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Art Outlook: 26 March

26 March 2015

Some of the stories and discussions we’ve spotted online this week

Nazi-looted El Greco restituted

‘Portrait of a Gentleman’ (1570), El Greco. Image courtesy the Commission for Looted Art in Europe

A painting that was seized by the Gestapo in 1944 has been returned to the heirs to the collection of Julius Priester, a Viennese industrialist who fled Vienna in 1938. Portrait of a Gentleman (1570) by El Greco went on sale in New York last year, where it was on consignment from a London dealer. As soon as the painting had been identified, a claim was made by the Commission for Looted Art in Europe on behalf of the heirs.


Rare Renaissance work gifted to the National Gallery

A devotional painting titled Christ Carrying the Cross, which has never before been on public display, has been presented to London’s National Gallery by Angus Neill, owner of the painting since 2002. The work, attributed to the workshop of Giovanni Bellini, is now on show in the gallery.

Monet and Rubens attributions

An oil painting thought to have been by Monet, but not authenticated due to the work being largely unknown and the signature covered in paint, has been attributed to the Impressionist after thorough scientific testing. A hyperspectral camera also revealed that A Haystack in the Evening Sun, currently owned by Finland’s Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation, was made in 1891. Elsewhere, a Rubens portrait deaccessioned by the Met in 2013 has been authenticated, and will hang in the Rubenshuis as part of the exhibition ‘Rubens in Private: the Master Portrays his Family’.

MoMA’s Björk storm

MoMA’s exhibition of the Icelandic musician Björk has caused a ripple of critical outrage across the art world, resulting in what Peter Schjeldhal for the New Yorker has described as ‘a rare consensus of critics’. Questions have been raised about Klaus Biesenbach’s curatorial direction and reliance on celebrity subjects, including Marina Abramović, Tilda Swinton and, shortly, Yoko Ono.

Kiev Biennial cancelled

The second Kiev Biennial, scheduled for later this year, has been cancelled due to continued political unrest in the Ukraine. Originally planned for last year, the event, curated by Georg Schöllhammer and Hedwig Saxenhuber, was postponed in February 2014 as tensions grew in the capital.

Final attempts to save Brutalist estate

A high-profile campaign to save the Robin Hood housing estate in east London has been revived, led by heritage organisation the Twentieth Century Society. In 2009, the UK government granted the complex, designed in 1972 by Alison and Peter Smithson, a five-year immunity from heritage listing, during which the council approved demolition. The society has submitted a new report calling for the building to be listed.