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Art Outlook: 6 November

6 November 2014

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

J. Paul Getty Museum wins bidding war for Manet’s Le Printemps

The Getty is the proud new owner of the most expensive Manet painting ever sold at auction. The museum shelled out over $65.1 million (£41 million) for the Le Printemps – the last Manet painting in private hands – at Christie’s yesterday evening.

Thwaytes vs. Sotheby’s: Caravaggio dispute reaches court

In 2006 Lancelot Thwaytes sold a painting through Sotheby’s for £42,000, only for the buyer (the historian Denis Mahon) to reattribute it to Caravaggio, upping the value to £10 million. The ensuing lawsuit goes before the High Court this month: Thwaytes accuses Sotheby’s of failing to carry out proper attribution research, but the auction house stands by its original assessment of the work as being by a follower of the artist.

World Jewish Congress warns Bern museum against Gurlitt gift

Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, has urged the Kunstmuseum Bern to think twice about accepting Cornelius Gurlitt’s infamous art collection. ‘If the museum in Switzerland accepts this bequest, it will open a Pandora’s Box and trigger an avalanche of lawsuits’, he warned in an interview with Der Spiegel.

See the Sistine Chapel in a whole new light

The Vatican Museums have unveiled a new LED lighting system in the Sistine Chapel. It’s hoped that the new technology, along with better air conditioning and a possible limitation on visitor numbers, will help to both preserve and enhance Michelangelo’s most famous and extraordinary work.

Matchbox art reignites censorship debates in Madrid

The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía has defended its decision to include a deliberately ‘inflammatory’ work by the art collective Mujeres Públicas in its latest exhibition. Church groups have complained that Cajita de fósforos (a matchbox printed with the slogan ‘The only church that illuminates is one which burns’) is an insult to Christians and should be removed.

North Korean Embassy opens its doors in the name of art

The general public has been invited into North Korea’s London embassy for the first time, to view a short-lived art exhibition. It’s taken the curator David Heather some 10 years to win permission for the show, but many of the works have been created in the last few weeks, and depict scenes from the UK capital.

Christie’s at Christmas

Struggling for Christmas gift ideas? If someone you know would like a pair of giant Irish elk antlers or a stuffed dog, you might be in luck. Christie’s has broken with 250 years of tradition to introduce a fixed-price purchase option for selected lots in its 9 December interiors sale. Convinced customers can bypass the auction process by paying a fixed price in advance. 

(1881), Édouard Manet,

Spring (Le Printemps) (1881), Édouard Manet, courtesy of J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles