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Central Italy hit by second earthquake in a week

31 October 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Earthquake destroys San Benedetto basilica in Norcia | Central Italy was rocked by an earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale on Sunday, with tremors reported as far away as Croatia. The earthquake, the second to hit the region in less than a week, has forced around 15,000 people into temporary accommodation, reports the BBC. No fatalities have yet been reported, but the cultural damage the tremors have caused is believed to be extensive. In Norcia, near Perugia, the earthquake destroyed the 14th-century cathedral and basilica of San Benedetto, a major pilgrimage site that also contained a brewery run by resident monks. The tower of the church of Sant’Agostino in Amatrice – close to the epicentre of August’s earthquakes – was also reduced to rubble (Italian language article).

Dr Oetker says its collection may contain works of art looted by Nazis | The family-owned German food manufacturer Dr Oetker has announced that four works in its art collection are being investigated on suspicion that they may have been looted from Jewish collectors in the 1930s and ’40s, reports The Art Newspaper. If the works in question are found to be linked to the Nazi-era practice of looting works from collectors fleeing overseas, the company says it will attempt to reach a settlement with the rightful heirs.

Eric and Susan Smidt donate $25 million to LACMA | Los Angeles collectors Eric and Susan Smidt have pledged to donate $25 million to the fundraising campaign for LACMA’s Peter Zumthor-designed new building. According to the LA Times, the Smidts’ pledge brings the museum’s project close to the halfway mark of its estimated cost. ‘It takes gifts like this to get to that point of confidence so that others will invest,’ said LACMA director Michael Govan.

Replica of Hitler’s bunker to open as museum | A replica of the subterranean bunker in which Adolf Hitler spent his final weeks is to open as a museum, reports Le Figaro (French language article). Until now, the central Berlin site of the Führerbunker has stood vacant, with only a small plaque informing visitors of its previous use. Despite fears that it might become a ‘Disneyland’, trivialising the horrors of the Third Reich, care has been taken to make it a strictly educational experience as opposed to a tourist attraction. As for suspicions that it may attract far-right activists, curator Enno Lenze says that ‘In general, neo Nazis do not want to see proof that Hitler is dead.’

Recommended reading | Following UK exam board AQA’s decision to stop offering Art History as an A-Level subject, there has been much debate over the discipline’s value. In the New York Times, Scott Reyburn asks: just how important is Art History in today’s market? Meanwhile in the Guardian, Oliver Wainwright visits Poundbury, the Prince of Wales’s ‘model village’ in Dorset, and discovers that ‘HRH loves things that are a bit quirky’. And in a highly quotable piece for ArtReview, J.J. Charlesworth writes in support of critics of Chris Dercon’s plans for the Volksbühne Theatre in Berlin: ‘The idea that such ‘visionary individuals’ should ever be challenged by a local artistic community […] serves to remind us of how opaque and unaccountable the circuits of art-power are today,’ he writes.