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The mystery of the painting thieves love

What is it about a Frans Hals painting housed at a tiny Dutch museum that has made it so popular with thieves, who have stolen it three times since 1988? Xiao Hua Yang/The New York Times.

by Graham Bowley


NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- “Two Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer,” a painting by Frans Hals, has hung in a tiny museum in Leerdam, a town in the Netherlands, for most of the past 248 years. One has to use the qualifier “most” because the painting was lent out on occasion, was moved for safekeeping when the Nazis came and — as many in the town know — it has been stolen three times. It went missing for the third time last August when the work, conservatively valued at more than $10 million, was taken three days before the 354th anniversary of Hals’ death. Left behind was a gaping space on the wall of the Museum Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden, an almshouse for unmarried women that also showcases the collection of its 18th-century founder, Maria van Aerden. “It’s really that painting for some reason, and I don’t know why,” said Christa Hendriksen, an alderman responsible for culture in Leerdam, a town of 20,000 best known for its glassworking. “I don’t h ... More



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Christie's announces online-only auction of Old Master prints   Key to prison where Napoleon died sells for £82,000   Lebanon returns two stolen 18th-century icons to Greece


Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Adam and Eve, engraving (1504, estimate: £100,000-150,000). © Christie's Images Ltd 2021.

LONDON.- Christie’s Old Master Prints online-only auction, open for bidding from 19 to 28 January 2021, offers a selection of fine and rare prints that span five centuries of European printmaking. The works presented range from a hand-coloured woodcut from the mid- to late-15th century by an anonymous German printmaker to an early-19th century French lithograph with watercolour by Carle Vernet. Albrecht Dürer is represented, in both woodcut and engraving, including a proof-impression of the Crucifixion from the Large Passion (circa 1498, estimate: £25,000-35,000) and two of his most iconic engravings: Adam and Eve (1504, estimate: £100,000-150,000) and Melencolia I (1514, estimate: £80,000- 120,000). Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait, wearing a soft Cap: full Face, Head only (circa 1634, estimate: £15,000-25,000) and Self-Portrait with Saskia (1636, estimate: £7,000-10,000) demonstrate the sensitivity and outstanding draughtsmanship of th ... More
 

"The Key to Napoleon's Room", circa 1815. Estimate: 3,000 - 5,000 GBP. Lot sold: 81,900 GBP. Courtesy Sotheby's.

LONDON (AFP).- The key to the room where Napoleon Bonaparte died as a prisoner on Saint Helena was sold by the British auctioneers Sotheby's on Thursday for £81,900 after a bidding war. The rusted steel key to the room where the exiled Emperor was a prisoner of the British achieved more than 16 times its estimate of £3,000-£5,000 as 11 bidders vied to buy it, the auction house said. Napoleon died in 1821 on the remote island in the South Atlantic where Britain sent him after he escaped from Elba, incarcerated in a mansion called Longwood House. The 13-centimetre (5-inch) key was brought back to Britain by Charles Richard Fox, an army general and politician, who visited the island while Napoleon was there. He is believed to have brought it as a gift for his mother who was a great admirer of Napoleon, the auction house said. The key comes in an envelope labelled by Fox as "Key of the Room at St Helena, in which Napoleon died & which I got there ... More
 

A picture taken on January 18, 2021 shows two 18th-century religious icons depicting Jesus and Mary that were stolen in Greece and were seized by Lebanese authorities during an auction in the capital Beirut. Lebanon handed back two 18th-century religious icons of Jesus and Mary to Greece today after they were seized during an auction on its soil, a judicial source said. AFP.

BEIRUT (AFP).- Lebanon handed back two 18th-century religious icons of Jesus and Mary to Greece on Tuesday after they were seized during an auction, a judicial source said. The paintings were stolen from an exhibition in Athens in 2016, and Greece put out an international notice calling for their return. Icons are Christian religious paintings, often of saints, and are viewed as sacred. Lebanon has launched an investigation, but it is not clear who stole them, or how they were brought to the country. "The person who bought the paintings at the auction in Lebanon was questioned," the source said, adding that the buyer was about to ship them to Germany "to sell them on at an international auction there." The paintings were handed ... More


Oldest city in the Americas under threat from squatters   Abbey Road studio doors that swung open to welcome The Beatles and other stars up for auction   Victoria Miro announces representation of Flora Yukhnovich


An archaeologist talks with AFP during a visit at the Caral archaeological complex, in Supe, Peru on January 13, 2021. ERNESTO BENAVIDES / AFP.

CARAL (AFP).- Having survived for 5,000 years, the oldest archeological site in the Americas is under threat from squatters claiming the coronavirus pandemic has left them with no other option but to occupy the sacred city. The situation has become so bad that archeologist Ruth Shady, who discovered the Caral site in Peru, has been threatened with death if she doesn't abandon investigating its treasures. Archeologists told an AFP team visiting Caral that squatter invasions and destruction began in March when the pandemic forced a nationwide lockdown. "There are people who come and invade this site, which is state property, and they use it to plant," archeologist Daniel Mayta told AFP. "It's hugely harmful because they're destroying 5,000-year-old cultural evidence." Caral is situated in the valley of the Supe river some 182 kilometers (110 miles) north of the capital Lima and 20km from the Pacific Ocean to the west. Developed between 3,000 and 1,800 BC ... More
 

The Abbey Road studio doors that gave access to the sound stages and recording studios from the foyer from 1931 to 1988. To be offered at Ewbank’s Auctions on February 25 with an estimate of £2,000-4,000.

LONDON.- Abbey Road, the world’s most famous recording studios, are 90 years old this year. To celebrate, Ewbank’s Auctions will offer the original foyer doors for sale on February 25. As the studio plan accompanying the lot shows, these were the main internal doors through which many of the leading names from every period of Rock & Pop, from The Beatles and Pink Floyd to Elton John and Michael Jackson, would have passed to reach the sound stages and recording studios. Most famously, this was the setting for The Beatles’ 1960s recordings with the ‘fifth Beatle’, their producer George Martin. Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – considered the most important album in the history of Rock and Pop – The White Album and Abbey Road were all created here. In fact, The Beatles recorded around 90 per cent of all their material at the studios between 1962 and 1970. Complete with their original bra ... More
 

Flora Yukhnovich, Barcarole, 2019. Oil on linen, 166 x 145 cm. 65 3/8 x 57 1/8 in © Flora Yukhnovich. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro.

LONDON.- Victoria Miro announced the representation of Flora Yukhnovich. The London-based painter, whose work was first shown at the gallery in a group exhibition in 2019 and has held two subsequent solo exhibitions inspired by a residency with the gallery in Venice, will have a solo show in London in 2022. Flora Yukhnovich is acclaimed for paintings in which she adopts the language of Rococo, reimagining the dynamism of works by eighteenth-century artists such as Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, François Boucher, Nicolas Lancret and Jean-Antoine Watteau through a filter of contemporary cultural references including film, food and consumerism. Variation is a driving force in Yukhnovich’s work with her mark making ranging from delicate flourishes to dramatic and gestural brushstrokes, heightening the rhythmic sensuality that plays throughout her ambitious compositions. Existing in a constantly fluctuating state between abstraction a ... More



Peter Blum Gallery opens an exhibition of works by Helmut Federle   Barbara Shelley, leading lady of horror films, dies at 88   Hindman Auctions appoints Tim Luke, industry leader, in key Palm Beach business role


Helmut Federle, Die Nacht der Krähe (The Night of the Crow), 2008. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 19 5/8 x 13 3/4 inches (50 x 35 cm). Courtesy the artist and Peter Blum Gallery, New York.

NEW YORK, NY.- Peter Blum Gallery is presenting an exhibition by Helmut Federle entitled, Basics on Composition at 176 Grand Street, New York. This is the artist’s fifth solo exhibition with the gallery. Helmut Federle has developed a body of work over four decades that is characterized by both painterly and geometric imagery rooted in spirituality, symbolism, and a closeness to nature. He engages in the tradition of geometric abstraction, renewing and expanding it, exploring the relationship between figure and ground, between order and disorder, between movement and stillness. Federle began investigating the “reclining H” in 1979 while living in New York, using the first letter of his first name as its basic, now iconic, form. Subsequently in 1992 and 1993 he primarily created the series entitled, ... More
 

“Blood of the Vampire” (1958).

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- Sometimes Barbara Shelley was the victim. By the end of the movie “Blood of the Vampire” (1958), the Victorian character that she played — her brocade bodice properly ripped — was in chains in a mad scientist’s basement laboratory. She was at Christopher Lee’s mercy in “Dracula: Prince of Darkness” (1966), although before the end she had fangs of her own. (In fact, she accidentally swallowed one of them while filming her death scene, which she considered one of her finest moments.) Sometimes she was an innocent bystander. In “The Village of the Damned” (1960), she was impregnated by mysterious extraterrestrial rays and had a son — a beautiful, emotion-free blond child whose glowing eyes could kill. Sometimes she was the monster, although in “Cat Girl” (1957) it wasn’t her fault that a centuries-old family curse turned her into a man-eating leopard. Shelley, the elegant queen of camp in British horror films for a deca ... More
 

Luke brings over 30 years of auction and appraisal industry experience to his role at Hindman.

CHICAGO, IL.- Hindman announced today the appointment of experienced appraiser and auction house veteran, Tim Luke, as Senior Appraiser and Auctioneer. Luke will help drive Hindman’s growth efforts in Palm Beach, Fla. and across the country, as well as expand our appraisal services. “We are thrilled to have Tim join the Palm Beach team,” said Alyssa Quinlan, Hindman’s Chief Business Development Officer. “The development of the Palm Beach market continues to be a key priority for the firm, and we are excited that Tim will help lead the way.” Luke brings over 30 years of auction and appraisal industry experience to his role at Hindman. Previously an Executive Vice President and Senior Appraiser at Gurr Johns, Luke focused on providing valuation services, evaluating collections, and preparing appraisal reports that comply with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice ... More



Black ballet dancer stands strong in Berlin racism row   Solo exhibition featuring a new body of work by Afshin Pirhashemi opens at Ayyam Gallery   Lawrie Shabibi opens 'The Lacemaker' by Farhad Ahrarnia


French ballet dancer Chloé Lopes Gomes poses for a picture outside the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, on January 7, 2021. Chloe Lopes Gomes, the first black dancer in the Berlin State Ballet, stands behind her allegations of racism at the company, which has launched an internal investigation into her complaints. Odd ANDERSEN / AFP.

BERLIN (AFP).- Berlin State Ballet's first black dancer Chloe Lopes Gomes said she has been made to feel different because of her skin colour since she first donned ballet shoes as a child. But after she was again subjected to what she described as "racism" at Germany's largest dance company, she has launched a fightback that has forced the State Ballet to launch an internal investigation into her complaints. In an interview with AFP, Lopes Gomes stood by her allegations against the Berlin company, arguing that it was time for the classical ballet world to address the issue. Recalling instances where she was made to feel uncomfortable, Lopes Gomes cited a rehearsal for a production of the 19th-century ballet "La ... More
 

Afshin Pirhashemi, Untitled, 2018 (detail). Oil on canvas, 150 x 200 cm.

DUBAI.- Ayyam Gallery is presenting Can You Keep a Secret?, a solo exhibition featuring a new body of work by Afshin Pirhashemi. In Afshin Pirhashemi’s work, black is a symbol for the power that cloaks femininity, truth, militancy and a worldview in which the stakes are high. His monochrome register never loses its dimensionality, although primary colours have begun to seep in, as well as the sheen of poetic fragments. The iconic women that populate Pirhashemi’s paintings like alter-egos – a recurring motif – are both alluring and forbidding, multiple and individual yet in this latest series, they have come into their own. Layered with different texts, their outlines stream into colours and forms, evading absolute capture. At times, they seem familiar, symbolic of the film industry and popular culture. Other times, they are imaginative – superheroes conjured by the artist. Often they appear as real characters, r ... More
 

Farhad Ahrarnia, A Certain Situation, no. 14, 2020. Oil and mixed media on canvas, 30 x 40 cm. Courtesy the artist and Lawrie Shabibi

DUBAI.- Lawrie Shabibi is presenting The Lacemaker by Farhad Ahrarnia, the gallery's opening exhibition of 2021, and the artist’s third solo at Lawrie Shabibi. Comprising images drawn from a diverse range of sources and media – the internet, printed or painted material, and composed with embroidery, painted metalwork and grooming items – the exhibition gives new insight into this Shiraz (Iran) and Sheffield (UK) based artist’s intriguing eclectic practice. Role-playing and performance, the perception of surface and the notion that appearances are skin deep are recurrent themes in Ahrarnia’s work, here expressed in four distinct groups of Embroideries. These include: faked portraits of Boko Haram brides depicting much older, attractive individuals in order to gain attention and sympathies; various white film actors in “Arab dress” portraying TE ... More




More News
Beeler Gallery reopens with lens-based exhibition November
COLUMBUS, OH.- Beeler Gallery at Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) reopens to the public with November, an immersive lens-based exhibition curated by CCAD alum Heather Taylor (Cinematic Arts, 2015). The exhibition, on view by appointment Tuesday, Jan. 19, through Saturday, March 6, 2021, features 12 emerging Columbus-based, national, and international artists: Dru Batte of Columbus; Natasha Cantwell of Melbourne, Australia; Cameron A. Granger (Cinematic Arts, 2016) of Columbus; Kalaktive collaborative duo (Bahareh Khoshooee and Sareh Imani, both of New York), Dawn Kim of Austin, Texas; Susu Laroche of London, England; Bobby T Luck of Columbus; Calista Lyon of Columbus; Adee Roberson of Los Angeles; Lexie Smith of New York; and Benjamin Willis of Columbus. For the ... More

Americas Society presents first U.S. show of Joaquín Orellana's útiles sonoros (sound tools)
NEW YORK, NY.- Americas Society presents Joaquín Orellana: The Spine of Music, the first exhibition of the Guatemalan composer's útiles sonoros (sound tools) in the United States alongside the work of contemporary artists. "Orellana is a key figure for both music and contemporary art in Central America, and his show expands our exhibition program's geographic and disciplinary boundaries," said Director and Chief Curator of Visual Arts at Americas Society Aimé Iglesias Lukin. The exhibition connects the musician's avant-garde sensibility with that of artists including Carlos Amorales, María Adela Díaz, Akira Ikezoe, and Alberto Rodríguez Collía, each of whom has spent time with the composer and created work related to his practice. "Orellana's útiles are interdisciplinary by nature, existing as visual objects waiting to be activated ... More

Julia Stoschek Collection presents video and sound installations from twelve artists
DUSSELDORF.- Perceptions of truth are widely mediated through moving images. While they can be used by those in authority to exert influence, this exhibition explores the ways in which time-based media can connect political ideologies with the desire to create a world of one’s own. Borrowing from various cultural narratives, the works expound on their potential to serve as an incubator for social mythologies. Traditionally understood as narrations about gods, creation, and sanctity, myths are stories that are widely shared and factually ambiguous. They tell unverified truths, educate and entertain at the same time, and create archetypes from simple characters. JSC On View: Mythologists addresses the tensions created between facts and fictions through the production of personal as well as collective narratives. The works each grapple with various ... More

New exhibition on view at Burrard Arts Foundation features works from Vancouver artist Annie Briard
VANCOUVER.- Prolonged exposure creates a sense of disconnect: staring too long, repeating words, looping audio. Repeating the same word again and again, it becomes meaningless, a phenomenon known as semantic satiation. Annie Briard examines this disorientation in the realm of vision, contending with the fallibility of human senses and the malleable nature of perception through images and light-based installations that create subtle rifts in what we think we see. By encouraging us to look longer, more deeply, and from a different stance, Briard’s work creates fertile dissonance, where the concreteness of reality begins to melt away. Briard’s work can be succinctly defined by two interrelated principles: colour and light. Photography, a medium she’s often worked in, is perhaps more governed by light than any other. In her photographic work, the ... More

New Orleans Museum of Art welcomes Natrang Stanley as Human Resources Manager
NEW ORLEANS, LA.- The New Orleans Museum of Art announced and welcome Natrang Stanley as the museum’s Human Resources Manager. Ms. Stanley officially began her role as HR Manager on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Ms. Stanley brings more than two decades of experience to NOMA’s HR department. Her work has involved cross-functional roles, with responsibility for human resources, training, and serving as a liaison to staff and leadership in the creation of an equitable work environment. Prior to joining NOMA, Ms. Stanley served as the Accounting and Human Relations Manager at Eskew Dumez Ripple+. “Ms. Stanley is an important addition to our team here at NOMA,” said Susan Taylor, NOMA’s Montine McDaniel Freeman Director. “Her experience spans multiple areas including human resources and finance in legal, higher education, ... More

SUNY New Paltz appoints Anna Conlan as new Director of the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art
NEW PALTZ, NY .- SUNY New Paltz announced the appointment of Anna Conlan as Neil C. Trager Director of the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, effective Feb. 1, 2021. Conlan succeeds Wayne Lempka, who has served as interim director since 2019, and Sara Pasti, who had served as director from 2009-2019. As Director of The Dorsky Museum, Conlan will oversee all collection, exhibition, education and related artistic programs and activities, in collaboration with the Museum’s staff, Advisory Board, and many campus and regional partners and stakeholders. She will also serve as administrative head of finances, fundraising, audience development, communications and staff development. “As the Museum enters its 20th anniversary year, it’s truly an honor to lead the team who will shape the next phase of The Dorsky,” Conlan said. “I’m excited to work with ... More

Basil twist in Paris: When puppets meet Baroque opera
PARIS (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- Where can American artists direct opera at the moment? For the puppetry prodigy Basil Twist, the answer was France. At the Opéra Comique in Paris, Twist has been busy readying a new staging of Jean-Joseph de Mondonville’s “Titon et l’Aurore,” an 18th-century Baroque opera. Although the French government’s current pandemic guidelines have forced all theaters to close to audiences, “Titon et l’Aurore” is set to have a virtual premiere on Tuesday on the streaming platform Medici TV, and will be free to watch for three months. “Titon et l’Aurore” is a three-act pastoral fantasy about a shepherd, Titon, who is in love with Aurora, the goddess of light. Other gods and goddesses try jealously to interfere, but the couple triumphs. While the original premiere, in 1753, was considered a success for its French ... More

Regina King: Speaking truth to power through her art
NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- “One Night in Miami,” which arrived on Amazon Prime on Jan. 15, is a fictional account of a real 1964 meeting of four legends. On Feb. 24 of that year, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X got together several hours after the boxer won his first World Heavyweight Championship. Although in real life they did share ice cream as they do on screen, in the film’s imagining, they also listened to music and vigorously debated their roles in and the goals of the civil rights movement. Set in Malcolm’s humble room at the Hampton House, a Miami motel that Black guests frequented, the acclaimed drama follows each of these men as they confront life-altering choices in their political consciousness and professional careers: — Malcolm (played by Kingsley Ben-Adir) is on the verge of leaving the Nation of Islam, ... More

How theater stepped up to meet the Trump era
NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- On the Tuesday morning in June 2015 when Donald Trump waved his way down, down, down a golden-edged escalator in Trump Tower to announce his presidential candidacy on a stage below, he set the United States on a trajectory that much of the country wasn’t anticipating. The theater, for one, was busy heading in a very different direction, and in a vastly different spirit. “Hamilton,” already a phenomenon downtown, would alight on Broadway in less than a month, powered by an exhilarating wealth of talent — people of color, almost all. Rebuking in rhyme the racism and xenophobia that have always been embedded in the American way, it was a potent emblem of the Obama years: This is what greatness can be. But the momentum that started with “Hamilton” in the theater only accelerated during the Trump administration. ... More

A theater serves as a courthouse, provoking drama offstage
BIRMINGHAM (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- One recent Monday, Sarah Buckingham walked into an auditorium at Birmingham Repertory Theater, strode up some steps to a platform and looked out at her audience. She was in full costume, with a wig, and everyone rose to their feet. It might seem like a star’s entrance, but Buckingham is not an actress; she is a judge, overseeing a criminal trial. Three national lockdowns in Britain, as well as tough social distancing guidelines, have hampered the business of England’s court system this past year, creating a huge backlog of cases. Since July, the country’s courts service has been renting suitable spaces — like theaters, but also conference centers and local government buildings — then turning them into temporary courtrooms. “I believe a large number of you are familiar with this building ... More

Amazon web drama draws the wrath of India's Hindu nationalists
NEW DELHI (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- Bollywood once again has fallen into the crosshairs of India’s Hindu nationalist ruling party — and major Western streaming services like Amazon and Netflix increasingly find themselves caught in the middle. Two separate criminal complaints were filed with police over the weekend against the makers of “Tandav,” a splashy new big-budget web series on Amazon. The complainants, which include a politician with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, have insisted that the government pull the series off the air or take out key scenes. Among other objections, they accused the series of disrespecting Hindu gods, belittling members of individual castes and sullying the office of the prime minister. If police find merit to the complaints, Amazon and the show’s promoters could wind up in criminal court. Ali Abbas ... More




An Insider's Look at Hokusai's Iconic Great Wave



Flashback
On a day like today, French painter Jean-François Millet died
January 20, 1875. Jean-François Millet (October 4, 1814 - January 20, 1875) was a French painter and one of the founders of the Barbizon school in rural France. Millet is noted for his scenes of peasant farmers; he can be categorized as part of the Realism art movement. In this image: The Angelus by Jean François Millet.



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