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Dutch Committee Advises Government to Return Looted Art to Former Colonies – Vanity Fair

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The Netherlands follows France in recognizing that stolen work should be returned. But will it?

You may recall the early scene in Black Panther, in which Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger organizes a heist (or, depending on your point of view, repatriation) of art from a Western museum. This is in no way a new debate, but a change in attitude at some of the world’s great exhibition spaces may indeed be coming.

An advisory committee has just delivered a report to the Dutch government one year in the making, according to The New York Times. It recommends the return of artwork to the Netherlands’s former colonies in Indonesia, Surniame and the Caribbean. Should the Dutch government follow the guidelines, it would mean an investigative body will look at an object’s provenance when requests are made, and create a publicly accessible national database of all the colonial collections in Dutch museums.

This follows the spirit of something begun in France in 2018, but has seen, in actuality, very little movement. The Times reports that only 27 restitutions have been announced, and only one object, a traditional sword from Senegal, has been returned to a former French colony. The sluggish action in France has led to a Congolese activist named Emery Mwazulu Diyabanza making something of a Black Panther-esque move at a Paris museum in June. (He’d carried out similar actions at museums in Marseille and Amsterdam.) Diyabanza is currently on trial.

But The Netherlands, which, through the centuries, has enjoyed a reputation of being among the more tolerant of European economic powers, may work more quickly than France. There are, of course, complications like what to do about artwork taken from the colonies of neighboring countries (those decisions will be made on “the basis of reasonableness and fairness,” committee chair Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You said) and how to engage in dialogue with what would be the recipient nations.

“It would almost be neocolonial to presume to know what’s good for Indonesia or Suriname,” Stijn Schoonderwoerd, director of the Netherlands’s National Museum of World Cultures

Last year, Amsterdam’s Hermitage Museum cancelled its use of the term “Golden Age” to refer to Dutch 17th century advancements in art and science, citing that it obscured its economic entanglement with the transatlantic slave trade.

“Every generation and every person must be able to form his or her own story about history,” the museum’s 17th century curator Tom Van der Molen said. “The dialogue about that needs space, the name ‘Golden Age’ limits that space.”

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Art galleries on the brink as pandemic lays waste to plans – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Barbara Lewis and Will Russell

MUDDLES GREEN, England (Reuters) – This was to have been the year that an art gallery deep in the southern English countryside took the United States by storm with exhibitions of the extraordinary Lee Miller, a 1920s fashion model, surrealist and World War Two photographer.

Filming for a biopic starring Kate Winslet was also meant to have begun at Farleys House in Muddles Green, where the American-born Miller recovered from documenting the horrors of war and entertained guests including Pablo Picasso and fellow surrealist photographer and her former lover Man Ray.

Instead, the pandemic has put almost every plan on hold.

“It’s like a wasteland of tumbleweed,” said Ami Bouhassane, Miller’s granddaughter.

She curates the Miller archive with her father, Antony Penrose, Miller’s son with the surrealist artist Roland Penrose.

COVID-19 has compounded the uncertainty created by Britain’s departure from the European Union (EU), with a transition period ending on Dec. 31. That has left galleries anxious about how complicated it might become to stage shows and transport artworks abroad.

For more than a decade, Farleys House and Gallery has averaged four international exhibitions a year, loaned mostly around Europe, accounting for roughly a third of its revenue. Other income comes from rights relating to the 60,000 negatives in the Miller archive and from visitors to Muddles Green.

This year, it was planning on seven and to expand into the United States as part of a strategy to cope with Brexit. Two have gone ahead – one in Germany, traditionally one of its most important markets, and another in non-EU Switzerland.

A third show, intended for Europe, is being shown instead to Farleys’ trickle of socially-distanced visitors, while the other exhibitions are in storage.

Such problems are shared to varying degrees by art institutions great and small as visitor numbers no longer justify large-scale exhibitions and planning is fraught.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the entirety of the arts and culture sector,” said Arts Council England in an email. The body is helping to administer a government 1.57 billion pound ($2.04 billion) Culture Recovery Fund.

London’s Wallace Collection, which includes works by Rubens, Van Dyck and Titian, has also seen a 90% fall in visitors and has deferred exhibitions to next year.

“Financially it doesn’t make sense to do blockbuster shows at the moment,” Xavier Bray, director of the museum, told Reuters.

Commercial revenue from events, a shop and restaurant has dropped by 1.5 million pounds and the museum faces “a massive deficit” this year, Bray said. “Any help is going to be crucial to the survival of institutions like the Wallace Collection.”

($1 = 0.7717 pounds)

(Reporting by Barbara Lewis in Muddles Green and Will Russell in London; additional reporting by Gerhard Mey and Carolyn Cohn,; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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Art on Stone adapts to overcome pandemic challenges (4 photos) – OrilliaMatters

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It’s Small Business Week in Ontario. To celebrate, the Township of Oro-Medonte is turning the spotlight on five innovative small businesses that epitomize this year’s theme of entrepreneurial resilience and adaptation in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. The second of five articles, submitted by the township, focuses on Art on Stone.

Art on Stone is a Horseshoe Valley-based studio which turns treasured photographs into beautiful pieces of stone art using a unique printing technique.

Images can be provided by the customer or selected from a professional image library and then carefully printed on natural stone to make a unique keepsake or gift. Art on Stone specializes in high quality trivets, coasters and larger stone art.

It has been a challenging year for Art on Stone business owner Jan Novak who, prior to COVID-19, built his business by selling products at popular markets, festivals and retail stores.

At events like The Images Studio Tour, Muskoka Arts Festival, Bala Cranberry Festival and regional Christmas markets, customers could see, touch and feel his unique product.

Yet once these sales channels were suddenly eliminated, Art on Stone had to pivot quickly in order to keep the business going strong.

“COVID-19 forced us to rethink our marketing approach to selling our art online,” said Novak. “Our 2020 business plan, marketing plans and budget had to be completely revised. New ways of selling our product had to be created…from scratch.”

Over the winter and spring months, Novak spent countless hours working with web designers and e-commerce experts to build an innovative new website that allows people to upload their images and place orders for his stone art products virtually.

Novak revamped his website to allow users to create custom designs, and see how they look before confirming the order. Users can upload images that they wanted printed on stone, and place orders virtually.

Customers can select free curbside pickup or opt for flat fee shipping to most locations in Canada and the U.S.. He even added a YouTube tutorial video to help people understand the site better.

Building a boutique e-commerce site from scratch was a real learning curve for Novak, who had earlier plans to do this but never a sense of urgency to get it done. 

“We did extensive research over the internet to see how other unique and custom gift production companies designed their website in way that was attractive, engaging and easy to use,” he said. “Changes were being done daily and the launch had to be delayed until we were comfortable and satisfied with the design.”

During the summer Art On Stone helped to organize a fundraiser called Home Made Masks for Home Town Heroes. The fundraiser offered custom designed coasters with a special design to honour frontline workers in Barrie and Simcoe North. Some proceeds of these limited edition products were donated to a local food bank.

In the future, Novak plans to expand these special offerings and work with other groups, organizations and charities where he can provide assistance with raising funds and continue to give back to the community.

Check out Art on Stone at www.artonstone.com.

 

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2 Art Gallery Shows to See Right Now – The New York Times

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Through Oct. 24. Tanya Bonakdar, 521 West 21st Street, Manhattan; 212-414-4144, tanyabonakdargallery.com.

When the Museum of Modern Art inaugurated its latest expansion almost exactly a year ago — in another era — Rivane Neuenschwander’s installation “Work of Days” was among the most subtle and serene of the celebratory exhibitions. It consisted of a room tiled entirely with squares of white paper embedded with little specks — dust, hair and what not — the stuff continually floating to earth all around us, every second of every day. It was a perfect summation of this Brazilian artist’s modesty, and her love of the random, the collaborative and the ephemeral.

But things have changed for the worse since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and its frequent mishandling, especially in Brazil and the United States. Ms. Neuenschwander, like many people, is experiencing a certain rage. As a result, she has made some of the most furiously beautiful — and nonephemeral — works of her career: most notably the five violent, gorgeously colored tapestries and five small paintings on wood that are part of her series “Tropics: Damned, Orgasmic and Devoted.” They form the centerpiece of her unsettling exhibition at Tanya Bonakdar.

Credit…Rivane Neuenschwander and Tonya Bonakdar Gallery

Inspired by erotic Japanese woodcuts, these works feature piles of garments and entangled, vividly hybrid creatures whose parts are variously human, insect, reptile, plant or imaginary. Blood flows amid scenes of mutual, possibly ritualistic, destruction whose victims are apparently female but whose conflict reflects the state of the world. There are several visual echoes, including Goya’s “The Disasters of War” and the elegantly perverse beings of Leonora Carrington’s Surrealist paintings. (Contributing to the intensity: the creative textures of the tapestries’ red areas, improvised by their weavers.)

The tapestries are introduced by two dozen small gouache drawings of monsters in black and red, based on children’s renderings of their most pressing fears — including snakes, volcanoes war, horror films — culled from workshops conducted by the artist. A more characteristically conceptual piece involving soldiers’ postcards home comments on the senselessness of war. And finally, “Fear of,” a small textile combining appliqué, embroidery and paint whose sewn-on letters spell out some of the present’s daily terrors like fear of virus, fear of war, culminating in fear of the end of the world. This vividly vehement thing — populated by some of the monsters from the small gouaches — was made by Ms. Neuenschwander as she sheltered in place this summer. It is wonderful: small but concentrated, with a robust, unfussy handiwork that is rare in her art. It highlights a propensity that could be allowed to shine more often.
ROBERTA SMITH


Through Nov. 7. Ryan Lee, 515 West 26th Street, Manhattan; 212-397-0742, ryanleegallery.com.

Credit…Estate of Emma Amos and Ryan Lee Gallery

Part of what I’ve found difficult to handle about this year has been the constant uncertainty. Between the pandemic, national politics and climate change, much of life is in dizzying flux. Ryan Lee’s Emma Amos exhibition “Falling Figures” captures this feeling better than any other art I’ve seen since March. And most of the work was made between 1988 and 1992.

Ms. Amos, who died in May at 83, was a doggedly inventive artist. She used figurative painting, textiles and print media — sometimes all three in one piece — to represent the complexity of her identity as an African-American woman and to push back on the ways that Black life has been treated in white Western art. One of her motifs was the theme of the current show: figures falling or flying through abstract space, which is often painted with expressionistic jags and bright swaths of color.

Credit…Estate of Emma Amos and Ryan Lee Gallery

The characters in these works seem caught in physical and existential states of suspension. Many have their mouths open in expressions that suggest wonder as much as alarm — or, in the case of the artist’s self-portrait in “The Overseer” (circa 1992), a scream of righteous rage. Sometimes their bodies seem to float upward more than down, like the ghostly white figures in “Thurgood and Thelonious, Some Names to Name Your Children” (1989), who appear caught in a cosmic swirl. Rarely alone, they often look at or reach out for others — in “Will You Forget Me” (1991), the artist grips a portrait of her mother — suggesting that falling is not a solitary but a social experience.

Patterned pieces of hand-woven and African fabric appear in every piece, appended as clothing and used for framing; they add stability and exuberance. Although she never loses sight of the startling fear of tumbling into the unknown, Ms. Amos also contends that it offers a possibility worth celebrating: that of breaking free. JILLIAN STEINHAUER

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