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Dutch art sleuth finds rare stolen copy of 'Prince of Persian poets'

A picture taken on January 16, 2020 at the apartment of Dutch art crime investigator Arthur Brand in Amsterdam shows a rare 15th-century book of poems by Shams-ud-din Muhammad Hafiz's "Divan". A stolen 15th-century book by the famed Persian poet Hafez has been recovered by a Dutch art detective after an international "race against time" that drew the alleged interest of Iran's secret service. The gold-leafed volume worth around one million euros ($1.1 million) was found to be missing from the collection of an Iranian antiques dealer after his death in Germany in 2007. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP.

by Jan Hennop

AMSTERDAM (AFP).- A stolen 15th-century book by the famed Persian poet Hafez has been recovered by a Dutch art detective after an international "race against time" that drew the alleged interest of Iran's secret service. The gold-leafed volume worth around one million euros ($1.1 million) was found to be missing from the collection of an Iranian antiques dealer after his death in Germany in 2007. It sparked a decade-long search for one of the oldest surviving copies of the "Divan of Hafez" -- the collected works of the poet who remains extremely popular in Iran and has inspired artists worldwide. But Arthur Brand, dubbed the "Indiana Jones of the Art World" for tracing a series of lost works, finally tracked down the tome via the murky stolen arts underworld. "This is a hugely important find for ... More

The Best Photos of the Day

France's Louvre shut by pension strikes   Oldest image of Venice discovered dating back to 14th century   Painting found in Italy wall is stolen Klimt

Members of the French forensic police hold a banner reading "A status for forensic police" in front of fake crime scene, with the Louvre in background, during a demonstration to demand "a real status" and consideration over the dangerous aspect of their work in Paris on January 15, 2020. STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP.

PARIS (AFP).- The Louvre museum in Paris shut down Friday after striking workers blocked the entrance, management said, in the latest protest against plans to overhaul France's pension system. Hundreds of disappointed visitors massed in front of the entrance to the world's most visited museum, some hurling insults at the striking workers, according to an AFP reporter at the scene. The blockade came as union leaders seek to widen opposition to the pension reforms, which have triggered the longest transport strike in France in decades. The unions are looking for a second wind as the movement starts to flag, with the proportion of workers at national railway operator SNCF falling to 4.6 percent on Friday. On Thursday, around 187,000 people took part in a sixth day of nationwide protests against ... More

Image of Venice supplied by the Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, II.IV.101, fol. 1v. With permission of the Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali e per il turismo / Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Florence.

ROME (AFP).- A Renaissance historian has unearthed the oldest known image of Venice dating from the 14th century, showing how even then the city of canals gripped the imagination of visitors. Sandra Toffolo, a researcher at the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland, found the sketch in a manuscript describing Italian pilgrim Niccolo da Poggibonsi's 1346-1350 voyage to Jerusalem which took him through the bustling port city. "The discovery of this view of the city is of great importance for our understanding of images of Venice, because it shows that even from very early on, the city held great fascination for contemporaries," Toffolo said in a statement published by Saint Andrews earlier this month. The drawing in pen, while quite rudimentary and lacking the linear perspective which was only to be adopted in the following century during the Renaissance, shows what appears to be a crowded city with churches, palaces with parapets, ... More

The 55 by 65 cm (21 by 26 inches) expressionist work could be worth between 60 and 100 million euros ($67-111 million).

PIACENZA (AFP).- A painting found stashed inside a wall at an Italian museum has been confirmed as the stolen "Portrait of a Lady" by Austria's Gustav Klimt, prosecutors said on Friday, two decades after the artwork went missing. The century-old painting was discovered concealed in an external wall by gardeners at the Ricci Oddi Gallery of Modern Art in Piacenza, northeast Italy, last month. The museum estimates that the 55-by-65-centimetre (21-by-26-inch) expressionist work could be worth between 60 and 100 million euros ($67-111 million), but notes the difficulty in estimating the work as it has never been sold on the market. "It is with no small emotion that I can tell you the work is authentic," prosecutor Ornella Chicca told reporters. Museum officials had initially said they could not immediately determine whether the painting was indeed the stolen Klimt until scientific tests were undertaken. Painted in 1916-1917, the expressionist work d ... More

Style legend Jean-Paul Gaultier retires from fashion   Ed Ruscha: He up and went home   Lorenza Mazzetti, wartime survivor and seminal filmmaker, dies at 92

In this file photo taken on January 29, 2007 French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier waves to the crowd at the end of his show in Paris. Martin BUREAU / AFP.

by Fiachra Gibbons

PARIS (AFP).- French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier shocked the fashion world Friday by saying his next Paris haute couture show will be his last. The flamboyant creator said he would be bowing out Wednesday with "a big party" to mark his 50 years in the business after his latest collection hits the catwalk. His brand told AFP that his high-end fashion and perfume business would live on, but that 67-year-old Gaultier was stepping back from designing clothes himself. "Rest assured, haute couture will continue with a new concept," said the designer, who made pop history by putting Madonna in a conical bra, invented the "man skirt" and brought body diversity to the runway. American singer Beth Ditto and the bearded Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst were among the atypical models whom he charmed into his party-like shows. The eternal enfant terrible dropped his bombshell in a typically jokey video message, shot as if he was giving an exclusive interview ... More

Ed Ruscha and his dog, Dexter, at his art studio in Culver City, Calif., Dec. 18, 2019. Carmen Chan/The New York Times.

by M.H. Miller

LOS ANGELES (NYT NEWS SERVICE ).- Artist Ed Ruscha has been based in Los Angeles since 1956, and has spent the better part of the past 60 years exploring that city’s iconography in a deadpan style that wavers between mundane and philosophical. He has documented — sometimes in black and white photographs, but mostly in oil on canvas — gas stations, parking lots, swimming pools, the apartment blocks of struggling actors, the Hollywood sign (which on clear days he used to be able to see from his old studio) and, in his large body of text-based paintings, the kind of transactional language one could imagine overhearing at a power lunch at any point in the last half-century, such as: “That was then this is now,” “Honey, I twisted through more damn traffic today,” “Pay nothing until April” and the iconic “Oof.” Aside from this city, its landmarks and their place in a kind of extreme version of Americana symbolism, the odd evolutions of contemporary ... More

A photo from 2013 by Eva Krampen Kosloski of Lorenza Mazzetti at her home in Rome. Eva Krampen Kosloski via The New York Times.

by Shelley Boettcher

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE ).- Lorenza Mazzetti, who as a child in Italy survived the wartime killings of her caretaker family by German soldiers and went on to help create an influential British film movement and write a prizewinning novel based on her experiences, died on Jan. 4 in Rome. She was 92. The death was confirmed by her twin sister, Paola Mazzetti. Mazzetti’s work spanned film, television, painting and book-writing; she even ran a popular puppet theater in Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori neighborhood in the 1980s. Her searing experience in World War II shaped her most acclaimed book, “Il Cielo Cade” (1961), a bestseller that won Italy’s prestigious Viareggio Prize. It was published in English the next year as “The Sky Falls.” As children, she and her sister were placed in the care of her aunt Cesarina Mazzetti and her husband, Roberto Einstein, a cousin of the physicist Albert Einstein. The cousins had grown up together in Germany. When Albert fled ... More

Painter resurrects a vanished Creole culture   Blanc sur Blanc: A group exhibition opens at Gagosian   Museum Ludwig exhibits a complete collection of Blinky Palermo's editions

The painter Andrew LaMar Hopkins at his home in New Orleans on Jan. 10, 2020. Akasha Rabut/The New York Times.

by Elizabeth Pochoda

NEW ORLEANS (NYT NEWS SERVICE ).- Dressed as his alter ego, the modish matron Désirée Joséphine Duplantier, artist Andrew LaMar Hopkins is a familiar presence on this city’s arts scene. His paintings, faux naïf renderings of 19th-century life in the city — particularly the vanished culture of New Orleans’ free Creoles of color — also keep good company. You can see these works in Nadine Blake’s gallery on Royal Street in the French Quarter, on the art-filled walls of Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in Treme, and in the rooms of collectors like designer Thomas Jayne and food stylist Rick Ellis. When a dozen of Hopkins’ paintings appear at the Winter Show at New York’s Park Avenue Armory on Jan. 24, they will be making their first foray north. Placed alongside 18th- and 19th -century portrait miniatures in the booth of Elle Shushan near the entrance of the show, these ... More

Lucio Fontana, Concetto spaziale, Attese, 1966. Water-based paint on canvas, 24 x 19 11/16 inches, 61 x 50 cm. © Fondation Lucio Fontana, Milano / by SIAE / Adagp, Paris, 2020. Courtesy Gagosian.

PARIS.- Gagosian is presenting Blanc sur Blanc, a group exhibition. A century ago, Kazimir Malevich’s Suprematist paintings heralded a revolutionary new interpretation of white, in which total abstraction suggests the utopian and the infinite. Since then, artists have deployed the achromatism of whiteness in an endless range of formal and symbolic ways, evoking states of emptiness and effacement, and summoning the raw potential of the blank page. Working in different contexts and with different ends in mind, the artists in Blanc sur Blanc find unexpected power and substance in what appears at first to be an absence or lack. In 1946, Lucio Fontana and his students drafted the Manifesto Blanco, a vision for a fundamentally new method of artistic production that demanded that artists engage with the real-world physicality of their materials instead of treating the canvas as an illusory, self-contained space. It was ... More

Flipper, [Pinball], 1970. Two silkscreen prints, two color (white/red) and three color (white/red/blue), as a diptych on offset card, je 85,5x66 cm. Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Ulrich Reininghaus Donation 2017/2018 © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2019. Photo: Rheinisches Bildarchiv, Cologne.

COLOGNE.- The German artist Peter Heisterkamp (1943–1977), who named himself after the mafioso Frank "Blinky" Palermo, is known for his objects, installations, and above all for the bright color fields of his fabric and metal pictures, which supposedly directly illustrate what they conceptually question: the sensual qualities of contemporary painting. Less well known yet no less clever and stimulating are works he created in editions: screen prints and offset prints, lithographs, objects, and a template for painting. Palermo made these editions throughout almost his entire career. They not only reflect his development from the 1960s to his early death in 1977, but also represent a deliberate expansion of his work. In the medium of reproduction, Palermo radicalized two fundamental questions: doubts ... More

Brazil's top culture official sacked over speech evoking Nazi propaganda   Puerto Rican graphic design leads Vintage Posters at Swann   Exhibition showcases an array of contemporary designer bookbinding artistry

In this file photo taken on July 18, 2019 Brazilian theater director Roberto Alvim gestures during an interview with AFP in Sao Paulo, Brazil. NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP.

by Ernesto Londoño

RIO DE JANEIRO (NYT NEWS SERVICE ).- President Jair Bolsonaro’s top culture official was dismissed Friday over an address in which he used phrases and ideas from an infamous Nazi propaganda speech while playing an opera that Adolf Hitler regarded as a favorite. The address by Roberto Alvim, the culture secretary, set off a furor across the political spectrum as Brazilians reacted with exasperation and incredulity. The outcry was the latest flash point in a broader debate over freedom of speech and culture in the Bolsonaro era. The president campaigned on a promised course correction after an era of rule by leftist leaders, whom he accused of trying to impose “cultural Marxism.” Critics say that he and his allies are taking a dogmatic approach to the arts, the public education system and to sexuality and reproductive ... More

Collection of over 350 Puerto Rican graphic design posters, including prints and serigraphs, 1960-2013. Estimate $20,000 to $30,000.

NEW YORK, NY.- Swann Galleries’s biannual offering of Vintage Posters on Thursday, February 13 presents a banquet of designs, ranging from Art Nouveau works of the late-nineteenth century to Puerto Rican graphic design from the 1960s to mid-2010s. The sale includes premier examples of sporting posters, cycling advertisements, as well as ski and winter destination images. Leading the sale is a collection of over 350 Puerto Rican posters by a veritable who’s who of Puerto Rico’s most renowned painters, designers and graphic artists. Showcasing works by Rafael Tufiño, Lorenzo Homar, José Rosa, Analida Burgos, and Antonio Matorell among a bevy of others, the collection was amassed by a studio assistant of Tufiño, Homar and Rosa in the 1970s and features posters dedicated to a number of subjects, and a spectrum of typographic, geometric and figurative styles. The offering is expected to bring $20,000 to $30,000. Following up on the ... More

Michael Wilcox, designer and binder of “The Poet of Them All”: William Shakespeare and Miniature Designer Bindings from the Collection of Neale and Margaret Albert, edited by Elisabeth Fairman (New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, 2016), bound in 2019 (detail). Collection of Margaret and Neale Albert, Yale JD 1961, photo by Richard Caspole.

NEW HAVEN, CONN.- The Yale Center for British Art presents Contemporary Designer Bookbindings from the Collection of Neale and Margaret Albert, an exhibition that explores the vast array of approaches to bookbinding techniques and materials. Featuring the work of the multifaceted designer and maker George Kirkpatrick, the exhibition also includes exemplars by more than thirty notable designer bookbinders working today, including Susan Allix, Hannah Brown, Gabrielle Fox, Michael Wilcox, and Robert Wu. All the works on display are a promised gift to the Center. The designer bindings in this exhibition have been selected from the collection of Neale and Margaret Albert. A longtime supporter of this vibrant aspect of the book arts, Neale Albert (Yale JD 1961) was elected in 2014 as ... More

Do not set out to make Mexican art, American, Chinese or Russian art. Think in terms of Universality. R.Tamayo.

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Delita Martin claims space for African American subjects with large-scale prints, drawing, sewing
WASHINGTON, DC.- Delita Martin (b. 1972, Conroe, Texas) creates large-scale prints onto which she draws, sews, collages, and paints. Martin claims space for her subjects, particularly black women, creating a powerful presence that simultaneously highlights the historical absence of black bodies in Western art. Through her work, Martin aims to create a new iconography for African Americans based on African tradition, personal recollections, and physical materials. A recurring theme throughout Martin’s work is exploring interconnections between past and present generations. She conveys these connections through symbols such as circles, a shape representative of the moon and symbolic of the female, and birds, which represent the human spirit. Masks, inspired by the Sowei and Ife masks of West Africa, appear in many of Martin’s works, signifying ... More

Zoé Whitley appointed Director of Chisenhale Gallery
LONDON.- Zoé Whitley has been appointed Director of Chisenhale Gallery. Taking up the post in late March 2020, she will succeed Polly Staple in leading Chisenhale’s acclaimed exhibition and engagement programme and in building on its reputation as one of London’s most innovative forums for contemporary art. Whitley is currently Senior Curator at the Hayward Gallery in London and has sixteen years’ experience of creating and delivering innovative and inclusive exhibition programming in some of the UK’s leading national museums and galleries. From 2013 to 2019, Whitley held senior curatorial roles at Tate Britain and Tate Modern, where she co-authored Tate’s Africa Acquisitions strategy and co-curated the landmark, critically acclaimed exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power. Whitley was selected by the British Council to curate ... More

First major UK exhibition of contemporary Irish artist leads Hastings Contemporary 2020 programme
HASTINGS.- This January, Hastings Contemporary is holding the first major UK exhibition of Irish artist, Anne Ryan, leading its ambitious 2020 exhibitions programme, and featuring alongside a retrospective of rarely seen work by Edward Burra, Graham Sutherland and Stanley Spencer, and a showcase of early career artists in the vanguard of art making. For Anne Ryan: Earthly Delites, Ryan created a new installation occupying the entirety of Hasting Contemporary’s main ground floor gallery space. Taking inspiration from Hieronymous Bosch’s Garden Of Earthly Delights, Ryan has curated a ‘pleasure garden’ of work assembled from throughout her career that invites visitors to wander around and get lost in her work, subtly insinuating ourselves directly into her paintings. Ryan is renowned for her ‘cutouts’ - highly coloured, constructed paintings made ... More

Illuminating the self: Fascinating exhibition at Hatton Gallery explores epilepsy
NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE.- A joint project between artist Susan Aldworth and a team of neuroscientists, engineers and clinicians from the Newcastle University CANDO project (Controlling Abnormal Network Dynamics using Optogenetics*) has resulted in a remarkable new kinetic installation at Hatton Gallery, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Out of the Blue explores the experiences of people living with epilepsy through art, while showcasing the cutting-edge brain implants being developed by the CANDO project to try and control focal epilepsy. Over fifty people living with epilepsy contributed their highly personal experiences to Out of the Blue. They came from all ages, diverse backgrounds, and from as far afield as Kenya, the USA and, of course, the UK. For many, it is the first time they have publicly shared their feelings, either as a sufferer, or carer, of someone living with epilepsy. ... More

Dana Lixenberg's first video installation on view at the Stedelijk Museum
AMSTERDAM.- Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam presents Imperial Courts (2015), a three-channel video installation by the Dutch photographer Dana Lixenberg (1964, Amsterdam). The work captures everyday life in Imperial Courts, a public housing project in Watts, Los Angeles. It is Lixenberg’s first video work and was purchased by the Stedelijk in 2017. The 69-minute video triptych immerses the viewer in life on the streets of Imperial Courts. An area notorious for its gang-related violence, Lixenberg’s scenes present the community in a very different light. She documents lazy afternoons; parties when the entire neighbourhood comes together to celebrate a local youth’s graduation. Another scene features women discussing fast food while braiding each other's hair. By interweaving images of celebration and banality, the film’s rhythm mirrors the ... More

Winter exhibitions open at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art
ROTTERDAM.- The winter exhibitions program at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, features: An exhibition with works by Athos Bulcão, Marcos Castro, Anna Franceschini, Ni Haifeng, Nicolás Lamas, Praneet Soi, Adriana Varejão, Ana Vaz, Bouke de Vries, Raed Yassin, and Karlos Gil & Belén Zahera. This group exhibition explores the immigration of a form, and the changing value systems that visualize national ideals and cultural identities. It focuses on blue and white ceramic to explore the way in which “cosmopolitan” objects come to be rooted in a national project. This kind of ceramic is referred to as Delft Blue in the Netherlands. In other countries, this kind of ceramic generally also points to their original provenance or political geography, like Talavera or Iznik. The exhibition is organized by guest curator Bernardo José de Souza ... More

Basil Beattie RA receives major solo exhibition
LONDON.- Huxley-Parlour Gallery are presenting an exhibition of works by acclaimed Royal Academician, Basil Beattie. The exhibition includes six large-scale paintings, that testify to Beattie’s skill as a mark-maker, and to his painterly ambition and expressive energy. Beattie is undoubtedly one of the most significant and singular abstract artists to emerge in post-war Britain, known for his monumental compositions, the physicality of his paint and gestural use of symbols and signs. Influenced by Abstract Expressionism, Beattie brought the grandeur and scale of the NewYork School to London. Dating from 1989 through to 2004, the works in the forthcoming exhibition chart the development of Beattie’s work throughout the 1990s. A defining era for the artist, this decade saw Beattie abandon his purely formal approach, and begin developing a new ... More

New exhibition at the Michael C. Carlos Museum presents depictions of Indian gods and goddesses
ATLANTA, GA.- The Michael C. Carlos Museum will present a series of vibrant photographs by contemporary artist Manjari Sharma; digital works, drawings, and paintings by Abhishek Singh; and modern chromolithographs produced by the Raja Ravi Varma Press in an exhibition entitled Transcendent Deities of India: The Everyday Occurrence of the Divine, on view January 18 through May 17, 2020. For Hindus in India, images of gods and goddesses are an integral part of religious practice. These images inspire worshippers and artists alike, populating the art of the region for thousands of years and demonstrating their power through hundreds of millions of daily encounters as part of rituals at temples, shrines, and other settings within India and the broader diaspora. Transcendent Deities of India offers modern and contemporary interpretations ... More

McMaster Museum of Art exhibits works by five North American artists
HAMILTON, ON.- Animals Across Discipline, Time & Space brings together works by five North American artists who use animal imagery to critically and dramatically address how we animals interact with the world around us. The exhibition was conceived and curated by McMaster history professor Tracy McDonald following a 2018 workshop she led that focused on human and nonhuman animals. Discussions revealed a clear connection among art, activism, the environment and animals, and inspired her to reach out to Carol Podedworny at the museum. “This exhibition addresses animals and their fates in our current climate and at our hands,” says McDonald. “The artists engage matters of colonialism, urban versus wild, extinction, pollution, livestock and the many outlandish impositions we burden nonhuman animals with for our own perceived needs ... More

When words and images come alive in one retrospective exhibition
NEW YORK, NY.- The Center for Book Arts is presenting the work of multidisciplinary artist and writer Warren Lehrer in the exhibition Warren Lehrer: Books, Animation, Performance, Collaboration in the Center’s Foyer Gallery. This solo exhibition explores the artist’s approach to visualizing poetry and prose in multi-branched projects through books, typography, animation, performance. His work explores the vagaries and luminescence of character, the relationships between social structures and the individual, and the pathos and absurdity of life. On view, a selection of work over the artist’s career, featuring books, archival inkjet prints, animations and clips from films and performances. As a fine art student, Lehrer was enraptured by the marriage of writing and picture making, only to be told by his teachers that words and images should always ... More

Marion Chesney, aka Mystery Writer M.C. Beaton, dies at 83
NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE ).- Marion Chesney, who in midlife began writing novels and produced more than 150, including mystery series written under the pseudonym M.C. Beaton that featured the endearing crime solvers Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth, died on Dec. 31 at a hospital in Gloucester, in western England. She was 83. The St. Martin’s Publishing Group, whose Minotaur Books published her Agatha Raisin series, announced the death. No cause was given. Chesney held an assortment of jobs, including several in journalism, before publishing her first novel in 1978. She wrote romances before turning to mysteries in 1985 with “Death of a Gossip,” the first of more than 30 Hamish Macbeth stories. A later novel described Hamish, the constable in the fictional village of Lochdubh in the Scottish Highlands, as “tall and gangly ... More

Creative Capital awards $3.5 million to 35 artistic projects
NEW YORK, NY.- Creative Capital announced the selection of 35 projects for the 2020 Creative Capital Awards. Exemplars of the sort of innovative, powerful, and challenging work that Creative Capital is dedicated to advancing, these awardees will receive up to $50,000 in project funding, supplemented by an additional $50,000 in career development services, for a total value of $100,000. The full list of recipients is below. These 35 projects, by 41 individual artists, were drawn from a pool of more than 4,000 applications and selected by a nine-member, multidisciplinary panel composed of awardees from previous years, expert curators, producers, and other arts professionals. In a departure from traditional awards panels, Creative Capital’s multi-step review process is not delineated by genre—the nine panelists deliberated together to select the awardees ... More

The Curse of the Lady of Shalott | TateShots



On a day like today, English fashion designer and photographer Cecil Beaton died
January 18, 1980. Sir Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton CBE (14 January 1904 - 18 January 1980) was an English fashion, portrait and war photographer, diarist, painter, interior designer and an Academy Award–winning stage and costume designer for films and the theatre. In this image: Marylin Monroe. © Sotheby’s Cecil Beaton Archive.

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