Athens Art Thief Gets Suspended Sentence, Detroit van Gogh Suit Dismissed, and More: Morning Links for January 23, 2023

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The Headlines

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COURTHOUSE DISPATCHES. The man who stole three paintings from Greece’s National Gallery out of what he called “a passion for art” received a suspended sentence of six yearsKathimerini reports. Giorgos Sarmantzopoulos had admitted to stealing pieces by PicassoMondrian, and Guglielmo Caccia in 2012; he returned the first two and said the third was destroyed. The Associated Press reports that a judge dismissed the suit against the Detroit Institute of Arts  that was brought by a Brazilian collector who claims that it is exhibiting a loaned Vincent van Gogh that was stolen from him. The judge ruled that federal law shields museums from suits over works it borrows. And curator and artist Efrem Zelony-Mindell, who was charged with attempted enticement of a minor and possession of child pornography last month, has pleaded not guilty.

DICK POLICH, a sculpture fabricator who spent half a century helping artists realize ambitious projects in seemingly every scale, shape, and style, died at the age of 90 died in November, the New York Times reports. The list of giants that Polich assisted is formidable, and includes Jeff KoonsLouise Bourgeois, and Richard Serra. While working for a research foundry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (that received a grant to develop methods for making art), he earned an M.A. in metallurgy. He then was employed by a military contractor, but said that he decided to quit when an order came in for 50,000 gas-mask valves. He turned to art, founding Tallix in 1970 in Upstate New York, which would quickly become a key collaborator for vanguard figures. In 2019, he sold the firm, then called Polich Tallix, to another fabricator, UAP.

The Digest

The Hunterian Museum in London said that, when it reopens in March, after renovations, it will no longer display the skeleton of Charles Byrne, an 18th-century man who called himself the “Irish Giant.” What should become of Byrne’s bones remains hotly debated. He told friends to bury him at sea; they sold his remains for £500. [The New York Times]

How can you tell that art has been generated by artificial intelligence? Artists shared their tips with Wired: Look at depictions of hands, consider the logic of the composition, and more. “For the average person, I feel there isn’t that much time left before they won’t be able to tell the difference,” one said. [Wired]

The Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Paris just opened a show of works that were evacuated from the war-torn country. [France 24]

More from the City of Light: The Paris Opera is holding its first-ever fundraising auction, with lots that include an Anselm Kiefer painting (donated by the man himself), a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona (from the watch company), and a silver tiara (from dealer Bentley & Skinner). A digital auction starts today; top lots will be offered live next Monday. [The New York Times]

And still more from the French capital: At Paris Fashion WeekLoewe’s latest menswear show featured gigantic screens with two newly commissioned digital paintings by artist Julien Nguyen. He also created an image for the invitation that pays tribute to British artist Nicholas Hilliard (1547–1619). [@genusarchiteuthis1123/Instagram and Numéro]

Gallery INDEX in Seoul is currently showing vivid photographs of the city in early 1948 by an unknown photographer. They come from a collection of 560 Kodachrome slides that one of the space’s owners bought on eBay; he’s hoping that the exhibition turns up more information about the person who made them. [The Korea Times]

The Kicker

A COOL (GREAT-GRAND) DAD. Late last week, protesters spray painted a Frederick McCubbin painting at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in Perth, aiming to draw attention to their allegations that an energy company has been engaged in the “ongoing desecration of sacred Murujuga rock art” through its operations. Perspex covering the work protected it, and now a great-granddaughter of McCubbin, who died in 1917, has weighed in on what she thinks her forebear would have thought of all this. Margot Edwards, an artist herself, told the Guardian, “He would have laughed out loud and supported this very clever protest, which has not harmed his painting in any way and has opened an important conversation.” [The Guardian]


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