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Uffizi Gallery asks Germany to return Nazi-looted painting

Plus: Smithsonian sites in Washington, D.C. close due to government shutdown | Venice to introduce new tourist entry fee | Invisible ink drawings discovered on Basquiat work | Sister Wendy Beckett (1930–2018) | and recommended reading

2 January 2019

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Uffizi Gallery asks Germany to return Nazi-looted painting | The German director of Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, Eike Schmidt, has publicly requested that the German government help with the return of an 18th-century still life, Vase of Flowers, by Dutch artist Jan van Huysum (1682–1749), which was seized from the city’s Palazzo Pitti by Nazi soldiers during World War II. Schmidt posted the request on social media, stating that his country had a ‘moral duty’ to return the work, currently in the possession of a German family.

Smithsonian sites in Washington, D.C. close due to government shutdown | Washington, D.C.’s federally funded museums and research sites will remain closed until new funding is released, reports The Washington Post. The Smithsonian’s museums are the latest institutions forced to close their doors since initial closures on December 22. Its 19 sites across Washington, D.C., including the National Museum of American History and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, plus the National Zoo, will not open until a new deal with Congress is reached. The National Gallery of Art is also expected to close if the federal government shutdown continues.

Venice to introduce new tourist entry fee | The BBC  reports that Venice will introduce a tourist entry fee for short stays. The charge, which will target day-trippers and is expected to commence this summer for the year’s high season, could be up to €10 (£9). The decision, backed by the city’s mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, comes after years of complaints from Venetians and others about the negative impact of mass tourism, particularly from cruise ships, which has contributed to pollution and flooding among other problems.

Invisible ink drawings discovered on Basquiat work | Artnet reports that New York conservator Emily Macdonald-Korth accidentally discovered secret drawings in UV paint on a privately owned work by Jean-Michel Basquiat. The conservator had been conducting analyses on Untitled (1981) to confirm the date of its creation when she found the hidden drawings – two arrows similar to those that appear elsewhere in the painting – using a UV lamp.

Sister Wendy Beckett (1930-2018) | The TV art historian, author and nun, Sister Wendy Beckett, died last Wednesday aged 88, at the Carmelite monastery in Quidenham, reports the BBC. Beckett, who joined the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur convent in the 1950s aged 16, later attended Oxford University, where she graduated with a first class degree in English Literature. In 1988, she published her first book, Contemporary Women Artists, before going on to present art history documentaries for the BBC in the 1990s.

Recommended reading | Maurice Berger at The New York Times explores the documentary photography of Bud Glick, who captured residents of New York’s rapidly expanding Chinatown in the 1980s. In Hyperallergic, Joseph Nechvatal discusses the dialectical relationship between two abstract expressionists, Joan Mitchell and Jean-Paul Riopelle, whose works are currently featured in the exhibition Nothing in Moderation’ in Landerneau, Brittany, France.

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