A cannon that once saluted a Sinhalese king and a diamond looted from an Indonesian sultan are among thousands of objects seized during the colonial era whose rightful owners Dutch authorities are intent on tracking down.
But establishing who those owners are can be complicated, the national Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam argues.
It says at least 4,000 objects in its collections have clear ties to the country’s colonial empire, which spanned some 300 years from the mid-17th century and whose main centers of power were in Southeast Asia and the Caribbean.
The Rijksmuseum’s Head of History, Valika Smeulders, welcomed plans by the government to right what an independent commission this month called the “historical wrong” of continuing to keep valued objects taken by force during that era.
“The museum is really bringing in new knowledge, new voices, new expertise, new ways of dealing with the past and looking at these objects… We’re trying to bring down the walls of the museum,” she said.
The Dutch plan to set up an independent research center as a database for colonial-era art, including where it came from and how it was obtained, and assemble panels to handle restitution requests.
And that, says Smeulders, is where difficulties may arise.
The 36-carat diamond, for instance, was looted in 1875 by Dutch troops from of the Sultanate of Banjarmasin, now part of Indonesia on the island of Kalimantan.
Governments in both countries have changed many times since then.
“In this case, would you return it to the country? Or would you return it to the descendants of the Sultan,” she said. “And who would you do the talking with?”
The blue and gold Canon of Kandy, meanwhile, was seized in 1765 by soldiers of the Dutch East Company and displayed in the Prince of Orange’s cabinet of rarities.
It will go back to Sri Lanka next year, but initially just as part of a seminar with historians and art experts who will debate its provenance, along with dozens of other objects.
The Dutch moves to return seized art are running in parallel with similar initiatives in France and Germany, and broadly follow the 1998 Washington Principles that began the process of returning art looted by the Nazis during World War Two to Jewish heirs.
Source:- The Jakarta Post – Jakarta Post
Art Auctions Embrace a Future of Socially Distant Bidding – The New York Times
This article is part of our latest Fine Arts & Exhibits special report, which focuses on how art endures and inspires, even in the darkest of times.
It’s no surprise that art auctions aren’t what they were before March.
What’s unexpected, though, is the pace and scope of the pandemic transformation, in terms not only of how sales are conducted but also in every facet of the process — and how technology has enabled these changes.
“It’s been an opportunity to transform the industry,” said Bruno Vinciguerra, the chief executive of Bonhams auction house. “It was bound to happen over years, and it only took a few months.”
He added: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
Online auctions have been a growing part of the business for years, and potential buyers have long been able to send in a bid online or by phone, but in-person live sales had remained de rigueur for the most valuable items. A live event held in front of a crowd had an element of theatricality.
“Our business model is very particular,” said Guillaume Cerutti, the chief executive of Christie’s. “It’s based on unique objects and a strong component of face-to-face interactions with our clients.”
Major sales now have a whole new look, thanks in part to the impact of technology. When it became clear in the spring that people couldn’t safely gather in a room, the houses settled on a hybrid model that employed livestreaming to create the feeling of being there.
At Sotheby’s in June, during an auction on contemporary, modern and Impressionist artworks, the auctioneer Oliver Barker was alone in a control room in London fielding online bids and watching screens on which staff members in different locations relayed bids received over the phone.
The total after almost five hours was just over $362 million, with a Francis Bacon triptych garnering $84.6 million from a phone bid and a Jean-Michel Basquiat drawing selling for $15.2 million, in what Sotheby’s said was the highest successful online bid in its history.
“We were pleasantly surprised,” said Stefan Pepe, the chief technology and product officer for Sotheby’s. “Clients had comfort to bid at that level.”
At Christie’s in July, a similar livestream effort brought in $420 million. That auction — which replaced sales that would have occurred separately — featured smaller-than-normal audiences of bidders and onlookers gathered in person in both Hong Kong and Paris, as local health guidelines allowed.
Total sales for the livestream auction were lower than what the separate events would usually have brought, but level of engagement was high: Christie’s had 100,000 online viewers.
Earlier this month, the house held a live-streamed auction of 20th-century material — with a pregame show and color commentary — from its Rockefeller Center auction room. The sales totaled $341 million and the online audience increased to 280,000 viewers.
Christie’s and Sotheby’s weren’t the only ones trying a hybrid model.
“In the past we concentrated on the traditional auction room, and now we concentrate on the virtual auction room,” said Jean-Paul Engelen, the deputy chairman of Phillips.
“The future looks like a hybrid between the two,” Mr. Engelen added. “We’re asking, ‘Do you need 400 people in a room when only a fraction of them bid?’”
Bonhams has been focusing much of its tech development on reducing “bidding latency”: the time it takes for an online bid to be registered by auction house employees, as opposed to a live auctioneer spotting a raised hand.
“It’s critical to make it very, very low,” Mr. Vinciguerra explained. “It’s less than a second now.”
And it’s not just the actual sales that have changed. Many of the technological improvements are focused on the front end of the process: getting people interested enough to bid in the first place.
Phillips announced an exclusive partnership with Articker, an online tool that aggregates open-source data on artists and artworks, including articles and exhibitions, and provides clients with information and context that could guide their bidding and buying.
The hefty, glossy catalogs that auction houses have traditionally relied on are still being distributed, but they are being supplemented by more extensive online offerings that are “arguably richer,” said Mr. Pepe of Sotheby’s.
When clients who have a relationship with Sotheby’s log into the house’s online portal, they may now get personalized suggestions, which the house has been testing, Mr. Pepe said. A recommendation algorithm highlights lots that might interest certain bidders based on their previous activity.
For high-value lots, serious potential bidders would traditionally have gone to see the merchandise in person. Now, At Christie’s, augmented reality is offering an alternative. A buyer could see on a phone screen how that Matisse might look in her living room simply by pointing the camera at a blank wall.
Christie’s already offered the tool on some lots, but relied on it more when the pandemic hit. And so did clients.
“The average user is using it for nine minutes, which is an incredibly long time if you think about it,” said Matthew Rubinger, the head of corporate and digital marketing for Christie’s.
A new innovation this year is “super zoom” technology that allows anyone to examine a work in minute detail — every crack in an old painting and the patinated sheen on a bronze sculpture. “They can zoom in far beyond the naked eye,” Mr. Rubinger said.
But, he added, it was not meant to replace being in the room with a work. “We don’t want to recreate that experience, we want to enhance it,” Mr. Rubinger said. “Now our clients do both.”
Auctions need sellers as well as buyers, and houses have made it easier to consign artworks, too.
At Christie’s, an enhanced online portal helps sellers deal with contracts, track bids and see lot status, and provides three years’ worth of consignment information. Sotheby’s upgraded its online consignment tool, introduced in 2017, to make it easier to add information.
All the auction houses thought that their more tech savvy patrons would embrace the pandemic-era changes, but they have also attracted first-time buyers.
“New clients have been coming to us too,” said Mr. Cerutti of Christie’s. About 35 percent of all buyers so far this year were new to purchasing at the house, with much of the growth coming from online sales.
Mr. Cerutti also predicted that all-online sales eventually could comprise around half of the house’s sales; before this year, they were less than 10 percent.
Houses have also been unsure whether some of their older, more traditional clients would sign on to the brave new auction world.
“People haven’t adapted reluctantly, they’ve given us really positive feedback,” said Mr. Pepe of Sotheby’s.
At Christie’s, some traditional auction buyers made their first online auction purchases this summer, picking up Laurence Stephen Lowry’s oil “Coming from the Match” (1959) for $2.56 million and Tyeb Mehta’s oil “Untitled (Falling Figure)” (1965) for $975,000.
Next up for auction houses is the busy November season, traditionally packed with sales across categories. In the longer term, they must decide what the process will look like if a coronavirus vaccine is introduced.
“When it’s possible to have clients in a room we will do it,” Mr. Cerutti said. “It’s where we belong.”
But the new technological advancements likely won’t recede when that happens.
“The digital tools we’re able to share pre-sale, like super zoom, augmented reality and online galleries, they will stay around in the future,” he added. “They are now the new normal.”
Resilient Art YQL program offering a different experience at Lethbridge Soup Kitchen
The Lethbridge Soup Kitchen helps provide hot meals and a place in out of the cold for many of those in need in the community.
Thanks to an idea from a volunteer at the kitchen, and a Lethbridge College student, an art program called Resilient Art YQL has now been created for those who frequent the kitchen.
“I saw this huge need in this population for leisure and meaningful activity because I feel like we’re fulfilling these basic needs of food, water and shelter,” Resilient Art YQL founder Tannis Chartier said. “But we weren’t getting higher up on the chain to provide activity and meaning to their lives which is such a catalyst for bigger change.”
The artists who participate create pieces once a week which are then sold on the program’s Facebook page.
It’s only been in operation since August, but those who’ve attended a session say there are many benefits associated.
“It helps with dexterity in my hands and it keeps my mind from wandering about to other things like drugs and alcohol,” Chad Calfrobe, a participant at this week’s session, said.
The program not only provides entertainment and activity for those who partake, but it also has a tangible benefit.
The proceeds from the sales of the pieces go directly back to the creator to help them out.
“They don’t have a place to store their artwork so we sell it on the Resilient YQL page and the funds go back to their needs. So, I’ve helped people pay for medication, clothing, the odd Tim Horton’s card, lots of stuff like that since getting started,” Chartier said.
Organizers are trying to raise awareness about both the Facebook page for the broader community, as well as for those who come through the doors to try and grow the program to help more people.
Soup Kitchen executive director Bill Ginther says they’re always looking for different ways to get their clients involved in meaningful activity, and this new art program is a good step in that direction.
“It gets them off the street into a building where its warm, especially with this weather. I just think it’s great when we can collaborate in a way that can enhance the lives of our guests and that’s really what it’s all about.”
Source: – CTV Toronto
Art at the Gate festival moving online in effort to give art lovers a show – SaltWire Network
When people can’t go and see artists there is only one recourse to making things right.
You bring art to the people instead.
Enter the 2020 version of the Art at the Gate Festival taking place virtually from the scenic coastline of Twillingate and New World Island.
After a successful first run of the Art at the Gate Festival in 2019, organizers wanted to keep things going in 2020.
That was before a global pandemic and the subsequent restrictions snuffed out any semblance of a normal festival season.
Still, organizers were keen.
“We wanted to keep the name alive,” said festival chairperson Kathy Murphy-Peddle. “We wondered if we could come up with something creative.”
This year’s Art at the Gate festival is vastly different than its first edition.
With the inability to gather in person and appreciate the work being done by artists in the province, the festival turned online.
Work started in August to put something together for this fall.
As such, the Art at the Gate Festival is giving supporters the chance to paint along — or just watch — two of the province’s finest Plein air (outdoor) painters do what they do best.
In September, well-known landscape artists Jean Claude Roy and Clifford George visited Twillingate and completed an outdoor session in the region.
That session was recorded for the Art at the Gate Festival. Both of those sessions will be launched in the next week as the festival kicks into gear.
Each will be free for anyone who registers at the festival’s website. After you register, you will be emailed a YouTube link to each session that you can access on and after the launch day.
Roy’s session will air virtually on Oct. 25 at 1 p.m. Newfoundland time, while the session featuring George is scheduled to go online on Nov. 1 at the same time.
At time of writing, the Art at the Gate festival had more than 300 people registered, some of them will be viewing the sessions internationally.
“The interest is amazing,” said Murphy-Peddle.
George’s session landed him in Jenkin’s Cove portion of the region. He said there was strong wind as he got about to painting and shooting.
“If there is a plus (to the pandemic) is that it forced us to think outside the box. We’ve probably reached a bigger audience.”
“It was excellent,” he said of the session. “It was a wonderful place for scenery.”
When George was asked to be a part of the event, he was quick to say yes and lend his style.
The idea is for the viewer to be completely immersed in the painting as it unfolds in front of them.
Murphy-Peddle said how people choose to enjoy the experience is completely up to them.
They are encouraging people to settle into their studios or their homes and paint along. There will be reference photos posted on the festival’s website to help with that process.
Those who do paint along are being encouraged to send in photos of their completed works.
For those who might not be artistically inclined, they’re being encouraged to sit back and enjoy watching the paintings slowly come into focus.
“If there is a plus (to the pandemic) is that it forced us to think outside the box,” said Murphy-Peddle. “We’ve probably reached a bigger audience.”
Nicholas Mercer is a local journalism initiative reporter for central Newfoundland for SaltWire Network.
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