Man charged after attack on Gainsborough painting

Plus: Republican legislators express support for US arts funding | Pompidou Centre made no profit from record-breaking Koons show  | Christie’s removes work from Dubai auction | and recommended reading

20 March 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Man charged after attack on Gainsborough painting A man has been charged with criminal damage after attacking Thomas Gainsborough’s Mr and Mrs William Hallett (‘The Morning Walk’) in London’s National Gallery on Saturday afternoon. The accused has been identified as Keith Gregory, 63, of no fixed address. According to eyewitness reports, Gregory attacked the painting at 2.15pm on Saturday, before being restrained by gallery attendants and visitors. According to a National Gallery statement, the damage to the 1785 painting is ‘limited to two long scratches which have penetrated the paint layers, but not the supporting canvas’. The painting is expected to go back on display by the end of the week.

Republican legislators express support for US arts funding | Following Donald Trump’s proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, several prominent politicians from the Republican Party have expressed support for the programmes. ‘I believe we can find a way to commit to fiscal responsibility while continuing to support the important benefits that NEA and NEH provide’, Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski said in a statement. According to the New York Times, last month Republican senators from Maine and West Virginia signed a letter urging continued support for the endowments; Nevada representative Mark Amodei has advocated maintaining ‘the present level of funding’ for the bodies.

Pompidou Centre made no profit from record-breaking Koons show  | The Art Newspaper reports that Paris’s Pompidou Centre did not make significant profits from its record breaking Jeff Koons retrospective in 2014–15. In the course of the recent law suit at the Paris High Court brought against the museum and Koons’s company, the Pompidou has revealed that although the show generated €2.6m in ticket revenue, loan payments and associated costs meant that it ultimately broke even.

Christie’s removes work from Dubai auction | Christie’s has announced that it has removed a painting by Faeq Hassan from its upcoming Dubai sale after Iraqi authorities claimed that it had been smuggled out of the country. Iraqi politician Maysoon al-Damluji, who heads the Iraqi commission for culture and information, says that the work belongs to the state, and used to be hung in the country’s defence ministry. The auction house has requested proof of ownership.

Recommended reading | Vanity Fair has published a long piece on Metropolitan Museum of Art director’s Thomas Campbell’s decision to step down this summer – and it’s an eye-opening read when it comes to the museum’s internal politics. Elsewhere, in today’s Times (£), Anthony Loyd explores an Assyrian palace recently discovered beneath the ruin of the Tomb of Jonah in eastern Mosul. The site’s discovery was in part made possible after ISIS militants detonated explosives in ruins built on top of the palace. ‘In a strange way it is the one positive thing to come out of [the ISIS vandalism]’, says Iraqi archaeologist Layla Salih. ‘For their tunnelling for plunder has revealed a palace we would never have been allowed to excavate.’