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International News Digest


The dealer Yvon Lambert, who recently considered moving his private collection away from Avignon, France, has had some encouraging news. As Agence France-Presse reports, the Avignon municipal counsel went through two votes, which ended with positive results for both the collection and its financing. The Lambert collection will receive an additional subsidy of $60,000 to cover an amount overstepped in the 2010 budget. Moreover, the city agreed to renew the agreement among the state, the collection, and the city for another three years, until 2013. Lambert, who loaned his collection to Avignon ten years ago, considered taking the 350 works away, due to what he perceived as the city’s lack of attention.

The collection was initially intended as a loan for twenty years with the idea of a future donation to the state and in Avignon, although the city’s mayor Marie-Josée Roig evidently took Lambert’s complaints to heart. “This collection, I wanted it [here],” Roig told the AFP. “It’s important for the city, and I am sure that it will remain in Avignon.”


After closing its doors in Berlin last August, the Temporary Kunsthalle has suddenly found an afterlife in Vienna. As Monopol reports, Vienna’s Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (T-B A21) plans to acquire the building after its deconstruction, and plans to rebuild it in Vienna to create yet another temporary exhibition site. Berlin’s Temporary Kunsthalle––a project initiated by Constanze Kleiner and Coco Kühn of Cube Kunsthalle Berlin––was mostly financed privately by Dieter Rosenkranz through his foundation Zukunft Berlin (Future Berlin). In Vienna, the Kunsthalle will be renamed Thyssen-Bornemisza Art (Con)temporary and will function as a both a project and exhibition space for five years. “It’s a great wish of mine to continue to make fundamental contributions to the development of Vienna as a location and to the cultural events of the city,” said Francesca von Habsburg, head of the T-B A21 foundation. The building should be dismantled by February 2011; the Vienna opening is planned for summer 2011. During its operation in Berlin from September 2008 to August 2010, the Temporary Kunsthalle hosted sixteen projects and welcomed over 200,000 visitors.


Oscar Niemeyer has found a novel and fitting way to mark his 103rd birthday. As Agence France-Presse reports, the Brazilian star architect celebrated by launching the Oscar Niemeyer Foundation in Niteroi, a city that lies on Rio Bay and is home to many of his spectacular buildings. The foundation building itself––54,000 square feet constructed in the shape of a snail and erected on a body of water––came with a price tag of five million dollars. The foundation will feature selection from the architect’s collections, including sculptures, projects, and architectural models.


The city of Vilnius has purchased part of the work of Lithuanian-born artist Jurgis Mačiūnas (George Maciunas) for approximately five million dollars. Eurotopics cites a report in the daily newspaper Respublika, which defends the decision against mounting public criticism over the purchase price. “Many people are outraged that the taxpayers’ money should be used to buy drawings and photos of posteriors, or everyday objects like matchboxes and pencils that you could buy in any store for considerably less money, or that we should buy bottles that the artist put in a cardboard box and called art.” But that’s only one side of the argument. “Other people defend [Mačiūnas’s] art and say it’s petty to show no appreciation for our countryman. In this context, it must be said that Mačiūnas was a cofounder of the Fluxus movement, and that this collection wasn’t purchased as a result of snobism, but for more rational and practical motives.”


The Louvre has succeeded with its online approach to funding new acquisitions. As Le Monde and Agence France-Presse report, last November, the museum launched an Internet site calling for public donations to acquire Lucas Cranach’s painting The Three Graces, 1531. In just over one month, five thousand people responded to the museum’s call and donated $1.3 million of the total $5.3 million needed for the purchase. After raising $4 million from its own coffers, the museum had until January 31, 2011 to come up with the remainder to buy the painting. The online donors, mostly French, gave sums ranging from $1–52,000, with an average of $200 each. Donations also came from small- and medium-sized businesses as well as French and foreign foundations. In 1998, the Louvre made a similar call for public donations to acquire Georges La Tour’s painterly rendition of Saint Thomas. In the era before the Internet, this previous call did not have the same rapidity, nor reach.


This past weekend, the Bulgarian capital Sofia revived history with an event featuring many of the figures of communism, from Lenin to Stalin. As Agence France-Presse reports, a group of twenty-something artists transformed an old building in the city into a museum to organize an ironic retrospective of the country’s socialist era, which many of the artists were too young to experience. Titled “Living SOC”––after an abbreviation used by post-1989 generations to designate the period of socialism––the museum included exhibitions and performances, including a portrait of the former Bulgarian leader Todor Jivkov and a chance for visitors to pose with a cardboard Stalin. “We want to have fun,” said Nedelcho Hazarbasanov, one of the organizers, who also insist that “Living SOC” is not political. “It’s more anti-political,” noted a manifesto in event. “It shows how the anti-generation of today perceives the regime of yesterday. We don’t have any idea of socialism, we are nothing but its bastards.” However anti-political, the event echoes with recent revelations that many Bulgarian diplomats working after 1989 were former secret service agents in the old regime.