combaz, spurred by its current exhibition of work by Lee Ufan, asked if the palace was a “hostage of contemporary art.” Wrote Combaz, “We are told that it is precisely the incongruity of the monolithic contemporary art which is supposedly of interest in a place of refined history. This is a way of subverting the visitors’ values and incidentally offending the places of memory in order to avoid the retreat into a ‘historicizing’ culture. But the good apostles didn’t tell us that this comes at a cost of intellectual, sociological, and economic fraud.” Pointing out that this kind of work is often lucrative because it is “trendy,” and sold in galleries and private showrooms, Combaz notes that, unfortunately, France can no longer afford to reject shows promoting “this art.”

Amid glowing reviews of the current Malevich exhibition at Tate Modern, the Art Newspaper’s Sophia Kishkovsky tracked the debate over whether many works attributed to Malevich are actually fakes. Marina Molchanova, the owner of Moscow’s Elysium art gallery and a vice-president of the Moscow-based International Confederation of Antiquarians and Art Dealers of the CIS and Russia, is calling for “an international expert council to be created, to work on artists who worked in Russia and abroad,” and James Butterwick, a London-based dealer, believes that the works included in a recent Malevich catalogue include at least two works that are definitely fakes. “Poor Kazimir Severinovich [Malevich],” said Natalya Alexandrova, a senior curator of Modern paintings at the Tretyakov Art Gallery in Moscow. “He could not possibly have painted so much in his lifetime.” Others, however, point out that those who have stakes in established Malevich works have reason to prevent the market from being flooded by previously undiscovered art.