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Alasdair Gray (1934–2019)

Plus: Art-world figures recognised in New Year’s Honours list | Picasso painting of Dora Maar defaced at Tate Modern | and authenticity of dozens of Goya paintings called into question

2 January 2020

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Alasdair Gray (1934–2019) | The writer and artist Alasdair Gray has died at the age of 85. Born in Riddrie in north-eastern Glasgow, Gray studied design and mural painting at the Glasgow College of Art from 1952–57, during which period he started writing what would later become his landmark novel Lanark (published in 1981). Gray’s inventive visual style was a feature of his literary works, which often included lavish illustrations, culminating in his experimental autobiography A Life in Pictures (2010). Gray also illustrated and designed books with texts by other authors, and produced murals for a number of buildings in Glasgow. Gray is survived by his son Andrew, the subject of many of his portraits.

Steve McQueen, Magdalene Odundo and David Shrigley recognised in New Year’s Honours list | Queen Elizabeth II’s New Year’s Honours list for 2020 includes a number of prominent artists and art-world figures. Steve McQueen, whose primary school portrait series Year 3 is currently on view in Tate Britain’s Duveen Galleries ahead of a major retrospective of the artist’s work at Tate Modern, receives a knighthood, whilst the ceramicist Magdalene Odundo has been made a dame. Macclesfield-born artist David Shrigley and Ann Gallagher, former director of collection for British art at the Tate, have both received OBEs.

Picasso painting of Dora Maar defaced at Tate Modern | A painting by Pablo Picasso of his lover, the painter and photographer Dora Maar, has been vandalised while on display at Tate Modern in London. Shakeel Ryan Massey, 20, appeared at a magistrates court earlier this week, charged with causing criminal damage to the painting, entitled Bust of a Woman (1944). A spokesperson from the museum has said that ‘the work of art is with our conservation team for expert assessment’.

Authenticity of dozens of Goya paintings called into question | A prominent British art historian has told the Observer that ‘dozens’ of paintings attributed to Francisco de Goya were actually painted by the Spanish artist’s studio assistants. Juliet Wilson-Bareau, an expert on Goya who has curated exhibitions of his work at the Prado in Madrid and the Royal Academy of Arts in London, expects that many paintings will have to be reattributed, partially due to misleading details from an 1812 inventory of Goya’s studio and possessions. ‘The answer,’ Wilson-Bareau commented, ‘is that Goya, like any great artist, had an active studio with assistants, and that many of the paintings would therefore be by other people, but they would all go out of the studio as by Goya.’