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The week in art news – lights out early at the Louvre

Plus: Dimitrios Pandermalis (1940–2022) | and the Prado investigates its holdings for works seized during the Spanish Civil War

23 September 2022

In a bid to reduce energy bills, the French government has decided to turn off lights earlier than usual at major cultural venues including the Louvre. The lights of I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre will now go out at 11pm, instead of 1am. Lights on the facade of the Chateau de Versailles will also go dark an hour earlier; the news follows the decision taken earlier this month to reduce the hours when the Eiffel Tower’s 20,000 bulbs are illuminated. Speaking to the France 2 TV station, culture minister Rima Abdul Malak said that these ‘symbolic’ gestures were ‘important for raising public awareness  and mobilising citizens’. Soaring energy bills are resulting in cut-backs in consumption across Europe; a new law came into effect in Germany earlier this month restricting the heating of public buildings and forbidding monuments to be lit at night. For more on how the energy crisis is affecting museums in the UK, read Jo Lawson-Tancred’s report for Apollo here.

Dimitrios Pandermalis, the president of the Acropolis Museum in Athens, has died at the age of 82. Appointed in 2009, Pandermalis oversaw the $145m revamp of the museum. He was a vocal advocate for the return of the Parthenon Marbles; an archaeologist by training, he led the excavations at the archaeological site of Dion near Mount Olympus that began in 1973. Linda Mendoni, the culture minister of Greece, said in a statement: ‘He was the soul of the Museum, when it was still only on paper. He was there at every stage of its creation and until his last moments.’

The Prado in Madrid has announced that it will investigate the provenance of its holdings to search for works that might have been seized during the Spanish Civil War. The museum has published a list of 25 works identified as potentially having entered its collections during the regime of Francisco Franco, among them paintings by Jan Brueghel the Younger, François Boucher, and Joaquín Sorolla. It has also appointed the historian Arturo Colorado Castellary, an expert on the civil war, to lead the search for further works that may have been confiscated under Franco. Meanwhile, the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven will return a painting by Wassily Kandinsky, View of Murnau with Church, to the heirs of a Jewish family from whom it was seized during the Second World War; the move brings a long legal dispute to a close.

In Los Angeles, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, originally slated for 2021 and then pushed back to 2023 in the wake of the pandemic, has again been delayed; it is now expected to open in 2025. The board of trustees at the Cleveland Museum of Art has named Ellen Stirn Mavec as chair; a philanthropist and former dealer in decorative arts, Mavec succeeds Scott Mueller for a three-year term. And in Texas, floods have damaged two galleries at the Dallas Museum of Art, housing the Wendy and Emery Reves collection of 19th–20th-century European paintings and decorative arts; walls, ceilings and floors in the galleries have been significantly damaged, but the artworks remain in good condition.

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