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International News Digest


Lars Nittve will be leaving his position as the director of Stockholm’s Moderna Museet on October 31. As the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Gunnar Herrmann reports, there is nothing dramatic about Nittve’s departure. According to the regulations of the Swedish cultural ministry, the director must step down after nine years of service, which Nittve will have completed this year. Slightly more dramatic is the anticipation surrounding Nittve’s successor. Although the Swedish state has not yet chosen a new director, several possible names are already circulating in the Swedish press, including Maria Lind, director of the graduate program at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College in New York; Daniel Birnbaum, rector of Frankfurt’s Städelschule; and Sara Arrhenius, the director of Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm. The museum has not confirmed any candidates.


Vittorio Sgarbi has been named as the curator for the Italian Pavilion at the fifty-fourth Venice Biennale in 2011. As Agence France-Presse reports, the Italian minister of culture, Sandro Bondi, made the announcement last week. The fifty-seven-year-old Sgarbi—art critic, politician, writer, TV personality, and art historian—has been criticized in the past for his close relations to prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, although Sgarbi has distanced himself from Berlusconi in recent years. Sgarbi was chosen to head acquisitions at Rome’s new Maxxi museum, which was designed by Zaha Hadid. In 2002, Sgarbi raised more than a few eyebrows by attempting to name art critic Robert Hughes as curator of the Venice Biennale, as reported on here.


Raymond Pettibon has been awarded the Oscar Kokoschka Prize for 2010. Endowed with twenty-eight thousand dollars, the prize, which Agence France-Presse calls “the highest distinction for contemporary art,” will be given to Pettion by the University of Vienna on March 1. Over Pettibon’s career, his drawings and texts have moved from album covers to art books and comics. Pettibon—born Raymond Ginn in 1957 in Tucson—opted for contemporary art after studies in math and economics. The Oscar Kokoschka Prize, created by the Austrian government in 1980 after the painter died—is awarded every two years to an outstanding contemporary artist.


Rafael Jablonka is closing his Berlin gallery. As the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s Lisa Zeitz reports, the Berlin gallery opened in 2006 and has been closed since an exhibition ended last December, before Christmas. Jablonka, who has run a gallery in Cologne since 1988, originally set up shop in Berlin with the hopes of gaining a greater audience. “I didn’t want to create exhibitions any longer in Cologne that were seen by no one,” Jablonka told theFrankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. While capturing larger audiences in Berlin, sales in the German capital were not as spectacular. A Mike Kelley exhibition in 2007 attracted up to three hundred visitors per day, but sales were ultimately made to a Cologne museum. According to Zeitz, the dealer felt as though he were running a kunsthalle. “I don’t see any economic perspectives in Berlin,” said Jablonka, who maintains only the gallery’s archive and administration in Cologne. While providing no specifics, Jablonka made some suggestions about the future. “I can imagine a sort of agency for a few of the artists whom I already represent.”


Usually, the police neither curate nor collect. But there’s nothing usual about the exhibition “The Metropolitan Police Service’s Investigation of Fakes and Forgeries” at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. As Agence France-Presse reports, the exhibition presents more than one hundred fakes seized by the police, from Giacomettis to Banksys, which would have been worth more than $6.5 million if they had been sold. The atelier of the famously prolific British forger Shaun Greenhalgh—condemned to four years and eight months of prison in 2007—has been re-created for the show. “Greenhalgh was probably the most diversified forger that we’ve ever encountered,” said detective Vernon Rapley of the police’s art and antiquities unit. Far from cultivating a signature style, Greenhalgh opted for diversity, which allowed him to work for seventeen years before being caught. In addition to works, forgers are happy to fake certificates of authenticity, signed by eminent specialists, to pass on their wares. “The Metropolitan Police Service’s Investigation of Fakes and Forgeries” continues until February 7.


Tracey Emin may have a new ax to grind: forgers and forgeries. As Agence France-Presse reports, Scotland Yard is investigating a network of forgers specializing in the works of the onetime “Young British Artist.” “We have identified a certain number of fakes, and an investigation is underway. We have carried out several arrests,” said Vernon Rapley, who heads Scotland Yard’s own department of art and antiquities. Two men aged twenty-one and twenty-three—arrested in November in Manchester and released with conditions—must present themselves to the police next month. They face charges of fraud and money laundering. Rapley made the announcement during a press conference for the exhibition on fakes at the Victoria and Albert Museum.


Emin has Scotland Yard working on her side, but A. R. Penck has faced what seems to be a more complex legal case around a forgery. As the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports, the German painter and sculptor has been given permission by a Düsseldorf court to call his bronze sculpture Der Franzose (The Frenchman) a fake. The case revolves around an allegedly stolen cast that was used to make the sculpture. In the course of the proceedings, the court also established that the burden of proof for the authenticity of the work lies with the collector, not the artist. The collector acquired the sculpture three years ago for nearly fifty-seven thousand dollars in a gallery in Bad Honnef, although the report names neither the collector nor the gallery. The sculpture carried the mark EA for “epreuve d’artiste” (artist’s proof). But Penck argued that his proofs were part of a group of six works and were always signed with “0/6.”