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Spain’s minister of education, culture and sport, José Ignacio Wert, has dispelled any fears that some of the Museo del Prado’s Renaissance masterpieces could be transferred to a planned Royal Collections museum, due to open in 2016. Appearing on Spanish television, Wert assured viewers that the issue “has been resolved” and that the transfer of the works “will not happen”, reports EFE news agency.

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Priceless masterpieces by Renaissance masters including Raphael, Titian and Caravaggio could be seriously damaged by excessive heat and humidity following the collapse of the air conditioning system at the Borghese Gallery in Rome.

The renowned gallery is one of Italy's most popular tourist attractions with more than 500,000 visitors a year, but appears to be the latest casualty from dramatic cuts in arts funding.

Anna Coliva, gallery director, said the air conditioning had broken down two months ago and precious art works were now facing serious risk.

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Wednesday, 27 March 2013 16:53

Masterpieces Return to UK After 234 Years

A new exhibition sponsored by BP will bring over 70 masterpieces back to the UK after 234 years. The paintings, which originally hung at Houghton Hall in Norfolk, England during the 1720s, were part of Britain’s first Prime Minister Robert Walpole’s collection. The exhibition includes works by Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1591-1644) and Rembrandt (1606-1669), which will hang in their original positions in Houghton Hall.

The show opens on May 17, 2013 and has been met with some criticism. Many of the works on view are on loan from the Hermitage Museum and other Russian institutions as well as the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Critics feel that BP’s involvement is meant to benefit its relationship with Russia and that the company chooses its sponsorship events based on business rather than its interest in the art.

After Walpole’s death, his illustrious collection was sold to Russia for $61,355 and was sent from Britain 1779. Houghton Hall is currently owned by Walpole’s descendants and contains the furniture, bronzes, and antiquities that once belonged to the former Prime Minister.

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Tuesday, 05 March 2013 11:49

Google Launches Art Talks Series

Following the lead of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and PBS, Google will launch a series of monthly digital “Art Talks.” The project aims to bring gallery and museum collections to life through virtual hangouts with curators, museums directors, historians, and educators from the world’s most distinguished cultural institutions. The talks will explore various arts-related topics including the curating process, popular themes throughout art history, art education, and the significance of specific masterpieces and artists.

The first Art Talks hangout will take place at 8PM on March 6, 2013 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Deborah Howes, the museum’s Director of Digital Learning, will join a panel of artists and students to discuss the process of teaching art online.

Upcoming Art Talks include Caroline Campbell and Arnika Schmidt from London’s National Gallery discussing depictions of the female nude throughout art history (March 20, 2013) and a panel discussion of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s (1525-1569) Tower of Babel featuring Peter Parshall, curator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (April 2013). Additional talks are planned for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the Museo Nacional de Arte in Mexico.

The talks will be posted on the Google Art Project‘s YouTube channel after they air.

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Even in a long museum career, it is unusual to have the pleasure of working with the same objects more than once. I first met George M. and Linda H. Kaufman in the National Gallery of Art’s design studio in 1979, when they were lenders to In Praise of America: Masterworks of American Decorative Arts, 1650–1830. Subsequently, in 1986 the Gallery devoted ten rooms to an extensive exhibition based exclusively on the Kaufmans’ collection. A wonderful relationship was forged between the collectors and the Gallery, and the recent opening of Masterpieces of American Furniture from the Kaufman Collection, 1700–1830, celebrates the Kaufmans’ generous promised gift to the National Gallery. This permanent installation consists of more than one hundred objects from one of the most important privately assembled collections of early American furniture and decorative arts. The addition of the Kaufman Collection significantly enhances the National Gallery’s decorative arts holdings, providing open access in our nation’s capital to seminal examples of early American furniture.

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Wednesday, 23 January 2013 14:18

Arrests Made in Dutch Art Heist

Romanian authorities have arrested three suspects relating to an art heist at the Kunsthal museum in the Netherlands. The robbery, which occurred October 16, 2012 at around 3AM, was the biggest art theft in two decades in the Netherlands. The stolen works include masterpieces by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Claude Monet (1840-1926), Henri Matisse (1869-1954), and Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) and are believed to be worth between $66 million and $266 million. The paintings have not yet been recovered.

While little is being revealed about the arrests or the suspects, it has been reported that three men are being detained for 29 days at the request of prosecutors from the Romanian Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism. The suspects’ involvement is still being explored, but officials believe the stolen works might be hidden in an undisclosed location in Romania.

The seven stolen paintings, which are part of the private Triton Foundation collection, include Picasso’s Harlequin Head (1971); Monet’s Waterloo Bridge, London and Charing Cross Bridge, London (1901); Matisse’s Reading Girl in White and Yellow (1919); Gauguin’s Girl in Front of Open Window (1898); Meyer de Haan’s (1852-1895) Self Portrait (circa 1890); and Lucian Freud’s (1922-2011) Woman with Eyes Closed (2002). The Triton collection, which was assembled over the course of 20 years, includes more than 150 works of modern art ranging from the 19th century to the present day and spans a number of important art movements.

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As part of a yearlong celebration of Italian culture hosted by Italy’s foreign minister, Michelangelo’s (1475-1564) iconic work, David-Apollo, will be go on view today at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata unveiled the sculpture yesterday, December 12. David-Apollo will be on view in the West Building’s Italian galleries through March 3, 2013.

Michelangelo carved David-Apollo in 1530 for Baccio Valori, who served as the interim governor of Florence per the Medici pope Clement VII’s appointment. Michelangelo and the pope were at political odds, but the artist wished to make peace with the Medici through his work. Michelangelo never finished David-Apollo as he left Italy and never returned after Clement VII’s death.

Part of the Museo Nazionale del Barello’s collection in Florence, David-Apollo traveled to the National Gallery once before in 1949. The masterpiece’s installation in Washington over sixty years ago coincided with former president Harry Truman’s inaugural reception and attracted more than 791,000 visitors. In 2013, David-Apollo’s presentation will coincide with President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

The Year of Italian Culture, launched by Sant’Agata under the auspices of the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, will bring a range of Italian masterpieces to nearly 70 cultural institutions across the United States. Works range from classical and Renaissance to baroque and contemporary and cover the realms of art, music, theater, cinema, literature, science, design, fashion, and cuisine.    

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Over fifty major works totaling about $64 million were offered as payment to the UK for nearly $40 million worth of inheritance tax that accumulated between 2010 and 2012. Those in control of the estates of authors, artists, and collectors have been allowed to use cultural and historical artifacts to pay the tax since 1910.

The UK has recently received a number of masterpieces including two oil portraits of aristocratic families by Sir Joshua Reynolds, a renowned 18th century English artist. One portrait will be placed in the Tate and the other will go to the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Other works include two landscapes by JMW Turner; an oil sketch by Peter Paul Rubens titled The Triumph of Venus that will be placed in Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum; a work by Italian 17th century master Guernico that has been allocated to the National Gallery; and four sculptures and three works on paper by Barbara Hepworth.

The ability to donate significant works to pay off inheritance tax has introduced a number of remarkable pieces to the UK’s galleries and museums, bringing monumental works out from behind closed doors and into the public arena.

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Wednesday, 26 September 2012 22:19

Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum Closes, Paintings Moved

This past Sunday, 75 Van Gogh paintings including Sunflowers, Irises, and Bedroom, were pulled off the walls of Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum and transported across the city in an armored car. The masterpieces will be on view for the next seven months at the Hermitage, an Amsterdam dependency of the Russian state museum, while the Van Gogh Museum undergoes renovations.

Moving irreplaceable works of art proved to be no easy task. Each painting was loaded onto felt-covered trolleys and taken to a workshop where they were wrapped in protective insulation and then packed into hard-shell carrying cases. The cases were then assigned code numbers to keep the paintings’ identities under wraps. The decidedly huge undertaking went off without a hitch.

The Hermitage’s Van Gogh exhibit opens on Saturday, September 29th and will run through mid-April. The revamped Van Gogh Museum is slated to re-open on April 25, 2013.

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