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ON WEDNESDAY, Germany’s new coalition government announced plans to bolster the nation’s efforts to restitute Nazi-looted art, Catherine Hickley reports in the Art Newspaper. Proposals from the administration include eliminating the statute of limitations on claims, and establishing a central court to adjudicate cases. Also on Wednesday, the last of 14 works from the Cornelius Gurlitt Collection to be identified as expropriated by the Nazis was sold at Christie’s, Deutsche Welle reports. The drawing by the 19th-century German artist Carl Spitzweg was taken from the Jewish music publisher Henri Hinrichsen in 1939, and recently returned to his heirs. Gilbert Lupfer, who directs the German Lost Art Foundation, which investigated the Gurlitt collection, said that “there are still a lot of unknowns.” Some 1,500 works were found in 2012 in the possession of Gurlitt, whose dealer father, Hildebrand Gurlitt , was closely involved with the Nazis. Scholars have determined that the Gurlitts owned 300 of them before the war.
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THE STRENGTH AND BEAUTY OF ACHILLES. A huge ancient Roman mosaic dating to the third or fourth century has been found in a field in Rutland, England, about 100 miles north of London, the Associated Press reports. John Thomas, the project manager on the dig, termed it “the most exciting Roman mosaic discovery in the U.K. in the last century.” The Guardian reports that the discovery was made after a family went walking through the area during the coronavirus lockdown and came across some pottery. The artwork measures roughly 36 feet by 23 feet, was part of a villa complex, and shows the heroes Achilles and Hector battling in The Iliad.
Fotografiska, the for-profit photography museum that got its start in Stockholm in 2010, will open venues in Berlin and Shanghai in 2022 and Miami in 2023. ARTnews Top 200 Collector Mera Rubell declared the news a “tremendous win for Miami,” which is the location of her family’s contemporary art museum. [ARTnews]
Robert Jacobsen, a revered curator of Asian art at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, where he worked from 1977 to 2010, died on Wednesday at 77. During his time at the museum, he helped make it a leader in Asian art in the United States, growing its holdings in the area from 900 works to more than 14,000. [StarTribune]
New York’s Calderón Ruiz gallery, which focuses on Latinx artists, is becoming just Calderón, following allegations that cofounder Michael Ruiz withheld payments to artists at his Future Gallery in Berlin. Cofounder Nicole Calderón will operate the enterprise solo. Ruiz has not responded to press questions. [Hyperallergic]
In a newly declassified 1991 report, Britain’s ambassador to Greece said that the debate over the return of the Elgin Marbles “is an issue on which we can never win.” Earlier this month, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the British Museum, which holds them, should decide the matter. In a recently unearthed 2012 letter, Johnson wrote that in an “ideal world” the friezes would not have been removed , but that he favored keeping them in London. Greece has lately renewed its call for their return. [The Art Newspaper]
A 1787 letter written by Catherine the Great that emphasizes the importance of smallpox vaccinations is being auctioned at MacDougall’s in London on the first of the month, along with a portrait of the Russian empress by Dmitry Levitsky. The low estimate is £800,000 (about $1.06 million). [Financial Times]
It is a strong day for artist interviews. T: The New York Times Style Magazine checked in with Lubaina Himid, Artnet News with Paul McCarthy, the Guardian with David Shrigley (he wants your used tennis balls!), and the New York Times with Maya Lin—and some remarkable teenage boatbuilders.
SURF’S UP! Judging by the previews of Art Basel Miami Beach, next week is going to be a wild one in Florida. “There’s a lot of pent-up energy,” local collector and real-estate titan Craig Robins told Vanity Fair, which has a (long!) list of the luxury fashion-art events on deck. Dealers in the city also report buoyant business. Joshua Veasey, of the Fredric Snitzer Gallery, told the New York Times, “After being stuck inside for so long, there was a lot of redecorating. These are the problems of the wealthy.” A fair with 250 exhibitors—not to mention numerous satellite bazaars with plenty more—should hopefully provide them some additional solutions.