The Prodigal Rubens: Repatriation, Modernist Feuds, & Art World's Turmoil

Synopsis: The art world is abuzz with notable events: the return of a stolen Peter Paul Rubens painting to Germany after 80 years, Ontario's rejection of a controversial spa project on a modernist island complex, and the unexpected closure of Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. Notable firms include Buffalo AKG Art Museum, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, and Ontario Divisional Court.
Monday, July 1, 2024
Source : ContentFactory

The abrupt closure of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia has sparked outrage among its staff. Union representatives have accused the art school of failing to provide the severance, health insurance, and other benefits owed to its employees. They allege that the school's attorney and associate vice president of human resources offered no viable solutions, claiming financial data was non-existent. The union's statement highlighted the school's inability to comply with laws requiring 60 days' notice and pay before mass layoffs, calling the administration's response "insulting and unsubstantial."

Eighty years after it was stolen in the aftermath of World War II, a Peter Paul Rubens oil sketch has been repatriated to Friedenstein Castle in eastern Germany. The painting, "St. Gregory of Nazianzus" (1620), was a prized possession that vanished when the ducal family sold it post-war. The Buffalo AKG Art Museum in New York, which acquired the painting in 1952 from a New York gallery, agreed to return it for a "low seven-digit figure" below market value. This restitution marks a significant victory for cultural heritage.

In New York, the prominent Mitchell-Innes & Nash gallery announced the closure of its Chelsea space, shifting to a "project-based advisory" model. Established in 1996, the gallery has showcased artists such as Pope.L, Martha Rosler, and Jacolby Satterwhite. Founders Lucy Mitchell-Innes and David Nash indicated that the transition would allow for more flexible and targeted representation of select artists and estates.

Meanwhile, the Ontario Divisional Court has rejected a $350 million spa development plan on Toronto’s Ontario Place. Critics argued that the project would damage the landscape designed by modernist architect Michael Hough and disrupt the natural environment of the island complex. The court's decision was a relief for preservationists who fought to maintain the site's historical and ecological integrity.

In another significant development, the inaugural Art021 fair in Hong Kong has been rescheduled from July to late August. Originally planned as a conventional indoor event, it now includes an outdoor sculpture exhibition spread across four locations. This expansion reflects a growing trend towards integrating art within public and natural spaces, enhancing accessibility and engagement.

Patrick Moore, former executive director of the Andy Warhol Museum, has taken on a new role with Panarae Partnership Limited, a private equity and advisory firm. Moore will serve as an advisor for the forthcoming London edition of the South by Southwest festival, among other responsibilities. His extensive experience in the art world is expected to bring valuable insights to the firm’s operations between the UK and the Middle East and North Africa region.

In Paris, the iconic Moulin Rouge cabaret has restored its famous windmill blades, which had fallen off in April. The new aluminum and steel blades maintain the original design, ensuring the historical continuity of this cultural landmark in the Montmartre district. The restoration is a testament to the importance of preserving cultural heritage sites.

As the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., celebrates its 50th anniversary, director Melissa Chiu and other curators reflect on the institution's evolving collection. The museum's current exhibition features recent acquisitions that underscore its commitment to contemporary art and its ongoing mission to challenge and inspire audiences through innovative displays.

Finally, in the south of France, collector Christian Levett has opened Europe's first museum dedicated to female artists in a medieval building in Mougins. The museum, previously home to Levett’s antiquities collection, now showcases works by women from the 19th century to the present. Levett’s collection includes pieces by Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, and Cecily Brown, emphasizing that high-quality art by women remains undervalued compared to works by men. This initiative is a significant step towards recognizing and celebrating the contributions of female artists in the art world.