LOS ANGELES — A U.S. appeals court has ruled that a Camille Pissarro painting a Jewish woman traded to the Nazis to escape the Holocaust in 1939 may remain the property of a Spanish museum that acquired it more than a half-century later.
The unanimous ruling issued Monday by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is the latest — but possibly not the last — in a case that has wound through the courts of Spain and the United States for 20 years.
At stake is “La Rue St. Honoré, effet de Soleil, Après-Midi, 1898,” an oil-on-canvas work of a rain-swept Paris street that Pissarro painted as he gazed at the scene from his hotel window. Its value has been estimated at $30 million.
Lilly Cassirer’s father-in-law bought it directly from Pissarro’s art dealer and left it to her and her husband when he died. In 1939, she traded it to the Nazis in exchange for exit visas for herself, her husband and her grandson, who eventually settled in the U.S. Her great-grandson, David Cassirer of San Diego, has continued the litigation since his father’s death.
Neither Cassirer’s heirs nor Spain’s Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum dispute the painting’s early history.
What’s at issue all these years later is whether Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza made any serious effort to determine the painting was looted art when he acquired it from a New York gallery owner for $275,000 in 1976.
Also whether Spanish curators did their due diligence in tracing its provenance when a Spanish non-profit foundation acquired it and hundreds of other paintings from the baron’s collection in 1992 and created the Madrid museum that bears his name.
Lilly Cassirer’s heirs say she spent years trying to recover the painting before concluding it was lost and accepting $13,000 in reparations from the German government in 1958.
It wasn’t until 1999 that her grandson, Claude, who had vividly recalled seeing it hanging in the family’s German home, discovered it in the Madrid museum. After Spain refused to hand it over, he sued.
Attorney Thaddeus Stauber, who has represented the museum since the case reached U.S. courts in 2005, hailed Monday’s decision, noting that the painting was sold and resold to numerous legitimate and prominent collectors over the years before the baron obtained it, with none discovering it had been seized by the Nazis.
He said there also appeared to be no effort by Thyssen-Bornemisza or any other collector to hide it from the public.
“We’ve been transparent from the start of this case, and we’re very pleased that there’s been a trial now and it brings it to a conclusion, we trust,” he said Tuesday.
He did say the Cassirer family may appeal to the full 9th Circuit or even the U.S. Supreme Court.
The family did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday, but the president of the Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA denounced the decision.
“The Nazis murdered more than 6 million Jews, including 1.5 million children under the age of 12, and including 105 members of my family,” David Schaecter said. “How on God’s Earth can Spain fight so hard to deny a Jewish family its precious legacy that was looted by the Nazis? And how on God’s Earth can an American court ignore the unprecedented trauma of the Holocaust and reward Spain for its greed?”
Both U.S. District Judge John Walter, in a 2019 ruling, and the appeals court in Tuesday’s, criticized the baron and the Spanish foundation for not doing more to discover whether the painting was looted art. But both courts concluded there was no proof either deliberately hid that it was.
Both courts also criticized Spain for not living up to what the courts called “moral commitments” to return Nazi-looted art.
“It is perhaps unfortunate that a country and a government can preen as moralistic in its declarations, yet not be bound by those declarations. But that is the state of the law,” the appeals court said in its ruling.
Art and grieving: Painter Barbara Pratt honours mother Mary Pratt's life in new exhibit – CBC.ca
There was no cake waiting for Barbara Pratt on her 56th birthday, something that until that point had been a tradition shared between her and her mother each year to mark the annual celebration of life.
The warmth and love was missing for the first time.
Renowned artist Mary Pratt — her mother — died at 83 in August 2018. Mary made a career of painting hyper-realistic everyday scenes — including of baking — that resonated across the country and sent her to the top of the Canadian art world.
Today, Barbara Pratt’s newest gallery, starting Saturday at the Emma Butler Gallery in St. John’s, pays homage to her late mother.
“I had an idea back in 2018 to paint a painting of the cake pans, that’s in this exhibition, and I wasn’t really thinking about it in a really significant kind of way,” Pratt told CBC Radio’s On The Go.
“But after my mother died, in that same year, the image became more poignant for me and I started thinking about other possibilities for images. When my birthday came I realized there wouldn’t be any birthday cake from my mom that year, for the first time ever, really, and that hit me pretty hard and fuelled my creativity.”
Pratt picked up painting from her parents. She also picked up baking from her mother, something she says is taken seriously in her family — particularly with birthdays.
“It struck me that baking, and baking birthday cakes in particular, is essentially an act of love that you do for somebody else,” said Pratt.
“I don’t take baking birthday cakes lightly. I’m not going to bake a birthday cake for just anybody.”
‘It’s just part of what we do’
Pratt said the idea to paint cakes was obvious to her after going through some old family slides, many of which featured cake.
She said everyone in the family was happy in those captured moments, but added cake itself plays a role in societal norms.
“Cake in general has a larger picture in our culture. We have cake with many of our rituals and celebrations. Retirement, graduations, weddings, obviously, and even at funerals you bring baked goods,” Pratt said.
“It’s just part of what we do, and that’s the way my mom approached art. It’s the way I approach it as well. It’s about representing what you know.”
Pratt’s new works feature actual cakes designed by Maria Clarke of Petite Sweet in St. John’s and some of her own.
Eighteen of her paintings will be hung on the walls of the gallery from Sept. 19 to Oct. 10, and the memory of her mother and the paying of her tribute goes one step further.
Many of the paintings were used using Mary Pratt’s brushes, and even some of her own canvases that she never had the opportunity to use, said Barbara Pratt.
“I feel lucky, in that I have sort have been with her during the whole duration of creating work for this show,” she said.
“There were days were days when it was very emotional for me, but uplifting at the same time.… I don’t know that it helped, but I did feel honoured by the ability to use her brushes, and her paint, and well an awful lot more of her supplies as well.”
Art exhibit captures memories of a changing landscape through COVID-19 pandemic – NiagaraFallsReview.ca
We began lockdown toward the end of winter; still cold, we stayed inside. As spring opened up to possibilities, many of us took to the outdoors, walking our only contact with the broader community, awkward though those encounters might be, hailing neighbours at a careful distance.
Alliston, Ont., artist Gary Evans has been creating throughout the pandemic; some of his paintings are now being shown in an exhibition titled “Daylight” at the Paul Petro gallery in Toronto.
He, too, experienced the strangeness of the world and the way he was moving in it, differently. “Avoiding the few people out there and really relishing the freshness of the air and changing conditions of the spring, the walks and sights of the town and surrounding landscape became the subject of paintings,” he says. “I found myself trying to express the different textures of the landscape, capture a mood and witness change on a daily basis.”
A fence. A tree changing shape and the changing light.
“Intersections of architecture and nature always seem to catch my eye, and the painting ‘Alley’ is based on the view of a neighbour’s fence that runs beside a parking lot and an arena building. The small maples that peek over the fence mark the space or distance between the viewer and architecture.”
“Often I will start to paint an actual image, then slowly add marks and imaginative or abstract patterns and colours to complete the image in a more expressive and personal manner. I’m trying to create a dialogue between our inner world of feeling and subjective reality and the generic landscape we inhabit together.”
And now, we enter fall. The days shorter, the air crisper, the shadows longer. We’ll observe more carefully, wanting to etch moments in our mind. Some we’ll want to remember clearly, some framed, perhaps, with simply a sense of colours and lines and feelings. Memories to sustain us through a long winter indoors.
You can see the entire exhibition at the Paul Petro Contemporary Art gallery at paulpetro.com.
10-year-old Anishinaabe photographer makes art show debut at skatepark exhibition – CBC.ca
Ella Greyeyes came across photography by accident, when she filled in for a photographer who was supposed to take her dad’s headshot, but cancelled at the last minute.
The 10-year-old was instantly hooked. She started snapping more pictures: some of her mom, others of nature scenes. Her parents posted them on Instagram and Ella soon drew the attention of local artist Annie Beach, who suggested Ella get involved with Lavender Menace, a mentorship opportunity that will culminate in an art show at The Plaza skatepark at The Forks.
“I’m feeling really excited and just happy that I’m going to have my photos at The Forks,” Ella told CBC’s Weekend Morning Show host Nadia Kidwai on Sunday. “When people see my photos, I hope they feel joy in them.”
For Ella, photography was a new way to see the world around her.
“When I see something, I just like to frame it,” she said. “And I love to take pictures of nature. It just feels so good and relaxing.”
The show organized by Graffiti Art Programming gets its name from a term rooted in the American lesbian women’s movement for inclusion within feminism, said Chanelle Lajoie, a Métis artist who mentored Ella ahead of Sunday night’s opening reception. Lajoie said Lavender Menace was a chance to create space for Indigenous people and learn from each other.
“Working with Ella provided for me that intergenerational knowledge-sharing, because it was very much reciprocated on both ends,” Lajoie said.
“Ella really enjoying taking photography of nature … seemed [to] really fit well with the project of providing natural elements to a predominantly concrete space, and so it was a really perfect fit.”
Ella — who is Anishinaabe from Peguis First Nation and lives in Winnipeg — said she learned so much about photography from Lajoie, from how to use the different settings on her camera to how to make a person comfortable in front of her lens.
“You have to be happy when you take them,” she said. “You have to take them with some joy, because then it will make the person, the model, feel really good and smile and not be grumpy in every photo.”
Lajoie said the show at The Forks is meant to start a conversation about representation of Indigenous, LGBT and two-spirit people in a space so deeply rooted in Indigenous histories.
“That conversation will include us. It’ll bring up some uncomfortable realities. [But] our representation is also going to encourage inclusion and build community further,” she said.
“So I hope anyone who is at the show, whether it’s tonight or in the future, if they’re having difficulty seeking out their queer selves or their Indigenous selves, that they see this and see themselves in us.”
The Lavender Menace group art exhibition launches Sunday at 5 p.m. The event will run until 7 p.m., though the art will stay until next year.
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