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The week in art news – Brice Marden (1938–2023)

11 August 2023

The painter Brice Marden has died at the age of 84. Marden drew from both Abstract Expressionism and minimalism over the course of his long career – but through tireless experimentation with his medium, he forged a style that was entirely his own. His first solo exhibition, which took place at Bykert Gallery in New York in 1966, included a series of monochromatic matte surfaces created by mixing oil paint with beeswax. The critical acclaim garnered by the show propelled him to the front rank of American painters while he was still in his twenties. In 2006, Marden was accorded a career-defining retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art; the Wall Street Journal claimed he was ‘among the handful of living artists established enough to be considered part of art history.’ The artist, who had been battling cancer, continued to paint throughout his final years.

The Ukrainian government has released an online database listing artworks in the possession of Russian nationals currently under sanctions. The ‘War & Art’ database details paintings, sculptures and other artworks that have been bought and sold since the Russo-Ukrainian war began in 2014. According to the country’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention, its aim is to ‘make it difficult for Russian oligarchs’ to launder money and ‘make it easier for virtuous art market participants to carry out sanctions checks’.

The island of Maui in Hawaii has been devastated by wildfires that have killed at least 36 people and damaged more than 271 structures. Jonathan Yukio Clark, the director of the Schaefer International Gallery at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, told the Art Newspaper that ‘it will take time to know the full impact and specifics’ of the damage to the island’s museums and heritage sites – but reports have suggested that it is severe. Front Street, part of the old town of Lahaina and home to a number of historic buildings, has been entirely destroyed; a CNN report suggests that the same fate has been suffered by the Baldwin Home Museum, which was believed to be the oldest building on the island dating back to 1834.

The Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia has agreed to return a 19th-century marble sculpture titled The Wounded Indian (1850) to the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association (MCMA), putting an end to a 20-year dispute over its ownership. The work, by British sculpture Peter Stephenson, was acquired by the MCMA in 1893 before it disappeared when the charity moved premises in 1958. It is believed to be the first life-size sculpture made entirely of marble to have been created in the United States.

An artwork consisting of 115 gold-painted statues of Wagner has disappeared in its entirety from the garden of the Bayreuth Festival Theatre in Germany. The artist Ottmar Hörl has stated that individual figurines have been taken as souvenirs by visitors, but believes that the wholesale disappearance overnight of the work titled You’re Welcome (2023) is the work of art thieves. The Bayreuth City Police Inspectorate has launched an investigation.