Uncovered: world’s biggest art fraud
Canadian police unearth the 'largest ever art fraud,' arresting 8 people
Also in this edition: Tate Liverpool closing, RA slashes ticket prices, Notre Dame to reopen, new Kusama Infinity Mirror Room, Met Museum’s socks budget
It’s been a good week for British architects. The ‘Nobel prize’ for architecture was awarded to a contemporary star (more on that below), and in West London, a new exhibition opened celebrating two other UK greats: Sir John Soane and Sir Anthony Caro.
Anthony Caro: The Inspiration of Architecture sees 16 key of Caro’s key works installed throughout the grounds of Soane’s Pitzhanger Manor. I was lucky enough to attend the opening, and it was a double celebration as the event was held on what would have been Sir Anthony’s 99th birthday.
I confess I didn’t know a huge amount about Caro before visiting. And architecture is a hard subject to cover well in exhibitions. But I left feeling like this was a show that works, allowing visitors to consider space, scale, form, materials, functionality and beauty, all while looking at art. It’s the best of both worlds.
It’s the Oscars on Sunday too. Why not watch the ceremony with a drinking game: down a shot every time the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is mentioned. It’ll likely only be once or twice, but as it’s shown in the middle night here in Europe, it’s a good way to get through the 28-hour telecast (or does it just feel like that?) without having a sore head on Monday morning. Just an idea.
Need To Know
Portrait Gallery adds 130 faces
The National Portrait Gallery in London used International Women’s Day this week to announce a major new commission which depicts 130 women from British history and culture. The group portrait will go on display when the gallery reopens this summer, doubling the number of female sitters on the walls of its post-1900 galleries. Come reopening, 48% of portraits on display in these galleries will be of women.
Work in Progress, by Jann Haworth and Liberty Blake, was inspired by the album cover for the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which Haworth co-created in 1967. It features loads of famous faces — from Boudicca to Dame Mary Beard (although a Conservative MP has questioned the omission of Margaret Thatcher). 26 of the figures have not been represented in the NPG’s collection before.
The commission forms part of Reframing Narratives: Women in Portraiture, a three-year partnership project with the CHANEL Culture Fund, which aims to increase representation of women within the Gallery’s Collection. (More)
Tate Liverpool to shut
Visit Tate Liverpool while you can because from October, it’ll be shutting for nearly two years. The gallery — located on the city’s historic Royal Albert Dock — will be embarking on a £30 million “reimagining.” Doors close from 16 October.
The massive overhaul was first announced in January 2022 when it received £10 million of funding from the UK Government’s Levelling Up fund which seeks to make the standard of living across different regions more equal. The total price tag for the work at that point was £25 million, meaning that costs have risen 20%.
During the closure, Tate Liverpool will continue to host events and one-off projects at other spaces across the city. These plans will be announced in the coming months. Director Helen Legg said it was "time for us to reimagine the gallery for the 21st Century." (More)
Police smash ‘world’s biggest art fraud’
Eight people have been arrested in Canada after police reveal they have uncovered the ‘largest art fraud in history.’
Ontario Provincial Police announced that their investigation into a forgery ring relating to the work of the late Indigenous artist Norval Morrisseau has resulted in over 1000 works being seized, and a member of the artist’s family being taken into custody.
Suspicions were first raised when a member of the band Barenaked Ladies sued a gallery for selling him an alleged forgery of a Morrisseau painting. While initially unsuccessful, a 2019 documentary about the case led to the original decision being overturned. Police have now credited the film with inspiring their investigation. They revealed that the art-fraud ring was based on assembly lines in Thunder Bay — where the artist lived and worked — and there are suggestions that there may be ten times more fake Morrisseau works on the market than authentic pieces. (More)
News from the UK
Prize Winner | British ‘Starchitect' — and maxwell museums favourite — Sir David Chipperfield has won architecture's highest honour: the Pritzker Prize 2023. He’s created some of the best museum buildings of recent decades such as Berlin's Neues Museum and Margate's Turner Contemporary. The jury praised his “understated but transformative” work. (More)
Hardship Fund | 50 emergency grants totalling £100,000 have been given to struggling UK sculptors to help them pay their bills. The new initiative by the Henry Moore Foundation is in response to the cost-of-living crisis and its threat to artist’s livelihoods. Director Godfrey Worsdale said “It’s a question of investing in society.” (More)
Under Threat | The soon-to-be vacated home of the Museum of London has been named as one of the most at-risk 20th century buildings in Britain. The Twentieth Century Society say the 46-year-old Barbican building is under threat as the owners — the City of London Corporation — are pressing ahead with their plans to fully demolish it. (More)
Cheaper Tickets | Under 25? Well you’ll now get half price exhibition tickets to the Royal Academy in London thanks to a big financial donation from a major art collecting couple. Collectors — and billionaires — Batia and Idan Ofer said they hope “this scheme will enable a younger audience to see the world-class exhibitions” at the RA. (More)
Rare Display | A 700-year-old document that played a key role in the history of Scottish independence will be seen in public for the first time in almost two decades. The Declaration of Arbroath will be shown this summer at the National Museum of Scotland. The fragile work asks Pope John XXII to acknowledge Robert the Bruce as Scotland’s king. (More)
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News from around the world
USA | The first entirely new collecting department at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in 125 years is being set up — and it will focus exclusively on digital work. “Digital design will continue to radically change how we interact with the world” the Cooper Hewitt’s Director said. “Museums need to be at the center of this conversation.” (More)
France | Visitors and faithful will be able to return to the Notre Dame in Paris from December 2024, French officials announced. It means it’ll reopen less than six years after a fire ravaged its roof, but it will miss by a few months Paris’ hosting of the Olympic Games. About 1000 people are working on the rebuild. (More)
USA | The Whitney Museum will have its first new leader in two decades as Director Adam D. Weinberg announced he was stepping down. His successor will be Scott Rothkopf, the current senior deputy director and chief curator. Under Weinberg, visitors grew to 1.2 million from 400,000; membership rocketed to 50,000 from 12,000; and the endowment increased tenfold to $400 million. (More)
Spain | Masterpieces by Goya and Velázquez are back in Spain for the first time in over a century. It’s all thanks to New York’s Frick’s Collection being shut for renovations, meaning works not normally allowed to be loaned have a rare opportunity to travel. The nine paintings now at the Prado have a “mythical” status according to their curator. (More)
USA | New Yayoi Kusama works will be unveiled at New York’s David Zwirner gallery this May, including a new Infinity Mirror Room. The exhibition, titled I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowers in homage to Miley Cyrus (I made that bit up) will be “her largest gallery exhibition to date.” (More)
Best of the rest
Masterpieces Return | Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery will unveil the transformation of its Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque galleries this summer after a three year closure.
Art Time | Swatch has teamed up with Louvre Abu Dhabi to create a watch that features Hokusai’s 1831 masterpiece the Great Wave. It’s on sale from 13 April.
Ewe what? | A flock of 150 sheep have come to the rescue to help preserve the ancient ruins of Pompeii. Yes, really.
Final Destination | The oldest carriage on the Tyne and Wear Metro has come to the end of the line. The 43-year-old car is joining the Stephenson Railway Museum’s collection.
And Finally | We learnt this week that the Met Museum gives its gallery guards an annual $80 sock allowance because they’re required to do so much walking.