Ukrainian man goes on trial in France over theft of £1.3m painting found in Kyiv | France

A Ukrainian man has gone on trial in France accused of masterminding the theft of a €1.5m (£1.3m) painting discovered in a house in Kiev a year after it disappeared from a museum in Nancy.

The work of Paul Signac, Le Port de La Rochelle, went missing from the Musée de Beaux-Arts in Nancy, northeastern France, in 2018.

Museum staff were stunned to discover an empty frame on the wall after three people removed the canvas with a box cutter, rolled it up and walked out of the museum with it hidden under a raincoat one of them was wearing.

The painting, which measured 46 cm by 55 cm, apparently disappeared without a trace until a year later, when Kyiv police raided the home of a suspect allegedly connected to a murder. While searching his home in the Ukrainian capital, the unnamed suspect told them a valuable painting was in a cupboard and advised them to handle it with care.

Under interrogation, he apparently pointed the finger at a fellow countryman, Vadym Huzhva (64), then in an Austrian prison after being found guilty of stealing a Renoir painting in Vienna in November 2018. Upon his release, Huzhva was in Extradited to France June 2020.

Huzhva, an art collector, denied any connection to the theft and claimed he had been framed. His lawyer, Samira Boudiba, told the newspaper Le Parisien that the accused had “enough to say” to the court.

“He is not on the surveillance film. All you can see are three people who cannot be identified. All the video shows is the time the painting was stolen, but that’s all,” said Boudiba. “He is blamed for the theft of a painting in France, which is strange. Without getting into the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, he says it’s a conspiracy.”

Huzhva is also accused of other thefts, including the disappearance of a Renoir from a French auction house in the Paris region in 2017, the theft of two works of art from a Versailles auction house and a painting from Béziers, southern France, in 2018.

“What surprised us was how unsophisticated the theft was. It was that simple,” said François Pérain, the public prosecutor of Nancy, when the Signac painting was returned to Nancy two years ago. “They were wearing head coverings, but they performed with their faces uncovered, entered the main entrance and left through the same door.”

Painted in 1915, Le Port de La Rochelle is part of a series Signac made of the ports of La Rochelle, Marseille, Saint-Tropez and Rotterdam.

The trial is expected to last two days.

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Guggenheim Museum faces lawsuit over Picasso painting

Written by Toyin Owoseje, CNN

One of Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period paintings is at the center of a lawsuit between a Jewish family and New York’s Guggenheim Museum.

The heirs of Karl Adler and Rosi Jacobi want the repatriation of the artist’s 1904 masterpiece “Woman Ironing (La repasseuse),” which they say the couple sold under duress when they tried to escape persecution by the Nazis in their native Germany to escape in 1938.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in Manhattan Supreme Court, says Adler acquired the artwork in 1916 from Munich gallery owner Heinrich Thannhauser, but sold it to Thannhauser’s son, Justin, in 1938 for about $1,552, well below its value. The suit alleges that a desperate Adler took the significant loss due to his family’s circumstances.

“Adler would not have disposed of the painting at the time and price he did but for the Nazi persecution to which he and his family have been subjected, and will continue to be,” the complaint states.

In the lawsuit, the family members say Adler was chairman of the board of directors for Europe’s leading leather manufacturer, but things changed when the “Nazi regime in Germany shattered their lives.”

In 1938, the family fled Germany and traveled through the Netherlands, France and Switzerland before settling permanently in Argentina, the suit says.

The Guggenheim Museum said it believes the suit is “without merit.” Credit: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

“The Adlers needed large amounts of cash just to obtain short-term visas during their exile in Europe. Unable to work, on the run, and not knowing what the future held for them, the Adlers had to liquidate quickly what they could. collect as much cash as possible,” the lawsuit states.

The heirs claim that Thannhauser “profited” from the misfortune of German Jews. They also claim that “Thannhauser was well aware of the plight of Adler and his family, and that Adler, absent Nazi persecution, would never have sold the painting when he did so at such a price,” according to the lawsuit.

Rosi Adler died in Buenos Aires in 1946 at the age of 68, while her husband Karl died at the age of 85 in 1957 during a visit to his homeland.

“Woman Ironing” remained in Thannhauser’s art collection until his death in 1976. It was donated to the Guggenheim in 1978, along with the rest of his artwork.

Adler’s descendants, along with a number of non-profit and Jewish organizations named as plaintiffs in the class action, say in the complaint that the painting is “in the wrongful possession” of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

The family is seeking the painting’s return or compensation commensurate with its current market value, which the suit estimates is between $100 million and $200 million.

The Guggenheim Museum told CNN in a statement that it “takes provenance matters and restitution claims extremely seriously” but believes this case is “without merit.”

“Karl Adler’s sale of the painting to Justin Thannhauser was a fair transaction between parties with a long-standing and ongoing relationship,” the museum said.

It added: “The extensive research conducted by the Guggenheim since first being contacted by an attorney representing these plaintiffs shows that the Guggenheim is the rightful owner of the painting.”

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Art collector insists DIA has stolen Van Gogh painting, demands return

A legal tug-of-war over a painting is heating up in federal court, where a Brazilian art collector is trying to force the Detroit Institute of Arts to turn over a painting he claims was stolen before it ends up on the museum’s wall has.

The DIA maintains the painting was never reported stolen, arguing it is immune from seizure under a federal law — though the art collector’s attorney says the DIA is “misleading” about that law and should turn the painting over.

“(The collector) paid $3.7 million for the painting and would like it back,” attorney Aaron Phelps wrote in a court filing Wednesday.

The filing came on the eve of a Thursday court hearing, during which U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh will hear both sides argue the fate of a Van Gogh painting known as “The Novel Reader,” which is part of the DIA’s popular “From”. Gogh in America” ​​exhibition.

DIA says it is exempt from being told what to do with the Van Gogh

The 1888 oil painting hung on the DIA’s walls for weeks before becoming the subject of national and international intrigue on January 10, when Brazilian art collector Gustovo Soter sued the DIA, claiming to be the true owner of the painting. that it was stolen. before it arrived in Detroit and that he had been looking for it for almost six years.

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Museum Asks Public to Reinvent a Classic Painting, With Incredible Results

Girl with a pearl earring? More like Guy With an Apple AirPod.

The Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague has put out a call for recreations of Johannes Vermeer’s iconic 17th-century painting — with bizarre and delightful results.

No earring in this photo by Jessica van der Mast. Just an AirPod.


Woman wearing a turban and two pearl earrings while holding a camera

Architect Zoé Molnár is a girl with a pearl earring — and a camera.


Scroll through posts tagged #mygirlwithapearl on Instagram and you’ll find more than 4,700 interpretations of the famous oil painting of a young girl in a headscarf, a large earring dangling from her left ear. The tributes range from beautiful to creepy to surreal, from classic to abstract to steampunk. You will see the girl in photographs, digital drawings and oil paintings, and recreated in sculptures made from embroidery thread, toys, school supplies and multicolored beads and buttons.

A Na'vi from Avatar as the girl with a pearl earring

Multimedia artist Double O Roos: “I make her cry for the world for the people and for the Earth.”


Girl With a Pearl Earring with a robot instead of a girl

Robot With a Pearl Earring, an oil on canvas by artist Julian DePuma.


She appears as a baby, an older bearded man, a duck, a dog, a bunny, and a blue Na’vi from Avatar. In more than one image, she is decidedly 21st century, with a face mask or earplugs or with a mobile phone. One artist overlaid Vermeer’s painting on a Tinder screen and called the creation “Swipe Right.”

A girl wears a mask on top of her turban in this interpretation of Girl With a Pearl Earring

A number of the tributes have face masks, of course.


Girl with a pearl earring, wearing a face mask

Art gallery owner Gea Kok shows the famous Girl, ready for COVID.


Are some of the digital versions created with an AI art creation tool such as Dall-E or Midjourney? You can bet on it.

The Mauritshuis usually houses the famous painting, but for eight weeks from February the work will be on loan for a Vermeer exhibition at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Rather than leave the girl’s wall empty, the Mauritshuis plans to rotate some of the crowd-sourced renditions through a digital display.

“The room where the Girl hangs will temporarily become a place of inspiration with as many Girls as possible gathered, from home and abroad,” says the museum.

Pencils and other school supplies made in the shape of Girl With a Pearl Earring

“My mandate for myself was to create it with what I could only find in my living room,” says Elisabeth Koch.


Girl With a Pearl Earring, recreated with embroidery floss

Submissions came in all sorts of colorful materials.


As the submissions attest, the museum has placed no limits on creativity here. “A self-portrait with a bath towel as a turban, a painted iron or even a pile of crockery,” it says. “Few are too crazy for us.” Registration for the competition closed on 15 January.

Vermeer, one of the most famous Dutch painters of the 17th century, is known for his intimate domestic scenes and beautiful use of light.

His iconic Girl with a Pearl Earring has made a number of literary and film appearances, including in a 1999 historical novel of the same name that told a fictional story of the painting’s creation. That book led to a 2003 film adaptation starring Scarlett Johansson as a young servant in the house of Vermeer, played by Colin Firth.

If you want to explore the original painting in more detail to better appreciate the reimaginings, an augmented reality feature called Pocket Gallery in Google’s free Google Arts & Culture app offers a virtual exhibition space where you can view all 36 of Vermeer’s paintings. see and learn about . None of them have robots.

Girl With a Pearl Earring as a self-portrait by a bearded man

Visual artist Wil Peerboom, like many others, opted for a self-portrait.


Dog dressed in the style of Girl With a Pearl Earring

“Pooch With a Pearl Earring” has a nice ring to it.


An earring in the shape of the painting Girl With a Pearl Earring

A meta-assumption of Girl With a Pearl Earring: the painting as an actual earring.


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Fabulous felines: why female artists love stroking, painting and spoiling cats | Art

Wwhen Tracey Emin’s cat Docket went missing in 2002, the “Lost Cat” posters she put up in her east London neighborhood were stolen and valued at £500. Her gallery, White Cube, argued that they did not count as works, although some art historians said otherwise. Whoever you believe, they still pop up on eBay from time to time.

However, it is Emin’s self-portrait with Docket that I like the most. (That and her handmade cat photo book, Because I Love Him, a dream art purchase should I ever make it rich.) In the photo, Docket looks at the camera with that dead, slightly morose expression specific to cats, his impressive whiskers passing the artist’s fingers shoot out, framing his face as she pushes him from above. It’s a strikingly maternal image, and indeed Emin has in the past referred to the cat, who has sadly now left this earthly plane, as her “baby”. It comes in a long line of artistic depictions of women or girls with cats.

Cats are almost as old a subject for visual art as art itself – there are cats painted in the Lascaux cave. In ancient times they adorned ancient Egyptian tombs and the mosaics of Pompeii. The ancient, ancient association between cats and fertility, and their status as mother goddesses from the ancient Egyptian Bastet to the Greek Hecate, means that women and cats have been seen as intertwined for millennia. So it’s no surprise that they’ve been lumped together as a subject so often by everyone from Morisot to Picasso, Matisse to Kirchner, Kahlo to Freud. They appear in annunciations by Rubens, Barocci and Lotto, representing femininity, domesticity and sometimes the devil – or what the Jungian psychologist Marie-Louise von Franz calls the “feminine shadow”, the dark side of the Virgin Mary, the mother of God.

It’s no surprise that cats appear so often in paintings: artists tend to love them, perhaps because they are so defiant and independent. Plus, it’s easier to paint while caring for a cat than a dog: they don’t have to walk, although they can still stand in the way, as a beautiful photo by painter Lois Mailou Jones standing by a donkey with a kitten on her shoulder show. Meanwhile, Leonor Fini kept two dozen cats, so it’s no surprise that their fur sometimes blended with the paint on her canvases.

Demanding Companion … Woman with Cat by Pierre Bonnard. Photo: Heritage Images/Fine Art Images/Getty Images

There are some fantastic photos of Fini with her pets. In a 1961 portrait by Martine Franck, her wild dark hair is an eccentric counterpoint to the white cat’s refined appearance, while in another image she is shown wearing an evening dress as she kneels to feed six cats in her kitchen . Dora Maar’s image is perhaps the most deliberately erotic. Fini wears a low-cut corset of sorts, and a long-haired black cat is held between her open legs in a visual pun not lost on the viewer.

As anyone who has had one knows, cats are promiscuous and unfaithful, wandering the streets at night in ways women historically could not, and in Japanese art cats and courtesans sometimes go hand in hand. One netsuke even shows two cats embodying the figures of sex worker and client. But meanwhile was a cat lady herself, and when Picasso painted his lover with a black cat on her shoulder, it could be read as a symbol of her sexual, passionate self. Their relationship was tumultuous, and Maar’s claw-like hands, at least to me, seem to allude to those of a cat.

I used these images as a kind of visual mood board while writing my memoir, The Year of the Cat, which is about how adopting a cat made me think differently about motherhood, but also a strong art historical line has what runs through it. the theme of female artists and their cats. One of the first paintings I saw of a woman with a cat was at school, by the artist Gwen John. In Girl with a Cat (1918-22) the subject sits with a black cat in her arms. The young woman looked into the distance, her expression almost desperately sad. The cat, meanwhile, looks directly at the viewer with yellow eyes. John loved her cat, Tiger, and when he went missing, she slept outside hoping to tempt him home; like Emin’s Docket almost a century later, he finally returned. The love John felt for her cat, when she was so unhappily in love with the more human variety, has moved me ever since.

Two of Picasso’s earlier pictures of women and cats have a similar emotional effect. In his 1900 Woman with Cat, the subject bends forward in her bed towards the small cat she holds in her arms, as if trying to take comfort in it. Meanwhile, her 1901 Nude with Cats, sometimes called Madwoman with Cats, feels merciless to me in its portrayal of its vulnerable subject. In my book I look at the myth of the “crazy cat lady”, which has its origins in the fear of witchcraft, and how it has been used to stigmatize single and childless women. This image, painted in an asylum, felt too awkward to include, but I kept it in my mind as I wrote.

Fanatical... Leonor Fini and her press, in front of her portrait of dancer Raymond Larrain.
Fanatical… Leonor Fini and her press, in front of her portrait of dancer Raymond Larrain. Photo: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images

Much more cheered are Suzanne Valadon’s cat paintings. Another cat lover – she fed them caviar – Valadon painted her cat Raminou several times, as well as other cats. Although she treats them with the respect due to a proper subject for a painting, there is a playfulness in the way she conveys their stony expressions. She manages to capture the dull arrogance that is essentially the essence of cat. Her pictures of women with cats are even better, 1919’s Jeune Fille au Chat is my favorite, perhaps because the girl in it looks so happy holding the animal, while the animal itself seems to simply tolerate the interaction, which reminds me of my own cat Mackerel’s standoffish nature.

To see Valadon herself with her cat – in this case a white one – we have to rely on Marcel Leprin’s painting of her, in which she wears a formidable expression. She may not have claws, but much like the animals she loved so much, Valadon, a laundress’s daughter who amazed Degas with her talent when she showed him her drawings, was rebellious and not to be messed with not – a far cry from the demure dancer she played when she modeled for Renoir.

That male artists should use cats as a way to eroticize the objectified female nude will not be a surprise to anyone. In Félix Vallotton’s La Paresse, a naked woman lies on a bed, her hand outstretched to caress the cat. In a Masaya Nakamura photo, we only see the curve of her backside and her pointy feet while a black cat stares in the direction of her genitals. I much prefer Pierre Bonnard’s more humane portrayal of an annoyed-looking woman, sitting fully clothed at the table with a plate of food while the “demanding cat” of his title harasses her. Or even better, Lotte Laserstein’s 1928 Self-Portrait with a Cat, in which her head-on gaze seems to challenge the viewer, as the disgruntled figure the animal she holds in her lap seems ready to strike if necessary. It’s like they’re both challenging you to say something: call Laserstein a crazy catwoman at your peril.

Using cats to eroticize the female nude... Laziness by Félix Vallotton, from 1896.
Using cats to eroticize the female nude… Laziness by Félix Vallotton, from 1896. Photo: Heritage Images/Getty Images

You could say that cats and artists have something in common: both groups have historically pissed off and refused to conform to the rules that society tries to impose on them. Women artists are of course particularly marginalized, and how one goes about juggling a creative career with motherhood remains an ongoing question, one of the many I pose in my book. Emin, who has no children, said she would have resented leaving her studio for them if she had any. It would be rude to suggest that a cat could be a kind of surrogate child, if Emin hadn’t made it explicit herself.

Centuries after the witch hunts, the love that women – especially childless women – have for cats is mocked and stigmatized to this day. That’s why I’m so delighted with the photos of Brooke Hummer, who asked various catwomen to pose in the style of historical paintings, their styles ranging from 19th-century colonial to surreal. These funny, festive images subvert the shameful stereotype of the cat lady. My favorite is a pastiche of a medieval painting of the Madonna and Child, but instead of a baby, the Virgin Mary is holding a tabby cat. Laugh if you want, she seems to be saying, but cat love is true love.

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Confirmed Thomas Moran painting donated to Toledo museum

HELENA – When retired Gibsonburg art teacher Marto “Marty” Atkinson was growing up in Hudson, her mother kept a Thomas Moran painting on the wall. Her mother was told over and over by so-called antique experts that the painting was worthless, but her mother insisted the painting had great value.

Atkinson, who now lives in Helena, doesn’t know much about the painting’s history, only that her maternal grandfather somehow acquired it in Philadelphia. When her mother died, Atkinson inherited the painting, and she always wondered if her mother’s intuition about it was correct.

Atkinson legacy painter whose work led to the creation of Yellowstone National Park

In 2005, Atkinson found out her mother was right.

“My friend had tickets to Antiques Roadshow, and she called me and said, ‘Get the painting,'” Atkinson said.

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Thurgood Marshall portrait replaces painting of likely enslaver

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The omission did not concern Sen. William C. Smith Jr. (D-Montgomery) did not miss.

There were few portraits of Black historical figures on the walls of the Maryland Senate building in Annapolis. And yet for years Smith has passed a portrayal of Cecilus Calvert, who Maryland historians say was probably a slaveholder, every time he walks into the chamber where lawmakers hear criminal justice bills.

“A lot of people say it’s not a big deal – symbols won’t educate the uneducated or put food on the table or shelter the unsheltered – but we all know that the symbols matter a lot because they make public spaces like this more open and welcoming. to everyone,” said Smith, the first black person to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee.

About 18 months ago, Smith launched a project that would see Calvert come down. And on Thursday, he joined Ernest Shaw Jr., an artist and teacher from West Baltimore, to unveil in its place a painting of a young Thurgood Marshall, also born in Baltimore.

Shaw imprisoned Marshall, a civil rights champion and later the first Black U.S. Supreme Court Justice, after Marshall won an appeals court case that eventually led to the desegregation of the University of Maryland Law School.

“Just think how impactful a portrait like this would be for someone who has never seen themselves reflected on the walls of the halls of power,” Smith said during the ceremony. “A portrait of a young lawyer in the midst of his struggle for civil rights will serve as a symbol of hope for all who would come to the committee in search of justice.”

The portrait also symbolizes a sea change taking place in Maryland. After centuries of white men holding the state’s most powerful positions in Annapolis, black people, immigrants and white women will soon move the levers of power in state government.

Governor Wes Moore, who will be the first black man to serve as governor of Maryland, takes office later this month. He will be joined by Attorney General Anthony G. Brown, State Treasurer Dereck Davis, and House Speaker Adrienne Jones – all of whom are black – and Brooke Lierman, who will be the first woman to serve as the state’s comptroller. Incoming Lt. Governor Aruna Miller will be the first immigrant to hold that position, having come to the United States from India as a child.

“Do you know there will be no White men on the Board of Public Works?” have sen. Charles Sydnor (D-Baltimore) asked after the ceremony, almost in disbelief, noting that the three-panel board that approves government contracts will consist of a White woman and two Black men. “With Brooke’s victory, the glass ceiling broke. With Adrienne, the glass ceiling broke. It’s pretty incredible.”

In Md., Black people poised to hold four critical positions of power

In the past decade, as Maryland has become one of the most diverse states in the nation, officials are increasingly taking steps to ensure that the State House complex grounds — and its walls — not only reflect the shift, but also the appropriately reflect black people’s. contribution to its history.

Maryland State Archivist Elaine Rice Bachmann said Thursday that for nearly 300 years, the only people represented on state government walls were white men. As the electorate has changed and as legislators and the public make requests, state fundraising has evolved.

She said there are now portraits of Mary Risteau, the first woman elected to the Maryland legislature, Verda Welcome, the first black woman, Chief Justice Robert Bell, the first black person to serve as chief justice in Maryland and Richard Dixon, the first Black treasurer.

“But despite that progress,” she said, “it remains important to reach back into history and represent Maryland, which was unelected and unrecognized in their own time.”

Maryland’s demographic shift is largely driven by growing Asian and Latino populations who, along with Native Americans, continue to be underrepresented in the hallways of the Statehouse and on its walls.

After the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville six years ago, the statue of former US Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision, ruled that black people were not American citizens and had no rights otherwise as the ones White people gave them were removed from the Maryland State House grounds.

In 2019, Jones (D-Baltimore) pushed to remove a plaque sympathetic to the Confederacy from the State House rotunda. A year later, after the national racial reckoning, the plaque, erected at the height of the civil rights movement, was taken down.

The portrait unveiled Thursday was the second created by Shaw, who attended Baltimore City Public Schools, Baltimore School of the Arts, Morgan State University and Howard University and hails from the same neighborhood as Marshall.

The first iteration of the painting was rejected by a committee to commission an artist for the project, with some deeming it too “aggressive”. Smith said there was some concern that Marshall’s eyes were not fully open and that this included “a slightly different hand gesture.”

After some feedback, Shaw illustrated a younger Marshall before winning the historic 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case that declared segregated public schools unconstitutional. The painting, paid for by donations from 30 individuals and companies, is based on a photograph taken by the Afro newspaper after its 1936 victory in the Court of Appeal.

“We didn’t try to bump or change who he was,” Smith said. “There were many sides to him. It shows him young, a little hungry. His suit doesn’t fit well. He’s on the rise at that stage of his life.”

The painting is also not the first time that a portrait of a Black historical figure has replaced the portrait of a White one.

Six years ago, a group of black Baltimore City elementary students touring the historic Statehouse and Senate complex in Annapolis, then-Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore) thank you letters about their visit.

Ferguson said the letters taught him a lesson he won’t soon forget.

The students said that they “looked all around us, we didn’t see anyone who looked like us.”

About three years ago, as one of his first acts as president of the Senate, Ferguson unveiled a portrait of Verda Freeman Welcome that now hangs in the back of the Senate chamber.

Welcome, a teacher and civil rights pioneer, was the first black woman in the country to be elected to the state senate. Her photo replaced a 115-year-old painting of a former governor.

“As a white man, the privilege I’ve had to walk around this complex and not be looked at and noticed is something that really struck me — that I didn’t notice,” Ferguson said Thursday night. “I started wandering the halls and walking through the Statehouse, it was so clear that we weren’t telling every Marylander’s story.”

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Giorgio Morandi review – sublime still lives shimmer with mystery and joy | Painting

HI could be a farmer or a manual worker, in his collarless shirt and brown waistcoat, looking at you honestly. But the brush and palette in his hands confirm Giorgio Morandi’s true calling in the profoundly attractive Self-Portrait he painted in 1925 when he was in his mid-30s.

It’s so accessible, yet Morandi is one of the most mysterious artists of the 20th century. His is the only human figure in the Estorick collection’s beautiful direct encounter with his metaphysical art. Everything else is a silent reckoning with objects and places. There are poplar trees and rivers sketched during his trips to the countryside, but mostly there are paintings, etchings and drawings of the bottles, pots and other household items that he endlessly rearranged in his studio at the family home in Bologna, where he lived throughout his life. lived with his sisters while he learned drawing in schools.

Self Portrait by Giorgio Morandi (1925). Photo: Fondazione Magnani-Rocca © DACS 2022

Morandi made still life a 20th-century art form by taking this ancient, humble genre that was already old when artists painted fruit on the walls of Pompeii’s villas and imbuing it with a quaint modern solitude. Of course, he was not the first modernist to see how a bowl of fruit could question existence. His 1927 painting Still Life with Fruits is a tribute to Cézanne, whose apples overturned traditional perspective painting before Morandi was born.

Yet the two painters have almost nothing in common. Morandi does not dismantle perception like Cézanne and his Cubist followers. Instead, he broods over the simultaneous banality and poetry of the shapes of things: a ceramic lemon squeezer with a lemon-yellow top, a blue-and-white bowl, a white porcelain bottle with a long, slender neck. These are some of the kitchen objects arranged in a gray featureless space in his large 1936 canvas Still Life.

What does their arrangement mean? Maybe nothing. The traditional still life often contains a strongly underlined meaning: a skull is a memento mori; a red lobster next to a glass of wine is a condemnation of luxury. But Morandi’s pottery seems to have been put together at random, just for the sake of the paint.

You imagine him taking these items out of the kitchen cupboard and positioning them on a quiet morning. Time stops as he copies the long shadows of the lemon press, bottle and cup. There is no denying the fact that for Morandi – and for us when we look through his eyes – there is a spiritual mystery to this still life. These solid objects appear to shimmer. They are lifeless forms, yet they tremble with phantom consciousness.

Morandi’s leading critical champion was the art historian Roberto Longhi, who rediscovered Caravaggio and Piero della Francesca and taught the filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini. He claimed Morandi made pilgrimages to see Piero’s frescoes in Arezzo, which is suggestive. Because if Morandi is modern, he is also very old. He studies the physical world with the same quiet passion as this early Renaissance artist.

Courtyard on Via Fondazza by Giorgio Morandi (1954)
Window to the world… Courtyard on Via Fondazza by Giorgio Morandi (1954). Photo: Fondazione Magnani-Rocca © DACS 2022

Yet Morandi lived much of his life in Mussolini’s Italy. As he painted his peaceful pots, violence spread beyond the peaceful courtyard he could see from his window on Via Fondazza, Bologna, of which there is a haunting painting here. Could Morandi really ignore all this? No. He was arrested and imprisoned in 1943 for his connections with centre-left resistance leaders.

Far from escaping their time, his paintings acknowledge its monstrous shadows. Still Life with Musical Instruments, from 1941, is truly a memento mori: the curved body of a lute looks organic and human, crushed under a guitar and trumpet as if it were a pile of corpses. In a 1942 painting, the pots are pressed together in a tight, terrified crowd. Another 1942 canvas features four tall bottles in a row, like flamboyant chimneys. The spiritual vision became an indication of hell.

Still Life by Giorgio Morandi (1942)
‘A Stern, Terrified Crowd’… Still Life, 1942 Photo: Fondazione Magnani-Rocca © DACS 2022

However, Morandi’s art is an act of survival and hope: “Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will”, to quote Antonio Gramsci, who died in a fascist prison. Morandi’s fidelity to the real world made sense to a growing audience after 1945. By then the fascist sympathetic gloss of futurism was hideous. Now Longhi’s vision, of a tradition of painterly life in Italian art, influenced neorealist cinema.

Morandi shares this movement’s raw poetry in his 1953 Natura Morta. Three long-necked white barrels stand in front of three rectangular objects, as blunt as tombstones. They are apparently bricks, but you can also see them as graves. Are the bottles dead souls? Morandi almost never paints people, but his art aches with humanity and love.

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Duluth artist’s painting headed to star-studded gallery — on the moon

DULUTH — Kelly Schamberger isn’t sure yet what it will feel like to look up at the night sky and know that her most prized painting is out there orbiting the Earth.

“Every time I look at the moon, I’m going to think about it,” she said.

Schamberger is one of about 100 artists who later this year will have an etching of her artwork included in a time capsule and sent to the moon during a SpaceX mission, the Art Innovation Center announced this week. The online museum focused on contemporary realism has hosted its international competition for the past 16 years – and this year received more than 5,400 entries from 75 countries for the competition that dangled the opportunity for lunar inclusion to its winners and honorable mentions.

Schamberger said she had given up on the ARC competition in the past because of the entry fee and her belief that she didn’t have a chance. But that otherworldly aspect called.

“I’ve always loved space, I’ve always loved the stars,” said Schamberger, a Bloomington native who moved to Duluth to attend the Great Lakes Academy of Fine Art. “I have this painting that is really special to me. It encompasses everything that I am and my whole heart as an artist.”

“We’ll throw it out into the universe and see what happens,” she recalled thinking.

An image of Schamberger’s “Once Upon a Childhood” – an oil painting of a model ship sitting on waves of tissue paper with the glow of lightning bugs in the distance – will be included in the Polaris collection of the Lunar Codex time capsule and sent become to the moon in autumn. It will be laser etched onto nickel microfiche and/or digitized onto terabyte memory cards, according to the Art Renewal Centre.

The Lunar Codex is a set of three time capsules that includes, in addition to visual arts, stories, poetry, music and film – works by 7,000 creatives. The collection will be sent to the lunar south pole and its launch and landing will be broadcast live.

Schamberger’s painting was created in memory of William Rager, her supportive, though mysterious, uncle who died in 2020 after battling kidney disease. She remembered the model ships he made and displayed in his farmhouse in Indiana – then created art from his art.

“I wanted it to be about that memory of him and childhood,” she said.

Artists have been shooting for the moon since the late 1960s. Forrest Myers, a sculptor living in New York City, told the New York Times in 1969 that he sent together etchings of his own work and that of five friends—including Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg—on a ceramic wafer that slyly was attached by an anonymous engineer to the leg of Lunar Module Intrepid during the Apollo 12 mission.

Back on Earth, Schamberger’s painting will also be the muse for a designer during Fashion Week San Diego. The clothes will be modeled in a fashion show at Sotheby’s in New York City in July — marking the end of an exhibit of winning artwork that will be on view at the auction house July 14-22.

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