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Friday, September 7, 2012

COMMUNITY UNITES TO REBUILD CLOCK TOWER DESTROYED BY EARTHQUAKE



Community unites to rebuild clock tower destroyed by earthquake
Thousands of fragments of medieval Torre dei Modenesi are sifted

By Ermanno Rivetti. Web only
Published online: 09 August 2012

The Torre dei Modenesi, a 13th-century clock tower destroyed in May by the two powerful earthquakes that rocked the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, has become a symbol of the damage done to the country's heritage. Teams of volunteers from across the country have now travelled to the small town of Finale Emilia to help salvage, collect and catalogue fragments of the 32 metre high tower, with a view to restoring it to its former glory.

This is a contrast to the situation in the similarly quake-damaged city of l’Aquila, Italy, where more than three years on residents have still not been allowed to return to their homes.

Volunteers have so far sifted through around 7,000 fragments of the tower, from red terracotta bricks and pieces of the clock to parts of the bell itself. The fragments are being stored in pallets in the courtyards of local primary schools, and it is expected that they will be transferred to a warehouse for the winter, where they will be studied further.

A spokesperson for the Direzione Regionale per i Beni Architettonici e Paesaggistici (the regional arm of Mibac, the Italian ministry of culture) has acknowledged the presence of civilian volunteers in Finale but has also stated that the official response teams are still evaluating the widespread damage to the region’s heritage and are not specifically focusing on the tower at this time. He added, however, that where it is possible “our priority is to rebuild damaged sites with the original pieces”.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

SURPRISING TEHRAN SHOW OF ART INSPIRED BY THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS



Surprising Tehran show of art inspired by the Stations of the Cross
Günther Uecker exhibition will focus on human rights abuses

By Gareth Harris. Web only
Published online: 08 August 2012

In a surprise move, an exhibition focusing on human rights abuses is due to open at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art next month. The show, dedicated to the German sculptor and kinetic artist Günther Uecker, includes 14 works from the series "The Human Abused: 14 Pacified Implements", which was commissioned in 1992 by the Berlin-based Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (IFA), a cultural organisation funded by the German government. The use of violence against foreigners based in Germany prompted Uecker to make the Arte Povera-esque works, incorporating materials such as nails, stones and ash.

"In these works, [Uecker] expresses his visions of life and life's suffering and tries to reveal, in his sensitive setting of signs, basic human drives: aggression, injury, destruction, setting against them gestures of reconciliation," says the institute's website, adding that the "injury of human being by human being" is the focus of the series. The works are based on the Stations of the Cross. These elements of Christian iconography may, however, raise eyebrows in the Iranian capital.

The exhibition (16 September-31 October) is also due to include 88 works provided by the artist who joined the Zero Group in 1961, an avant-garde Düsseldorf-based collective that declared art should be ultra minimalist, starting from "point zero". The show is funded by IFA, the German Embassy, the Goethe-Institut and the German publishing company Geuer & Breckner.


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CRANACH’S MADONNA UNDER THE FIR TREE RETURNED TO POLAND



Cranach’s Madonna under the Fir Tree returned to Poland
The painting, which was copied and stolen by a German priest, makes its way back to Wroclaw after 70 years

By Paul Jeromack. Web only
Published online: 07 August 2012

Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Madonna under the Fir Tree, 1510, has been returned to the Cathedral of St John in Wroclaw, where it had hung since the 16th century. This follows the news that Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Office for the Restitution of Cultural Goods knows that Raphael’s Portrait of a Young Man “is in a bank vault in a certain country”.

Unlike the Raphael, which for some time had been feared destroyed, art historians and Polish authorities knew the Cranach had survived the war. In 1978, it was noted in the revised edition of Max Friedlander and Jakob Rosenberg’s The Paintings of Lucas Cranach that “just when and how the original vanished is obscure, but according to credible testimony it survives and has been reportedly offered for sale on the international art market”.

According to Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the painting was taken from the cathedral in Wroclaw, then known as Breslau and part of German territory, to protect it from Allied air raids. Cranach was known to be one of Hitler’s favourite artists and it is possible that it was ear marked for inclusion in the planned Führermuseum, Linz.

After the war, the picture was returned to the Diocesan Museum, Wroclaw rather than the war-damaged cathedral. It had been broken in two and officials decided to have it restored. Siegfried Zimmer, a German priest and amateur art collector and painter, was commissioned to take care of the restoration work, but he instead had a copied made between 1946 to 1947 and stole away to Berlin with the actual Cranach. The hoax was not uncovered until 1961, when a Polish conservator examined the picture and found it to be a modern copy. The original passed through private hands until it made its way to an unnamed Swiss collector who held it until his recent death, when it was left to the Diocese of St Gallen.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

PORTLAND GETS SET FOR TIME-BASED ART



Portland gets set for time-based art
Oregon’s eclectic performance festival celebrates its tenth year

By Eric Magnuson. Web only
Published online: 06 August 2012

A rock ‘n’ roll tribute to the utopian designer Buckminster Fuller is one of the eclectic projects included in the Time-Based Art Festival, organised by the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art in Oregon (6-16 September). “There’s a lot of risk and potential failure and that’s what’s pushed us forward in the festival,” says its visual art curator, Kristan Kennedy.

This year’s festival, which includes performance art, theatre, dance, film and music and is held in venues throughout the city, features both international and local artists. Newcomers to the festival include the San Francisco filmmaker Sam Green, who is presenting his recent documentary The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller, complete with a live score from the experimental rock band Yo La Tengo. To celebrate the tenth edition, the artistic director Angela Mattox also wanted to include artists who participated in previous years, such as Laurie Anderson, who will be performing her personal and political work Dirtday! and the choreographer Miguel Gutierrez, who is weaving together a comic monologue and dance.

Describing how the festival differs from other art events, Kennedy says that the “artists are often in the room and the audience is invited to be in concert with them”. She has concentrated on the idea that physical works need not exist in a digital age for the exhibition “End Things”. As part of the show, the Italian artist Alex Cecchetti will tell a story through words, objects and drawings, which will then be retold throughout the festival by other artists, each passing the story onto the next. “It’s like a game of telephone [or Chinese whispers],” Kennedy says. “When Alex returns, the story isn’t his anymore.”


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

CONSERVATORS ALSO OPPOSE PLAN TO SIDELINE BERLIN’S OLD MASTERS



Conservators also oppose plan to sideline Berlin's Old Masters
One of world's greatest collections to be replaced by Modern art

By Julia Michalska. Web only
Published online: 03 August 2012

Conservators in Germany have joined the protest over plans to relocate the world-famous collection of Old Masters in Berlin's Gemäldegalerie. Under the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz's (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) plan, the estimated 3,000 works will move into the much smaller Bode Museum to make way for modern art including the collection of Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch. Any Old Master that cannot be displayed in the smaller space will go into storage for an estimated six years until a new space is found for the collection on the capital's Museum Island.

The move, which was announced at the beginning of July, poses a “significant conservation risk”, said a statement released by the Bonn-based Verband der Restauratoren (Association of Restorers) on 19 July. The association, which has around 2,500 members, argues that the Pietzsch collection should move into the Gemäldegalerie only when a suitable location has been found to accommodate the Old Masters. “Only then can transport be reduced and the possibility that large parts of the collection will disappear into stores for years be avoided,” the statement said. “Any handling, packaging and transportation—even within the building—means mechanical stress and climatic changes to the works, which weakens their substance.”

Around 12,000 people, including Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia, have signed a petition against emptying the Gemäldegalerie of its Old Masters. The petition was set up by Jeffrey Hamburger, an art historian at Harvard University. Earlier, the Verband Deutscher Kunsthistoriker (Association of German Art Historians) wrote an open letter to Germany's minister of culture, Bernd Neumann, protesting “vehemently” against the plans. But the Bundestag has already made €10m available for the renovation of the Gemäldegalerie, setting the wheels in motion for the move.


Monday, September 3, 2012

HIGH LINE OVER-UNDERSTATES JOHN CAGE COMMEMORATION



High Line over-understates John Cage commemoration
The composer’s minimalist film and sound work is somewhat lost in a small passageway on the elevated park

By Helen Stoilas. Web only
Published online: 03 August 2012

A screening of John Cage’s One11 and 103, 1992, opened without much fanfare on Thursday on the High Line, the elevated park along Manhattan’s West Side. Installed to celebrated what would be the composer and artist’s 100th birthday, the piece itself is a contemplative melding of sound and light, but its installation in a dim passageway detracts from the experience of viewing the work.

On the hot, late afternoon of the opening, the High Line was teeming with visitors, lounging on the wooden benches or strolling down the former elevated railway, enjoying the riverside views. After tearing ourselves away from the inviting refuge of wildflowers, it took a few minutes to actually locate Cage’s work. The piece is installed in the High Line’s 14th Street Passage, a corridor still under construction that cuts through the surrounding buildings. A screen is hung between two concrete pillars, on which Cage’s film, One11, is being shown while his composition 103 serves as the soundtrack.

Very few passersby seemed to realise they were walking by an art work (one visitor in fact was found napping on a nearby table) perhaps because for much of the film, the screen is blank or lit by simple, white shapes that could look like falling sunlight. Cage decribed One11 as “a film without subject. There is light but no persons, no things, no ideas about repetition and variation. It is meaningless activity which is nonetheless communicative, like light itself, escaping our attention as communication because it has no content to restrict its transforming and informing power.” Sometimes you can pick out snatches of notes or tones from the composition, but it is often difficult to hear the subtle music clearly over the low din of Chelsea traffic.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

SUBCONSCIOUS


MOBILE UNIT IN HUNT FOR RUSSIA’S BEST SELF-TAUGHT ARTISTS



Mobile unit in hunt for Russia’s best self-taught artists
The Museum of Everything is running a five-city talent search for outsider art show at Moscow’s Garage Center

By Eric Magnuson. Web only
Published online: 02 August 2012

The Museum of Everything, the largest travelling exhibition of outsider art, is taking its country-hopping roadshow to the streets of Russia for the first time. Throughout August, the museum is parking its mobile exhibition unit in a different city across western Russia, where it will become something like a talent-show stage, seeking out the country’s best, undiscovered self-taught and non-professional artists. The five-city tour ends in September in Moscow, where the city’s Garage Center of Contemporary Culture is due to show the museum’s top finds in a new pavilion.

“Russian self-taught artists are still relatively unknown outside the region and contemporary ones even more so,” says James Brett, the curator and founder of the Museum of Everything. “The museum hopes that this project will help give these artists the visibility they deserve so that we can bring them to the attention of the general public and curators and museums worldwide.”

Amateur artists at each stop will be asked to submit their work before the critical eyes of a variety of artists and curators, including the Russian artist Leonid Tishkov, the Ukrainian photographer Sergey Bratkov and curators such as Tamara Galeeva, who is the dean of art and culture studies at Ural State University. “International artists may also join us on the way,” Brett says. “It’s a flexible project and will depend on the [Russian airline] Aeroflot timetable.”


Saturday, September 1, 2012

CHRISTIE’S “CONSIDERING ITS OPINIONS” AFTER RUSSIAN PAINTING SETBACK



Christie's “considering its options” after Russian painting setback
Judge orders auction house to refund £1.7m to buyer of Odalisque

By Riah Pryor. Web only
Published online: 01 August 2012

Christie's is standing by its attribution of a painting to the Russian artist Boris Kustodiev, which is at the centre of a long-running authenticity battle after a judge in London ruled last week (28 July) that “the likelihood is that Odalisque was not painted by Kustodiev”.

Christie's was ordered to refund £1.7m to Aurora Fine Arts, a company owned by the Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, which purchased the work in 2005. The judge cleared the auction house of claims of negligence and misrepresentation.

A spokesman for the auction house says: “We are surprised and disappointed,” adding that it stands by its attribution to Kustodiev. When asked whether the company would appeal he says it is “considering its options.”

The painting is dated 1919 and depicts a nude woman asleep. It is known to have been exhibited in Riga, Latvia, in 1932 and first sold at Christie's London salesroom for £19,000 in 1989. It was sold again by the auctioneer to Aurora Fine Arts in 2005. Doubts are thought to have been raised by an art dealer soon afterwards. By 2010, Aurora had filed its lawsuit.

During the 20-day hearing, Alisa Borisovna Lyubimova, a research fellow at the State Russian Museum, St Petersburg, said she was “almost 200% sure” that the work is not genuine. The judge also noted in his summing up that she would not change her view even if shown contemporary documents tending to suggest authenticity. Max Rutherston, who works as a consultant for Bonhams, argued that the quality of work by artists is not always consistently high and concluded that the painting was by Kustodiev's hand.


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