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Iraqi forces retake Nimrud

Plus: Germany reveals changes to Limbach Commission | Alphonse Mucha’s heir files lawsuit against the city of Prague | MFA Boston announces $24 million renovation | and recommended reading

14 November 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Iraqi forces recapture Nimrud | Iraqi government forces advancing towards Mosul have announced the recapture of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud on Sunday. ISIS took control of the city in 2014, and ransacked several of its most prominent structures, focussing on the destruction of effigies deemed to be ‘idolatrous’. The destruction of Nimrud’s ziggurat – one of the tallest free-standing structures of the ancient world – has also been confirmed. According to Reuters, it will be ‘hard to assess’ the scale of the damage to the site until archaeologists can get there, but the Iraqi army is said to be stepping up drone surveillance now over Nimrud to make sure no imminent threat still exists.

Germany begins reform of Limbach Commission | Following criticism of the Limbach Commission – established to mediate in disputes over artworks looted by the Nazis – German culture minister Monika Grütters has announced a series of changes to the panel’s personnel and how it works. With the appointment of former American Academy in Berlin director Gary Smith and Raphael Gross, director of Leipzig’s Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture, the Commission now has some Jewish members – the lack of any was major criticism of the old panel. Grütters also outlined plans, reports The Art Newspaper, to increase the Commission’s transparency and to put a 10-year limit on members’ terms in office.

Alphonse Mucha’s heir files lawsuit against the city of Prague | John Mucha, the grandson of Czech artist Alphonse Mucha and president of the Mucha Foundation, has filed a lawsuit against the city of Prague in which he claims ownership over 20 paintings that are set to head off on a tour of Japan and China. Collectively titled The Slav Epic, the works are ‘huge and […] very sensitive,’ Mucha says. As such, ‘any touring risks permanently damaging the art’. Mucha also voiced fears that some of the Chinese museums hosting the works would be ‘unlikely to have the required conservation expertise to handle such works.’

MFA Boston announces $24 million renovation | The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has announced plans for a $24 million renovation that will create a 22,000 sq ft Conservation Centre and provide 12,000 sq ft of extra floor space. The project has required the largest fundraising effort for conservation in the MFA’s history, but director Matthew Teitelbaum hopes that it will ‘dramatically improve all facets of our conservation systems, improving infrastructure, technology and facilities while fostering an environment of teamwork’. Work is expected to begin next year, with an estimated completion date of 2019.

Recommended reading | As John Wadsworth wrote in a piece for Apollo this weekend, there was no shortage of Trump-themed art created in the run up to last week’s US Presidential Election. Thinner on the ground, though, was good art created in reaction to it. However, New York Magazine’s Jerry Saltz is confident that Trump’s victory will be ‘a crucible of possibility for a new generation’. More importantly, he writes, is that the return to a status quo not notoriously enamoured of the arts will ‘jar professionalised artists from being part and parcel of the career machine and return them and all of us to our rightful outsider gypsy position’. High hopes indeed. Elsewhere, the Observers Laura Cumming hails Marian Goodman Gallery’s new exhibition ‘Animality’ as a ‘museum class show’, while ArtNews resurrects an interesting 1973 piece on the work of Agnes Martin to celebrate the painter’s current Guggenheim retrospective.

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