Rockwell family sues Berkshire Museum over deaccession plans

Plus: Agnieszka Polska wins Germany’s National Gallery Prize | Fundació Joan Miró closes exhibition rooms due to strike action | Ancient Greek vases exhibited at Frieze Masters come under scrutiny | and recommended reading

23 October 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Rockwell family files lawsuit against Berkshire Museum over deaccession plans | The Berkshire Museum’s planned fundraising sale of 40 works from its collection, including two paintings by Norman Rockwell, has been criticised by multiple commentators, including the Rockwell family. On Friday, a group that includes heirs of the American artist as well as members of the museum filed a complaint and motion in Berkshire state court against the Pittsfield institution. The plaintiffs, who describe the sale as ‘without legal authority’ as well as ‘financially unnecessary’, have requested a temporary restraining order to halt the sale. An attorney representing the museum has issued a statement describing the suit as ‘factually and legally flawed’.

Agnieszka Polska wins Germany’s National Gallery Prize | The latest winner of Germany’s prestigious Preis der Nationalgalerie (National Gallery Prize) is Polish-born video artist and photographer Agnieszka Polska, it was announced at a ceremony held at Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof on Friday evening. The prize is awarded biennially to an artist under the age of 40 living and working in Berlin, with the winner receiving a major solo exhibitions at one of the state museums. Previous winners include Anne Imhof and Omer Fast. Another prize, the Förderpreis für Filmkunst (Award for Film Art), was also awarded at Friday’s ceremony, to Austrian filmmaker Sandra Wollner.

Fundació Joan Miró closes exhibition rooms due to strike action | The Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona has announced that it is closing its exhibition rooms to the public, beginning tomorrow, due to an indefinite strike called by workers of the Barcelona-based company Serveis Educatius Ciut’art, which provides services to the foundation along with many of the city’s other cultural centres. All public events, including scheduled exhibition openings, have been postponed until further notice, although the institution’s library, restaurant, bookshop and gift shop will remain open as usual.

Ancient Greek vases exhibited at Frieze Masters come under scrutiny | A pair of Ancient Greek vases, or lekythoi, that were exhibited at Frieze Masters art fair in London earlier this month, may have been looted artefacts, according to a report in the Guardian. The objects, which were not sold, have been identified as formerly belonging to the Switzerland-based Italian art dealer Gianfranco Becchina, who was convicted in Rome in 2011 of trafficking illegal antiquities. The Swiss canton of Basel-Stadt, which currently owns the vases, insists that they had been cleared for sale by the Italian authorities as well as the Art Loss Register in London.

Recommended reading | In the New York Times, Holland Cotter reviews Omer Fast’s controversial Chinatown installation at James Cohan Gallery, labelling the exhibition ‘a serious misfire’ at best. Writing for the Guardian, architect Paul Karakusevic pays homage to Neave Brown, who has been awarded RIBA’s 2018 Royal Gold Medal for architecture – and argues for a revival of Brown’s vision for beautiful and ambitious social housing projects. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times takes on the puzzling case of a missing Spanish baroque masterpiece, which in 2015 was the subject of a strange letter suggesting that someone might know its whereabouts.