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Major art award suspended over fears of compromise

Plus: Police recover stolen Munch lithograph | Structural collapse at Cairo's Townhouse gallery | Artist sues Mapplethorpe Foundation and others for $65 million | A poor reception for the new-look Les Halles

7 April 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

The Vincent Award 2016 is to be suspended | The jury and organisers of this year’s Vincent Award, the biennial €50,000 prize for mid-career European-based artists, have announced that it is to be suspended due to ‘the facts surrounding the nomination and the withdrawal of two candidates.’ In January, Nairy Baghramian and Jutta Koether withdrew from the shortlist of five. Koether did so for ‘private reasons’, but Baghramian’s withdrawal was apparently prompted by the dispute between artist Danh Vo and collector Bert Kreuk, who exhibited his collection at the Gemeentemuseum – the institution that organises the award. Although the Gemeentemuseum stresses that it was not involved in that controversy, the jury believes the dispute has overshadowed the prize’s philanthropic intentions.

Police recover stolen Munch lithograph | Norwegian police say they have now recovered an Edvard Munch lithograph stolen from an Oslo art gallery in 2009. Titled Historien, the work in question depicts an old man in primary coloured clothes talking to a young boy against a wild coastal backdrop. The two men arrested on Monday and Tuesday in connection with the theft are being investigated on suspicion of handling stolen goods.

Structural collapse at Cairo’s Townhouse Gallery | Part of the main building of Cairo’s Townhouse Gallery has collapsed, reports The Art Newspaper. Mercifully, nobody was injured, but the disaster has apparently destroyed the institution’s recently renovated library, as well as some exhibition and office spaces. This setback is only the latest of a series for the gallery, which was closed down by Egyptian authorities late last year, and also suffered the permanent closure of an affiliated space in nearby New Cairo.

Artist sues Mapplethorpe Foundation and others for $65 million | Photographer and performance poet Bobby Miller has filed a lawsuit against the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation and several galleries and museums. Miller contends that a famous 1979 series of Mapplethorpe ‘self-portraits’ are no such thing – and that they were in fact taken by him. He is now seeking compensation for their unauthorised use over the past four decades. Miller is demanding $45 million from the Mapplethorpe Foundation, as well as a further $20 million from other galleries: the Whitney Museum, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Sean Kelly Gallery and Skarstedt Gallery are all named in the suit.

A poor reception for the new-look Les Halles | The historic Les Halles market was long considered the ‘belly of Paris’ (to use Zola’s term). But in 1972 the famous 19th-century structure that housed it was demolished, and the market itself was moved to the suburbs. Now, after years of work, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has unveiled a new steel and glass canopy for the complex, that aims to recapture something of its old spirit. However, the €1 billion project by architect Patrick Berger has not gone down well. Despite acknowledging the scheme’s ‘good intentions’, the Guardian’s Oliver Wainwright describes it as having ‘a forlorn droop…as if sagging under the weight of expectation.’ According to Le Figaro (French language article), locals have condemned it as a ‘vulgar flying saucer.’

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