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The week in art news – Gurlitt hoard investigation wound up

Turner Prize 2020 cancelled | Philadelphia Museum of Art workers unionise | Italian judges rule in favour of right-wing institute against the culture ministry | Emmanuel Kasarhérou appointed director of the Quai Branly | Roland Rudd to chair the Tate

29 May 2020

The German Lost Art Foundation has announced that its investigation of the Gurlitt hoard is at an end. After 6 years examining the provenance of the some 1,500 works of art bequeathed to the Kunstmuseum Bern by Cornelius Gurlitt, it has been able to prove that only 14 works were definitely looted by the Nazis, returning them to the families of the original owners. But as Gilbert Lupfer, director of the foundation, told Swissinfo earlier this week, ‘There is a very large grey area.’

The Turner Prize for 2020 has been cancelled; bursaries of £10,000 will be awarded to 10 artists instead. In its statement Tate Britain pointed out the impossibility of organising an exhibition of work by the shortlisted artists this autumn. Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain said, ‘I think J.M.W. Turner, who once planned to leave his fortune to support artists in their hour of need, would approve of our decision.’

Workers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art have asked the museum’s management to recognise their union. Staff have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to join the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, but the museum’s voluntary recognition would mean that organisers need not ballot the staff. In recent months, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and The Shed in New York have recognised staff unions.

On Tuesday, Italian judges ruled that the Italian ministry of culture cannot revoke the lease for a former monastery taken out by the Dignitatis Humanae Institute (DHI). The organisation hopes to use the site as a training academy with a curriculum devised by the right-wing strategist Steve Bannon. The ministry of culture, which argues that the institute offered false information in its application for the lease of the monastery in Collepardo, to the south-east of Rome, has told the Art Newspaper that it will appeal the decision and the attorney general’s office in Rome has opened a criminal investigation into alleged breaches of contract by the institute.

Emmanuel Kasarhérou has been appointed director of the Musée du Quai Branly. Kaserhérou, who takes over from Stéphane Martin, has been the museum’s deputy director of collections since 2014 and curated the exhibition ‘Kanak: Art is a word’. Born in New Caledonia, and an expert in Oceanic cultures, Kaserhérou is the former head of the Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Noumea.

The Tate has announced that Roland Rudd is to take over from Lionel Barber as the chair of its board of trustees in 2021. Rudd, founder and chairman of the public relations firm Finsbury, has been a trustee of the institution since November 2017.

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