March 17, 2006

Boston MFA to Meet with Italy Over Disputed Artworks

The Boston Globe's Geoff Edgers reports that a month after the Metropolitan Museum of Art agreed to return to Italy objects suspected of being looted, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts has announced that director Malcolm Rogers will travel to Rome to meet with government officials making similar claims on MFA works. The visit, which is planned for late April, resulted from an exchange of letters between Rogers and Italy's culture minister, Rocco Buttiglione. “What we hope comes out of this is the exchange of information, information we have not received yet,” said MFA spokeswoman Dawn Griffin. “Right now, we don't even have a list of the objects” the Italians believe were looted and sold to the MFA.

March 16, 2006

Reina Sofía Extension Troubled by Leaking Roof

The Independent's Elizabeth Nash writes that the spectacular extension to Madrid's Reina Sofía modern art museum, hailed as a breathtaking achievement when it opened last September, had a serious design fault: the roof leaked. Days before the new wing, designed by France's leading avant-garde architect Jean Nouvel, was inaugurated by Queen Sofia, drops falling from the ceiling left marks on an important painting by the Spanish Cubist Juan Gris, Frutero y periodico (Fruitbowl and Newspaper). Nouvel's structure cost €92 million ($111.9 million) and took six years to build. The Reina Sofía was more recently in the news for admitting to the loss of Richard Serra's thirty-eight ton sculpture Equal-Parallel / Guernica-Bengasi.

March 16, 2006

LACMA to Display Returned Klimts

Suzanne Muchnic of the Los Angeles Times reports that five paintings by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt—looted by the Nazis and recently returned by the Austrian government to the family of Maria Altmann in Los Angeles—will go on view at LACMA beginning April 4. “It's a great thing for Los Angeles,” said Michael Govan, who was recently appointed director of LACMA and will take charge of the museum April 1. “There are so many of these stories about works moving around and leaving. It's nice to see such extraordinary works arriving in Los Angeles.”

March 16, 2006

Gagosian to Open New Gallery in Chelsea

Bloomberg's Katya Kazakina reports that Gagosian Gallery is converting a warehouse into a new gallery in New York's Chelsea district. This would be Gagosian's fifth gallery worldwide, its third in New York, and its second in Chelsea. “Even without opening another gallery, they have the largest repertoire,” said Daniella Luxembourg, a private art dealer and former president of Phillips, de Pury & Company. “They are the largest in terms of the space and the shows they are doing.” The new outpost, at 528 West 21st Street, comprises 9,200 square feet, and, according to the building's owner, Gagosian has a ten-year lease.

March 16, 2006

USC President Resigns From Getty Trust

The Associated Press reports that the president of the University of Southern California has resigned from the board of the troubled J. Paul Getty Trust a year and a half into his four-year term. In a letter obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Steven B. Sample said his responsibilities to the university “make it impossible for me to continue” as one of fourteen Getty trustees. His resignation was effective immediately. University spokesman Carl Marziali declined to elaborate. During his term, the trust went through a turbulent time in which its former antiquities curator, Marion True, went on trial in Rome. She is accused of having knowingly purchased stolen artifacts for the museum from Italy and has denied wrongdoing.

March 15, 2006

Pulheim Pulls Plug on Sierra's Gas Chamber

The New York Times' Sarah Plass reports that the town of Pulheim, Germany, has suspended an installation by Spanish artist Santiago Sierra that resembles a gas chamber after Jewish leaders and Holocaust survivors complained. For the piece, 245 Kubikmeter (245 Cubic Meters) the artist hooked the exhaust pipes of six cars up to the Stommeln Synagogue, flooding the interior with carbon monoxide. Stephan J. Kramer, the general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, has called the work deeply offensive, but the mayor of Pulheim, Karl August Morisse, defended it, saying that the gruesome facts of the Holocaust were “openly addressed.” The piece was to run through April 30, but a spokesman for the town said that a pause would allow for more debate.

March 15, 2006

Artist Jeroen de Rijke Dies at Thirty-Five

Artnet reports that Jeroen de Rijke, thirty-five, one half of the Dutch art team de Rijke/de Rooij, died of unknown causes last week while vacationing alone in Ghana. Early reports have speculated that the cause of death may be heart failure. Born in Brouwershaven, Holland, de Rijke trained at the Rietveld Akademie and then the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, meeting his collaborator Willem de Rooij in the process. The duo became known for films, photographs, slide-projections, and videos, often incorporating flower arrangements into works conceived of as investigations of the codes of social meaning. De Rijke/de Rooij represented the Netherlands at the 2005 Venice Biennale, and most recently their work was on display at New York's Friedrich Petzel Gallery. De Rijke's body is expected to be cremated in Rotterdam.

March 14, 2006

Picasso and Warhol Most Actively Traded Artists in 2005

Bloomberg's Linda Sandler reports that Pablo Picasso, who painted the world's most expensive picture, held his place as 2005's most actively traded artist, and Andy Warhol bumped Claude Monet from number two, according to French data service Canaletto's Venetian views propelled him to fourth place from 239th, and Picasso collectors raised $153.2 million last year from 1,409 works sold at auction. Fine-art auction prices worldwide last year rose ten percent, slowing from a nineteen percent run-up in 2004. The hottest art movement in 2005 was Dada, with an Artprice index of Dada works showing a rise of 137 percent. Italian futurists including Gino Severini added ninety-three percent.

March 14, 2006

Moore Sculpture Recalled in Wake of Thefts

Agence-France Presse reports that a bronze sculpture by British artist Henry Moore on loan to a university has been recalled to the Henry Moore Foundation early following a spate of thefts of other works of art. Reclining Connected Forms, a seven-feet long piece, had been on show at the entrance to Exeter University in southwest England. The recall follows a security review of works currently on loan after the theft of a two-ton Moore bronze, Reclining Figure, 1969-70, from the foundation's base. There have been about twenty thefts of large bronze sculptures in the London area in the last twelve months, prompting police to believe they are being targeted for their scrap value.